Sunday, September 30, 2007

Zonked

I just spent the last hour staring at the screen. I was trying to decide whether to post my Poetry Train poem tonight or wait til morning. But choosing either meant another level of decision. If I went with the poem post I would have to choose a poem from my fast dwindling supply of them. And then decide whether to look for an illustration for it.... But if not the poem then I would have to decide what to post about and not just that but come up with a title for the post.

I kept finding myself zoned out on the sound of the rain on the trailer roof and the white space filling my screen.

When decisions are this hard to make, there must be something wrong with the options.

For the Poetry Train riders: I'll try to get my poem up by noon.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sunday Serenity #25



Nuf said.

Joins for a moment of Serenity

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Fruits of the Spirit Story World Portal

This post is a portal to my Fruits of the Spirit story world. It will have links to outtakes from this major WIP posted here or elsewhere and in time, I hope, include an orientation, a roster of characters, a list of the working titles of the eight (and counting) novels. That means this post will be updated regularly um occasionally urm. That way I can put a link to this post in the sidebar and/or link to it from past and future posts that reference this story world.



From the novel, The Substance of Things Hoped For:

Chapter One: Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities:
~ Part One ~ Part Two ~ Part Three ~ Part Four

Chapter Two: Strange Attractors
(not completed--no outtakes)

Chapter Three: Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes:
~ Part One ~ Part Two ~ Part Three ~Part Four ~ Part Five ~ Part Six
~ Part Seven ~ Part Eight ~ Part Nine ~Part Ten ~ Part Eleven

You can read the song Faye and Briana are singing in part 11 whole and uninterrupted here:
Monday Poetry Train #8 Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes

________________________

Other outtakes from the same story world but different novels and thus different POV characters:

A Tale of a Wail

Making Determinations and Kicking the Bucket (both from Reggie's story)

Home Is Where the Horror Is (Crystal's Story: part one; part two; part three; part four; part five; part six; part seven; part eight; part nine; part ten; part eleven; part twelve; part thirteen; part fourteen; part fifteen; part sixteen; )

Spring Fever

Brooding Instinct (Snippet 1; Snippet 2;)

How Does Your Garden Grow? part 1 part 2

Running in Circles part 1 part 2

Blow Me a Candy Kiss part 1; part 2; part 3; part 4; part 5;

Mobile Hopes Snippet 1;

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Friday Snipets 12

[Update; had to change the title as this was supposed to be the 12th Friday Snippet. I'm just now preparing the 13th. This message is in case this edit causes this post to appear in an RSS or blog reader and confuse someone expecting the latest snippet.]

Last week Cassie returned with a fighting-mad fifteen-year-old Briana handcuffed in the back seat of her patrol car. In part three she had left Briana's infant Brandy with Faye after finding her hanging on Beulah gate. Next week we'll return to that evening to see Briana and Brandy settle in with Faye.

Two weeks ago Faye, Julia and Wilma were awaiting the search party for five-year-old Briana who had last been seen swinging on Beulah gate with her rag doll, Dollbaby. The ladies had found the doll hanging on the gate as they returned home that evening.

The ladies were joined in their wait by a number of new characters and some readers expressed confusion. Since all five of those new characters are back this week, and five more are going to be added, I thought I should present a roster:

Faye and Julia are twin sisters.
Wilma is Faye's sister-in-law, (twin to Inny, who we met in part 4)
Jerrica and Troll are college students working on a documentary
Mae Bea Morgan makes rag dolls for a living and is mother to Fancy who is mother to Briana
Cassie is Fancy's best friend and at the time the two fifteen-year-olds are a singing duo called 'The Rag Dolls' with local celebrity; they were the subject of the documentary.
Lawson 'Brick' Travis volunteers with the local Search and Rescue. Training volunteers and search dogs is his specialty. He brought with him two of his trainees and their trainee dogs:
Jason and Snoopy
Brandon and Snow
(And yes I counted the dogs as two of the five. They have names and are most definitely characters in this story)

OK, I hope that helps. One of these days I will get around to making a linked list of the parts to this story and the first one, Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities. Meanwhile it is not too much of a hassle to locate them with the Friday Snippet label.

Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes

8

Faye was watching through the windshield of Jerrica’s van that night. They are jouncing down the rutted road towards the house, keeping pace with the searchers on foot to either side of them. Troll is standing beside her, head and arms protruding through the open sun-roof. His camera’s bright light creates a migrating pocket of illumination to put the sun to shame.

A dozen paces ahead of them two boys in black shirts and jeans held the taut leashes of dogs. The dogs meandered along the left side of the road. The river side. There was a collective intake of breath in the van when Snow, the white Husky, led his master, Brandon Abelard into the thicket. And a collective sigh when all he did was circle a beech tree and return. Brick Travis’s German Shepherd, Snoopy--being handled tonight by Jason, Brick’s young brother-in-law--also took the detour around the beech but stopped to put his paws as far up the slick trunk as he could reach and sniff hard at the sky before abandoning it.

"We are following the dogs who were given the scent off Dollbaby. So far, despite a couple of forays into the bushes, they continue to follow this road. And we hope little Briana did so herself, rather than wandering into the woods where it would be rough going for little feet and getting lost in the bewildering maze of brush a near certainty for a city-bred five-year-old." Jerrica is speaking a running commentary into the mike mounted on the dash as she maneuvers the van around an especially tight curve.

"The river is about six yards just to the left of that spruce." Faye said.

"No need to borrow trouble Sister." Julia said, but she pressed her face to the window beside her as the spruce glided by.

"There is a path leading down to the bank just ahead." Wilma said. "Should we inform Mr. Travis?"

"Brick knows this river like his own back yard." Julia said.

"Because after all it is." Mae Bea muttered, her mouth so close to the window her words fogged it and she raised an arm to wipe it off with her sleeve.

Julia turned to cast a sharp look on her. "You got something against Mr. Travis?" She asked.

"Mr. Travisty we called him. Even in high school he was a stuffed shirt."

"Well that stuffed shirt has the skills to find your granddaughter."

"That might make him smart but it don’t make him nice."

"Good thing he doesn’t need your blessing to do his duty."

"Never was much of anything he needed." She started back from the window as a face floated by outside.

Jerrica slowed the van as Brick laid a hand on her window-well. "Stop on the bend just ahead and aim your lights down the bank for the boys." He stepped onto the running-board and motioned Jerrica to advance.

"Sure thing Mr. Travis." Jerrica said. "Are the dogs onto something?"

"Might be. They left the road." he paused and cocked an ear. "But they’re not excited so--don’t get your…"

"Hopes up?" Jerrica finished for him. "’Hope, that thing with feathers that perches in the soul.’ Miss Emily had such a way with words don’t you think?"

"I wouldn’t know Miss Holmes. I just know the ways of these woods…and of five-year-olds. The combination does not offer much reason for…" He glanced towards the back of the van where Cassie and Mae Bea embraced a trembling Fancy.

"Hope." Jerrica supplied again. "Hope may fly in the face of reason Mr. Travis, but it needs no reason to fly. Hope, like faith and love, is its own reason."

Brick Travis shrugged. "Well, if you ladies depend on such things, now might be a good time to try prayer. As long as you can do so while shining that light down on my boys."

"You may depend on it, Mr. Travis." Faye said.

"I depend on my dogs and my boys. I trained them well." He slapped the door. "Here is fine. The dogs led them down between that boulder and that larch. There is a path just below there that leads to a beach several yards up stream but there is a drop-off the other side of the path. The river is about ten feet below and at that spot is deep between the boulders. And fast."

"You have a way with words yourself, Mr. Travis." Jerrica set the parking brake as Troll levered himself up through the sunroof and leapt to the ground to train camera and light on the van as the women got out.

"Words are for stating the facts, Miss Holmes." Brick held the door for Jerrica.

"Facts can be colored by expectations, Mr. Travis." Faye came around the front of the van and gazed into the blackness beyond the headlights' range where the sound of water grappling with rock could be heard. "And expectations are based on experience. We grant that you have plenty of experience in these matters. But so do we and our experience colors the facts a different shade. No more nor less valid than yours."

Brick listened respectfully but shook his head. "I’ve seen too many of these go bad."

"Yes. And I’m willing to wager you’ve seen as many go right. But right now you are choosing to remember the one and not the other. Stay open to the possibilities Mr. Travis or life will become tedious beyond despair." She reached out and patted his hand.

"Since duty requires me to be prepared for anything, I shall try to remember your advice mam." Brick’s smile could not disguise his doubts.

"Duty requires hope, else it has no purpose." Faye said. "Only the hope that our efforts might make a difference has the power to motivate."

A sudden chorus of howls, boys and dogs, rescued Brick from Faye and he trotted down the trail towards it followed by Troll and led as though tethered by the globe of light that bounced and bobbled among the branches and brambles. The light snagged on a four-way tug of war between boys and dogs over an object so small that when it was finally held aloft by a triumphant Jason it was all but engulfed by his fist.

"Brick!" Jason called. "Look what Snoopy found! In the roots of that hazelnut tree."

"Snow found it first." Brandon said. "But I’ve trained him not to disturb the evidence."

The women, led by Faye caught up with the men just in time to see displayed on Jason’s outstretched palm, muddy laces dangling, a child’s shoe. twin to the ones that Dollbaby wore. All eyes riveted on the shoe and it seemed the very night held its breath. And then as though born of the sudden breeze that surged about them, a voice--part song, part sob:

"Oh don’t you remember a long time ago,
There were two little babes, their names I don’t know.
They wandered away one bright summers day
And were lost in the woods, I heard people say."

Snow and Snoopy broke the spell shoe and song had cast on them. With anxious whines and assertive woofs, they circled the Hazelnut tree whose roots had clutched the shoe. As Troll aimed the camera and light at them, Snoopy stood on his hind legs clawing at the bark with his front paws while Snow repeatedly lunged for the lowest branch about six feet above his head. And almost made it too, as the tree did not stand straight but arched over the narrow foot-path, its upper limbs--leaf and fruit laden--reaching out over the river.

As the boys rushed to calm their charges, Troll panned the camera with a slow caress of light up the trunk, illuminating an intricate weave of branches, twigs and leaves until it located the source of the song and the object of their longing. The child hung from the tree, a branch about the thickness of a baby’s arm hooked through her overall strap. Her feet pendulate about twenty feet above the water, the single shoe glowing against the black beyond the light.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #52



Thirteen Bumps and Thumps on Murphy's Roller Coaster Ride That Was My Weekend


1. It began with me waking about nine in anticipation of spending a couple hours of quality time with Ed before he left for the races with his folks in the afternoon. He had to work that morning but assured me he would be home by noon. He didn't arrive until 1:30 because his boss had ordered pizza for the crew in honor of Ed's birthday coming up on Monday. Then he had to spend the remaining half hour making his cigarettes for the rest of the day out on the front porch which is the designated smoking area for he and his Dad. So while he happily visited with his folks about the races scheduled for that day, I sat in our room stewing in jealously juice, counting the things that seemed to put the light in my husband's eyes more often and more readily than I could: bosses, workmates, The Job, his parents, dirt track races, cigarettes.

(Yeah, I was having a bit of a pity party. But I have issues with The Job thing going waaay back to childhood and how my relationship with my father was impacted by his relationship with his Job. Later it will be clearer why this particular weekend I was more primed than usual to react badly to these triggers.)

2. Ed and his folks left at 2 and I knew I had to do something drastic to snap myself out of the dark mood I'd fallen into. It was a glorious day outside. 80 degrees with a gentle breeze. There wasn't likely to be many more like it. Especially on a race day Saturday when I had freedom to roam the house and yard without fear of being in anyones way.

Why can't I be like normal people and follow a spontaneous idea with quick and simple action? Say I had gone with the idea of enjoying the perfect weather by sitting in the back yard with an iced-coffee, my cat Merlin, and one book--say Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows which I'd started the previous Sunday evening and then set aside because of the final four of the 70 Days of Sweat and meme visiting. I could have been settled in under fifteen minutes and had up to five hours of relaxing reading. But no, that wouldn't be me. Nor would there now be a story worth telling.

(This relates to another one of the issues I had with my Dad. Or he had with me. He teased me. He chided me. He shook his head in despair. But he could never break me of it. I've written about it before.)

I had to take with me all the materials for several projects I hoped to work on that day. The one element common to nearly all projects was the laptop. I could have opted for the front porch where there was a handy electric socket and an awning that would shade the laptop screen enough to make it visible to me. And no steps to lug things down. But the front porch smells like ashtrays; faces the neighbor's kitchen window; has no safe place to stake Merlin's leash; and the front edge is so close to the road it's possible to shake hands with passersby.

Nope. It had to be the back yard for pleasantness and privacy. That entailed first of all stringing a fifty-foot electric cord from the carport out front to the patio table near the back fence. My father-in-law has half a dozen of these cords rolled up with their ends plugged into one another hanging on hooks next to the shed. The first one I unrolled was too short. The second one was only a two-prong plug. By the time I had the right cord plugged in and strung across the yard, my arms were good for little else than hanging at my side.

3. I'd taken Merlin and the big cardboard box I planned to set the laptop up inside of out with me on that first trip. Just before leaving my sister, Jamie, had IMed and I asked her to wait for fifteen to thirty minutes while I got set up outside. The thirty minute were up by the time I got back in. Realizing this caused me to hurry my pace. Bad idea for a clumsy, sight-impaired and now weak-armed and bare-foot woman. I lost count of the trips back and forth in the next half an hour. And I no longer remember on which trip which thing happened. At first I was just taking things out by the armful, not bothering with boxes or bags. But after a few trips I realized that if I didn't need them for the rest of the things going out, I would need them for bringing the stuff back in. If I didn't want to start moving in a good hour before I lost the light, that is.

So I got out the two bags you see me hauling in my profile picture which have been stored away since the library closure in April. And my soft-sided attache with shoulder strap. I filled the latter with files and notebooks and office supplies. I filled the kitty bag with books, more office supplies, and sewing stuff. The backpack I reserved for taking out the laptop which which would go out last as I could not leave it out there unattended.

On various trips between bedroom and backyard I tripped over Merlin's leash; I skinned the knuckles of my toes on Merlin's stake; I slammed a shoulder into a door casing; I bumped an elbow on a doorknob; and stepped on a sharp rock hidden in the grass.

4. When I think I am finally ready to bring out the laptop, I realize that it is after three and I am thirsty and hungry and that by the time I get snacks and drinks gathered up and hauled outside it will be another half hour. Which means that I really ought to sort the laundry and get the first load on before I got settled outside. Half an hour later, with the laundry started without further incident, I'm in the kitchen raiding the fridge. I decide that I'm in the mood for an iced-coffee which I haven't had since I got sick three weeks ago because I'd been having my daily cup in the now chilly mornings. In order to get the ice, I have to break apart the cubes frozen together by the water leaked onto them by the malfunctioning ice-maker. I've been doing this all summer. Mostly without incident. Except for that one time I cut my finger on an ice-cube.

So I was using the meat-tenderizing hammer to pound the pile of cubes when I punched the ice-cube maker with my fist, skinning my knuckles, jarring my wrist, elbow and shoulder and whiplashing my neck.

Oh, boy. I knew I was going to be in for it now. There have been times when a single one of these jarring incidents laid me up for over a week with inflamed joints and a pain cycle that ramped itself up in a viscous feedback loop. I'd lost count of how many there had been in the last two hours. But this one was the worst by far and if the shoulder to the door casing had not done in my neck, this one surely had. Having pain or stiffness in my neck prevents me from scanning my environment while in motion to compensate for the severe tunnel vision caused by the RP.

5. By the time I got my snack stuff moved outside, the first load of laundry was done. So I switched it to the dryer and started a second load before going after my laptop. Earlier, when I had started to prepare it to go out, I had picked the power cord up off the floor and laid it on the bed. Apparently I had inadvertently unplugged a section of it for I found the laptop cold. It had hibernated. Which meant it was now off line and I was going to have to sign back in to IM and email and blogger and... annoying but not devastating. Like everything else that had happened since I woke up.

6. I get the laptop out there and set up in the cardboard box on the patio table only to discover that the table is too high for me to see into the box at the right angle. So I have to unplug it from the back to take it with me as I head to the front porch to get one of the folding tray tables. No big deal as I hadn't woke it up yet anyway.

Once back out there with the laptop set up inside the box on top of the small table, I woke it up. And could see nothing but a black screen. Ooops. I forgot to wake up the screen by tapping the touch pad. Nope. Still nothing but shades of gray. And then I realized that while I took all that time to get moved out and set up, the sun had moved to the opposite end of the yard and was now shining over my left shoulder straight into the box. Five seconds of eye-rolling and a couple of big sighs later, I started moving my stuff to the other side of the patio table with the back of the box aimed West. This involved more than just moving the laptop and its table and box. It was the entire workstation I had set up so that everything was within reach from the chair once I sat down.

6. By the time I was all set up again, it was 4:30. So two and a half hours after telling my sister to give me half an hour, I am signing back into my IM. While I wait for it I open the container of cold tuna and noodles and start munching. And that gets Merlin's attention. In all my careful set up I'd forgotten to take into account where I was on the arc of Merlin's reach. Where I had been set up in the first place I had been safely out of reach. Not now. He could reach my whole right side and kept grabbing at the hand holding the fork or trying to climb my knee. When I put the fork back in the container so I could type, he wound his leash in a figure eight around both ankles and then stood on his hind legs and reached for my hands which were now on the keyboard. When I pulled back, the table tilted forward and the box fell off carrying the open laptop with it. Heart in throat. Feet in thrall. And there goes the IM tone announcing my sister has discovered I am back.

OK. You have permission to laugh. No lasting damage was done to self, cat or computer. When I picked up the laptop, I found it had closed itself somehow and the only repercussion was a loose cap on the left ctrl key which snapped right back into place when I discovered it later that night.

7. So I get it all set up again and respond to my sister's IM. I tell her all about my Murphy adventure and she tells me all about her day. Until I realize that it is after five-thirty and I tell her that I have only a bit over an hour before I have to start moving my stuff back in and I'm going to be really disgusted if I don't even get to use anything except the IM. But once we've said our goodbyes I realize I've an urgent need to go in the house. Which means taking the laptop with me and making sure I tap the pad or a key every three minutes so it doesn't go to standby and thus loose WIFI connection. As I head for the steps, Merlin races me and we barely avoid a collision. He is yanked to a stop by his leash. I realize he has been outside away from his food and water and litter box for nearly four hours. No wonder he is so eager. I go back and unhook his leash at the stake.

While in the house, I discover both washer and dryer silent. So I take care of the first load which is six pair of Ed's Jeans, transfer the second load which is two large blankets, and start the third load which is three small fleece blankets and some shirts, sweats, shorts and pajamas. I am now really feeling the pain and stiffness from the jarring incidents. I noticed it first when I was pulling those wet jeans out of the washer earlier but its worse now and pulling those large waterlogged blankets out was torture. And reaching over my head to pull down the nearly full gallon jug of detergent? Don't even go there. Then there was shaking out and folding the six pair of jeans while constantly brushing my skinned knuckles against the denim, zippers, seams.

8. When I got back outside the breeze had really kicked up and had a bit of a chill to it. I was barefoot and wearing Capri's. So I dashed back and grabbed the fleece blanket still on the floor just inside the door with the fourth load. Yeah, we have a lot of those. I think they breed in the dark.

It was obvious the breeze was going to prevent work on any project involving loose paper or even opened books I wasn't holding with both hands. This ruled out many of the projects I'd brought out with me, including any that involved both the computer and any books or notebooks used in conjunction.

I had less than an hour now. And if I wanted to do the photo shoot of my needlework, it had better be in the next fifteen minutes. But a little thought nixed the idea. Before I could take more pictures I had to get the ones in the camera dumped onto the computer and in order to do that I had to take the laptop out of the box to plug in the USB cord. By the time I got that done, the light for a photo shoot would be gone. It seemed my efforts to get pictures of my needle work were doomed yet again. I've been trying since March!

Instead I settled on multi-tasking. I called up Ed's Sunday Serenity post which he had posted that morning and told me that afternoon was another music video. So I watched and listened to it and several of the related ones as I went about making the bib slips for Harry Potter 5 and 6 which I'd finished in August and could have returned to my niece on her visit the previous weekend if not for having this little five minute chore to do. I've gotten a bit lax in keeping my reading records since the library closure.

(I've been making these slips for every book I start since late 1992. They are on 3x5 scratch pad pages and contain title, author, number of pages, call number if library owned, date started and date finished, and sometimes other info. Of the ones for books finished, I only still have those finished since July of 2001. The rest were in the storage unit we abandoned in San Jose that summer.)

9. When I finished that task, I needed to go inside again. Which meant taking the laptop with me. I also took in the HP books and reading journal and the empty food and drink containers. While in the kitchen I got a bright idea for how to keep Sweetie, my in-law's dog, outside guarding my stuff so I could leave the laptop for a minute or two. It was time for her after-dinner treats. I got them out of the cupboard and let her see that I had them and she followed along as if on a leash. I set them on the table where she could see them and then gave her one of the six. She stood there without taking her eyes off them while I plugged my laptop back in and returned to the house where I changed into my fleece PJ bottoms so I could stick my Capri's and that fleece blanket into the forth load.

By the time I got back outside it was six-thirty which meant I had a bit more than thirty minutes of light I could read by. I chose the book with the largest print which was Holly Lisle's Create a Plot Clinic. The spiral spine also made it easier to keep the pages from flapping in the breeze. I had hoped to take notes but I could see I would be spending more time corralling errant pages than reading or writing not to mention concentrating. So I settled for reading while listening to more YouTube music videos and handing Sweetie a treat every few minutes. When I ran out of the doggie treats I opened my bag of Cheetos and gave her one. Once she knew those were there, she wasn't going anywhere as long as hope persisted.

Sweetie's hope can persist a long time.

10. When I lost the light for reading, I started packing up to move inside. I had about fifteen minutes before I would have to feel my way across the yard with fingers and toes. So the more I could get into the bags the better. It also sped things up to take some of the items too big for the bags and leave them on or by the washer just inside the back door and drag the full kitty bag and attache over by the steps.

Finally I broke down the computer/box/table setup and packed the laptop and a few odds and ends into the backpack, leaving the power cord easily accessible so I could take it straight in and plug it back in without unpacking it. Which I did before returning to do the next most urgent thing which was unplug and roll up and put away the fifty-foot electric cord. I'm glad the one I used was orange as I doubt I could have seen the green ones by then. As it was, it got snagged on the table and chair several times which caused very unpleasant yanks on my already stressed arm and neck. By the time I had it rolled up I did have to feel my way to the shed to hang it on its hook.

The last thing left by the patio table was the tray table that belonged on the front porch. I folded it and made a special trip through the lit house to return it, leaving Sweetie guarding the Cheetos which I'd hung on the fence above the waiting bags. You'd think she had the patience of a saint if you didn't know what was motivating her.

11. Counting the trips in to lay things on or by the washer and the earlier trip with the food containers, I made six trips in and out to bring it all back in. Which means there had to have been at least ten trips when I took it all out that afternoon.

Now I was faced with unpacking and putting it all away. And the mess I'd left on the bed while hunting for things to take out. Which had been added to by the clothes and blankets coming out of the dryer. By the time I got the fourth load in the dryer and my usual work area set up on the bed again it was after eight-thirty.

My next priority was to get my own Sunday Serenity posted. I chose to limit myself to one of the related videos on the YouTube Ed had posted as it provided the embed code without having to go to YouTube where I risked getting lost for hours so I had mine posted by shortly after nine. Then I began exploring the Sacred Geometry site which I'd hunted down so I could link to it on my Sunday Serenity.

I was getting ideas for drawing mandalas and patterns for needlework. I favor patterns based on geometry for the projects I design myself. From anything as simple as a checkerboard to as complex as Celtic Knots or Mandelbrot Sets. Geometric designs on book covers or bookmarks became my signature gift during the nineties.

I haven't finished a needlework project since we moved here six years ago. I'm not much known as a finisher. And if I don't move along I won't be finishing this TT anytime soon.

12. I heard the dryer buzz on the last load just before ten but ignored it. And then a few minutes later I heard Sweetie race for the back door and through her doggie door. They were home. An hour sooner than expected. The bed was still piled with clothes, books, sewing, laptop and the cardboard boxes that comprise my 'desk'. And my hour's rest had stiffened me up. The pain cycle had set in. Now I was faced with Ed's 'help' in clearing off the bed and getting the last load out of the dryer. I didn't unpack the kitty bag or the attache, just set them on the floor beside the bed. Ed stuffed clean clothes and blankets, folded and unfolded, willy-nilly in whatever nook or cranny presented. (Hear Snoopy's Arrrrrgh!?)

After Ed lay down I played on Sacred Geometry for awhile longer and then set up watch a Lost episode on ABC's streaming video while laying down in the dark.

I don't know if it was the afternoon coffee or the pain but for the first time in three weeks I was awake past 1AM. In fact I did not get to sleep until after 5.

13. And then I woke up only four hours later at 9. Oh, I was sooooo sore! Ed was already up and although all I really wanted to do was go back to bed and groan, I went out to the porch where he was smoking over his morning coffee to talk to him. I knew he planned to run out to Wal-Mart with his Dad's car and I wanted to go. I had been hoping for an invite but I knew it was improbable. It was time for me to stop waiting for invites. But even if he didn't want me to go, I still needed to talk to him about what I needed, wanted and hoped for.

I was all prepared to answer any reluctance to take me with a little speech: It is always going to be easier, more efficient, quicker to leave me behind. It is a fact of life being married to someone with visual impairment. You were aware of the risks going in. You met my grandmother and watched my mother dealing with it. You said you could handle it if it became necessary. I haven't been out of this yard since July.

What I wasn't going to say but was thinking: I don't think I can handle another 20 plus years feeling like an inconvenience.

Also: I can't bear to be left alone today. The 23rd of September. The second anniversary of my Dad's passing. (Well actually 4:20 something on the morning of the 24th but it still felt like the 23rd to me and I have my reasons for trying to remember it that way. See Monday's Poetry Train post for more.)

But I didn't have to give the speech. He accepted my desire to go with him without a blink.

I was going to include the rest of Sunday's events but this is already too long. Besides Murphy seemed to have lost track of me on Sunday. Though I was hurting, Sunday was mostly lacking in frustrations and full of goodness.



Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This is on its way to becoming a bad habit. I opened this to start writing my Tuesday post as Ed was laying down to sleep. I decided to lay down to think. And twelve hours later...

I guess I'm still recovering from the weekend. And I suppose writing about it here will have to wait. Unless I decide to make it the theme of my TT.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Bumpy Ride

It's been a long, emotionally and physically bumpy ride since Saturday morning. I was going to write about it for today's post but I am too tired. Ed has put on his new Celtic music CD that he got for his birthday to listen to as he falls asleep, which is making it hard for me to think; in words anyway. I just feel like laying back in the dark and riding the music into dreams myself.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #18


Garden of Promise by Thomas Kinkade
art print for sale at art.com


The Prize On the Other Side


The bars, the rail that divide
Here from there.
The prize on the other side.

To climb, to reach, to grasp,
Willing it mine.
To have until eternity lapse.

The fumble, the tumble into loss.
A long falling
Towards pain, separation, life’s cost.

The arms, the rescue, tears dried.
Belonging to Love--
The prize on the other side.

######

Two years ago this night my Dad was drawing his final breaths. He died in the wee hours of September 24th. It was the silence that woke me from the doze I'd fallen into sitting in his office chair over my brand new laptop on which I had been attempting to record that days events in my daily journal.

I heard my Mom's voice so I stepped into the hall where I could see into my parent's room. Mom was leaning over Daddy and telling him what a good husband and father he was. Asking him to tell her Mama and Daddy hello for her.

She looked up and saw me and said, "He's gone I think. Just now."

I walked over and laid my hand on his chest. There was only stillness. No rise and fall. And the heart which had beat faster than a frightened kittens for the last three days had stopped. To be certain, I lay my head on his chest. Silence. I shook my head at Mom. Then I whispered, "Good-bye Daddy."

"I better go tell Rob," I said and headed to the living room where my brother had just got settled. He had walked into the office less than half an hour before, startling me awake; suggesting in a whisper I could barely hear over the sound of Dad's breathing in the next room (a sound that was like a mixture of marbles and marshmallows in a blender) that I should go to bed before I fell out of the chair.

Rob responded so quickly when I said his name, I could tell he hadn't dozed off yet. I told him that Dad had just stopped breathing a couple minutes ago. He followed me back down the hall. But as soon as we were in the bedroom I let him pass me and then stood in the doorway for a few seconds before I said, "I should go wake Carri."

My sister had headed to bed only a couple hours before this. She and her son had been living with my parents for the past fifteen or so months as she became their chauffeur and errand runner and nurse and housekeeper. All while homeschooling her eleven-year old ADHD son.

I had to go downstairs to the room she and I were sharing once again. She was sleeping so soundly, I had to say her name repeatedly. After we got back upstairs, I once more stood in the bedroom doorway. There was only a narrow isle around the bed and no place to sit except on the bed.

Mom noticed me standing there a few minutes later and said, "Joy," in a Mom tone. "you shouldn't be just standing like that. Get over here and get your feet up." Her concern was with my blood pressure which they had taken with Dad's pressure cuff several times since I arrived Tuesday evening. It had ranged between 180/100 and 220/120.

I expected to sit on the foot of the bed by her feet but she was getting up as I made my way around the bed and she made me lay down as she used the remote to adjust the head and foot of the bed until I was half sitting but my feet were above my heart. It was a most surrealistic moment. I remember thinking so at the time and wondering how I would relate all this in my journal.

Meanwhile, my sister had gone to wake her son and give him the option of joining us. Someone called Dad's hospice nurse. Carri returned with her son who was crying and she had gotten a little weepy in sympathy with him. This made the rest of us weepy too. Until Mom chimed in with some amusing anecdote about Dad. Something that began with "Remember when..." And that reminded somebody else of another incident. And so on--as the sun rose and brightened the sky, the birds woke up and began singing and the sounds of traffic increased.

At eight o'clock they called the mortuary and one by one we all wandered out of the room. I headed back to my journal but could only sit and stare at the screen. I needed more privacy and probably more time to process. I never did relate those events in my journal. This is the first time I have written about those three hours. And I didn't set out to do so.

About nine that morning, I had to call my husband with the news. I was in the middle of dialing when I realized that he was going to think I was calling to wish him Happy Birthday. Before I'd hung up the phone, I'd also realized that Ed's birthday was forever tied to the anniversary of Dad's passing. Life and Death in a Gordian Knot.

Later that week when we went as a family to the mortuary to make the arrangements, we had narrowed down our choices for the memorial service program to three. Two of which had Thomas Kinkade pictures on the front because Dad loved his paintings so much his computer's screen saver was nothing but a queue of them. When I pointed to the one with the gate opening into the garden and mentioned that my poem, Prize On the Other Side, would fit with it, Mom's face lit up.

This poem was written about ten years before Dad's passing and was not written with death in mind. Can you tell from the images in the first line what I was alluding to?


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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sunday Serenity #24


Check out this web site for some awesome artwork based on geometry.

Join us for a moment of Serenity

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Snipets 11

OK. I'm late getting this up so I'm not going to add a long intro. I was planning to start putting in links to the previous parts with one line synopsis of them. But that would take too long. I think I need to create a separate post for that which I can keep updating maybe? And include a cast of characters for those getting confused possibly.

A reminder: The even numbered parts are in the NOW story line. The odd numbered parts take place about nine to ten years earlier. So this scene was continued from two weeks ago Last week you met the teen-age mother of 5 year old Briana who was lost in the woods. This week you meet the teenage Briana, mother of the infant Brandy left in Faye's care by Cassie who found her hanging on Beulah gate. Just like the rag doll young Briana hung on the gate the day she met Faye. You can find the parts you missed by clicking on the Friday Snippets label.

Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes

7

Faye finds herself at the door with no idea of what to say once she opens it. Memories of a breeze-kissed child who introduced her rag doll twin and put music back into Faye’s heart war with the memory of a pout-puckered kid with swollen belly, spurning Faye and music for the attentions of a swaggering churl. The sounds of a vituperative altercation filter through the closed door. Well, there was no more delaying it. With an indrawn breath, held for a beat and released with a staccato of puffs, she drew open the door. In the center of the gravel turnaround stood Cassie’s patrol car, front doors spread like wings, interior light glowing. Beside its open back door a uniformed Cassie squatted over Briana who, butt on the ground and feet in the seat, flailed, screaming threats and obscenities at her captor.

"Let me go you freakin’ butch." Briana drummed her feet against the car door which rebounded, hinges groaning with each beat.

From the shadow-enshrouded back of the car danced caped and cackling Estelle. She swirled one side of her cape over her head as she pirouetted to a standstill over the struggling duo. With a sudden lunge she was peering into Briana’s contorted face and keening: "Though she be but little, she is fierce." And with a shriek she pranced off.

"You ought to be thanking me." Cassie spoke through gritted teeth. "By rights I should be taking you straight to Juvy.

"By rights you ought to be taking me straight to the hospital." Briana flung her head and the motorcycle helmet she wore connected with a solid thunk against Cassie’s cheek. "My leg’s bleeding. I need a doctor and you gotta take me. I know my rights."

Cassie abruptly let go of Briana, letting her fall backwards into the gravel, her cuffed hands trapped beneath her. The pouch of a baby carrier, twin to the one Brandy had arrived in, mounded her belly. Cassie stood over her, rubbing her cheek. "Try to do a girl a favor and get a black eye for thanks."

Estelle, having completed another circuit of the car, was peering down with glee at Briana’s predicament. "What you looking’ at you old hag?" Briana kicked the car door, knocking it into Estelle, who only came closer.

Drawing her hand from a deep pocket in her skirt, she bent over and held it before Briana’s eyes and as soon as Briana saw the small snake entwining her fingers, she commenced to wave it with intricate curlicue motions as she chanted: "How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child."

"Get that out of my face you freakin’ witch!" Briana squirmed across the gravel until she was up against the tire.

Estelle shrieked her glee and danced away singing: "If she must teem. Create her child of spleen."

Cassie stood over Briana hands on hips, shaking her head. "I’m beginning to doubt my own good judgment on this." Briana only glared at her. "You know so much about your rights but what do you know about Brandy’s rights?" Briana’s glare wavered and Cassie continued. "From the moment you picked yourself up off the side of the road your tongue has been busy chastising me. First for signaling your friend to pull over…"

"You had no cause! He wasn’t breaking no laws. We had helmets and he wasn’t even going that fast." Briana rapped her helmet against the wheel well for emphasis.

"You’re right there." Cassie agreed. "I had no business with him. It was you I was after to begin with. I would have took you into custody and said ‘Good evening, Sir,’ to him. But instead he chose to lead me on a high-speed chase down I-5. He took the off-ramp going too fast and spilled you both into the gravel. And he chose to rescue the contents of his saddlebags and skid-addle on out of there, leaving you to face me alone. And you chose to go ballistic on me forcing me to cuff and manhandle you. And I’m still waiting to see some sign of concern for Brandy."

‘She’s just fine! No thanks to you. I didn’t land on her or nothing. She slept through the whole thing. She sleeps through anything."

"Are you sure? Can you feel her breathing? Shifting her weight against you? Any evidence that she’s even still alive? That she didn’t smother or have the life squeezed out of her between the two of you during the chase?"

Night-sounds filled the voiceless quiet as Cassie hushed and Briana’s body went still and breathless in her effort to sense evidence of Brandy’s well-being. A distant train hooted and was answered by an owl. A breeze fingered the tree -tops and Estelle lifted her face to it and whooed a repartee to owl and train.

Briana’s eyes widened and she struggled to sit up. "Get these cuffs off me so I can check her." She demanded.

Cassie reached down to help her stand but instead of un-cuffing her she reached into the carrier and pulled out a rag doll. Briana gasped. "Oh, no! That’s Dolly. Then that means…" Her voice trailed off.

"You left Brandy hanging on Beulah gate." Cassie finished for her and at the sight of tears spilling over Briana’s eyes, she softened her voice. "She’s fine. I was biking by the gate just as you zoomed off. I heard her crying and brought her on up to Miss Faye’s before I went to work." Her voice once more stern. "Legally I should have called the cops who would’ve called in CPS and issued a warrant for your arrest. Most likely you would have been given a second chance but CPS would’ve been breathing on you for the next eighteen years." Cassie paused to let all that sink in then continued, putting all the authority of her uniform into her words. "Now you can either choose to cooperate with me and Miss Faye or I will do as you asked and take you to the hospital where they will not only treat your abrasion but, at my request, take samples of that white substance all over your clothes. I would bet a years wages it’s not baby powder. From there you would be taken to get pictures of your face and fingers and be booked for possession, assaulting an officer, resisting arrest and gross neglect and abandonment of your infant daughter, Brandy. You may or may not see the outside of Juvy before Brandy graduates Kindergarten. It’s not impossible for the courts to sever your parental rights and adopt Brandy out…"

"OK! OK!" Briana wailed. "I get it! OK?"

"Now, if I can have your agreement to cooperate I’ll remove the cuffs. Otherwise it’s not too late to turn you in. Though I may well lose my job when they discover my delay in reporting all this. That’s a price I’m willing to pay to ensure that baby girl’s safety. What price are you willing to pay Briana?"

"I’ll c-co-co-oppppperate." Briana choked out.

"Good girl." Cassie stuck the rag doll back in the pouch and bent to unlock the cuffs. As soon as Briana’s hands were free she grabbed the doll and hugged it. "I want my baby! Where is she?"

"First you need to thank Miss Faye for watching Brandy for you and ask her to please take you and your baby in until she and I are completely satisfied that you have learned how to be her mama. Keep in mind she ought to think twice about taking in a brat who’d made such a scene as you just did right before her eyes. No matter how pretty she said please after."

Briana clutched Dolly to her chest and fastened her eyes on the ground. Cassie waited, letting silence impregnate the moment with the possibilities. Faye watched Briana as one by one she conceived alternatives and then aborted them before giving life to them. Her body tensed and relaxed repeatedly with the travail of choosing the one that she could live with. Faye ached to help her but she knew that the birthing of a new life, whether of infant, art, or change of heart, was ultimately the work and responsibility of its "Mother." Advice and moral support could aid and abet but it couldn’t substitute for the nitty-gritty labor and delivery.

Faye was willing to wait forever for Briana to gestate her repentance but Estelle was less patient. She scurried up to the guilt-cumbered girl and screeched at her. "Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend, more hideous when thou showest thee in a child than the sea-monster."

Briana cringed but offered no come-back. Then as though sensing the need to remind them just who this whole scene was being staged for, Brandy gave a brief wail. Briana rocked Dolly against her breast, as she peered past Faye at the open doors where a squirming bundle snuggled against Julia’s shoulder. Light from inside glittered in the tears on Briana’s cheeks.

Faye felt a hand on her arm and turned to find Inny gazing at the girl with infinite compassion. "Even the sea-monsters," he said, "Draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones."

When everyone stared at him Faye interpreted. "He is reminding us that the babe is likely hungry again. The apple juice we gave her was a poor substitute for mother’s milk."

Briana’s eyes caressed her daughter over the yards separating them. Faye felt her yearning and reached across the gap yawning between them with reconciling words.

"So Breezy, what do you say? Will you let me help you and Brandy?"

Briana looked directly at Faye for the first time and nodded.

"Good then." Faye said. "I have only one stipulation. You’re young man is not welcome on this estate until he is willing to meet me face to face with the helmet and visor off and agree to drive his machine only on the driveway and under ten miles-per-hour between Beulah gate and the front door."

"You never liked him." Briana whined.

"I never knew him to like or dislike. But if you mean that I disapproved of his behavior towards you and towards me, you’re right. It was very ungentlemanly of him to never get off the bike nor even take off that helmet to speak to me whenever he picked you up here."

"He was a gentleman for me. He was real nice to me. He bought me stuff and opened doors for me and kissed my hand and…and stuff."

Estelle approached Briana. "What," she asked. "Hath your grace no better company? The prince of darkness is a gentleman. Modo he’s called, and Mahu." She swirled her skirts and backed away laughing.

Briana spared Estelle only an irritated glance for her attention was snared by Brandy’s escalating cries.

"Well, if everybody’s agreed, I’ll be off." Cassie said. "I’ve overstayed my lunch break.’

They all looked to Briana expectantly. She shrugged her shoulders. "Yeah, all right. But who’s gonna tell Mae Bea. She won’t take it well from me."

"I will." Cassie said and turned to Faye. "By the way, you may have yet another stray on the estate. Estelle seemed to have herself a little shadow but it spirited itself off when I stopped to offer a lift. I couldn’t be certain but you might want to keep an eye out."

"This is getting to be quite a habit." Faye laughed. "But up until now my strays have been fairly self-sufficient cats and adults. Now both at once I have a child and a babe."

"You’ll do right by them." Cassie folded herself into the car and reached across to shut the opposite door.

Brandy’s cries were becoming fiercer. Inny, impatient with the delay, took Briana’s arm and drew her to the steps. He snatched Dolly from her arms and commanded. "Give her the living child. She is the mother of it."

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Oh, Happy Day!

I hope getting excited and starting to celebrate at the hearing of good news isn't like the groom seeing the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony. But I've been feeling like dancing a jig all week since I heard this news. And also like pretending that I hadn't heard it so that I wouldn't get too excited. Because it is still just a maybe.

A pretty solid probably. But still just a maybe.

And it is really ironic because it was just a week or so ago that I finally got around to putting that pic at the top of my side bar with the red circle and slash over a pile of books and the caption shaming Southern Oregon because the libraries are still closed and here the school year has started up again.

Then last weekend, there was this article in our local paper. They may have got it figured out and all fifteen branches may be open by sometime in November.

Running at half the hours with half the staff. But open.

Just in time for my birthday!

***********
I decided to go with this for my post tonight as I could knock it off quicker than I could prepare my Friday Snippet. Watch for my snippet--part 7 of Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes--sometime around noon Pacific Coast time.

I'm still not used to this new schedule my body seems to have settled into since I started getting well after that two week illness. Well, my body is apparently used to it But my expectations and ambitions haven't adjusted. I keep making plans that have to be put off because I tire out between eight and nine each evening where I was used to thinking of those hours between 9pm and 2am as my most productive of the day.

Not only have I been sleeping nights. But I've been sleeping one to two hours longer than I used to. And there hasn't been a single wake-a-thon of 20-36 hours--often my most productive times of all.

*************
Speaking of happy days. Today was the end of the first 70 Days of Sweat round. I just remembered that I still need to go check in.

I didn't make my goal in word count 60-70K. I think I'm somewhere between 40-50K, depending on what gets counted. But I still feel that I accomplished something way more important. I established an enduring habit because I spent quality time with my story world every single day since July 8 and unlike with NaNoWriMo the last three years, I have no anticipation of heaving a big sigh and setting it all aside for weeks or months.

I may ease up a bit but I can't imagine going even one full day without doing something related to it. I will probably get real focused on character sketches, outlines, notes, scene concepts, time lines etc. between now and the start of round two. I also need to decide which of the three or four stories that still qualify I want to dedicate to NaNoWriMo and get completely immersed in dreaming it by the last week of October.

It is going to be hard to tear myself away from the characters in Faye's story though. So I'm not going to. Any new material I add to Faye's story during November will count as sweat for Sven. Besides, since most of the POV characters of the other six or seven novels based in Faye's story world have at least a walk-on if not a serious supporting actor role in her story, any work on Faye's story is like priming the pump for any of the others.

See? How wrapped up I am in it? That's what the Sweating for Sven challenge did for me. Even if there wasn't going to be a second round I'm not about to abandon Faye and her world again just because the challenge ended. It has become its own reason for being a part of my days.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #51

Last March my cat Gremlyn died on a Sunday evening. The loss of this companion of nearly fourteen years was devastating. When the next several Sundays began to loom as banks of gray gloom threatening tear-showers, I knew I had to do something to forestall that becoming habitual. Thus was born my first Sunday Serenity.


About seven weeks later my husband Ed wanted to join in and thought we should have a hub a la Thursday Thirteen. That was in late May and so far my sister Jamie is the only one who has joined us. Ed has prepared his TT this week with examples of the YouTube videos he has posted in his Sunday Serenity in hopes of stirring up more interest in the meme. So I thought I would chime in with links to my favorite Sunday Serenity posts. My last SS was my 23rd so I've been posting these for nearly half a year now.

As you will see, I have a variety of ways to induce serenity. If nothing else this practice has been a great benefit in that it has forced me to contemplate serenity and memories of those times I had it and in the process collect into one place over twenty potential triggers of serenity that have worked for me in the past. Thus, by clicking on the Sunday Serenity label here at Joystory I have at my fingertips a resource for those times when anxiety or grief is getting the best of me.




My Thirteen Favorite Sunday Serenity Posts


  1. This one tops the list because it combines music, nature, humor and romance.
  2. Here I created a graphic of the Serenity Prayer. Fiddling playfully with a new graphics program while contemplating the prayer then researching its history made for a very serene hour or two.
  3. Here is a screen shot of my jigsaw puzzle game. Loosing myself in a puzzle has always calmed me down. I thought I'd included a link to the free program but apparently not so here it is. It generates puzzles of 6-1400 pieces out of pics you feed it. Of course they do hope you will buy their packs of gorgeous photos.
  4. There is nothing more conducive to serenity than the blank white page of a brand new tablet and my favorite clicker pencil waiting to herd the words buzzing my brain under the beckoning button-eyed gaze of Blue Mews.
  5. Coastal scenes always invoke serenity for me. Even when there is a stiff breeze and the surf is anything but calm. This picture was taken by my father-in-law somewhere near Newport, Oregon. Wouldn't it make a great jigsaw puzzle?
  6. Sometimes words just get in the way. This is a YouTube of a meditative light show accompanied by music with an oriental flavor.
  7. Swimming with the dolphins. I've always wanted to do it but the closest I've gotten is pictures and videos like this one.
  8. This one was a personal essay in which I reclaimed my right to daydream.
  9. Holding a sleeping baby or just watching one sleep. Nothing is more relaxing.
  10. Here I announced a day devoted to reading with a lol cats pic.
  11. Laughter is a shortcut to serenity. Jokes: Did you hear the one? or if you're not video challenged: This video of Lilly Tomlin as 6yr old Edith is a riot.
  12. The music of Enya has been a reliable serenity inducer for over a decade.
  13. Nature sights and sounds. Here a video of surf on sand. Here a slide show of rainy scenes accompanied by the sounds of soft rain and chirping birds.




Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Whose Up For a Read-a-thon?

Check out this challenge over at Dewey's the hidden hidden side of a leaf. Could you read for 24 hours straight while posting intermittently on your progress? What if you knew there would be prizes? If that sounds too daunting, how about being a cheerleader for the readers?

I have to think about it before I jump on board. I'm planning to participate in the second round of 70 Days of Sweat which may start before the Read-a-thon. Even so, I may decide it is worth it to loose a day or two of sweating for this. I mean, you gotta figure that part of the day before and most of the day after have to be about sleep right?

Reading is as much a part of who I am as writing. It wouldn't be the first time I read for a straight 24 hours. But posting updates is another thing. I definitely could commit to one every hour as I've never yet prepared a post in under thirty minutes. Maybe if I had a prepared a boilerplate draft which I could fill out like a form...

OK does it sound like I'm trying to talk myself into this?

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #17


Maternity-x by Livan Castro
art print for sale at art.com



The Woman Who Swallowed a Baby


Her belly parts the air ahead,
A balloon of hope before,
The blunt prow of a schooner,
Parting the waters of desire--
Her right of passage, proof of
Prowess, rank, fertility.

Within, swaddled in dreams,
Conjured by her craving--by
The years of swallowed sighs,
Bubbled syrup, candied tears, fire-
Baked sweets, ice-churned creams and
Oft chewed remorse--her child curls

She walks serene. Her hand, held
In the gathered folds of her dress,
Finger thrums, secret caresses
Upon the drum-taught surface
Of this vessel of longing with
A furtive, murmured blessing.

She broods, chews her lips as memories
Intrude of blame and desperate shame,
Many moons with scarlet stains
When waning hope, just containing
Hiccups of regurgitated
Guilt re-swallowed, was harpooned.

She lifts her chin, with firm resolve,
Refusing to re-member that dread
And thereby to keep it fed.
For, as certain as blood is red,
She will have her labor day,
Delivering of herself pure joy.

#######

This poem did not begin as a poem but rather an attempt to write a character sketch several years ago for a female protagonist who experiences pseudocyesis one of the contributing factors of which is aerophagia. I'm going to be mean and make you Google those two words yourself. All you need to see is the search pages to get the drift. But, try reading the poem first to see what you make of it before you know what it is alluding to.

My attempt at writing the story stalled I believe because I had not gained enough distance from a personal experience to create a wholly fictional character and plot. That has been resolved and the story has been folded into my Fruits of the Spirit story world as one of the (so far) eight novels projected. This is the story world my Friday Snippets stories are from. And the story world I've been working on for the 70 Days of Sweat challenge. This is one of the stories still eligible to be designated as my NaNoWriMo project this year as I've written no narrative or dialog or other scene like material; only sketches, notes and outlines.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Goodnight.

I'm going to wait until tomorrow to post my Poetry Train poem. I'm exhausted. I used a lot of energy visiting quite animatedly with my niece for most of Saturday and Sunday. We chatted about school, literature, mythology, theology, story, Gilmore Girls, writing, music, movies and more.

After she left this afternoon, I picked up Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I'm about eighty pages in and would really prefer to spend whatever time I've got left this evening with it. Which won't be much as I already feel more than ready to sleep.

I've been sleeping nights for a whole week now. My sleep cycle seemed to settled into that pattern as I began mending from whatever that thing was that got me three weeks ago. And I don't want to rock the boat.

Besides, if I wait til morning to post my poem I should be able to start visiting other poems immediately. And I am sure I wouldn't be able to do that tonight.

So Goodnight.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sunday Serenity #23

Join us for a moment of Serenity

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Yay!

Today was like having an early birthday. My niece arrived this evening to spend the weekend with her grandparents and her aunt and uncle. She came bearing gifts. Well, more loaners from her personal library. Among them the much anticipated Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. I probably won't get to start it until after her visit as we will be too busy chatting.

Plus tomorrow is Saturday race day and I have laundry and other chores. And before I start it, I need and want to finish reading the manuscript of one of the Friday Snippet participants for which I volunteered to be a test reader. I think I'm under eighty pages left on it and have loved every page.

And then, of course, Sunday after my niece leaves I will be intent on getting my Monday Poetry Train up and visiting other passengers on the train. I owe a lot of visits because of being sick most of the last three weeks. But I've had four good days in a row now...

So, I guess I probably won't be picking up Harry Potter 7 until Monday afternoon. But that in no way diminishes my pleasure in having received it this evening.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Friday Snipets 10

This week five more characters are introduced. Among them Briana's mother and grandmother as they join Faye, Wilma and Julia waiting for the arrival of the search party at the gate to Beulah on which five-year-ols Briana was last seen swinging with her rag doll Dollbaby.

Remember, this is nine to ten years previous to last week's scene in which Faye, Wilma, Julia and Inny were tending to Brandy, the infant daughter of Briana. Next week fifteen-year-old Briana will make her very dramatic entrance.

Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes

6

Faye was pacing that evening, under the jaundiced glow of the sodium vapor lamp that stands guard over the bus stop. Wilma and Julia cast nervous glances her way from the bench, but neither one ventures to reprove her. The three of them have been waiting in tense silence since calling the police, and though there was nothing useful they could do here, no one suggested driving on to the house. Earlier, Faye had been sandwiched between Wilma and Julia on the bench, but the feel of the clammy wood against her legs added to her anxiety and compelled her to get up. She had gone to the gate to peer up the driveway that slithered into the cavernous dark, gravid with threats to small girls. From there she went to the road to peer into the black maw of the highway for the approach of headlights. She repeated this circuit endlessly, as though her anxious peering into the night might materialize Briana out of the fulvous shadows.

Standing before the gate she clutched the foamy body of Dollbaby to her breast, breathing incoherent words that seemed to be both prayer and incantation. "Let her be OK. Let her be alive. Let her be safe… Let her sing for me once more…" Her eyes groped among undulating shadows for the form of a small child agile with joy, dancing with the morning breezes, swinging on ‘Heaven’s Gate’. But instead, the sinuous letters of the word BEULAH grabbed her gaze in a mocking clench. Her fingers tingled with the urge to take hold of the offending name and wrench it out. If she were mistress and not just steward of the estate--a glorified house sitter--she would grasp the wrought-iron letters and making them malleable by the molten heat of her loneliness reweave them to read BARREN--a fitting title for an estate inhabited by the abandoned.

The lights, when they came like sudden ice, froze Faye in place. She stared at the coils of light drawn on the dark until they grided to a stop on the gravel not twenty feet away. She stared at the vaguely ambulance shaped nimbus before her, having time to think Not the police, before it spawned a light bedizened apparition that came to her limbs all akimbo on the night screeching, "My baby. My baby."

Faye stood in feeble-fingered confusion as two arms snake out, encircle Dollbaby and pry her from her grasp.

"Dollbaby!" The voice scolded. "Where is your sister? How could you two worry your mama this way?"

In a sudden flood of scalding light Faye witnessed a Medusa-headed pixie smothering Dollbaby in hugs and kisses. Shading her eyes, Faye discovered the source of the new light. Held aloft by one arm of a gnarl-browed man whose other arm snugged a mini-cam between cheek and shoulder, this light enwombed Fay and the pixie, raising shadows like blisters on every surface within its compass.

A shadow tucked under an elbow of the tree-tall man detached itself and with elfin grace glided into the circle of light, extending its hand to Faye.

"Jerrica Holms, KWMB." The voice held the crisp musicality of wind-chimes nudged by a whimsical breeze.

Faye recognized the call-letters of Westmont College School of Broadcast Journalism’s TV station. The exigencies of manners substituting for thought, she spoke. "Faith Fairchild Gardner." And accepted a firm hand-clasp from the elfin figure.

"And this is Troll." The elf motioned toward the cameraman. "We were supposed to interview Fancy about the Ragdolls."

"The Ragdolls?" Faye forced words past lips numb with bewilderment. She began to wonder if she were dreaming. Or worse yet, if someone had slipped her a Mickey like the one given to her Inny two years ago. If she couldn’t begin to make sense of all this pretty soon she would be babbling in the bed next to Inny at the home.

"A singing duo." Julia joined them in the circle of light. "The Ragdolls won a state high-school talent contest last week."

"Yeah." Fancy added. "Cassie and me, we were jamming in costume--you know, just waiting for Ms. Holms to show--when Breezy come up missing."

"Jammin?" Faye whispered.

"You know. Practicing?" Fancy continued, "Well, Mae called the police right off. In a panic, you know?"

"So." Jerrica cut in. "When we arrived for the interview the Ragdolls were already being interviewed by the police. We’ve been with Fancy all day. Troll heard over our scanner just now a car being dispatched to this location to ‘See the lady regarding missing child.’ Are you the lady in question?"

"Actually, I was the one who made the call." Julia said. "But Faye is the one who may have seen the child. This morning. Right here while she waited for the bus. Apparently the child--Briana is it?--was swinging on the gate as Faye’s bus pulled away."

"Where was the doll found?" Jerrica asked.

"Still hanging on the gate where Briana put her this morning." Faye finally found her voice. "Heaven’s Gate." her voice broke.

"Heaven’s what?" Jerrica raised a mike towards Faye.

Faye found herself relating her morning encounter. Becoming more animated as she spoke, she began to pantomime and gesture as she elaborated. At Jerrica’s suggestion, Julia mounted the gate and put Dollbaby back where Briana had left her. Troll trained camera and spotlight on it and they all stood there gazing, their silence broken only by the whisper of breezes in the tree tops.

Then from behind Faye came a sound part chuckle, part sob. She turned and recognized Mae Bea Morgan by her head full of riotous curls held in check by a scarf knotted straight atop her head. Mae Bea spoke through lips thin and motionless with the habit of holding a line of straight pins at the ready. "If you didn’t know better, you might think that was the babe herself hanging there." Beside her another figure, near twin to Fancy, shivered and clutched her arms to her chest in response to Mae Bea’s remark. Mae Bea noticed this and reached her arm around the girl.

"Now don’t go getting spooky on me Cassie." She scolded. "Your ole dream was nothing more than a bit of indigestion. When your Mama named you Cassandra she gave no thought to Euripides or Trojan princesses with prophetic powers."

But it was so real." Cassie murmured. "The man all in black. The helmet. He looked right at me. I couldn’t see his eyes through the faceplate but he was looking right at me when he tipped the motorcycle over and spilled Breezy into the snow bank."

"There! You see? There’s no snow around here."

"There would be on St. Helen’s." Cassie chewed on her lower lip as if chagrined at her audacity in arguing with an adult.

"No sense in borrowing trouble." Mae Bea said. "Soon as Brick Travis gets here with Snoopy we’ll have Breezy back safe as pennies in a wishing well before you can say ‘Agamemnon beware Clytemnestra.’ Nothing bad can befall us Morgan girls. We lead charmed lives."

Cassie ducked her head in apparent acquiescence but Faye saw her shoulders squirm under the insistent weight of Mae Bea’s arm. "Mae Bea’s right." Fancy came and added her arm to her mother’s across Cassie’s shoulder. "This is like the time Mae lost me in Freddy’s. She went into a dressing room to try on a swimsuit and when she came out to model it for me, I was nowhere in sight. She ran up and down aisles in every department but grocery, still wearing that swimsuit, mind you." Fancy succumbed to a fit of giggles that set her yarn pigtails to quivering.

"And I was headed into grocery too when I saw one of the clerks waving your Babydoll over her head as she requested a price check over the intercom. I almost gave some poor ole Gramma type a heart attack when I rushed over screaming, ‘My baby, my baby’ and grabbed Babydoll from the clerk. I think they were about to call the men in white jackets before they got a coherent explanation from me. Ole Gramma took us all over to the toy department where she’d found Babydoll and there Fancy was all curled up on the stuffed toy shelf, fast asleep between Orphan Annie and Mrs. Beasley. It was uncanny how much she looked as though she belonged there. Anyway, when Granny found out I’d made Babydoll myself she commissioned me to make another and that’s how Ragdoll Babies got started."

"Yeah." Fancy said as with a little leap she flipped Dollbaby off the gate to bring it tumbling into her arms. "And where would we be without Ragdoll Babies?’

"The proverbial silver lining." Faye allowed a smile, tentative as the hope she now felt, to lift her lips.

"More like plain dumb luck." Julia scoffed. "But there’s a lot to be said for dumb luck. Some people do seem to have an abundance of it. It’s enough to make you believe in guardian angels."

"Must you subject us to your inane amphigories?" Wilma snapped.

"Oh, figgeries, chiggeries. You and your lame sniggeries." Julia taunted.

"Girls!" Faye shamed them both and to her amazement, they both hushed.

No one spoke and no one seemed about to. The silencing of their voices left a vacuum of sound that sucked in the night-music until it filled Faye’s ears with its symphony. The susurrus of grass and leaves in the river-breezes, the distant whoosh of cars on the freeway accompanied by the occasional bass rumble of the big trucks provided background for the sleepy fluting of birds and the oboe-soloing of an owl. There was no sound that did not seem to belong to the musical arrangement, not even the sniffs, sighs and coughs from the group intruded, nor the skritching of Fancy’s shoes in the gravel as she swayed with Dollbaby in her arms.

The child had a good sense of rhythm. It was as though she too heard the night-music, and when she began to hum a mournful lullaby to Dollbaby Faye was sure of it. As if cognizant of Faye’s scrutiny, Fancy looked up and twin rainbow tear-tracks glinted on her rag doll cheeks. Then, although Fancy had altered it, Faye recognized the melody of a pop song: "Tears of a Clown." Startled Faye met her eyes and saw irony and self-scorn blooming in them. These were no more the eyes of a child than were her own. Faye knew herself to be witnessing a cataclysmic event taking place in this girl’s soul. She had managed to conceive, bear and raise a child to nearly five years of age while never relinquishing her own claims to childhood; but tonight with the threat of that child’s loss, she was laying claim to motherhood.

When the night-songs were cut off just then by the arrival of the search party, Faye was caught in a moment that seemed to stretch into infinity--a time-slip that held all possible outcomes within its grasp. Briana was out there somewhere and like Schrodinger’s cat she was both alive and dead, both harmed and unharmed. The intense wait was over, the hectic search about to begin, they would either find her or not--meanwhile both the grief of her loss and the joy of her recovery were caught in a dynamic dance in the hearts of those who loved her.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #50




Quotes From Thirteen* Peace Advocates



  • Moshe Dayan (1915-1981)

    If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

    Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.
  • William Gladstone (1809-1898)

    We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

    We will not build a peaceful world by following a negative path. It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but on the positive affirmation of peace. We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody, that is far superior to the discords of war. Somehow, we must transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the negative nuclear arms race, which no one can win, to a positive contest to harness humanity's creative genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all the nations of the world. In short, we must shift the arms race into a peace race. If we have a will - and determination - to mount such a peace offensive, we will unlock hitherto tightly sealed doors of hope and transform our imminent cosmic elegy into a psalm of creative fulfillment.
  • Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.):
If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

  • Jesus

    Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.
  • Federico Mayor

    It is a good moment to repeat that a war is never won. Never mind that history books tell us the opposite. The psychological and material costs of war are so high that any triumph is a Pyrrhic victory. Only peace can be won and winning peace means not only avoiding armed conflict but finding ways of eradicating the causes of individual and collective violence: injustice and oppression, ignorance and poverty, intolerance and discrimination. We must construct a new set of values and attitudes to replace the culture of war which, for centuries, has been influencing the course of civilization. Winning peace means the triumph of our pledge to establish, on a democratic basis, a new social framework of tolerance and generosity from which no one will feel excluded.
  • A.J. Muste (1885-1967)

    There is no way to peace; peace is the way.
  • Peace Pilgrim

    This is the way of peace: overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.
  • Mother Theresa (1910-1997)

    If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
  • 3 from Elie Wiesel (1928- );

Of course some wars may have been necessary or inevitable, but none was ever regarded as holy. For us, a holy war is a contradiction in terms. War dehumanizes, war diminishes, war debases all those who wage it. The Talmud says, "Talmidei hukhamim marbin shalom baolam" (It is the wise men who will bring about peace). Perhaps, because wise men remember best.
Nobel Lecture (December 11, 1986)

None of us is in a position to eliminate war, but it is our obligation to denounce it and expose it in all its hideousness. War leaves no victors, only victims.
Nobel Lecture (December 11, 1986)

Time itself becomes subordinate to war. If only we could celebrate peace as our various ancestors celebrated war; if only we could glorify peace as those before us, thirsting for adventure, glorified war; if only our sages and scholars together could resolve to infuse peace with the same energy and inspiration that others have put into war.

  • Maya Angelou

    We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate --- thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising.
  • Muhammad (570-632)

    Shall I not inform you of a better act than fasting, alms, and prayers? Making peace between one another: enmity and malice tear up heavenly rewards by the roots.
  • 3 from Thich Nhat Hahn:

The war is in our souls.

You may think of peace as the absence of war, that if the great powers would reduce their weapons arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we will see our own minds - our own prejudices, fears, and ignorance.

The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions.


*OK so there's 14, 15 counting Black Elk's quote on the poster at top. Be sure and enlarge to read it is well worth it. I've already cut over half a dozen and can't bear to cut one more.



Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

911: The Rescue


Golden Rule
Norman Rockwell print
for sale at art.com


Every mother's tear over a lost child has equal weight whether that tear is shed over a grave, over a mangled but still living body or a soul mutilated by acts of violence witnessed or perpetrated.

Until that lesson is taken to heart by the majority in every nation, we are doomed to have repeats of 9/11.

The machinery of war cannot rescue us from fear. Retaliation begets retaliation.

Only love without boundaries can engender peace.

My heart is breaking today for all the mothers.

And for my nephew whose unit shipped out for Iraq Monday.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Tierd

So tired. Can't think of anything else....

*************************
Ooops! I laid down to rest my eyes and arms Monday evening while I tried to think of something to say. And fell asleep. And then slept through the night for the first time since I got sick over two weeks ago. Debated whether to go ahead and post this feeble thing but to not do so means breaking the streak of daily posting since April 9. I decided to give myself the credit for a post since I did begin. In fact, I remember contemplating clicking publish after just that one line so let's just say I did.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #16

For my Poetry Train offering this week I am reposting in its entirety my contribution in last year's 2996: A tribute to victims of 9/11.


Francisco Miguel (Frank) Mancini
age 26
died at WTC 9/11/01


Your name was Frank Mancini. I never knew you; nor anyone who did. Yet I have been touched by your life as surely as if I’d met you face to face.

All I know of you is found on this page established as a memorial to you after your life was taken--one of nearly three-thousand--in that great wounding of our nation, our world, on September 11, 2001.

On this page, from a few messages left by friends and family and a single photo with a caption relating your status as confirmed dead at the WTC at age twenty-six, I gleaned this much:

Your life was a thread woven into the fabric of your communities--family, neighborhood, church, workplace, city, nation--a thread cut too soon. But in that short span the fiber of your character lent its strength to each thread that your thread touched. For as son, brother, grandson, nephew, uncle, parishioner, student, father, husband, friend, colleague, citizen, mentor and neighbor you entwined your thread with many others and in that way you live on in the life of your communities as they continue to weave their many threads into the futures. A future that will be what it will be because you were who you were--which was a man of generous vitality and zest for life with an integrity of spirit that first revealed itself on the grade-school playground.

All of this I know from the messages left for you on that page. I learned more from many hours of gazing at your photo until I began to viscerally understand the belief of some primitive cultures that photography steals pieces of your soul. It began with the simple impulse to smile in response to your smile and progressed to the sense that you were about to speak to me and then became this all-suffusing sense of wordless communing with something much more than photons on my computer screen. Once I was amazed to discover my cheeks wet with tears and realize that I was grieving your loss as one who had known you.

Was it just my imagination? I am a fiction writer after all and often have such ‘encounters’ with characters I have created. Maybe. But does it matter? Either way, my encounter with your story has woven your thread with mine, lending its strength and integrity to the fabric of my life. In gratitude, I offer to you and your communities the following poem inspired by that long gazing at your photo:

Contours of Courage

In your face I see
The contours of courage--
A nose pointed towards
A future trusted to be
Worthy of your hope;
A chin thrust forward
With confidant grace;
Cheeks that must have been
Offered in trust to the
Caresses and kisses
Of mother, grandmother,
Wife, daughter, friends…
Eyes aglow with abundant
Kindness, witnessing
A willingness to give
From the well of your
Being without calculation;
Lips curved in humor
Testify to a sustainable
Joy in life and its
Grounding faith, without
Which such joy would be
As flashes of lightning
Extinguished in the
Moments of their birth
And humor would dry
Up in the face of absurdity.

###################

Be sure and check out the second annual Project 2996

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