Friday, August 31, 2007

A New God


Author Tim Powers is like unto a god to me. The man can drink more Coke during an hour and a half lecture than I can drink Pepsi in a morning. All I can say is, "Wow. I am not worthy, I am not worthy."

Workshop Tuesday Morning Dream

Snow. A field of snow. And a stage set with a fence perimeter defining a house. In the house lives an old woodcutter, almost a Jepetto and his son. I he's a woodcutter or a wood carver. His son helps around the house. It's time for sleep. And the son is playing with all of his toys, which are played by a chorus of dancers.

The house is a long rectangle. An inner rectangle of toys sits inside the outer rectangle defined by the planks of the fence (which are the walls of the house).

Att this point, the story is like a ballett. It's time for the child go to go to bed, and his father is reading him a story. The toys are up and dancing while the father tells his story. But the story ends, and the toys slowly go to their places on the inner rectangle and sit down.

Just before the light is to go out, the son (who is played by a boy sopranno) stands up and sleepily recites, "echo echo amalac" and the towys twitch back to a kind of half life.

But the boy wants to be good, he knows that its time for bed, so the toys slouch back to rest. But the air is pregnant with the sense of a spell half completed, half halted.

Just then, a stranger comes out of the stormy night. The boy quickly rises and puts together a chair and table for the stranger. The father says, "Say with us tonight. The boy can sleep over here," and he carries the boy to the corner where the toys are sitting. (Well OK, the toys are everywere on the set...) He carries the boy to the other end of the long rectange of toys as if the boy were to sleep in a large over stuffed chair.

The lights go down.

For a moment in this section of the dream, things turn intt cartoon mode. Lighting and thunder send blue shadows across the floor. The crack of thunder and lightning wakes the boy. Hides under the blanket thrown over the chair.

The toys return to life, and somehow they take the boy to a ghostly toy world. Or faerie land. The walls of the house no longer contain them, and the Father (and the travelling stranger?) can no longer see him.

Something about a vase or a cubit long glass bead. (And here's an odd waking life coincidence: my Workshop item was a bead of yellow turquois.)

The head toy is the mayor clown. He names and greets all the toy citizens, and the boy is one. They seem to peramublate around the rectangle, while the mayor names them. The inner rectangle is a grassy sward.

The boy questions the mayor, and is rebuked. "I know I say exactly what people are. And I say exactly what I'm supposed to say. Do not question me."

So the boy is banished into toy world. He learns to skate and mountain climb. He becomes a snowflake and falls with the other toy snowflakes.

Meanwhile, his father (and mother?) are looking for him.

-- end of dream --

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursday Imposter

Today was Mark's first day back to work and my first day since the 19th as Full Time Stay At Home Dad.  

I'm very aware of routines right now; and I'm evaluating which ones are good for writing (like getting regular sleep) and which ones are bad for writing (like spending too much time with e-mail and the blog).  

I think the best habit I can get into is using my cell phone to dictate notes to myself when Arthur is busy seeing how many times he can whack a brick with a plastic toy hammer.

Steve told us about feeling like an imposter -- like we had somehow fooled folks into believing we were writers.  But what he didn't say was how it would change how we perceive rough drafts we're currently working on....  I'm pretty sure I'm doomed.  I think that's a good thing.

Odd John Dream

I had the strangest New Age dream this morning.  The part I remember the best was that I was with a collection of dream people from various parts of my life (you know -- a collection of folks from college, your first job, relatives, and your current friends).  

Anyway, we were in some kind of college campus amphitheatre -- which reminded me a little of the Colly Soleri Amphitheatre at Arcosanti.  I have a vague, anxious sense there was some very important problem we were trying to solve; but my recall isn't too good on this part of the dream.  We were putting on a kind of show or seminar, and there were many people in the arced rows of seats.

It started raining.  The seating was under cover, but the stage was not.  The rain fell onto the stage and started to fill a large cylindrical bowl of clear glass.  This was a sign of some sort, so I went onto the stage, stood behind the bowl of collecting rainwater, held out my hands at waist level, and belted out a tri-tone (the kind you make by reasonating your soft pallet).

I closed my eyes as I was singing, and I saw all these flashing multi-colored stars.  My inner eyelid light show and singing went on for what seemed like a very long time.   When I finally opened my eyes, the audience was still there, and I appeared to have communicated something to them, as a number seemed transfixed (in a good way).  I had the sense that something had spoken to them through me as I was singing.  

And then the dream went on to other things.

First Day at WOTF

Well eek. They've put the book trailer on the web at so find a big screen and turn the amplifier up to 11.

Here's an entry from last week...

Aug 19 3:15 PM

Got up this morning at 3:45 when Arthur started crying "See John." Practically had to shower with him wrapped around my left leg. The poor thing has been talking to the cat, who always knows when we're about to leave for a long time.

Dianna Rodgers picked me up a little after 4 AM so Damon and I could be at the airport by 4:30.

The flight was uneventful -- Damon and I tried to sleep a little; Damon was so excited that he got less sleep than I did.

Meanwhile, as the plane descends over the Dodger's Baseball Stadium, it becomes apparent to me that my right ear is still under the influence of the cold Arthur passed to me.

LAX: The luggage turntable only yielded my suitcase. Who knows where my folding garment bag is. With any luck it will show up later this afternoon.

After a slight delay -- which doesn't turn up the lost luggage -- I'm introduced to Nick (who drives us), Julie (an assistant) and Steve (published finalist). It takes me several moments of conversation to sort out names and faces. It doesn't help that the conversation is really dim in my right ear.

LAX is about a half-hour away from the Sheraton, so we trade stories about world travel. Then we wait for rooms to open up. Then we have a late buffet (with an odd, writable waiter -- when he speaks into my left ear I can mostly understand what he's saying).

Then Damon -- who's been babbling on about over roasted coffee beans -- stumbles off for a nap. And we head off in different directions. I get to my room. My right ear finally clears.


While exploring the Pasadena Civic Auditorium (and Ice Skate Rink), I run into Steve and Joe (last year's winner). They're looking for Damon, who has gone off to the mall across the street. Construction fencing provides a minor obstacle to the mall, but we manage to make it to the mall in once piece.

After looking around for someone who looks like Damon, I remember that I have his cell phone number.

At least I manage to locate a Pepsi.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Thinking Error Tuesday

This week, fellow Wordo Dianna Rodgers features me in her Thinking Errors Tuesday blog posting. Warning: Spoilers -- some of my story's elements are revealed, so if you want to be surprised scroll past Dianna's blog entry for my story and read her other excellent essays on character thinking error.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back from WOTF

I've just returned from my fabulous week at the L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Workshop.

It was seriously cool; the group of writers this year really bonded and much of what I've learned from The Wordos was vindicated by numerous writers during the week's presentations.

I still don't quite believe it. During video presentation of the book, I felt the bass drums and power chords vibrating my body --and even with the knowledge that my limbic brain was being tickled, I had a frission moment when I saw my story's title and illustration on The Big Screen. And it was even more cool when the woman who illustrated my story took the grand prize for illustration.

Mark came down with Arthur and has been tremendously supportive -- not only did he do 98% of the childcare since the 19th, but travelling to Pasadena to be my trophey husband, tour guide and photographer cost him a ski trip.

Anyway, more as I get to it --

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Wicked, Wicked Baby

Arthur has been slightly jealous of the keyboard lately.  I've been letting him see how e-mail works by reading messages to him as I type.  This usually lasts a minute and then Arthur will say, "John done typing now."

So scream of 'NO!' that you all heard Saturday around 3:30 Pacific Time was me as Arthur poured water on the iMac's keyboard.  (No, I wasn't typing at the time, Arthur snuck into our room as Mark and I were discussing the merits of red ties in LA in August (and chortling over what the phrase "Upscale Casual" means).)

Mark says he now knows what I'll sound like in case of a cougar attack, a stabbing, or a flaming log rolling toward us.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Train Theology

The latest train hymns continue:

"Kumbaya, Mother Thomas, Kumbaya..."

which is, of course, a spoof of

"Kumbaya, Mother Goddess, Kumbaya..."

So I'm not quite sure what imagry is going through Arthur's head -- The Goddess in her manifold train aspects (how Marija Gimbutas), or if Arthur is imagining Thomas the Tank Engine running a shelter for the poor in Calcutta.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Drink with Jam and Gordon

Arthur and I have been recovering from the cold.  So today started out with a long nap.  

Today marked the beginning of a new era in Arthur's development:  he's totally paranoid that we're going to ditch him whenever company visits.  OK, it doens't help that company frequently comes over to watch him while we scrape the hosue.  But today was Very High Drama.  The Pearwood Pipers came over to reherse for Shrewsbury and Arthur was sure that I was going to blow the joint to go buy Pepsi or something.  We sat down on the couch and he would burst into tears anytime I got further than twelve inches away from him.  

In other news, "dogfood" is Arthur's new "mu" statement whenever he doesn't want to perform like a trained monkey.  And "Gordon" (the proud locomotive who pulls the express from the Thomas the Tank Engine world) is the current leader of Arthur's pantheon.   Gordon, James, Percey and Toby form a kind of holy family.  But to the best of my knowledge, only Gordon gets hymns written to him:

Doe, a deer, a female Gordon
Ray, a drop of golden Gordon
Me, a name I call Gordon
Far, a long long way to Gordon
Sew, a needle pulling Gordon
La, a note to follow Gordon
Tea, a drink with jam and Gordon
That will bring us back to Gordon!

Oh, yes...  Tomorrow is Mark's birthday.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Captain Pathogen has given Mark and me a cold he probably picked up at gymastics.  

For revenge I forced him to take a nap by playing an old 1970's National Geographic Special on Egypt.  

"Boring," he said, and then collapsed.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Mark is worried that Arthur may be smarter than the two of us combined.  

He's discovered homophones, specifically, that dam is a homophone of damn.  

Scene:  Sunday evening dinner.

Arthur (squirming in his high chair):  "Damn."  (Mark and John's heads swivel as if they were searchlights transfixing a convict)  "Arthur make a dam.  In the park."  (Mark and John go back to pretending to eat dinner.)  "Say 'blast' instead.  Damn... Arthur make one in the park."

Oh well... at least a half hour later he said "This video is really boring.  Watch Gordon [one of the Thomas the Tank Engine trains] instead." 

So we know that his language centers are working.

I did sit down with him and tried to explain that when he said "damn" it makes Mark sad. This seemed to make an impression on him, and we'll see if it is a lasting one.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Homeoner Whining

Ugh.  I hate scraping paint.  We've got some really tenatious paint that just won't come off.  I think our next house should be stone.  

I just looked at blow-dryers for your house and it looks like a really good way to burn your house down to the ground.


Poll Results

This is what the masses (well, OK, 19 of you) have chosen. With a more trimmed beard. Right now, of course, my hair is behaving... so I may just trim my beard and take my chances. We'll see what happens a few days before I actually leave.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sweet Music's Might

Scene:  Breakfast in the Kitchen.  Arthur is in his highchair and Mark and John are going through breakfast rituals.

John (turning away from emptying the Ceylon tea leaves into the compost):  "Sorry honey, you're doomed."

Mark (filling a dirty oatmeal pot with water to soak):  "What do you mean?"

John:  (singing a Renaissance madrigal):  "Jog on, jog on, the footpath way..."

Arthur: (waving a spoon in the air):  "Jog on, jog on, merrily hent style-a"

John:  "He listened in during a Pearwood rehersal."  (The implication being that Arthur will become a child star on the Rennaissance Faire circuit and that Mark will have to dress in funny clothes and say phrases like 'I prithee, sweet maid...'.)

Mark (nonplussed):  "Hey, Arthur. (Imitates Led Zeppelin) 'Been a long time since I rock and rolled.  Been a long time since I rock and rolled.   Been a long time, been a long time, been a long time since I -- '" (points to Arthur)

Arthur (still waving spoon):  "'Rock and rolled.'"

Mark: (turning back to John):  "He's at an impressionable age."

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Return of Master Thespian

Scene: Morning. Arthur's bedroom. John has entered because he's heard a rhythmic thwacking noise.

John (thinking it's kind of late in the morning, but grateful for a calm breakfast): "Are you awake?"

Arthur (stops kicking wall and rolls over to smile at John)

John (wondering if Arthur might be having another molar pop out, touches Arthur's neck)

Arthur: "Where am I? I have a fever. Call the doctor."

John (eyes popping out): "What? Do you really have a fever?"

Arthur (smiling): "Chocolate."

Arthur's made up a song. I don't know what it means, and I'm not sure what it's patterned after. I mean, it's pretty easy to figure out that the song "Truely Squish-squish" is from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's "Truely Scruptious."

The new song is the phrase "Baby Shenks" repeated a semi-random number of times, sometimes ended with the phrase "Go away." It has the same cadence as "Motor boat, motor boat, go reall slow." Except that I don't think we've been saying that lateley.

In slightly different news, after hearing a three-person Pearwood Piper rehearsal of "Jog On, Jog On, The Footpath Way" and "I Gave Her Cakes and I Gave Her Wine", not only is Arthur singing back phrases from those songs, but words like "hent" (to jump over) and "merry" are entering his vocabulary.

I've already called up the Shrew of Shrewsbury so that Arthur could say, "Huzzah!" after I prompted him with a "Hip Hip!" Looks like Mark may be spending more time at Renaissance Faires.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bleah. The weather I hate is back. About the only thing it's good for is drying clothes outside.

At least our house manages to stay about ten degrees cooler if we open all the windows and air out the house at night.

Muriel continues to be an irritant.


Things have been very busy here. We're painting the outside of our house. Well. It's probably more accurate to say that we're preparing to paint the outside of the house. Well. OK, all last week my Dad has been coming down to scrape the side of the house while I watch Arthur. At least the weather hasn't been too hot.

Arthur's favorite word the other day was "Ugandans." I guess he was saying it a lot at the library; Mark says that he got a lot of strange looks -- something along the lines of 'Why does your two year old know about Ugandans?' I can only assume that Arthur's picking up more from NPR than I thought. Arthur also seems to like to see people's reactions when he says "damn." Unfortunately, I know that one's my fault (and so does Mark). We're trying to get him to say "Oh blast" instead, or -- more preferably -- "I'm mad/frustrated/whatever". He's probably picked up "oh my God" from Mark, though.

I'm working on a short story (and I just finished a rough draft of it) when I'm not watching Arthur or scraping the side of the house. I also got a rejection for "The Lapis Heron." Oh well... on to the next market.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Three Years Ago...

Today is Mark and my Third Wedding Annerversary.

In honor of it, I'm posting a copy of the text of an Egyptian Love Poem. I first heard it from Phillip Glass's Akhnaten

(love poem found in a royal mummy of the Armarna period,
from Journal of Egyptian Archeology,
translated by Sir Alan Gardiner)

I breathe the sweet breath
that issues from thy mouth.
I behold thy beauty every day.
It is my desire to be rejuvenated with life
through love of thee.
Give me thy hands, holding thy spirit,
that I may receive it and partake of it.
Call thou my name unto eternity, and it shall never fail.

Of course, I remember the words a little differently. I think the breath should issue from lips instead of a mouth. Also, the French translation (included in the CD's libreto) "call thou my name" uses the word "vocci", which could be translated to "give voice to my name" or "invoke my name."

In slightly related news, Arthur has discovered the word "too." Lately, he's noticed my rings; he seems particularly enamoured with my wedding ring, and says, "Arthur wants a wedding ring, too."

When I tell him that he has to get married to someone to wear a wedding ring and ask him who he's going to marry, he scrunches up his face and says, "Hmmmm.... thinking...." His most surreal wedding partner to date has been "his head."