Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sunday Serenity #12

My niece just returned from ten days in Hawaii with her family with tales of swimming with dolphins. She spent the day helping me on the cleaning project I discribed in last night's post and we spent the rest breaks talking abotu books, movies, dolphins and whatever crossed our minds.

I am weary to the bone after unaccustomed physical labor on a hot day. Tomorrow--Sunday--is going to be similar. The project is only one third done. I have six hours before Ed will be anxious to get started on the next section of the room. He's going to be rousting me out of be as earliy as eight. He is a get it done kinda guy. When he has a goal, don't get in his way; don't hold him up. So I better head to bed. Maybe I will dream about dolphins after watching the videos.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Spring Cleaning-2.2 Years Past Due

Had a big day today, productive in areas other than writing and web work, although the result will most likely improve productivity in those areas as well. Tomorrow will be even bigger and more productive as Ed will be helping me with things I can't do by myself. We are preparing to exchange the mattress, box springs and Hollywood frame of our bed with a set from Ed's grandmother's house on Sunday afternoon. There is a lot of prep work involved to be ready for that. I have explained elsewhere how events have conspired to make regular cleaning of this room difficult over the last three years. I used to do a deep cleaning of it twice a year in spring and fall when my in-law's took their three day trips to the coast. But for the last three years, I have been spending those days as well as all race season Saturdays with Ed's grandmother once she could not be left alone. Except for the fall of 2005 when I went to be with my own family when my Dad passed on.

It shouldn't be hard to imagine the state a room can get into after nearly three years of only superficial cleaning. A room shared by two adults and two cats on leashes. I used to pull all of the movable stuff out of the room, dust, wipe, vac and put it back together. It would take over twelve hours if I did it without breaks. Which is why I liked to have the three days so I could take rest breaks and do it right. In the last three years though we have added a great deal of volume to the contents of this room. I swear I don't understand how a couple who couldn't afford to move into their own place could still manage to accumulate so much stuff. We moved in here with a duffel bag, a pilot case, a backpack and two cats in their crates in August of 2001. I think it would take a small van to move us out now.

I got started on the project this morning after Ed left for work. Instead of laying down at my usual time between three and six AM, I had coffee with Ed and then started working at the things I could do without moving a lot of stuff out of the room and without Ed's help to lift things down. The biggest part of this chore was the laundry--collecting, sorting, loading and unloading machines and folding and putting away. While waiting on the loads, I did clutter patrol, throwing out and putting away of items which took no longer than a second to decide about, and some rearranging and organizing of surfaces.

Either I was going too fast or I had one of my addlepated moments at one point though. I was picking up stuff that accumulates daily around the cats dishes and the litter box--food pellets and crumbs, litter pellets and...let's just say Merlin does a vigorous litter box dance. So I was picking stuff up, using a tissue to protect my hands and dropping it into a plastic shopping bag I had designated for garbage. Or so I thought. I discovered over an hour later that I had grabbed the wrong white plastic bag off the bed and instead had put all that nasty stuff into the bag I store my white, summer slip on shoes. OK altogether now.... Eeeeeewwwww!

Even though most of the stuff I handled today will have to be handled again tomorrow, I hope I have made the chore easier in the long run. Besides I hope to get some before and after pics of my 'office' and a couple other corners of the room. But not really before I tackled the mess. Just before we start tearing it down for good in order to put it back together in a much different and hopefully better configuration. I want the pics to depict the way it was meant to look not the way it has looked for most of the last eight months. For besides the bed, we are getting some shelving Ed's dad has removed from his shed to make room for stuff he is moving over from his Mom's property. So good bye to the precarious tower of cardboard boxes since I bought those two sets of books at the library spring of 2005.

Well, I suppose I should be wrapping this up as the whole point of not laying down this morning was to switch my hours so that I could be up by eight tomorrow morning to direct Ed as he takes down the boxes full of books and notebooks and piles them on the bed. I would have to do it by taking every thing out of the boxes first. The plan is to pile everything on my side of the bed onto the bed. Then pull everything out from under the bed (this is the scary part!! two cats remember?) Then vac the floor on my side of the bed and the foot of the bed (the other two sides are against the walls). Then move in the shelves and get them positioned. All of this before Ed and his folks leave for the race track before two. Then my work really begins. For I have to have that bed cleared for Ed to sleep by eleven.

At least the weather is cooperating. Temps dropped into the mid seventies and high sixties today and are supposed to hover there for the next couple of days. Then they expect it to shoot back up into the nineties by the middle of the week. This rubber barometer thing is really wearing me out though, it does a number on my mental acuity every time it goes up or down. But I am grateful I won't have to do all this physical labor in the heat.


Thursday, June 28, 2007


Pretty-minded, a slang term used in Scott Westerfeld's dystopia trilogy, perfectly describes my mind for the last several days. In Westerfeld's story, a future civilization built on the several hundred year old ruins of ours, has apparently solved the problem of humanity's greedy and warmongering spirit. But at a very heavy price in freedom. At the age of sixteen, every citizen is subjected to an operation that turns them into breath-taking beauties. Beforehand they are known as The Uglies (book 1) and afterward as The Pretties (book 2). It also turns them into vapid, narcissistic, party-goers. Imagine a world full of Paris Hilton's.

Of course, such a world wouldn't work at all if there wasn't another group watching over everyone and protecting them from their carelessness by designing their environments, monitoring their every waking and sleeping moment and subtly constraining their choices so they seldom become aware they are not free. Enter The Specials (book 3). But I really can't say too much more without giving away spoilers. This series is Young Adult but it is so smartly conceived and written it should not be snubbed by adults.

This is one of the series my niece loaned me and I am currently two-thirds done with the second book and the more I read about pretty-mindedness, the more it seems to fit me this week. Not that I've turned into a mirror-gazing party animal. I am as disinterested in either of those pass times as ever. But the vapid part fits. My mind seems to have emptied of ideas, ambition, energy and all but the most subdued and bland of emotions.

This rules out any creative work and makes even reading a chore. This is most discouraging when it happens, as it did this week, immediately after I've had what felt like an exhilarating and productive day. Which is how I felt about my Monday Poetry Train post. I was riding high on that feeling still at noon on Monday after putting in fifteen hours of work on it, when I made myself quit surfing to visit other Poetry Train riders and lay down to sleep. This was supposed to ensure that I would be able to have another good session Monday night, picking up where I left off. But as so often happens, instead I woke up Monday afternoon feeling like I was pulling my mind up out of a vat of marshmallow cream.

When I hadn't snapped out of it by Tuesday evening after dinner, I made myself an iced-coffee, accidentally (sort of) making it about quadruple the strength I am used to. I say accidentally because there was an element of fumbling but I'm not sure I can trust the motives behind my own fumbledness at such times. I made this iced-coffee by disolving coffee crystals in a couple tablespoons of hot tap water. Then pouring that over a tumbler full of ice-cubes. Then pouring in a half cup of milk and topping of the tumbler with cold tap water. But when the color of the concoction remained too pale, I assumed I had put in less coffee than I had intended so I dissolved some more and poured it over the top. Later, upon reaching the bottom of the 32 oz tumbler, I found a layer of very dark liquid. For some reason, very little of the original dose had mixed in. This quadrupling of my typical caffiene intake did seem to light a small fire in my mind Tuesday night, making possible the completion of the tag challenge. So my victims can curse the coffee for that as well as me. :)

But it didn't last. When I woke up Wednesday afternoon my mind had rebounded from the caffeine high to a deeper level of murk than before. Tempting as it was, I did not allow myself to repeat the coffee 'cure'. I know from experience that cure is bogus, an ever diminishing return for an ever increasing dose. The final payback from my system is usually a migraine.

In fact this mental state is very much like that of the migraine without the head pain. There is dizziness and flickering lights in my vision, there is mild nausea. I've a history of migraines sans the head pain. I'd apparently been suffering them for years--throughout my teens at least and into my late twenties when a doctor finally traced the problem to migraine phenomena. Which wa so ironic. Because my mother was a migraine sufferer. Her bouts would come on monthly and last between 48 hours and two weeks. I grew up swearing that I was never going to have headaches. And except for a few fever induced ones, I never did. Until that doctor diagnosed my condition. The very next time, I got the full blown deal with blazing head-pain and vomiting. Just like Mom's.

Among the triggers of Migraine for me were sudden increase or decrease in caffeine, a variety of foods--celery, strong cheddar, walnuts, MSG, sulphating agents, aluminum based levening, coffee creamer, a long string of food additives--stress/anxiety, PMS, and barometric pressure changes. I strongly suspect that last one to be the culprit today. We had clear skies yesterday and cloud-cover today. Maybe it can even explain yesterday if the conditions for that cloud cover were developing just over the horizon or something. I'm speculating. All I know is that I hate this mental state with a passion--but only after I snap out of it. While in its throws, passion is not possible.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #39

Thirteen of Merlin's Nic Names

1. Skippy: This was the name was given at the shelter because he was peanut butter colored

2. Nutter Butter (Nut Butt) We called him Nutter Butter for a few days, after the cookie. But the shorter version is still in use for those times he is being obnoxious.

3. Butinsky: another fallout from #2 used when he is being a pest or intrusive when he isn't wanted.

4. Houdini: The name that almost stuck. We gave it to him the day after he escaped out of a locked room less than a week after we got him. It was hours before we discovered that he had pulled the grate off of a heating duct in the floor under the bed. We feared he was stuck under the floor somewhere but the next morning he walked up to Ed who was having his morning smoke on the front porch of our double wide trailer house in Sunnyvale, California. After a few days more thought though, Ed decided that the way he seemed to vanish into thin air earned him the name of Merlin, one of Ed's favorite characters from all of literature or history.

We still call him Houdini sometimes after one of his escapes from his harness. I wish I could get a video of this one. All he needs is a way to brace the leash against something that will give him leverage. He ducks his head down and backs up until he pulls the harness off by turning it inside out over his shoulders and then his head. This only works if he has spent some time first loosening the straps around his belly and neck by vigorous scratching and grooming.

6. Merse: rhymes with hearse and is short for Merlin

7. Murmur...: for when we call him. In place of kitty kitty. (we never called our cats kitty so when ever they hear us saying, kitty, kitty, kitty, they'd go on red alert with big tails and all, having caught on that meant there was another cat near by.)

8. Munchkin: He love his food. But this is also a reference to his adorable 'little fur personess'

9. Mr. Wizard: Merlin was a wizard

10. Mr. Fister: Just word play off of Mr. Wizard but used mostly by me when I'm playing with him. He is a grabber and once he has a single claw into something...

11. Huggermuggers: He was never a cuddly cat. He is not much for being held. But this didn't suit me. So while playing with him I started mugging hugs from him, extending hie tolerance for them one second at a time at first. His tolerance for being snuggled has increased from less than five seconds to over two minutes. As long as you make it a game. I would sing-song mug-a- hug or huggermuggers while playing this game. Soon he would come running when I started singing Huggermuggers.

12. Doufus (Boufus): Ed uses these ones when he is being a clown or acting dimwitted. Merlin, that is, not Ed. Although....

13. Balls to the Wall: This one has about died out because it began when he used to chase balls all over our house in Sunnyvale. He chased them full speed ahead until they smacked into things. Sometimes he couldn't stop in time to avoid smacking into things himself. He spends most of his time on a leash here at my in-law's home so there is not any of the all out, pour it on, ball chasing anymore.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Ben Clapton 2. L^2 3. Susan Helene Gottfried

(leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

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!


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Should I Go Hide Under the Bed?

I was tagged by Adelle. This was the first time for me so I'm not sure which is the worse in blog etiquette: to not accept the challenge or to impose it on the next ones. I'm not even sure I 'know' enough bloggers well enough to fill the quota on this tag. Having fretted for two days, I have decided that just doing it is the only thing that will shut up that indecisive 'should I? or shouldn't ?' litany and give the whole thing closure for me.

At least this isn't any more imposing of a challenge than a Thursday Thirteen so I am selecting my victims from TT and Monday Poetry Train participants who have commented more than once on my my TT and Poetry Train posts. At least I know they enjoy memes and don't hate visiting Joystory. It goes without saying that I love to visit every one of their blogs and do so frequently. Which isn't reflected in my sidebar only because I have not been updating my sidebar since I started participating in TT last October. (see #4 below) To sweeten the pot for them I am also going to link their names to their blogs when I tag them even though it is is not one of the rules of this meme. (Personally I think it should be as that would be a better motivator for participants, and appears to be one of the points of viral memes. But I didn't write the rules for this one.)

So here goes:

A. Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves.
B. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed.
C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I am legally blind due to RP aka retinitis pigmentosa a genetic degenerative disease that progressively destroys peripheral vision. I have almost zero night vision and even in the best lighted conditions am limited to less than twelve degrees vision in each eye out of the 180 degrees of normal peripheral vision.

2. We can only trace it back five generations from me because my mother's mother's father's mother did not know her own family history. She was raised by the Indians from age three, when the leader of the raid on her parent's farmstead found her in the pickle barrel where her parents had hidden her after the rest of her family had been slaughtered. He was in awe of her blond curls. She was raised as his daughter until she was at least eighteen and returned to the White man's civilization as the bride of a missionary/trader with the tribe. (Umm. Does that count as a fact about me?)

3. I fret a lot about big and small stuff. Lot of wasted energy and time. It is part of the Anxiety/Depression mood disorder I've had since at least age four but wasn't diagnosed officially until I was nearly forty.

4. I am such a procrastinator! I should spell it in 20pt font but then I would hate they way it looks on the page. Which leads to:

5. I am such a perfectionist! I should spell it in 28pt font but....well you get the picture. And it isn't the kind of perfectionism that actually produces order and well-made finished projects. Rather....

6. I am easily discouraged by mistakes or the inability to make a project turn out the way I envision it or stay on schedule and then I stop working on it and let it set, taking up space in my environment and mind for weeks, months or years, unwilling to give up on it entire but only returning to it maybe five percent of the time. The major successes that have resulted from a small percentage of those makes it that much harder to say a final bub-bye to those that really are dead in the water.

7. This includes staying organized in my environment, including my workspace and schedule. I crave organization, I visualize it in great detail but can never seem to achieve it. And of course my being a hoarder of all kinds of ridiculous stuff does not help at all. You can find the post that lists said stuff via labels if you dare. Hoarding was bad enough when I had my own home but...

8. Since August 2001 we have been living with my husband's parents in the small second bedroom of a single-wide trailer house. With two cats on leashes: Gremlyn and Merlin. Until we lost Gremlyn in March. With the litter box, cat's food and water dishes, bed, entertainment center and my jerryrigged office made of stacked cardboard boxes and a board, there isn't enough standing room for two people. This room has not been thoroughly cleaned since I started spending race day Saturdays watching my husband's elderly grandmother two years ago instead of using that time with the family out of the house to do a major cleaning. I'm fretting about this now because we are about to inherit a new bed from his grandma, who passed on earlier this month, and I am nervous about having to take down my 'office' and put it back together, as interrupting my projects has repercussions (see #6 above) and freaking about what we might find under the bed.

So I'm tagging:

Rhian / Crowwoman
Susan Helene Gottfried
Wylie Kinson
Robin L. Rotham

Sorry gals. Should I go hide under the bed?


Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #5

Sounding Central Truth 
by Joy Renee

What do you mean by denying a
Truth that is right before your eyes? 
Just because a neighbor neighs a lie 
And it seems easier to agree than to 
Say the emperor has no clothes? 
It is the naked truth that we must see 
And we must say what we have seen. 
We must retrieve the words from that 
Place where they reside, where they 
Are not yet hide-bound, where they 
Abound in unsounded musings. And 
Tell it from the crazy place where truth is. 
Write it from the dark place where light burns 
So hot it consumes itself. Where the weight 
Of reality draws real things into the 
Hole of no escape--the Event Horizon-- 
Where abide the convent of Graces 
Hidden from those who know their places, 
Who scorn play for duty, who know they are 
Safe only where none can accuse them 
Of abusing their faces by exposure 
To pleasure and beauty. Beware of 
Safety if you mean to defy the 
Word of the herd and speak from the place 
Where none worship the face. Decry the 
Lie that others live by and live to 
Conspire with Creation’s desire for 
Passion and wonder. 
Embrace the All. 
Consummate the meaning.
Sing the secret from your center.

(c) 1998-2007 Joy Renee

I wrote early versions of this poem in the late nineties as the half-decade of intensive reading in comparative religion, mythology and cosmology began to coalesce for me into the faint outlines of a new spiritual path which I could give my assent to. The early nineties had seen my painful break with the fundamentalist doctrines of my upbringing coupled with the startling realization that I had never learned to think for myself.

As I set out to learn how to think, I discovered that it wasn't only the sect I was born into that was guilty of spoon-feeding thought. The phenomena of group-think and herd mentality was everywhere from the peer-pressure at school and church to team-spirit, school spirit, patriotism, product commercials and corporate conformity. In the work-place, on the air-waves at home, church and school, and even in the halls of academia where some of the most meticulous thinking about thought was achieved, the attempt to impose boundaries on what was permissible to think and to enforce those boundaries with tactics both subtle and blatant was everywhere two or more people gathered.

This poem was rooted in my contemplation of the the complex interrelationship between conformity and creativity, between form and freedom, between composition and concept, and between the medium, the message and the mind. And let's not forget, the meeting of the minds, for the conundrum is that creativity involves bringing something new into being, which requires thinking outside the box but the only way to communicate between two minds is via a preordained (previously established and agreed upon) formula whether a language, a ritual, a culture, or a composition. And to further complicate things, these forms are constrained by the physical construct of our bodies and brains.

The title of the poem is the closest I've yet come to naming my spiritual path. Sounding central truth is my discipline for it is both passion and compass. My medium of choice is story and its components of grammar, word, rhetoric, character, conflict, climax and resolution. I seek always the epiphanic moment.

Note that all of the meanings of the word, sounding, are fully intended in the meaning of the title and the poem. Sounding as in making a noise. Sounding as in measuring depth. Sounding as in diving deep. Sounding as in touching bottom. Sounding as in testing receptiveness or comprehension. And the connotations in the word sound are here as well--sound mind and body, sound principles, sound thought, audible sound.

Thus the choice of the accompanying video of a diver swimming with whales and dolphins. Not all of the meanings of the word, sound, are reflected in there but many are and the evocative nature of its composition informs and deepens the meanings in my poem. What if your muse is like a whale that must measure the depths of Being's sea, to plunge to it's floor to feed, to rise again to breathe? How far down are you willing to follow? Past the point where the light of the known reaches and only faith and hope remain? Past the point where the lungs collapse and only the oxygen stored in the tissue remains? When your muse sings of its findings will you hear and respond? Will you find a way to transmute its song into a form that communicates beyond the boundaries in spite of the boundedness of form? If only your muse and you perceive a Truth, is it still true?

Visit more Poetry Train riders:

1. Robin L. Rotham 2. MyUtopia 3. RED GARNIER 4. Rhian / Crowwoman 5. Susan Helene Gottfried 6. Ann 7. julia


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday Serenity #11

Sometimes words just get in the way.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Stil Reading

When was the last time I spent such large chunks of time reading a book? I can't remember. I just 'lost' my race day Saturday to Cormac McCarthy's The Road. I spent the day I'm supposed to be doing laundry and other chores and keeping both laptop and PC humming with web site projects reading. Somehow, I am not one bit sorry.

After Ed and his folks left for the dirt track races about two-thirty, I took an iced coffee, my book and our cat Merlin out to the back yard. I staked Merlin on his leash and sat in a lawn chair and read. It was perfect weather. Not to hot. Sweetie, my inlaws's dog joined us off and on but she was too disturbed by the noise of the kids playing in the swimming pool just over the fence from us.

I came in only reluctantly about five because Merlin was pestering me. He was ready for his food and water dishes. I was still planning on starting laundry at that time. But when I came in our room to move my laptop out to the living room, I sat down and started playing the solitaire game I'd left on the screen. Next thing I knew, another hour had gone by and I was hungry.

I fixed a sandwich and returned to The Road. And suddenly it was after eight! Too late to hope to get more than a single load out of the dryer before they arrived home, especially with it not even sorted yet. So I just let it slide and returned to reading. I alternated between the book and the solitaire game until Ed and his folks arrived home about ten-thirty--about an hour earlier than usual too so I would likely have still had the first load in the dryer.

I dislike having to deal with my laundry after they go to bed as the machines are in the hall right outside their bedroom and they don't shut their door so I either have to pull my clothes out in the dark or turn on the light that will light up their room. I can't just leave my stuff in the machine on Saturday night's either as Sunday is my Mother-in-law's day off from her job and she starts her Sundays by stripping her bed into the washing machine and keeps the machines going well into the afternoon.

In fact it is difficult for me to find a time slot in which to do laundry with out fear of being in someone's way on any other day of the week than race day Saturday. So that is part of the cost of spending this day lost in a novel for hours and hours.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Just Let Me Read

So I finished Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events today and almost immediately started Cormac McCarthy's The Road. What a culture shock! So different. And yet.... I could point to many commonalities. They both set out to describe quests in a world turned topsy-turvey for their protagonists. The Road is, among other things, a story imparting the details of a series of unfortunate events. Both explore the dark side of human nature, delving into the question of the source of evil and how it is possible to maintain a moral compass in a world that seems intent on throwing our most noble intentions back at us in the form of unintended consequences at least as evil as the evil our intention was to avoid. They both also address the question of how to raise children in such a world, how to protect them from the dangers and the evil and when such protection might be too much, too long thus doing them a disservice by not preparing them for their inevitable encounters with it.

That's after less than fifty pages of The Road and I'm willing to admit I could be bringing too much of the the thirteen volumes of the Snicket series with me into McCarthy's story. Not to mention, too much of my own personal story. But that is the risk a writer takes when sending their story out there I guess. Every reader is bringing to his encounter with it all their own previous encounters with stories.

O.K. Now let me get back to The Road. I only put it down to get this posted so I wouldn't break the streak of daily posts begun the second week of April.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #38

Thirteen Things about going to the book store Sunday

1. It had been five years since the last time we went book shopping.

2. It was a twenty minute ride in a hot car with no air-conditioning. I walked inside with my sunglasses still on, so could see nothing at first. Taking them off before entering would have been worse because the RP causes a significant lag adjusting to changes in brightness. The bigger the change in either direction, the longer the adjustment. Removing my sunglasses immediately after entering rather than before cuts the lag at least in half. But for those moments before I remove them, it is dark as a raven against a moonless night sky.

3.. It was more than a few moments before I could remove my sunglasses, as is often the case when being escorted by my husband. Because I am carrying my cane in one hand and have the other on his elbow or in his hand, I do not have a free hand to remove them. Thus I was hit with a bombardment of sensations on my other four senses. The coolness of the air. The sudden hush. And that unmistakable smell of new books.

4. Before I could remove my sunglasses, those sensations caused a series of flashbacks to about a dozen interrelated book store and library visits over the past ten years. Including the several book shopping excursions in the year after Ed got his job in the Silicon Valley in 1999, when on at least three occasions he had set me free in a book store saying he would let me know when my pile went over budget. I presented him with piles as big as I could carry in one arm and still use my cane with the other. Must have been over a $100 each time. He didn't even blink.

5. But simultaneously with that memory came the memories of the second-hand book stores in which we sold off my personal library to pay for one more week in the motel we had moved into when we got evicted from our house after his job went dot.gone. I had left that store in tears as they tallied up the worth of the books.

6. Immediately on the heels of that memory was the equally devastating memory of the moment I received the news at the Phoenix library that our Southern Oregon library system was going to be shutting its doors.

7. Thus by the time I removed my sunglasses my eyes were full of tears and all I could see was a smear of color and light. I almost put them back on but instead, I avoided blinking until the tears dried and meanwhile reached out to touch and caress and pick up books whose titles I could not read. I held them open in front of my face so I could inhale their scent.

8. It was a good ten minutes before I could get my bearings and start looking for Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which I had set my sights on back in March when Oprah announced it as her book club selection. She had already moved on to the summer book selection but my desire for The Road had only been reinforced by viewing her recent interview with McCarthy.

9. Ed had taken off on his own reconnoiter of the store almost as soon as he had me clear of the entrance. As soon as I could see the sign indicating the fiction section, I headed there. I entered the aisle of the Rs' and worked my way backwards. I had just reached the Ms when Ed caught up with me. He asked if it was Mc or Ma and I said I couldn't remember. Not being able to remember something which I know perfectly well that I know perfectly well, having seen the book cover online and on Oprah, having typed it into the search engine and into my journal, having looked it up in the library catalog, this is one of the insidious symptoms of the anxiety disorder that has plagued me since preschool.

10. Ed had grabbed the book and was handing it to me almost before I finished speaking. As I took the book, I noticed his hands were empty. I asked with surprise if he wasn't going to pick something up. The book store visit was primarily on my behalf so that I could use the gift card I got for Christmas but since the library closure in April Ed had reread his box full of paperbacks, the books my niece had lent us and several from my collection. He was in more need of fresh reading material than I was. I hated to be the only one walking out with a book even if it was one he was interested in too. I pointed at the 20% off sticker on The Road, which I realized meant he would have to cover less than two dollars after the gift card instead of the five or six we were expecting. But he was already gone.

11. I never try to find him in a store once we are separated. The best idea is to stay put and let him look for me in the last place he saw me. I started meandering backwards through the alphabet again but had only reached the Ls when he was back, flashing the cover of a Terry Pratchett hardback for under six bucks. I asked him to show me to the discount section so I could see what all they had. He complied and took off again. A few minutes later he was back saying, I changed my mind, and showing me a John LeCarre. I smiled but refrained from teasing him for this so typical pattern of showing immense enthusiasm for a choice only to change his mind five minutes later and transfer the enthusiasm to his new choice.

12. I wasn't ready to leave yet so he took off again. When he returned the next time he asked for my book and gift card. I put down the book whose jacket I was reading to fish out the gift card. He left me to continue browsing while he checked out. I was still perusing the same book when he returned. I put down the book, glancing once more at the front cover, hoping I could remember the autor and title long enough to get out to the car and pull my notebook out of my purse. Once we were clear of the doors outside he moved off to the side to light up a cigarette and asked if I wanted to see what he got. Wasn't it the LeCarre? He just grinned and pulled out the same book I had been looking at when he came to fetch my book. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

13. He swears it was coincidence, that he already had it in his hand when he came back for my book and card. He chose it primarily because it was twice as long as either of the other two. But it was still a mystery/intrigue which he was in the mood for. But his grin when he asked if I wanted to see, told me that he had at least recognized that I was likely to be equally enthused by it. And I am. It contains multiple elements, any one of which, would make it a must read for me. Its a mystery full of intrigue that crosses centuries. There are elements of the paranormal. The clues are buried in ancient manuscripts and library archives. It features a strong female protagonist. There are a plethora of allusions to historical and literary trivia. And the prose is a sculpted work of art in every paragraph I dipped into. I can't wait.....

As much as I am enjoying the Snicket series, I am sooooo ready to move on to more adult, more complex fare. So my goal this week has been to finish A Series of Unfortunate Events. I was nearing the end of book ten last Sunday and am now two-thirds done with book twelve. One and a third to go.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Tink 2. Gattina 3. Miss Frou Frou 4. Miss Frou Frou 5. Tempest Knight 6. Lisa Andel 7. T.A.Chase 8. Susan Helene Gottfried 9. L^2 10. A-Country-Mom (formerly Stephanie) 11. Joy T. 12. MyUtopia 13. Ann 14. Thomma Lyn 15. Madame Rubies 16. julia 17. Rhian / Crowwoman

(leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

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!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Shopping Spree

So I mentioned in my last post that I am focused on finishing the last two volumes of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I have a really good motivator for wanting to finish the Snicket series. Ed and I went book shopping for the first time in years on Sunday. I am trying to remember the last time. It had to be summer or fall of 2002. The only reason we were going this time was to spend the $10 Barnes and Noble gift certificate that I got for Christmas. I had been saving it for something really special. When Oprah announced the book club selection towards the end of March, I set my sights on that one. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. But the certificate wasn't going to cover the whole cost of it. Then there would be the cost of bus fare for two since I am unfamiliar with the route and would need an escort.

But this weekend we had access to his Dad's car while his folks were up north for their granddaughter's wedding. This was one of the errands Ed was champing at the bit about as I was writing my Sunday Serenity post Sunday afternoon.

Before the bookstore though, we had to go to Walmart for some necessities. Among those were some new clothes for me. I hadn't bought new clothes since 2002 either. I had gotten clothes for gifts for Christmas and my Birthday but since both of those are after Halloween, they tend to be winter wear--sweats, sweaters, PJs and flannel shirts. All but a few items of my spring and summer clothes are nearly unfit for wearing in public. Ripped, snagged, stained, frayed. Missing buttons. Dead elastic. Ladies, I'm sure you know what I mean by that last. :)

So I got three new items. Blue jeans, a pair of cotton, navy short pants. Not sure what they are called but they are a tad longer than the peddle pushers that were in when I was a kid. Last and far from least was a bra. I know, TMI. But it was a big deal to me. It had become a major issue months ago.

I was in too much of a hurry to try any of it on before buying. I was fairly confident my size hadn't changed anyway. But I guessed wrong on the blue jeans. They were too big and we have to take them back. Guess I should count that as a net positive. Still don't have the blue jeans to wear. But I need a smaller pair!

Next stop the book store.

But I'm leaving that story for the next post--Thursday Thirteen. This one is long enough and the story of my first book store visit in five years deserves its own post.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Groggy, Letharic and Cranky

It was another hot day here in the Rogue Valley. I believe it topped ninety. Such days would not hit so hard if there were more of them in a row as is more typical here in Southern Oregon in June. But this is the first one above the mid eighties in over a week. We keep bouncing between the mid seventies and mid eighties. It is hard to get acclimated to the heat when it just teases us like this. Thus each time it hits the high eighties I get knocked off my equilibrium again. I am lethargic and depressed. Low mental and physical energy coupled with dashed expectations. leads to feeling low and useless.

Ed, my husband, only worked a few hours this morning. He was home before noon and was anxious to get on the laptop if I was willing to let him have it. He was feeling ambitious so I figured he would make the best use of the afternoon hours. Things only he can do need to get done. Yet, without the laptop, I'm left feeling anxious. I swear my fingers actually start to itch as though being out of contact with the keyboard and touchpad is like having their tips amputated.

The same thing happened the year I spent obsessively cross stitching. I was working this project eight to twelve hours per day for most of the winter of 2003. Whenever I had to put it away for what ever reason, my fingers and palms actually itched. It drove me crazy. I couldn't transfer my attention over to other tasks. That was the year before my inlaws got the new computer and I recommitted to my writing after taking a two year hiatus from all but daily journaling.

But there are plenty of non-computer related things I want to do. Reading and stitching top that list. So this afternoon, I was more than willing to hand the laptop over to Ed. My plan was to see how far I could get in the The Penultimate Peril, the twelfth book in Lemony Snicket's thirteen volume A Series of Unfortunate Events. As much fun as I am having with this series, I am ready to move on. I started them the last week of April hoping to tie, if not beat, my husband's record of reading all thirteen in one week. But the malware attack on my laptop intervened on the third day. Once the pressure to finish in a week was off, I relaxed on them. There have been only a few times that I've picked one up and read for a straight hour or more. They tended to get the most attention during those minutes I waited on pages and files to download or on malware scans or restarts.

This afternoon, then, I set my sights on finishing book twelve by dinner time. I had just started it yesterday evening before dinner. I did great for the first half hour or so. I was sitting out on the porch where Ed had set up with the computer next to his ashtray. His dad was working in the yard and would join us on the porch when he took breaks. There were times they both had cigarettes going and the smoke seemed to aim straight for my face. This aggravated the eyestrain that is part of my visual impairment and made it hard to keep my eyes focused and eventually hard to keep them open and then I started fighting the drowse. Finally gave into it and headed back to our room about two. But the move revived me somewhat. I was able to read for another half hour before I succumbed. I slept for less than an hour and woke into the afternoon heat feeling worse than before. I was groggy and lethargic and cranky.

It is closing in on midnight and I'm not feeling much improved.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #4

Becoming That (Most Hoped For) I
by Joy Renee

The most I can Hope for is
a beaching on Wisdom’s coast,
to breach-birth this folded foal
on the shoals of shame and let
the surging surf scour it’s
bloody hide, lift it to the Light and
toss it as Peace Offering
on the shores of Life. Where wind-
slapped it will escape onto
the plains of Faith and flockless,
wander desolate fields,
conspiring with breezes to
name my pains and claim my blame,
and on the balance of Love’s
Justice weigh my Spirit’s fruits
to recompense unto me
the heart of my soul’s intent
Then I, now Accepted by
the Beloved One
into the blessed Ground of Being, am
freed to scale the pinnacles
of Becoming. There to sing
the Wonder and Glory and
Awesome Joy of I AM THAT.

(c) 2000 & 2007 by Joy Renee

Poetry Train Passengers:
1. Rhian / Crowwoman 2. Robin L. Rotham 3. Susan Helene Gottfried 4. Sparky Duck 5. RED GARNIER 6. julia 7. MyUtopia


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sunday Serenity #10

I've always loved jigsaw puzzles. I find them relaxing. Which is why I love the Jigsaw puzzle software I have that will take any graphic I feed it and make a puzzle out of it. I can set the number of pieces I want from 6 to over 1400, depending on whether I want a quick fix or a long challenge. This pic was one my sister took on one of her road trips. I set it for about 140 pieces for a thirty minute break. The ghost of the pic is an option and I turned it on for the screenshot. I had a bunch more screen shots of the various stages of the puzzle, showcasing the various features of the software. Like slide out trays in all four corners to put sections of the puzzle together on; the several options for arranging the scattered pieces at the start; and the finished puzzle. But I am out of time here. We have some errands to run and Ed is chomping at the bit. And I am, like, twenty hours late getting my SS up as it is.

Note: since Ed is now using his own name in his blog's name and has joined in on Sunday Serenity and Thursday Thirteen, it makes no sense to continue avoiding using his first name. Imagine the keystrokes this will save me.

The Sunday Serenity hub. Please join us.


Saturday, June 16, 2007


OK. So today I am just lazy. There is no other word for it. I can't seem to get my head back into any of my projects. I just meander inside my head and meander around the house and yard. Today is Saturday, the day throughout the summer that I am home alone while everyone else goes to the dirt track races. This week my husband went to the races alone because his folks have gone north to Washington for their granddaughter's wedding. Race day Saturday is my day to get chores done and keep both computers humming with projects.

All I've got done is play. I played with my inlaw's dog, Sweetie. I played with our cat, Merlin. I played around with getting pictures of my cross stitch and needlepoint projects in hopes of doing my Sunday Serenity on needlework. But I can't seem to be bothered to get the pics off the camera to see if they turned out--unlike the last pics I took of them. If they did turn out, I would still have to take them into a graphics program to make them postable. All I want to do right now is sit and stare at the screen with unfocused eyes. Or watch a screensaver.

The best part of my day so far was when I let Merlin off his leash inside the house and gave him four balls to play with on the kitchen floor. A golf ball, a tennis ball and two cat toy balls with rattles inside. I have to stay right with him when he is off his leash and harness. There are too many no-nos. Now he was a bundle of energy this morning. Wish he could have given me some of it.

Once though, just moments after my husband backed out of the driveway, Merlin got out the front door. The screen door hadn't been latched and he managed to push it open. I spent over five minutes and possibly as many as fifteen minutes tracking him down. I was bare foot and didn't dare go back for either sunglasses or visor. The glare from sun on bright surfaces makes it hard for me to see anything but bright streaks of color on shadow.

It is a good thing Merlin is a bashful kitty once he gets outside and on the edge of unfamiliar territory. He doesn't just dash off like our other cat Gremlyn did. He only dashes to a bush or vehicle he can cower under while he surveys his surroundings. And if you don't chase him or make a sudden move as you approach him, he will just gaze up at you as you reach down and pick him up. He had hidden under a small trailer for hauling stuff that was parked under the carport. I managed to bark my shins on it's taillights on my way around it. And get my hair tangled in a rose bush growing beside the carport.

Pulling out my needlework and packing it outside to get pictures of it made me want to start working on it. Now, three hours after packing it back up so I could return inside to get busy on my web projects, I am thinking it might have been more productive to have spent those three hours outside stitching. I might actually have something to show for the time. I haven't worked on it for almost a year. I don't have a good place inside the house to work on it. There isn't enough light in any of the room except our room. But in there, it is difficult to keep it out of Merlin's reach. And even if I had the heart to lock him in his crate while I worked, there is just so much litter dust and cat hair stirred up by by the fan in that room, I can't keep my projects clean.

Over a year ago, I took most of it over to Grandma's and left it there as I was over there at least once and often several times during the week. There was excellent light and a clean environment. I got to work on it quite a bit between January and June last year. Grandma enjoyed watching me work and seeing my progress and listening to me describe my plans for new projects. But it was about this time last year when Grandma got up out of her chair and walked all the way outside without her walker while I was busy stitching. I was no more than four feet from her chair and did not hear a single sound until I heard the back door shut.

Although I got it out a few more time after that, I couldn't allow myself to get engrossed in it and after awhile it just didn't seem worth the hassle of unpacking and repacking it for the handful of stitches I managed to make each time. When they moved the hospital bed into Grandma's living room in March, they brought my sewing back here to me. I wasn't going to be sitting with her anymore as her care had become too intensive for me.

I discovered today that under the shade of the patio table parasol out in the back yard, I have enough light to stitch by. All I would have to do is provide for keeping my materials clean. I am going to have to make time for doing that soon.

This morning my husband downloaded three more freeware programs that I've been asking for. All three are related to both my web projects and my needlework projects. All three are graphic design generators. One generates fractals, including Mandelbrot sets. One generates stitching charts for needlework from photos and other graphics. One generates Celtic Knot designs. I am excited about these programs and all the different uses I have intended for them. I'll blog about them as I learn to use them and will provide links to their sites and downloads then. I don't have the info on the laptop yet. My husband downloaded and installed them on the PC and just transferred the zip files over to the shared folder on my laptop via the WIFI. I haven't extracted and installed them yet. That was supposed to be my reward for getting my chores done. So much for self-denial as self-discipline.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Worn Out

Where to 13 year olds get their energy? I want some of it!!!
My niece was here from Wednesday evening through this evening. I got very little sleep during her visit. We chatted about books and movies and pets and music and blogging and her upcoming trip to Hawaii with her family. This is the niece that loaned me the Lemony Snicket books I've blogged about several times. She is loaning me a bunch more books plus six seasons of Gilmore Girls on DVD. She is my lending library now that our county system has shut its doors.

We took her grandparent's dog, Sweetie, for a walk down on the bike path by the creek yesterday. The path is used by walkers, joggers, pet walkers, skate-boarders, scooter riders, runners, in-line skaters and cyclists. I love it down there but can't go unless I can talk someone into going with me. Between my 90% plus sight loss and 50% plus hearing loss added to my anxiety disorder and propensity to have addlepated moments as described in my TT yesterday.... I don't know, it just doesn't seem wise.

I took some pictures on that walk and hoped to download them onto the computer and crop and resize etc so that I could post them with this post. But I didn't get it done and it is closing in on midnight.

I am not going to be able to stay awake for late night work session tonight either. I hate giving up these quiet hours when there are so few distractions. But I can't make good use of them when I can't keep my eyes open or my mind on what I am doing. I need sleep.

It is just as well anyway. My husband and I are going to be alone here again this weekend as we were last weekend. His folks are going back up to Washington state for their granddaughter's wedding. Last week it was for the bride's sister's graduation. So if I sleep tonight I will get to spend time with him in the morning. He is still going to the dirt track races tomorrow afternoon and won't be back until near midnight.

The niece who was visiting this week is the sister of the other graduate I mentioned in Monday Poetry Train. Their family is traveling in the same van with my in-laws but they aren't coming back on Monday. They are hopping a plane in Portland, Oregon for ten days in Hawaii! My niece is so excited. She says she is going to get to swim with dolphins.

I am way behind on returning visits to my TT commenters. I am sorry about that and will try to catch that up tomorrow.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #37

Some people call them blond moments. But I'm not blond. Some people call them senior moments. But, nor am I yet senior. Quite. My Mom likes to call them blind moments. (We are both visualy impaired.) But that doesn't explain them all. Not hardly. My sister likes to call them ADD moments.

I think I'll just call them ADDlepated. Or maybe oops! moments.

Thirteen Addlepated Moments:
1. There are so many ways I have goofed up at making a simple pot of coffee I could have probably filled the list with them. But I'm going to group just a few of them here and count them as one:

~~Filled the tank with water, put the filter in the basket. Forgot to add the coffee grounds. It finished perking before I discovered this.

~~Forgot to empty out the old coffee before setting up to make a full pot. Not pretty.

~~Forgot to pour water from bucket into tank. Came back an hour later to dry grounds and hot water.

2. Strange things I've found in my sandwiches after making them:

~~the twist tie off the bread sack. Well, it was white. As was the mayo. And the chicken breast.

~~ the plastic wrap off a slice of cheese. Practically invisible even for fully sighted people.

3.Another sandwich moment;

~~on a race day Saturday this month I made an excellent hamburger sandwich with all the trimmings. Put away the condiments. Came back to the table and picked up my sandwich and reached for the bottle of Squirt. Walked in the other room with them. Sat down and raised the mayo squeeze bottle to my lips. Saw it just barely before putting my mouth on it.

4. Ran across back yard and up porch steps barefoot. Kicked the iron duck door stop. Broke foot. I could almost have done the entire list off the incidents that happened that same week, which I blogged about in Pity Hearty.the summer of 2005.

5. When the smoke detector went off while I was home alone here at my in-laws, my reaction was to rescue my cats who were helpless on their leashes. Once I had myself and them outside safely did I stay put? Run to the neighbor's to call 911? Yell fire? NO. I ran back in to rescue the thousands of dollars of library books out of our room. That took three trips. And only then did I think about my manuscripts! Went back for them. And while I was at it, grabbed some clothes and my purse and travel hygiene kit a coat and shoes. It was afterall about 30 degrees outside that day.

I didn't remember until the next day about the stash of money I had hidden in the room. The money that I had been saving for my laptop for almost two years.

That happened the week that I started this blog and put up my other two web sites. If that had really been a fire, I doubt there would have any more entries after the one that came before this one: Bouncing Off the Walls. Is there a better way to find your way when your eyes are dull and your hands are full?

6. Left brand new gallon jug of liquid laundry detergent on back of washer. It fell off during spin cycle. Cap broke.... Yeah. Picture it.

7. Washed pillow with loose ribbing which tangled with agitator and broke machine. Had to pull the pillows out of water and wring them out by hand before they could be put through the dryer. They were never the same..

8. Picked up shoelace attached to shoe with vacuum cleaner and broke the beater bar belt. 3X in one summer.

9. Put shaving gel on my toothbrush

10. Left library, got full block away before I remembered my white cane.

11. Left library, got to Grandma's house where I was to spend the afternoon. Could not find my reading glasses. Not in my laptop bag. Not in my rolling backpack with the library books. Not in jacket. Just not anywhere I looked. Grandma was watching me look the whole time. It was Friday and I was afraid that I'd left them in the library I would be without them all weekend. So I called and asked. I listened as they called back and forth to each other at the other end. I reached up to brush hair out of my eyes. And found my glasses atop my head. I still wonder if Grandma had seen them and just played dumb for the entertainment of watching my frantic search. She was known for her pranks. But she also had poor eyesight.

12. Another time, preparing to leave Grandma's for home, I packed my laptop up and dropped my reading glasses inside its bag. Out at the car I tossed the bag in the backseat the wrong way up. When I got home I found one ear piece broken off. That happened about a year ago. I'm still wearing them.

13. Walking home from a Fourth of July Fireworks display in Longview with my husband and our, then 13 year old, niece who were so busy telling knock-knock jokes they forgot to watch out for me. I was so busy listening and laughing, I forgot too. I ran smack into a telephone pole. Earned me a serious black eye. But did not break my glasses.

That was the niece who is getting married Sunday. That incident happened in 1996.

The rest of them all happened since we moved in here with my in-laws in 2001. So, it was my in-laws washer, detergent, coffee maker, vacuum cleaner and iron duck.

Would you let me live in your house?

Would you hire me?

Not surprised.

I probably wouldn't either.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Prudence 2. amy 3. Jane 4. Adelle 5. Susan Helene Gottfried 6. Michelle M Pillow 7. Raven Paranormal Blog 8. RED GARNIER 9. Sparky Duck 10. L^2 11. Ann 12. spyscribbler 13. Jamie 14. Amy Ruttan 15. MyUtopia 16. Janie Hickok Siess, Esq. 17.

(leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

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!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gimping Along

I found this image in a free clip art gallery:

I did this to it with Gimp:

I don't know whether to think this is progress or regression. How can this be called working? It's too much like coloring in a child's coloring book. And almost as much fun as I remember that was. Only less messy. And mistakes can be instantly undone. That's heaven for a perfectionist like me. But it also means I spend more time doing do-overs.

Ah, well. I guess it is good learning experience. Because of that ability to undo all the way back to the beginning, I've felt more inclined to click on a menu item just to see what it does. This isn't getting the pages done. There are 36 pages plus the index page planned. I had hoped to have sixteen done by today. I've got four plus three-quarters of the index page. Every page is unique.

Which is why I'm still awake four hours past my ideal bedtime. And this was not the day to skimp on sleep. Today is the last day of school for my niece who is coming over to spend the night here at her Grandma's. She is going to want to hang out with me into the wee hours. Those hours which are my designated working hours. Thus, I had hoped to have my Thursday Thirteen post drafted and ready to go before she got here. Didn't get it done. And now it will probably have to wait until after my husband goes to bed this evening as I've promised him he can commandeer the laptop from when he gets home until he is ready to give it up.

If I don't lay down very soon, the next twenty-foour hours are going to be about as much fun as a toothache.


You are invited to join my Sunday Serenity meme.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I Made This

Don't laugh. I'm learning a new graphics program. And I've never been exactly agile on any in the past so I don't have much accumulated knowledge about the zoo of tool bars on something as major as The Gimp, which is a GNU open source, freeware ap that purports to compare favorably with Adobe Photoshop.

Plus I'm not learning just one ap in a leisurely manner. I'm using it in conjunction with Another major ap, which is a suite so is really several aps in one, while actually working on a major project that is fairly urgent. The project that I've alluded to here in the past couple days which I can't say much about. Oh, I suppose I could, but it would spoil the effect of the big splash I want to make the day we go live with the new website my husband and I are putting together.

My husband actually thinks I should be blogging about it for the sake of promotion. But what good would it do if I make a big announcement only to keep dragging it out for weeks or months. I've already missed three of the deadlines my husband set for my part. What if I'd made the announcement in April that we planned to go live May 1st and here we are with nothing up six weeks later.

Some of that was out of my control. Life just butted in. First the malware wars ate up three weeks. Then there was the demise of my laptop's power cord. Then family events surrounding Mother's Day and Easter. And this past week it was the death of my husband's grandmother followed by the graduations of a niece and nephew. We didn't actually get to go to the graduations because of limitted seating for the local one and not being able to make the trip up to Touttle, Washington for the second one. But there was still a lot of family hullabaloo surrounding all of the events.

Besides The Gimp, I am using the Open Office suite for this project as well. It has a Draw ap too.
Sometime one ap will do something the other one won't so I take files back and forth between them. Of course you can't keep the layers active. You have to save as a gimp or bitmap file before you can take a graphic into another ap.

I'm using Open Office as my WYSIWYG also. I'm actually having a much easier time with it than with any of the other free ones I've tried. The Open Office HTML page creator is part of its word processor ap. I can't tell you yet how versatile it is because I'm keeping everything on a very simple level at first. This web site doesn't require a complex style sheet so I've not even tried to figure out whether Open Office provides that capability.

One of the things we are trying to do with the project is to see if we can do it all with freeware and free hosting until the expected payoff. We don't even have a shoestring budget for this. Replacing the power cord in May pinched really hard. So hard, I gave up requesting a professional hair cut in advance of the heat and cut my own hair. Picture that if you can. A 90% or more blind woman cutting her own hair. There are so many things that are more important and more necessary than putting money into a great big maybe.

But my husband is excited about this project. He thinks we've finally hit on a way to combine our skill sets and the technology to create a steady income stream. It was my brainchild, but I couldn't make it happen without his help. This one is going to take his expertise in database maintenance. I know nothing from Mysql or php or what have you. But I am willing to learn once we get this thing rolling and stuff comes up that has to be dealt with when my husband isn't available. We can't risk his day job just yet.

The research I'm doing for my Fruits of the Spirit storyworld project is feeding into this (unnamed) project. I sorta did that on purpose. Since I could choose the theme of the first edition, I thought I might as well use the material I was collecting for FOS. The only drawback is that I am itching to get back to work on the actual story writing and I don't dare put aside this other thing to do so. My husband suggests that this is more important because if it works it will be the engine that drives the train for rest of our dreams.

Maybe it won't work. But we won't know until we try. And he wants to get it up and running and the bugs worked out of it before the late summer shipping season kicks in and he looses the time and energy he has available for it right now. The late summer shipping season segues into the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Years when he works ten to twelve hour shifts. So we have a small window of opportunity here.

The pic at the top was taken with the new screen capture tool my husband downloaded for me just before he went to bed. That is the shot he took to show me how to use the ap. X Shot is another freeware ap. I asked for it because I've had in mind for awhile now that there is a lot of potential blog post material in the experiences of learning how to use new software. And such posts can be enhanced by pics to accompany the text. Screenshots of the thing I am talking about would not only make it more interesting but also less confusing. Not to mention, save on words.

I've been wanting for awhile now to start singing the praises of Open Office and the concept of writing about the experience of using it on a major project that is on a broken shoestring budget could be just the thing. As long as I don't make a bust of the project.


You are invited to join my Sunday Serenity meme.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Joy of Works In Process

Anyone following my posts from the last three days might see a pattern here and wonder what I might be up to. It might look like I have been 'vanity Googling' or something. But I wasn't. I was Googling the word joy. It just happens to be my name. It all started when I did that Google game thing for my TT a couple weeks ago. The one where you type your first name followed by the word needs?

Well, I saw a bunch of things then that made me realize that I had a treasure trove of info at my finger tips to help me in three different projects, one is Sunday Serenity, the meme I am trying to start. Another is a really huge project my husband and I have been working on for several months, which I can't really say much about yet except that it is a web site and it is not a blog.

Third is a major WIP. The one I've mentioned here a lot in the last year. I call it my Fruits of the Spirit storyworld. It is a multi-generational saga in which every major character and some minor ones, have names whose meanings point to the primary theme that their particular role in the storylines reflect.

When I first started, the focus was on the nine fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and moderation. But it wasn't long before I expanded to other concepts that I consider in the same category: mercy, justice, will, beauty, innocence, fortune, wonder, spirit, courage, liberty, knowledge, reason, truth, gratitude, generosity..... And their antagonistic concepts which were gifted to the antagonists of course. I had to do something as my roster of characters expanded from the double digits into the triple.

I was greatly influenced by years of exploration in The Great Books set published by Britannica. I was first introduced to that set by a high-school teacher. My husband had bought a set from the PX before we got married. I fell in love with the Syntopican. A project designed and presided over by Mortimer J. Adler, it is a two volume index of the 102 major ideas our western tradition has developed over the last three millennia. I lost most of the set in our move from the Rogue Valley back to Longview in 1987. But I had the Syntopicon until we abandoned our storage unit near San Jose when we moved back to the Rogue Valley after my husband lost his dot com job in 2001. I lost all but approximately a hundred pages of my manuscripts as well as all my notes and my computer. For a time, I seemed to have lost my will to write as well.

For two whole years, the only thing I wrote was my daily journal. Then my in-laws bought a computer. I started retyping my hundred odd pages of manuscripts. Then I started adding new material, taking new notes. Then I started this blog. And not long after that, I walked into the library one day and found a set of the 1952 edition of the Great Books for sale, They had been donated and all but ten or so of the volumes were still shrink wrapped. I bought them for $1 per book.

I blogged about it at the time. I had a lot of angst about spending that kind of money under the circumstances we were in. But it seemed to me they had been sent as a gift or reward for the year of hard work and commitment I'd put into my writing. Or possibly as a test to see if my priorities were in the right place. How much was I willing to invest in my dream? How much was I willing to sacrifice for it?

But I don't need to go into that all over again here. If you want to read how I deliberated with and berated myself in the moment go read: Bringing Home the World On Wheels, about the 1999 World Book Encyclopedia set I'd bought there just the week before, and Gift or Temptation, for the scoop on bringing home the Britannica Great Book set. Or this one from a couple months later when events seemed to be proving to me that I made the wrong choice, Groping For Doubt Relief, if you are in the mood for a long wailing rail of the kind best left in a private journal. I was going to trash that post the day after I wrote it but discovered it had received a comment--one of the few if not the first from a stranger who wasn't a spammer. I couldn't bear to trash, along with it, the first glimmer of evidence that my writing was reaching someone. So I let it stand.

So that's the explanation for why three days in a row my posts have touched on the theme of joy. I'm sure there will be more, as I have collected enough stuff in my Google exploration of the word to stimulate a month worth of posts. Shortly I will move on to one of the other Fruits of the Spirit or thematic concepts as I continue to collect resources, reflections, and creative stimulation for several major projects.

I have found since I started posting daily in April that it is easier to keep that commitment if I allow the topic of my posts to reflect whatever happens to be on my mind that day. That is why you got posts about playing Whack-A-Mole with malware and backing up my files during the weeks my laptop was under attack. And why you are now getting posts reflecting my research and reflections on joy--as in the idea of joy and its influences on thought and culture.


You are invited to join my Sunday Serenity meme.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #3

by Joy Renee

Wondering who and what and when and where and why and
How do we answer so many questions when you only question all of our answers,
Asking how and why and where and when and what and
Who knows the truth, the whole truth and anyway, even nothing but the truth leaves you
Pleading who and how and where and why and what and
When you learn we haven’t enough answers, you will turn from us,
Questing for when and who and how and where and why and
What can we do to keep you safe from all the hurtful answers yet not thwart your
Seeking for what and when and who and how and why and
Where will we find answers to satisfy your
Demanding need to know where and what and when and who and how and
Why is it that when we look at you we see the answer to all our questions?

The story behind the poem:
This past week a niece and a nephew graduated from high-school. Next weekend another niece, the sister of the grad, is getting married. These are three of my husband's two brother's kids. Fifteen years ago, all three of our families lived in the Longview, Washington area. For most of three years prior to that my little two-bedroom apartment was teeming with kids between the ages of newborn and thirteen on many days of the week. Besides those two families there were several others among neighbors, friends or relatives or relatives of relatives who would drop their kids off for an hour or day, an overnight or a weekend.

Then suddenly everything changed. In the space of about three months they were all gone. My two brother-in-law's families moved out of town. Since some of the kids frequently visiting had been cousins of one family from their mother's side, I lost them as well. Another mother quit her job. Another found someone with a car who was willing to watch her kids at their own home. And so forth.

The night my husband and I got back home to Longview from the trip down to the Rogue Valley (where we are currently living) to help his brother move his family, I was distraught. The five rooms of our apartment rang with the hollow echos of silence. Sitting alone, after my husband went to bed, I thumbed through the photos struggling to stem the tide of tears. It was then that some of the phrases of the above poem came to me like a gift.

The two above-mentioned grads had just turned three around New Year's that year. About a year before, they had begun that stage where they seemed to wake up in the morning asking questions and not stop until sleep shushed them. That stage where every attempt to answer them only elicited another question. Remembering that coaxed a smile from me and with it the line: How do we answer so many questions when you only question all of our answers?

After writing that down, I started playing with the list of question words and writing down some of the questions I remembered one or another kid had asked. Most of that musing did not survive the many re-visions over the next several weeks. But that line did and one other that came to me that same night: Why is it that when we look at you we see the answer to all our questions?

I knew I had my beginning and my ending. The rest was a matter of a lot of shuffling lines and rearranging words until the concepts flowed in a natural progression from one to the other. Notice that the whole thing is one, long, run-on sentence. Whether reading it aloud or silently, read as though you have to say every word without taking another breath after the first one.


Note that the title of the poem is a link. It takes you to, directly to the page where I 'borrowed' the pic and where prints of it in various sizes are for sale. I hope that linking back to the page where I found it satisfies the fair use rules.


For those of you following the last three posts and who might be suspecting that I've been busy 'vanity Googling', come back Tuesday for the real explanation. I wrote it here first but it ran to several hundred words. I decided it off topic for Poetry Train and should have the honor of belonging to its own post. The short version is that it is major WIP. Three actually if you include Sunday Serenity.


And now, here is today's reminder that you are invited to join me on Sunday Serenity.

It has occurred to me that many might find it difficult to blog on the weekends. If so, you are welcome to post on Monday or even Friday and leave your comment in the previous Sunday's edition at the hub with the permalink to your post. If you choose Friday, which has the benefit of leaving your post on top over the weekend, then I will transfer your link to the new edition at the time I open it.


1. Rhian / Crowwoman 2. MyUtopia 3. Heather Harper 4. RED GARNIER 5. Carol 6. Susan Helene Gottfried 7. Anna J. Evans 8. Amy Ruttan 9. Ann 10.Rebecca


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