About Me

I'm creamy and flavorful. I go well with raspberries. I plan to keep getting more delightful with age, so stick around! I like to travel, both physically and in my own head. I buy a lot of books just because I like the way they look and smell. If "old paper" was a glade scent, I'd plug them in all over my house. Ummm... I can lick my elbow. If you're reading this, you've probably already had the pleasure of witnessing it. Also, I love dishwashers.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Convertibles, clouds, colored leaves and castles.

I love my car. 

Seriously. When poor Kyle got totaled, I thought I would replace him with something that gave me little more than reliable transportation. I didn't think a car could be such an emotional pick-me-up. But no matter how frustrated, cranky or discouraged I am, there's really nothing like driving around in cold, sunny weather with the convertible top down and the heater blowing full-blast in my face. It's actually quite cozy in there with the windows up. It helps that I'm short, too, so most of the cold air goes right over my head. I was sitting at a stoplight on my way home from work, singing along to my stereo and enjoying the mixture of hot and cold air, and total strangers kept smiling indulgently at me, like they were mocking me, but secretly wished they could do the same. 

For those of you who haven't seen Penelope, here she is!

Now that driving around town has put me in a better mood, I will attempt to rewrite (in fewer words) the lost blog post I spent all morning writing. Driving around only made me more in love with fall (and my car), but I was already going to mention in my would-be post that the sky has been incredibly pretty all week. If you haven't spent a lot of time looking up lately, you should start. We either get clear, blue skies, or we get clouds that take your breath away. Personally, I think we have the most interesting clouds in the country. They hover over the mountains and glow in the morning, appear impossibly high and graceful during the day, and then turn all sorts of fantastic colors in the evening. Sometimes, they even stand out long after dark, outlined by the moon. I think those are my favorites. They're both eerie and calming at the same time. In the interest of fairness, I'm glad that the mountains are to the east of us, so that side of the sky doesn't feel too left out come sunset. I hear the sunrises have been great too, but I really hate to be awake to see them. I do appreciate them when I have to be up that early. 

For some reason, I felt inspired to revisit my pictures from our trip to England last summer, and I came across these shots from Leeds Castle. At the time of our visit, I was slightly irritated with the castle's former inhabitants for "modernizing" it, but this room has since become one of my favorites of all time. It's everything I love about fall in the form of walls and furniture. You can see the blue sky; a conglomeration of red, yellow and green foliage; solid, billowy, white clouds; dark browns from the ground and bare trees; and gold leaves scattered here and there. 

Isn't it perfect? While we're in Leeds Castle, I might as well show you the library, because right now, I feel like a good library is all that's missing from my life, and this one was so charming and comfortable.

The moldings are important, too, as are the lights from on top of the shelves... 
I don't know what you call those.

And there's my pretty sister. We already know that she looks good in my new library, too, 
so that's a plus. Her purse and skirt even match the decor!

And, finally, my favorite corner. Naturally, it's the darkest part of the room. I could have spent all day there if we didn't have so many things to see that day (and if there hadn't been a rope and a sign discouraging tourists like myself from sitting on the couch).

I am considering designating a room of my house as a "creative safe room," where no stressful thoughts are allowed. No arguments, worrying, or administrative busy work.  I'd force myself to spend an hour or two in there every day. Since most of my goals and aspirations are creative in nature, and I spend shamefully little time on them, I would ultimately feel more fulfilled and productive if I spent entire days doing creative things in my anti-everything-else room.  I could come out only to exercise, drive my pretty car, admire the sky, talk to people I love, grow things in pots, learn to cook fancy meals, and occasionally sing along to musicals while washing the dishes. I think that even if I lived in a castle, I would want to sometimes do the dishes.  Maybe we could put a dishwasher and stove in the safe room? That'd be the life.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I can never think of clever titles, especially when the post itself is not quite clever.

It's been a shamefully long time since I wrote a blog post. I have only two excuses to offer: (1) I didn't see the point in blogging about all the same things that Joanna blogged about while I was traveling with her. If you haven't read her blog, you should. (2) Since I returned home on September 18th, I have had only one day off. I did not spend it blogging. The only reason I am blogging now is because I seem to be sick. I'm going to work from 1 to 7:30-ish, so I'm resting while I can.

Because my life is not very exciting, I am now going to tell you all about my day off, and the projects going on in my house. Here goes: 

My day off happened to be Saturday, which made it even more of a treat.  It was a nearly perfect day, complete with wonderful people, antiques, my sweet boyfriend, and quite a lot of food. The day would have been unparalleled if I hadn't been getting sick. 

First there was some brief but very successful garage-saling. Then there was a Golden Pride breakfast burrito and coffee, a little bit of yoga and gardening, and a cleaned kitchen before we met back up for sushi and bubble tea. The afternoon/evening began with Music-go-Round and the most amazing bubblegum pink guitar you could ever ask for. I have never asked for one, personally, but I imagine lots of people might. It caught my eye, and so I jokingly suggested that Randy buy it. He did. Don't worry, it's for his guitar club... unless he falls in love with it and keeps it.

We found some really neat things at the Classic Century Square antique place on Central, but everything in there seemed to be much more expensive than I remembered it. Most of the time, they could not even justify their prices with an impressive date. Half the tags just said "old this" and "old that". U-Neek Finds next door was far more entertaining and had very good prices. I came away with this little beauty:

How great is that??? It's a picnic basket just for wine! The glasses, cloth napkins and wine key all came with it. I can't wait to use it.  Too bad you can't drink wine at city parks, huh? We'll see what my next day off allows... We also agreed that I should try to go get a job over there, because the people working there were so much fun. The lady that we think might be the owner sang us a song about dead puppies. It was a nice way to wind down the shopping adventures. We hit Big Lots later that evening, and finished with wine, cheese and pancakes.

While I was hitting the second-hand shops, my house was undergoing many wonderful changes, and I cannot take credit for any of them. My dad has worked very hard in the garage. If you've ever seen my garage before, you know how remarkable the picture below is. One could almost put a car inside! Almost.

Attention former roommates! No more horrible, overflowing laundry water bucket!!! There is still a bucket, but it is outside, where flooding is no longer a disaster. The dryer vents outside now, too. The laundry area in general is quite a bit cleaner, and the rug that was water-logged one too many times has been dragged away at last. 

Speaking of roommates... I miss my roommates. Most recently, the Hollers left me to get their own place near Sandia Park. It's very cute. Being alone has it's ups and downs. It's way too quiet, and I get lonely, but it's kind of nice to have the house back to myself. When I finally get back into my own bedroom, I'll have to start playing with the extra room I have now.

Painting is being done in more than one place:

 The tiling in my bathroom is done, thanks to Mark Hawn! Now we just have to finish up some repair work above the shower, paint, and put in a new sink and toilet. I have had visions for many months now about how I'd like to decorate that little bathroom. Maybe some of them will come true.

In the meantime, my bedroom looks like this. Scary, isn't it?

And my temporary bedroom looks like this:

Also, I bought a new rug.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The little things...

It's an odd moment when you realize that the most exciting thing you did that week was pick a yellow squash from your garden. You gotta admit, that's a beautiful squash. 

Cooking and eating said squash was equally thrilling.  No, I'm not being sarcastic. I truly looked forward to it for days.

It's not that my life is boring. I do a lot, mostly work related, but at least they are fun jobs. I invent silly crafts and force kids to make them with me. Occasionally, I get the kids to be almost as excited about the craft as I am. Egg carton elephant - we were talking about family bonds and loyalty that day -

Last week, I made sheep coin banks out of tennis balls.

But then none of my kids showed up that evening, so I saved my sheep-making paraphernalia for a later date. 

I stuff roasted green chilies into ziplock baggies. I get in silly fights with the cash register and leave little notes inside of it for my boss, explaining the discrepancies in numbers. I try to answer questions such as, "If I buy a bushel of chile, does the bushel come with it?" ... without asking the customer what language she's speaking.

I stare at computer screens that look like this:

The above article is about "Odd Thomas," the film that my dear friend Jessica is currently working on. I'm usually proud of the way the layout comes out. After 2 years, In-Design and I have reached an understanding.  I understand that it does very strange things for no apparent reason, and that if I undo one of those things repeatedly for six months, it will eventually stop doing it. 

 A few weeks ago, I played with hot glass.

THAT was awesome. I'd love to be able to do things like that more often. I write articles, usually several days after they were due. Sometimes I interview people or read entire books to write these late articles, and I always learn something.

I practice rolling my r's in the shower, just in case I decide to start learning Italian again someday. I'm self-conscious about my retarded tongue.

I hang out with this guy a lot :)  

This was taken at Los Golondrinas with my family, right next to a mill pond that smelled like dead frogs. It smelled even worse because I was hungry. Underneath the mill smelled wonderful - like old books, cold dirt, mildewy wood, and flour.  I learned some cool things that day, but all I remember now are the smells. Lavender. Hay. Greasy wool. Bread. Horse.  I had a migraine, and migraine brains do not hold on to facts as well as you might hope. I was also probably thinking more about being there with my boyfriend than about anything else. Yes, I am lame like that.  I do remember the lady who was explaining the medicinal uses of a variety of herbs she had laid out on a table.  Randy I were sniffing one of them when the lady said, in front of my dad and stepmom, "I notice you're enjoying that together. That's great! It's an aphrodisiac." Wow. Thank you, herb lady.  Of course, I've forgotten the name of the plant now. Too bad...

So, obviously, I do not do nothing, but it feels that way sometimes. 

Today, I rationed my time and chose to thoroughly water my lawn and garden instead of walking my dog. Two hours later, a monsoon hit. Figures. Then I chose playing my viola over working out. There are not enough hours in the day to do the things I wish to do... If I didn't have to sleep or earn money, I would study the Bible more, get in shape, read philosophy and literature and history, write tons of fiction, learn a new language, play several instruments,  take pictures, hang out at the old folks home down the street, go on long hikes, train my dog so he's not so neurotic, fix my credit score, have a better garden, get over my fear of bowling, become a better swimmer, camp outdoors, keep my room clean, learn to drive standard, make pottery, go on day trips and picnics, bake breads, have more long, wonderful conversations in a bomb shelter, volunteer at food banks, go to plays and operas... and scrapbook every day of it.

Someday, maybe, I will make time for half of those things.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wearing myself out (and loving most of it)

I cannot say with any honesty that I love being tired, but I do love the things I'm doing that are making me tired, except for insomnia. I had a hectic week. My editor is out of town, and I am trying to be both of us. I left my desk at 7:30 Wednesday evening, after allowing my car seats to soak up rain for an hour. I was awake all night Wednesday night, and by 12:30 pm, I'd made the trip from Tramway and Montgomery to the West Side four times, and NONE of my work had been completed.  I started all over again at 7am Friday morning. I finally succeeded and returned home very proud of myself, only to discover that I'd completely forgotten about the 11 gallons of fresh veggies I was supposed to cut up, bag, and deliver to VBS that afternoon. Then followed one of the most amazing messes I have made in the kitchen in many months. The whole house smelled like cauliflower when I arrived home again. I'm hoping for smoother sailing this next week.

I drove up to Springer, NM today for a Wings prison party. It was a long day, but worth every second. Oddly enough, when my boss asked me to share my thoughts about the party, I couldn't think of much to say. I always do that, and it drives me crazy. It was actually a very fun, educational, and even humbling experience for me. It was my first "prison party" in an actual prison - very different from the Women's Recovery Academy earlier this year. There were rolls of barbed wire on all the fences. The men wore orange jumpsuits, and the guards carried guns. The atmosphere, however, was not at all what I expected. I'm afraid of security and always have been. I HATED going through airport security even before TSA got crazy on us. The officers at Springer immediately put me at ease. They smiled and introduced themselves, and they even helped us unload our van. Their relaxed, friendly demeanors set the tone for the rest of my experience there.

When we go into prisons, we are there to serve the inmates and their families, and to show them God's love. But today, I found the inmates repeatedly trying to serve us.  I had not expected that at all. Just before the party was due to start, I was near the entrance, greeting visitors as they arrived and asking them to make name tags. There were two inmates, one of them acting very nervous, looking out a nearby window. The nervous one said to his friend, "Maybe she's not coming." His friend kept reassuring him that if she said she'd be there, she'd be there. I felt immediately invested in whether or not the wife or girlfriend in question would arrive, and when she finally did, I smiled shamelessly while they embraced. She made a name tag and pretended not to notice I'd been staring at her, and the couple went in to join the party, leaving the second inmate standing alone. He looked like the stereotypical "scary" looking convict. Use whatever image comes to mind. He heard me mention that I was thirsty. I immediately forgot that I'd said it. Ten minutes later, when I'd already moved on to another task, he tracked me down and handed me a cup of ice water. It might sound like a small thing, but it's precisely because it's a small thing that most of us would not bother. That was the first time I realized that these men wanted to make us feel welcome in their facility.

There was another guy by the name of Gerald (Jerald?) who helped us in every possible way before, during and after the party. I think if he'd had his way, we would not have lifted a single box all day. I got a chance to talk to him for a while. We talked about his family, who were not there today, his experiences with Christianity and the church, and the long-term goals that were put on hold by his bad choices. He'll be released in less than two months. He told me that he hopes to get work as an electrician, maybe find a church to join, and eventually go back to school. Near the end of the party, I sat down with a group as they ate their meal and talked. An inmate who could not have been older than 21 offered me his chair and then poured me a glass of lemonade. He and his family had caught my attention earlier while we were singing praise music. He had one arm around his little sister and the other up over his head while he sang. I talked to his mom some, too, and I think she might join us for a Monday night Wings meeting sometime soon.

I am currently too tired to channel these random snapshots into anything insightful or clever. I just wanted to present the things that stood out me. If I were a good writer (or at least an awake one), I would give the observations more meaning for you. I guess I still have to process them and figure out how my perspective is supposed to be shaped.

Oh! and I'm getting a new bathroom!!!! Well, it's the same bathroom. But it will be retiled and have new plumbing and such. I'm excited. I had this crazy notion that my unexplainable fever of over a month was caused by black mold, even though I'd seen very little of it in my bathroom. My wonderful dad decided I might actually be onto something. He came over and pulled up my linoleum. Sure enough, mold was thriving under there. I haven't been using that bathroom for about a week now, and I feel a little better already. I'd like to think they're connected. I'll try to post pictures as the project progresses.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Little Garden

I have never been so happy to see rain in my life. I'd almost forgotten how glorious it is. I ran around in it like a little kid, and I'm pretty sure my garden would have too if it had legs.  The rain sent some of my plants into little fits of joy. Not very long ago, the flowers below were sad little skeletons of the plants they once were. They are now making a glorious comeback!

Herbs seem to be easier than flowers or vegetables. We have oregano, basil, rosemary, sage and thyme.  Truth be told, my basil plant is the only plant I'm very proud of. After killing five of them (5!!!), I discovered the secret: more sunlight, more room to grow, occasional trimmings, and much less water. In the past, when my indoor basil plants started to look sad - either from lack of sunlight or because they'd outgrown their pots, I'd overreact and drown them. This one likes to dry out in between waterings, even in 95 degree weather. He was much bigger this morning, but I gave him much-needed haircut.

This brave little honeydew plant almost died when I first took it home from my sister's garden, but she's pretty happy now. Apparently, she thinks she's big enough to support melons already. Maybe they'll be golf ball sized melons...
 The watermelon, in contrast to its melon sister, is determined to remain 2 inches tall forever. Those are beets scattered around them.

The thing about planting metal containers is that it basically acts like a cake pan. You know how when you bake in a nonstick pan, the edges of the cake pull away as they cook? These barrels do that, too.
For some reason, the barrel below gets much dryer than the rest. My dad gave me my first olla, which I just dug in yesterday. If it helps significantly, I'll buy more. What you see in there with the marigold is swiss chard and a big blank spot, either for beans or a baby zucchini that is currently hanging out with the spinach.

My tomato plants: Brad (a "Bradley Heirloom"), Angelina and Jennifer (both "Early Girls"). Shannon told me that it's mean to make Jennifer hang out with them. I assure you that in tomato world, they all get along fine. At least I think so. Jennifer is currently the only one not blooming, but I think that's just a coincidence.

This peach tree was an accident. I think it came out of the compost pile. I don't even remember how long it's been there, but it's growing steadily. Last year, it gave us quite a few peaches. I think someone must have let it slip that it was unwanted, and so it is pouting. No peaches :(

Sometimes I get the urge to spray paint things yellow. Thus, I have yellow patio furniture. 

This is my spinach box. It only gets a few hours of direct sunlight in the mornings, and that seems to be working well so far.

The bigger thing in the back corner is a zucchini that will be transferred to the barrel in a few days.

Just thought I'd share, and now I'm about to be late for work.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Clogs! (AKA my favorite thing in the whole wide world)

I went thrift store shopping yesterday with Joanna and Alison. My objective was to find jeans, as all of mine either have holes in them or have grown too small. After trying on about 14 pairs and then buying several shirts that I don't need, I was glad to move on to the next store. I procrastinated when we arrived, and instead of looking for jeans, we spent half an hour in what can only be called the "random crap" section of the store. Among the many treasure we found there were: a giant Barbie head, a painted ceramic rooster with real tail feathers, several creepy clown dolls (at least I think they were clowns), a coffee mug that I'm fairly certain I gave away earlier this year, and a very classy serving tray featuring scenes from Coal Miner's Daughter. 

Near the end of our hunt, I came around a corner just in time for Alison to ask me, "Do you want some clogs?" 

I answered, "yes," with confidence before I'd seen them. Then I looked, and there, in her hands, were the new loves of my life.

I immediately realized that I really did want them.  I reinforced my "yes" with "Do I!!!" At that moment, I felt as if I'd never wanted anything more.  Sad, I know, but I'm really not kidding. Are they not the most magnificent clogs you've ever seen? They might be the most magnificent anything I've every seen... 

I'm happy to say that I brought these masterpieces home with me - and I even managed to find a pair of jeans on my way out. I was elated. I still am!  I walked around in them for a while last night, and they are really not very comfortable, but I don't mind. I hadn't really planned on wearing them, anyway. But what do you think? Could I pull them off? (Don't answer that.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

If I could be anywhere...

I have been thinking often of my holodeck dream world... the one with the peaks that look like they're made of glass, the turquoise river far below me, and the cold wind. I've been wishing to visit it. I miss it, especially when I cannot fall asleep (which is often). Sadly, it is not a place I can visit whenever I wish. I can hardly form the memory of it in my mind most of the time. The strange thing about wanting to go there when I'm trying to fall asleep is that it's hardly a retreat or a place to find peace. If I do manage to immerse myself in the memory of that place and recall the feelings it prompts in me, I find myself more awake than before. If I wanted to relax, I might transport myself back here:

I am aware that my pictures may not show up by the time anyone reads this. If you can't see them, they are shots I took in a tiny English village in the countryside.... still water; old stone walls; weeping willows and daffodils. Or I could go back to Venice. There's a busy-ness about it, but the warm, clear air and water - the absence of cars, buses or motorcycles - is calming. There are days when I could kill to be back there. 

But tonight, that's not what I want.  The dream world I crave is nothing like the English Cotswolds or sunny Venice.  My mountains are not friendly, probably not even safe. They're like something out of C.S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet, with its breathtaking, yet threatening, landscapes. The closest real-life approximation I can come up with is a cathedral. I took a hundred pictures inside the Canterbury and Salisbury cathedrals, but I'm not going to show you any. The memory is almost spoiled by looking at them. For one thing, my camera had issues with the dim, irregular lighting and the immensely tall ceilings. Even if I'd had total mastery of my camera that day, however, I think pictures would still be disappointing.  Why reduce something so large and majestic to a mere 5x7 rectangle? I tried anyway, of course, but nothing compares to being there. Standing in Canterbury Cathedral before the morning crowds had arrived, I felt little tremors of the awe I feel in my holodeck dreams. These tremors came and went and were not overwhelmingly strong, but the power was there. It was cold, still, and so beautiful that breathing became uncomfortable. There is no rest to be had in a place like that, but that's where I would choose to be right now, if I could.  I want to be awestruck and unsettled. 

When I compare the quiet, peaceful countryside with the inside of Canterbury cathedral, I think of two sides of the God I serve... Sometimes it's loving Shepherd I need, with his green pastures and still water. (Every time I read Psalm 23 now, I picture a little place in the Cotswolds called Lower Slaughter... delightful place with an unfortunate name. I doubt the Good Shepherd would lead his lambs there.) Other times, I'd rather tremble before the almighty God of the universe. I don't know that the dream means anything. It's only recently that I've started analyzing this place I cannot get back to. I'm wide awake now after thinking about it, but there are worse ways to pass the time.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Abide with Me

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

We sang this hymn this morning in church, and it almost made me cry. Every week, we sing at least one song that contains so much passion, humility and truth that I get goosebumps singing the lyrics. I really love hymns, for the most part. I suppose some of them have pretty boring melodies, though I can name about 15 that are lovely even from a musical perspective... but the lyrics! I often wish I had words like those to offer up. It's like reading from Psalms, accept that they rhyme, and were written in English, so that the rhythm flows more naturally. There is often more Biblically sound, heart-wrenching theology to be found in hymns than in the average American sermon. I should probably clarify that most of the pastors I know today do not give average American sermons. I'm talking about sermons given by the many pastors who are afraid to speak the truth, to congregations that are poisoned either by tolerance or by legalism. This morning's sermon was far from average. Every time I see a topic like parenting or marriage on the bulletin, I think that I won't be directly applicable to me.  Thus far, I am always mistaken. 

Holidays tend to make me look back, measuring my current state by where I was a year ago and the years before that. Ordinarily, this retrospection leads to nostalgia at best. Gloominess is not uncommon. This is especially true on Mother's Day, which many of you know is among my top 3 least favorite days of the year. This was the first Mother's Day since 2004 that I have not dreaded going to a church service. For a while, I dreaded going to church at all, for multiple reasons, but on Mother's Day it was always especially difficult to muster the courage to face a "church crowd" comprised of happy faces who still have mothers, and among whom I never felt comfortable. That fear and anger did not begin to subside until God had dragged me, kicking and screaming, into the church He intended for me. Eventually, I found that I couldn't stay away. In all the changes God has made to my heart these past two years, His favorite tools have been sermons I've heard there. Last Mother's Day was still difficult, but not worthless. This morning, everything felt different. I could not wait to get to my church. I cheerfully sang the first two verses of "Abide with Me", having no idea what was coming. Then we reached the 3rd verse:

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

That's when I felt myself choking up. I can hardly believe what God has done in the past couple of years - what He did long before that, while I was still too ignorant and stubborn to pay attention. Again and again, I asked Him to change my circumstances, to give me "happiness" as I understood it. What He wanted to give me was Himself.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Writer's Cramp


No, it's not what you think. I often wish I could write entire manuscripts on parchment with a ink-dipped quill and tie it up with string and single red rose, like in Little Women - and then complain of a crippling cramp in my hand. That would be romantic. I feel that it would inspire me to write romantically, too...

... but no. This is a mental and emotional cramp.  If you spend time with people who write fiction, you might hear them say something to the effect of, "My heroine is misbehaving." Actually, I say that even when I'm writing nonfiction. Sometimes, I, the protagonist, cannot be persuaded to cooperate with me, the writer and narrator. It's maddening. This week, however, I'm faced with a much more difficult problem. My heroine is behaving just badly enough, you see. Her attitudes and actions are quite in keeping with her background, and in that sense, she is just as she should be. I'm proud of her hot-blooded passion, her magnificent scars, and her poorly-concealed vulnerability. The hero is behaving very well indeed. He's an angel, truth to be told - also in keeping with his personality, upbringing, and education. He's everything a well brought up 18th century European protagonist should be. Unfortunately, I have dropped him into a world where his virtues are neither shared nor valued. The minor characters - neighbors, relatives, and the rest of the town's inhabitants - are difficult to understand and almost impossible to control. I keep trying to guide them into my intended narrative, helped along by my adorable protagonist. More often than not, they laugh in his face and mine, and I'm forced to leave them be for a little while longer. Even the landscape mocks me. It's pure wilderness, in every sense of the word.

Late last night (or early this morning), when sleep was tugging at my eyelids, and bizarre dreams were beginning to poke holes in what began as a well-constructed scene, my handsome protagonist looked straight at me and asked, "Do you have ANY idea what we're doing here?" It was the first backtalk I'd received from him, and it was unsettling.

I wish I could say with confidence that I will not leave my hero to fend for himself.  The truth is, I am a quitter. I always have been.  Fortunately, the man I invented last week is anything but. For his sake, I am determined (I hope) to master this town and gain control of its inhabitants. If I cannot tame them through language, I will defeat them with research (again, I hope). Perhaps when they know that I'm no longer afraid of them, they'll decide to start participating in my plot.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Things that confuse, frighten or anger me:

1. My luck with cell phones.  I have only ever owned 2 phones that worked well, both of which were hand-me-downs. First, there was the razor. It liked to adjust it's own volume settings and turn itself on and off - especially when I was in class. Then there was the purple terror that just could not follow instructions when it came text messages. I would glance at my phone by chance just in time to see it announce, "message sent." I'd panic, having no idea what message it had sent and to whom.  I once sent a guy a message that said "Happy Birthday!" 4 days AFTER his birthday... 4 times.

I had a wonderful phone last spring.  It's at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean now. My current phone scrambles my text messages, placing them willy nilly into folders so that I often reply to the wrong person. This could potentially lead to some awkward situations.

2. Sappy commercials. I know they’ve been around for a long time, but I swear they get more ridiculous every day. I can understand why Betty Crocker, Downy and Charmin make cheesy, feel-good commercials. They think they’re playing a part in good ol’ fashioned family values, and who I am to say they’re not?  Food motivates families to gather in the same room. Moms do a lot of laundry… toddlers have sensitive bottoms… But what makes banks, credit cards and insurance companies think they should be in on the action?  Who are these people who see a sappy commercial and actually think, “Hey, Mastercard really cares!” Do they think we’re all idiots?

3. The Easter Bunny. A giant rabbit that lays eggs? Did they make that up to confuse and/or terrify little kids? I remember seeing a commercial many years ago, in which a white rabbit lays an egg while clucking like a chicken... or was it a white chicken with pink rabbit ears stuck to his head? I just remember thinking, "What is wrong with that animal?!!"

4. Obama’s openness award. First, the ceremony at which he planned to accept an award for his exceptional openness with the press was his ONLY event that day (maybe all week?) that wasn’t closed to the press. Then they canceled the ceremony at the last minute due to unavoidable, undisclosed changes in the President’s schedule. Hmmm…

5. Robert Pattinson.
 Enough said.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The tragedy of the murdered four o'clocks


In our writing group last week, we tried a one-leaf writing exercise get our creative juices going. I chose the one that said to describe something you can see outside your window. The only thing I could see, apart from perfectly ordinary tables and chairs with nothing on them, was a rather depressing potted plant. This is what I wrote:

...There's a large terra cotta planter outside. The sides are chipped and stained by years of rain and the occasional cigarette butt. Inside is the corpse of a flowering plant. The straw-colored stems rise side by side from the damp soil. They all lean the same direction, as though all bowing in shame before the same master. The leaves, now black and shriveled, hang far over the side of the planter. It looks like at any moment, the stems might admit defeat and let them go.  Maybe they died like that, clinging to their last shred of pride and beauty. The freeze must have come suddenly and without warning. There were none of the usual signals telling the stems to drop their leaves and bed down for the winter.  Beside them in the dirt, a colorful sign lies face up, showing off the splendid yellow, white and pink blossoms that once adorned this sad plant. That little sign is the only splash of color nearby, drawing the eye away from death and despair to the hope of what might live there again someday...

I hate to see planters, pots or flower beds full of dead plants. A dead plant is tragic. It suggests neglect, even if there was absolutely nothing its caretaker could have done to save it. I would much rather the pot be empty. An pot full of soil is  a wonderful thing. It speaks to me of promise and potential, offering itself as a cozy, protective home for whatever perfect baby plant with which I decide to entrust it. 

This has been a great week to get outside and work in the yard, so that's where the majority of my time has gone. Both my front and back  yards have been terrible eye sores all winter long, and it's great to finally make some progress. Before I can have green plants and pretty flowers, I have to cut away all the dead stuff that accumulated over the last few months. 

This is what most of the plants in my front yard look like now.

Almost all of my brave little pansies were killed in the cold spell, and their pots will have to be filled with something else.  I can't wait to have spring again!