Saturday, January 28, 2017

Return of the Internet, and a Dream

Whew.  Our Internet is restored.  The line running from the pole to our house was badly weathered.  Between the roof heat baking off the casing, the neighbor's apple tree that the line runs through, and various wild animals chewing on it, it was apparently a miracle that we were getting any kind of signal at all.

Also, our house's interior phone lines are using the old style large gauge copper wires, at which the tech working on our system expressed dismayed surprise that we weren't picking up radio signals.  I suppose things could get interesting if there's ever an EMP event here.

What this has taught me is that I need to set a timer and be disciplined about how much time I spend surfing e-mail and social media.  And that I should visit more news sites.

On the dream front:  I was on a campus singing "Primitive" by Annie Lennox (...Sweetheart the sun has set, all red and primitive above our heads...) at dawn.  The recall is fuzzy, because I didn't remember the dream until I started singing another Annie Lennox song in the shower, "Six o'clock in the morning / and I'm walking down the street..."  But... I was at some sort of campus workshop.  It was early in the morning and the red sun painted the walkways golden pink and I was singing "Primitive," as if it were the opening montage of a television show.

I walked into a kind of gym, and various folks in gis from The Child's dojo were there.  There was something about a performance, and getting large mats together in the space.  I was wearing some sort of short robe that allowed me to quasi-fly -- it was sort of like I was wearing my old octagonal kite; all I remember was that it had red and yellow sunbeams on it.

Then the dream turned into visiting Carleton/Arcosanti, and I had missed my plane back home because I'd lost track that it was Tuesday.  Sifu was driving a bunch of folks in the van, and I was sitting there thinking, "I should get out... I need to get to the airport... "  There was something about a twisty river between dark rocky canyons and Garden gnome shrines... and M.H., but I don't recall anything except picturesque and hard-to-get-to rapids and pools.

(In real life, the family is flying away, so I suppose that prompted the anxiety dream motif -- when I told Mark he laughed and remarked that he almost never has airport anxiety dreams)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Day Four Without Internet

Our lives without Internet are entering the fourth day.

In some ways it's refreshing; but it's also a pain because I hadn't realized how much I synchronize my files over the network.  We listen to radio for music, but I'm missing the music subscription service I use for writing and cleaning music.  I am noticing the lack of e-mail the most.  I'm sort of missing Pinterest, but I use it more for recreation, browsing for craft ideas, or winding down than anything else.  Also, I'll admit to a slight "Clash of Clans" addiction.

On the plus side, it's been a nice break from obsessively surfing social media.  The times that I have connected to Facebook and Twitter, I'm seeing that the latest exploits of Twitler and his Cabinet are reverberating and that if I were reading the news from say NPR, the NYT or the BBC, it would be much less panic-inducing.  Which isn't to say that some sort of citizen action isn't called for, but it would be nice if weren't a panic.  Also, it's struck me that Social Media really feels like a strident political rally all the time now -- which again, while I think using it as a tool for political engagement is great, it's also exhausting sometimes.

The other plus side is that without the Internet, I've more time for reading and actual craft projects.

Dream Mechanics

Since the dream that I had the other night about randomly shifting floors, I've been trying to figure out how one would use rotating gears to create a random path.  In the dream, there were interlocking circular path disks, six set around a central seventh one in a larger disk, repeated again.

Thinking about what it would look like, I'm thinking there could be a straight path across the center of a disk, or a disk with a path that makes a sixty-degree turn, or a disk with a one-twenty-degree turn, or a  forked path, or a disk with two paths.  And their mirror images.  I'm thinkining there should be about twelve variations, depending on how complicated I want to be with the disk designs.  

To be truly random, each tile has an equal chance of turning left, right, or staying still.  If the circular track had a binary counter in it that counts 00 01 10, then the tiles could have one, too... but that wouldn't be random.  

I'm seeing a disk-rotation mechanism with toothless gears, but then I realize it would move cyclically.

I'm thinking I need to study how slot machines work.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Dreams Without Internet

Monday afternoon, something has put a bunch of static into our land line, with the result that our DSL modem no longer can process an internet signal.  This means we can't send e-mails, play on social media, or stream movies.  If feels oddly like we're back in the 1990's, when you had to dial into the Internet.  In a pinch, my dumb phone can send texts; I'll have to watch that so I don't blow my data plan.  Alas, it's going to be several days before they can send someone over.

On one hand, it's an enforced break from stress-surfing for political news.  


I slept poorly Monday night, with a resulting amount of recall.

There was a dream where  i was on the Love Boat or something.  The  most surprising was that we used water slides to get onto the boat.  There were large plastic tubes leading from the dock (I think) to the ship.  Cars used very large tubes. We had put  ashore and there was a side-pan on a group of passengers sanding around a little sign.  Julie from the Love Boat sang some short tour guide  song and began to lead a tour around the quaint village we'd landed at. 

Julie called out a passenger's name and an Irish woman responded.  There's been an arrangement and the woman (who apparently lived in the village) went off on her own.   At some point, the daylight went from sunny and bright to dim and dusky. The Irish woman, who was also a government spy, skulked around the outside of a dimly lit manor.   

The scene shifted a bit, and M.M (a writer friend),    dressed in an Edwardian dressing gown, walked up the wide interior stone stairway of a manor.  Most of the lights were off, and he moved stealthily, removing a priceless oversized martini glass from a cabinet.  In the process a statue or a cabinet got smashed or knocked over.  

A butler came out, discovered the mess, and exclaimed, "Oh! Master! There's been a robbery!"  M.M. smiled from the top of the stairs and said, "Don't worry, Jeeves; everything's going perfectly."   He didn't in the dream, but I'm going to add that he lit up a cigar and puffed on it in a satisfied fashion.

I woke up enough here to think, "Cool, M.M. is a Edwardian Criminal Mastermind" and "Wow, how clever of my dream self to set up the mystery with the culprit and the apparent method settled, but leave the motive and what really was stolen."  At 2:30 AM this second part seemed extraordinarily inventive.

I tried to go back to sleep and had a series of vignettes.  The most cool was blowing bubbles.  There were a few where I realized I was naked in public spaces, and one really racy one I won't share here.

There was a second dream I recalled more clearly a half hour ago.  It was very X Files .... With miniature space goats on who floated over our heads on very long lashes.  And spies.   And running from police.  

Dreaming in Non-Linear Time

Monday, Jan 23.  On the dream front:  Over the weekend, I dreamed I was walking through an elaborately carved hallway:  lots of wood panels and filagree work.  In the distance I heard a voice, which I knew to be Leonardo daVinci's, recanting that he saw the moons of Jupiter through his telescope.   I'm pretty sure this was in response to various post-trust statements made recently in social media about the current administration shutting down the Twitter feed of the Forest Service.

This morning's dream had a strange simultaneous setting, kind of like the way the final episode of ST:TNG's "All Good Things" happened at three points in time.  I was going to a week-long Theatre workshop.  It was only vaguely Reed College meets Arcosanti, in that I think I was living in a dorm, and there were classes I needed to attend--along with the typical anxiety motif of "I can't find my schedule and I think I'm missing a class."   (This week is very scheduled, and I'm sure I have some anxiety about remembering when to be certain places.)  Connected to this was a discussion between two junior classmates who were not sure how to deal with some social displacement between themselves and a third classmate caused by changes in who was taking which workshop program.

Simultaneously, I was the younger son of a British nobel, and we were in a manor drama/comedy/soap opera.  Kind of like Downton Abbey.  My father (not my real dad) was annoyed with my choice in classes (the theatre workshop): insert lordly "what are you going to do with your life" father-son chat here.  At the same time, Lord Father was going to go onto a kind of religious quest with his much younger mistress / spiritual guide.   There was a family ceremony where Lord Father, dressed in a 1920's suit and blue magisterial robe, stood at the edge of the family property, holding a silvered cane and wearing a pack, ritually asking the family cleric for permission to go on his quest.  Permission granted, he and his mistress (wearing a lot of fuzzy fringe material) stepped out.  They had a short photo-op hushed conversation about first steps and freedom.

Simultaneously, I was reading this all in a book.  I was about two thirds of the way through, I Mark was asking me what I thought of the plot and had I gotten to a certain point in the plot (I hadn't).

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.