Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Snipets 8

Last week Cassie left Brandy, fifteen year old Briana's baby, with Faye after finding the infant hanging on Beulah gate. Now we return to the day Faye met five-year-old Briana, several hours after watching her swing on Beulah gate after hanging her rag doll twin upon its fretwork.

Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes


Faye was holding Inny’s hand that afternoon, watching his face for any sign of a return to himself. But he only stares past her with the beatific smile that seldom left his face these days. She struggles for something to say to him, to fill the silence, to prevent him from picking up the slack by lapsing into one of his long Biblical quotations that were his only mode of communication since he woke from his drug induced coma.

The feel of his hand in hers is fragile and ephemeral. And so still. It is like holding a pressed leaf or a preserved butterfly. Too firm a grasp and it would crumble to dust. The form and memory of vitality but… Faye drew herself up. It doesn’t do to fret, to think too deep, she reminded herself. She reached up with her free hand to brush a wispy curl off his forehead and found herself humming a song one of her students had once--years gone--performed at a recital. The words slipped from her lips: "Yesterday all my troubles seemed to fade away, now it seems they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday…" She broke off with an ironic chuckle, her mind suddenly full of the memory of Briana singing "Tomorrow." An old lady, a young girl, the only thing they have in common is longing. One sings wistfully of yesterday; the other of tomorrow.

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…the same yesterday, and today and forever." Inny piped up.

"Hush, now." Faye patted his hand and planted a kiss on his lips, startling him to silence. For a time she keeps him calm by singing hymns. But, haunted by her encounter with Briana, her voice trails off. Every thought returns like a boomerang to thoughts of Briana and her cloth twin. Snatches of the songs Briana sang echoed in her mind, threatening to possess it. She imagined the child singing other songs and caught herself humming counterpoint and harmony. She yearned with the passion of love to have the privilege of training Briana’s voice. For the first time since she had lost Inny she had music in her heart again.

She found herself recounting her morning experience to Inny. Her account was animated, her voice resonant with the mixture of emotions she had not yet sorted out. When she related the part where Briana had asked if she were a gardener because her name was Gardner, Inny turned and looked right at her and spoke. "Out of the mouths of babes."

Even though it was just another quote, its relevance and his manner sent a thrill of recognition through her. She was sure with an inner assurance that he had just spoken to her, recognized her, acknowledged her--for the first time since that dreadful day one of his students had slipped him that Mickey in an apple. The awakening that had begun in her that morning when the first notes of song had reached her through the layers of insulating numbness, found its completion in that moment. She squeezed his hand and continued. When she told of Briana christening the gate and of her convoluted logic, Inny interjected musingly: "Suffer the little children to come unto me."

This second occurrence confirmed the reality of the first and served to fluster Faye for several moments. Gathering her wits Faye went on with her story. She told of Briana’s antics upon the gate with an accompaniment of hand gestures and giggles. Once again Inny responded: "Except ye become as one of these little children ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."

"Oh Inny!" Faye laughed exuberantly. "Aren’t you the limit?" Whereupon Inny lapsed into a lengthy quotation of the Sermon on the Mount. Faye listened, patting his hand. The sound of his voice was music to her heart.

Wilma arrived with the evening breeze for her daily visit with her brother. She took a moment to catch her breath and to secure stray strands of storm-gray hair in the knot at the nape of her neck. "Workman," she always called her twin by his middle name, "This is the day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." she greeted him.

"Say unto wisdom, thou art my sister." Inny’s face beamed in recognition.

Wilma laid her hand on Inny’s head entangling her long fingers in the white, summer-cloud fluffiness of his curls. "It is long past time for a haircut, Works, my dear."

The nearest thing to tenderness that Faye ever saw in Wilma was in her touch, her voice, her eyes, whenever she dealt with her twin. At moments like these Faye felt like an intruder. She slid her hand from Inny’s and folded her palms together, entwining her fingers, creating a womb-like enclosure--a furtive and fertile place where this day’s events could gestate until they had gathered enough life-force to fulfill their implications.

Fervently she prayed they would not be stillborn, for a return to the glacial barrenness of her grief was not to be endured.

Later, nestled in the back seat of the Chevy, Faye hummed contentedly to herself, but softly so as not to be heard over the news program Julia and Wilma were listening to. She had no wish to be teased or chided. She wanted to savor the moments of her day, cherish them to herself. She was jarred out of her reverie by the sudden blaring of the announcer’s voice. Julia had--in her usual excess of impulse--twisted the dial too far. In the moments before Wilma’s officious twist of the dial back to moderate volume, the car reverberated with the name that had been thrumming Faye’s consciousness all day: "…BRIANA MORGAN…"

Faye thrust herself forward over the back of the front seat, exclaiming: "What?"

"Sssh!" Julia and Wilma shushed simultaneously in each of her ears.

The announcer’s voice filled the vacuum of their silence like a viper’s hiss: "…missing…"

"Dear Jesus, No!" Faye moaned, despairing for that small vibrant child that had brought joy and music back into her life that morning. "What happened?"

Her wail drew a reproving gaze from Wilma and a withering reprimand from Julia "For crying out loud, Sister! Must you? That’s what we’re trying to find out."

"...anyone with information please contact the Westmont Police Department…"

Julia switched off the radio with an exasperated sigh as Faye began pounding her fists on the seat back, crying: "Stop the car! Stop the car! Please!" Tears welled in her eyes, oozing onto her shock-cold cheeks as she squeezed her eyes shut and pled: "Oh Sweet Jesus don’t let it be!"

"What is it Sister?" Julia asked, concern now mixed with the impatience in her voice as she stopped the car on the shoulder of the road and turned toward her twin.

Faye was already fumbling with the door handle. "I’ve got to get to a phone. That poor child. I’ve got to call the police."

"Faith you’re making no sense at all." Julia said. "Will you please get a grip on yourself and tell me what you’re babbling about."

Faye grabbed Julia by the shoulders and spoke the child’s name like a prayer. "Briana Morgan." She paused so long Julia opened her mouth to speak but Faye went on, saying each word like a sentence through her tears. "Morning. Bus stop. I. Saw. Her." She gave Julia a shake and said once more. "Phone." as though it were the word ‘Please.’

"You saw this child this morning at the bus stop?" Julia translated. "And you want to call the police." Faye nodded and Julia continued. "Well we’re halfway between town and the gate. You can use the public phone at the bus stop there. OK?" Faye nodded and collapsed into her seat as Julia pulled back onto the road.

The car slid into the maw of darkness and Faye watched as the mile or so of sinuous highway swallowed them. The past years’ loneliness and alienation hovered--poised to strike, to infuse their numbing poisons, impose that constricting despair that threatened to strangle all hope. Her newborn elation was defenseless against the shock of hearing that the child who had blessed her with it was missing. "Briana." She whispered and the silence resounded.

A stricken gasp from Julia and a whispered "Lord have mercy." from Wilma brought Faye upright in her seat. They were just making the turn off the highway onto the graveled approach to their gate. There, pinioned in the headlights was the form of a child crucified on the gate. Faye opened her door and swung herself out before the car had stopped rolling and went toward the gate in a stumbling run, sobbing: "Briana! Briana!"

Faye fell against the bars reaching up for a Keds clad foot just out of her reach. The gate gave under Faye’s weight, swinging inward and dragging her to her knees. Julia gasped. "It’s just a rag doll."

"I know." Faye said, taking the doll into her embrace. "It’s her twin, Dollbaby. They were here together, playing on the gate when I caught the bus. Briana must still be nearby. Maybe she tuckered herself out and fell asleep under a bush, or something." Her voice trailed off.

"Yes. And it’s some of those ‘or something’s’ that worry me." Julia strode off to the phone booth.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #48

My appetite was back this morning. So when I got up to start the coffee for Ed about four-thirty, I was scoping out the fridge. There were several containers containing the left overs from Monday evening's burrito makings. Which sorta appealed. But another burrito not so much.

What I really wanted was a bowl of soup. I briefly considered a simple can of tomato soup garnished with some of the burrito ingredients. But I remembered a taco soup my cousin made for us the month after my Dad died in 2005. I'd been wanting to try it ever since. My cousin said she didn't really follow a recipe. It is just dump and stir for the cooked ingredients; spice to taste; and garnish individual servings to preference. Every batch she made was different.

The only thing I needed to add to the leftovers was the tomato sauce and the kidney beans--though any precooked beans would do. I decided that if I could find a can of each quickly I would go for it. I did and so I did.

I guess you could say my ambition is back too. And maybe my creativity?

Thirteen Ingredients In My Taco Soup

Dump, Stir, Simmer until hot:

  • 1 medium size can of tomato sauce
  • 1 medium size can of kidney beans
  • 1 of those cans full of water
  • 1 of those cans half full to full of salsa
  • chopped onions (about a handful)
  • chopped olives (about a handful)
  • chopped bell pepper (about half a cup; in three festive colors: red, green, yellow)
  • 1 cup (or so) of frizzled hamburger (seasoned with taco seasoning mix though I'd prefer season from scratch)

Garnish Individual Serving:

  • Shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Dollop of sour cream
  • Diced fresh tomato
  • Diced avocado
  • Corn chips

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Poor Excuse For a Post

I've never been so tempted to let a day slide without posting. All I have to show for this day is another six episodes of Gilmore Girls. There might have been more but I couldn't be bothered to switch the DVDs even though I could have done so without lifting my head off the pillow.

I don't know how much of this enervation is due to post-illness effects and how much to the heat and humidity of a day that hit triple digits here with thunder showers rolling in at dusk. Which last means there would be an element of barometric pressure effect that I've frequently linked to depressed mood and energy and elevated anxiety. Not to mention headache and blurred vision.

At any rate, I've decided to postpone posting of my TT until tomorrow in hopes of coming up with something a little more upbeat than 13 things I hate about being sick, or 13 things I hate about humid heat. Or some equally pathetic pity-party mantra.

Gilmore Girls here I come....


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Better Not Best

Still on the shaky side. Been feeling pretty wretched (drop the w) since late Saturday. The worst was over by the wee hours of Monday but it left me weak and weary and contending with the blurred vision which is often a side-effect of illness for me.

It hasn't been all bad. I've watched sixteen episodes of Gilmore Girls on DVD since Saturday. Have started season three now. This thanks to my niece who began loaning her sets to me months ago, handing over the last of the available ones--season six--several weeks ago. I never started watching it while it was in production but I am so hooked now.

Then an email from a Friday Snippet participant containing a PDF of his entire manuscript for me to read and provide feedback. I was already confident the story was destined to be published someday just based on the half-dozen snippets I read over the last couple of months. I am no less confident after reading the first 70 pages. It has completely taken my mind off of Harry Potter and having to wait for my chance to read Deathly Hollows. It is that good.

As if that wasn't enough goodness for one day, the box of goodies I won in the 70 Days of Sweat Sunday check-in drawing two weeks ago, arrived in the mail. Alison Kent was the sponsor that week and she really surprised me. I was expecting one or two paper packs. That would have been waaaay cool. But there were four novels and three how-to for writers. 7 in all. I was intending to list them all here but I've run out of steam.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #14

I'm going to drop this one without much comment since I'm so late getting it posted. I've always considered this a companion piece to my poem Remembering Dandelions which was a Poetry Train presentation several weeks ago. Probably because they both feature dandelions and memories from pre five-year-old childhood.

Summer Saturday Naps
by Joy Renee

Beyond my world beat and brass
Drumming corps with many feet
They practice marching
Off to war.

Dragon growls and chomps the grass
Browsing dandelion seas--
Daddy following
In its wake.

Kitchen sounds of water-hiss
Mixing juice and batters sweet
Timer tick telling
Mama, “Wait.”

Sun on window sash and glass
Spinning stories into dreams
Bright shadows sliding
Down the wall.


Sunday, August 26, 2007


I'm too sick to prepare my poem for Poetry Train. I will try again tomorrow.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sunday Serenity #20

Listening to Enya has given me reliable access to serenity for nearly a decade. I am grateful to Jamie for introducing me to her.

Join us for a moment of serenity.


Friday, August 24, 2007

This and That

My mind and heart are elsewhere. And other duties call. So I am going to ramble about some of if for a few minutes and then get on with it.

I had to stop reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince with Harry and Headmaster Dumbledore on the edge of a cliff above the sea about to climb down into a cave whose entrance is aswirl with seawater.

I was reading outside and lost the light just after eight. I haven't picked it up again because I suspect I won't want to put it down until the last page forces me to and, as I indicated above, I have duties.

One of which was to get a post started before midnight so the timestamp will at least count it for Friday. This might seem silly but I have managed to post every day since April 9, the day I returned the last library book. That commitment is highly symbolic for me and I know that failing to keep it would add a dozen lashes to my psyche's self-flagellation whip. Lashes with wicked hooks and shards of glass embedded in them at that.

The duty with the next highest priority is the dinner dishes still soaking in the sink. It was too hot after dinner. Sweat in the eyes and other threats to breakable dishes make it prudent to wait.

I also have return visits to make for Friday Snippets and TT.

And then there is the sweating for Sven which I have neglected since that excellent session Wednesday morning due in part to the wretched events of the latter half of the day. All of which was the subject of my TT. I am really anticipating getting back to my story world as I left off at a point where I still had plenty to say and stopped only because fatigue and eye-strain forced me to.

Tomorrow is Race Day Saturday. For Ed and his folks it is the highlight of their week when they attend dirt track races. It is often the highlight of my week too, at least since the closure of the libraries and the loss of my library Friday. This is my day to be home alone for eight to ten hours. The only racing I do is between the bedroom and the washer though. It is my day to do my chores with complete freedom of movement around the house. No worries about bumping into someone in the hall or using an appliance just when it is needed by someone else. And I can take as long as I want with my shower and shampoo.

Funny to think that chore day is the highlight of my week. But I think it is about that autonomy I have mentioned several times recently. Fending for myself at mealtime is huge also. Fixing what I want and eating when I want or not eating if that suits me. My anxiety level plummets on Race Day Saturday. I think there is only about six more race weekends though. I'm already dreading those long winter months with neither Race Day Saturday nor Library Friday to look forward to.

There is also the possibility of keeping both the laptop and the PC humming with projects from mid afternoon til as late as eight Sunday morning, though I haven't done that since I started 70 Days of Sweat.

So I am off to get those dishes washed. Which will give me a couple of guilt-free hours to finish Half-Blood Prince while sitting in front of the fan. After that? Well I'm keeping the plan loose because that is one of the joys of race day Saturdays. The ability to go with the flow, to be impulsive, to do what suits me for most of a whole day.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Friday Snippets #7

At the ending of part one, the name Briana, spoken by Cassie sparked a vivid memory of the day Faye met five year old Briana, which was related in last week's snippet. We return now to the conversation in progress nearly ten years after Briana hung her rag doll on the gate in order to swing on it.

We met Cassie, the State Trooper first, in Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities, the events of which took place a couple of months before this scene. If you need more orientation it is available in previous snippets. So without further ado:

Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes


Faye looks at her guest, a susurration of breeze-stirred leaves reaches her ears through the open doors and she realizes Cassie has been silent for sometime now. She has missed her cue and now has no clue what Cassie wants of her, though her expectant posture pleaded for a response. The sleeping kitten stretched in her lap as she absent-mindedly stroked it. When Julia arrives, accompanied by the squeak of damp-soled sneakers, Faye is grateful for the interruption.

"Oh, excuse me!" Julia was a bit out of breath from her evening run down to the river and back. "I didn’t realize you had a guest."

"That’s OK Sister. Cassie here was just bringing me news of young Briana Morgan."

"Oh, yes. That child with the magical voice. Whatever became of her? Why she used to spend so much time here she might as well have lived here."

"That’s why I had hoped you might be willing to help me." Cassie broke in. Her eyes pleaded with Faye. "Briana is fond of you. This is quite unorthodox you understand. I may be putting my job on the line. But if there’s the slightest chance of salvaging this situation."

"Of course." Faye assured her, having no idea what she was agreeing to. "But I don’t know how much help I would be. Breezy and I had a falling out awhile back. I didn’t approve of her young man you see. So she just may resent my intrusion into this matter now." Faye fumbled verbally for a hint as to what Cassie wanted of her.

"Oh, she won’t have much choice." Cassie said. "It’s either you or Juvy."

"Juvy!" Faye and Julia chorused and exchanged startled glances when a sound very much like tortured violin strings accompanied them.

The high-pitched skreel crested into a crescendo and abruptly cut off. There was a brief astonished silence. Then it began again. It filled the room with adamantine protest and it was several moments before Faye’s ears located its source. It emanated from Cassie, or rather from directly behind her. Cassie stood and commenced to twitch her shoulders in a peculiar manner--as though the noise were corporeal and clung to her back and she were trying to shrug it off.

Into the midst of this befuddlement came Inny. He went straight to Cassie with outstretched arms, calling: "Suffer the little children to come unto me."

Wilma marches in from the garden, where they had been taking their constitutional. "What is all the caterwauling about?" Wilma demanded, brushing irritably at the leaves snagged on her skirt. No one acknowledged her for all eyes were on the squirming, squalling bundle that Cassie had just slid off her back and was now jouncing against her chest. The soul-piercing wail only intensified. The kitten wakened, yowling in protest, jumped to the floor and streaked between Cassie’s feet into the garden. Startled, Cassie stumbled forward, clutching the bundle to her breast, and began to topple into Inny’s outstretched arms.

As Wilma reached out and caught her arm to steady her, Inny plucked the bundle out of her grasp with a strangled, "Do not sin against the child!" The instant he had it cradled in his arms there was a stunned silence and all eyes were on Inny, whose own gaze was locked with that of the tiniest baby any of them had ever seen.

No one spoke for long moments. Finally Cassie answered all their unspoken questions. "This is Brandy Morgan, Briana’s child. I just found her hanging on your gate, and I need to leave her with you while I try to find her mama."

"Can a woman forget her suckling child?" Inny’s whisper injected into the stunned silence released them all from speechlessness. They all spoke at once.

"Just like the rag doll." said Julia.

"I feared as much." said Faye.

"This is the jurisdiction of Child Protective Services." said Wilma. "We must call them at once." Her long arm pushed between Inny and Faye, reaching for the phone that sat on the low table.

"That is exactly what I’d hoped to avoid." Cassie laid a gentle hand on Wilma’s, her unrelenting gaze gripping Faye’s eyes.

"I suppose you must give it a try." Faye sighed. "Though it’s beyond me what you hope to accomplish by it. Briana is as unready to be a proper Mama as was her own before her. Perhaps it’s best the raising of the babe not be left to the child."

"Perhaps." Cassie said. "But taking Brandy from Briana, as CPS would surely do, seems drastic at this point."

"Drastic measures are called for, don’t you think?" Julia laid her little finger against Brandy’s palm and the baby curled minuscule fingers tightly around it. "Abandoning a baby is no light thing." Her voice broke as though the tiny fingers were wrapped around her throat. She avoided the curious glance Faye cast her way.

"Oh, I quite agree." Cassie said. "And I will confront the young lady with the seriousness of her offense and its consequences. I hope she will accept help from the hand of friends. But if not, she will receive it from the hand of the law." Cassie’s voice was cool and her eyes held firm on Faye’s. With a nod like a pact-making handshake, she turned and left through the garden door.

A stray breeze gusted through the room, bringing a swirl of leaves. Faye shivered and hugged her arms to her chest, but remained rooted to her spot, as though time would stand still as long as she could and she would not have to deal with this. Wilma moved to close the doors to the garden and seemed about to speak but Inny preempted her by laying Brandy in Faye’s arms. "The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst." He prodded her and she took a step.

The warmth of the infant soaked into her arms and chest infusing them with the need to care for their charge. When Brandy nuzzled questing at her blouse, Faye laughed: "I’m afraid I can’t help you that way Kitten. We shall have to improvise.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #47

Thirteen Things About My Wretched Wednesday

  1. It didn't start wretched if you count the hours between midnight and 1PM during which I had a very good--exceptionally good session--first spending several hours creating my second official post on my new Wordpress site and then visiting the recipients of the award I was passing on. You could say I was riding a bit high during those hours. I ran into a few snags as I fumbled my way around a new platform but each time I solved the problem I felt a little tingle of pleasure. I do not handle change well at all so I expected to be anxious and I was. But the fun associated with receiving the award and anticipating visiting the ones I was tagging in return to alert them of the award and at the same time of Joystory's move kept me motivated. Scroll down to the post below to see a crummy facsimile of the post I'd created.
  2. In fact, I was so motivated that I was still riding a high when I finished making the rounds. I seriously considered starting a draft of my TT immediately. The prospect of having my TT ready to go before noon on Wednesday was rather appealing. Because of the time constraints on use of the PC, I've been encouraging Ed to use my laptop for his TT on Wednesdays from whenever he gets home between three and five to whenever he is ready to give it up. Which means that since I seldom have mine ready to go by early afternoon, I seldom get it posted before late night. So it was really tempting to go ahead and use the energy of that high to at least get started on it and if possible have it ready to go in draft so that I could use Thursday evening to start my visiting rounds.
  3. But I bowed to Sven instead. I wondered what might happen if I applied that energy to my story world instead. I made a deal with myself to give Sven at least one hour of sweat before moving on to the TT post. And that hour went so well I didn't want to stop. It turned into seven. Yes, I said 7. Now most of that wasn't directly applied to writing narrative and dialog which can be counted toward the 70 Days of Sweat challenge but some of it was. I guestimate 1500 to 3000 words. It is hard to do an exact word count on two counts. One has to do with deciding what qualifies as actual story versus ramblings and musing about the story, characters, plot, theme, motives, descriptions of people and places etc etc. AKA notes. Stuff that will make it into actual drafts of scenes is all mixed in with the other stuff because it tends to come spontaneously while I am musing in a rambling fashion. The second has to do with the application I am using which allows me to have up to fifty topic windows open at once. It allows me to tally words for individual windows or a selection of windows. So I can see the words accumulate. It is just not possible to keep perfect track of each day's new words. I can barely keep track of which all topic windows I visited let alone what I might have added or subtracted from them. One of these days I intend to do a post about this ap with screen shots to illustrate what I am talking about.
  4. I reluctantly quit working at one. I knew I had to get a few hours of sleep in before dinner if I wanted to get my TT up by midnight. I was very reluctant to quit though as the pattern has been for every excellent session like that to be followed by a day or two of struggle both with pulling my head and heart out of the swamp where sleep takes me and strings of events difficult to cope with, which are probably more to do with the swampy head than bad luck but which feels at the time like life is just taking delight in sucker-punching me.
  5. And sure enough if it didn't happen again. I swear, if there was any way to get away with it, I would swear off sleep like a bad habit. Waking again--and by that I mean, fully conscious and engaged in life--might take anywhere from an hour to twelve or more hours. In the meantime I am down fifty IQ points and so physically klutzy I'm not safe to be in my own company. Add to this 95% plus visual impairment, over 50% hearing deficit and moderate to severe joint pain. Sometimes, like just recently, it can be weeks before I get back to a state of mind I can call truly awake and with it.
  6. Actually though, today was one of the good days in the sense that it only took me a couple hours to pull out of the swamp and start to feel mentally and physically energetic. That was most likely because I only slept a bit under three hours and it wasn't really deep and continuous. I was thinking/dreaming my story world, the neighbors were talking and clanking (working on a car?) right outside my window and the sun was too bright. Ed woke me up when he got home about three-thirty but I went back to sleep for another hour or so though I kept waking up enough to be cognizant that he had not taken off with the laptop. I was tempted to get back to work but I didn't want to get started only to have him come ask for it. So I daydreamed and dozed off and on until just before five when he brought me my coffee which is also when he told me he was too beat and was waiting until after dinner to do his TT. But by then it was too close to dinner to start on anything.
  7. So I spent that time reading news online while watching/listening to news on the TV. Probably not the best waking up activity. In the forty minutes before I was called to the table I heard or read stuff about the trapped and dead miners in Utah, the downed helicopter and dead soldiers in Iraq, the path of Hurricane Dean, the floods in the Ohio River Valley, the earthquake aftermath in Peru, the Katrina victims still suffering, the rising suicide rate among our soldiers, campaign gobbledygook, and a woman named Joy who had dropped a spoon while stirring something on the stove and bent to pick it up just as her house exploded around her, which probably saved her life but...
    ...which got me to thinking that I would have rather not have survived it. Not if it meant starting over again with nothing. I've told the story here before about losing the contents of our apartment/house twice during our marriage so I won't go into it again. But that is one of the reasons why watching news about disasters that destroy peoples homes is so distressing for me. I don't have to imagine too hard to know what it must feel like. Our losses were due to combinations of personal and macroeconomic mismanagement but the stuff was gone all the same. You can say it is just stuff and stuff is replaceable but sitting here six years after the second such loss still living with my in-laws, still being called to the table most evenings like any teenager I see that stuff as symbolizing an autonomy that is much harder to regain than accumulation of new stuff or replacement stuff. Which is what I see as the most egregious suffering inflicted on the Katrina victims who are still essentially homeless two years later!!!
  8. So this was what was on my mind when I was called to the table. I sat and ate in silence, probably resembling nothing so much as a sulky teen. I noticed that conversation around me was more subdued than usual as was everybody's appetite and struggled not to think it was my fault somehow. Then I realized my father-in-law was wincing repeatedly and a glance at his arm where the ping pong ball sized growth had been removed last Monday, revealed a dressing oozing with blood and fluids. He had just gotten the staples removed yesterday and everything had been fine. It wasn't until his folks left the table that Ed told me what happened.
  9. His Dad had driven over to his Mother's house where his sister has been house sitting since Grandma died in June. She had taken on the care of Grandma's elderly dog Spot and had called to say Spot was refusing to stand up this morning. So Ed's Dad, who wasn't supposed to be using that arm yet, had driven over and as he got out of the car he bumped his arm on the door and broke open the incision. Meanwhile, a trip to the vet with Spot revealed extensive cancer in her hip. So they had to put her to sleep today. Another grief whammy for the family. I had a hard time finishing what was on my plate after Ed told me. I might not have wanted to eat at all if I had know before I came to the table. While Ed was filling me in, his folks left to go after supplies to redress his Dad's arm. As I began clearing the table, Ed went after the laptop and brought it out to the front porch where he prefers to work. (Because he is free to smoke out there is the main reason. But whatever.) Meanwhile, as I cleared the table and washed the dishes, I began planning a memorial post for Spot. I had lots of memories from all the time I spent sitting with Grandma over the last two years. I had a general plan and felt good about it by the time I was done in the kitchen. So as my summer habit has been when the weather permits, I took a book, an iced-coffee and our cat Merlin out to the back yard. Merlin ate grass and rose petals while I sat and read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince until I lost the light about eight. Gads but wasn't it just last week, I had enough light until after nine? I guess it must have been more like a month.
  10. Anyway. Ed's practice has been to join me out there for a chat before he goes to bed and then help me and Merlin across the dark yard, but on Wednesday's sometimes he doesn't get finished with his TT before Merlin or I loose patience. Such was tonight. Merlin began pestering me to go in twenty minutes or so before I was ready. He kept climbing my bare legs, meowing incessantly and grabbing at my hand on the arm of the chair which sometimes was holding my tumbler. I'm sure he was hearing the ice but I didn't want to fish one out and suck the coffee off before giving it to him while holding a book that didn't belong to me. Forget about putting the book down. About the time I was loosing the light, he grabbed at the bookmark and managed to sling it far enough away I had to stand up to retrieve it. He took off towards the back porch at such a clip that when the leash ran out he about did a backwards flip. I gave in. As I was hooking Merlin back up in the bedroom, Ed was returning with the laptop. He said he would meet me in the back yard after I got it plugged back in since he had something to tell me. I didn't like the tone I was hearing in his voice. Ominous is not an exaggeration.
  11. I wasn't imagining it. He hadn't been working on his TT all that time. He had been trying to fix a problem he had created for me. He had discovered that my new site had been suspended for four days because he had forgotten to insert a piece of code in the footer. There had been no warning. Personally I think that sounds like abysmal customer service even for the free level. Let me clarify that Wordpress is not to blame here but the host site which I am being careful not to name in this rant for fear of Teeing them off while they are holding my content hostage. Ed has been signing up for and testing free host services for nearly a year, trying to find one that will accommodate the plans we have: that will give him access to PHP and CGI and other webmaster goodies; that has above 90% percent up time; good customer service; allows multiple accounts from the same IP; has plenty of room to grow for several months in terms of both storage and bandwidth; and all of this at the free level which is all we can afford. See, this isn't just about moving Joystory. It is about finding a place where I can host all four of my thematically related sites and weave them together into a single entity: Joystory, Joywrite, Joyread and that one I'm being secretive about though I've mentioned it obliquely like this a few times. That last one is the one with the potential to get huge fairly fast once it is up and running. Ed estimates 100,000 visitors per month within 3 to 6 months. Which causes us to pin our hope on it helping us regain that autonomy I mentioned above. To think of having that shut down without warning when a simple robot email could have issued a reminder. Ed was teed by the guy in the site forum he dealt with who sounded a bit like Snape to me. Unforgiving. Just, You had seven days the rules are what they are. Seven days might seem like plenty of time for someone who spends fourteen hours per day on this or has a team of techies to do their bidding, but for someone with a day job and other restrictions on access to the net, seven days can mean as little as seven man-hours. So this was a blow.
  12. Yes, it is probably just a temporary setback but its timing really gave my paranoia pucker power. (For the kiss of a Dementor for all you HP fans.) That whole fundamentalist training which maintains that such setbacks are God's way of punishing rebellion just wakes up and snarls every time stuff like this happens. Then there was the issue that I hadn't really wanted to make the move until after 70 Days of Sweat was over September 20. But Ed had been so pleased with himself for what he had put together for me, I hated to dampen his mood by being my usual timid change-resistant, she-who-gets-wet-one- skin-cell-at-a-time. So I took the plunge Monday night and posted the announcement on both blogs. And now this. Just what I had been afraid of when Ed started talking about moving Joystory. Which was a good part about my anxiety issues. But, I had watched him putting up and abandoning a number of his own blogs and websites as he 'researched' the parameters of hosting. I knew how his initial enthusiasm blazed only to flame out without warning. I did not want to subject my audience, myself or my content to that instability. And sure enough if Ed isn't unhappy enough to be unsure if he wants to invest any more loyalty to this site. I think it is only his knowledge of my aversion to change that keeps him from outright saying, I'm outta here.
  13. So I cried a bit and ranted a bit and then we stood in the dark yard and hugged for a bit before heading back in the house where I proceeded to redo (sort of) the awards post from Tuesday night (see below) and then got started on this TT which was supposed to be an easy, short, recounting of this day's woes. Ha. When have I ever done short. But the woes weren't finished with me yet. When I pasted the TT code into Blogger, the blue background of the table I have used every week for nearly a year now was missing in sections. Blogger was rewriting the code after I switched over to compose and changing the tags to ones I couldn't decipher. I tried for an hour to get it to work and finally decided that now was as good a time as any to abandon the blue table as I had been contemplating ever since I started working with Gimp and began to imagine what cool TT headers I could create. Well I haven't time to create one this week but I might as well take this opportunity to ditch the table. I fished out the code for the header graphic and the official TT code below and started typing.
That was five hours ago. If you think this is long you should have seen it before I cut about half of it out. Give me another two hours and I could edit it down by half again. But what's the point really. Besides it just goes to show what I was talking about in point #3. See I have no trouble at all generating 5000 words per day. I just have trouble judging the relevance of it. What counts as genuine story narrative and what is just rambling musings, wild tangents, and idea jottings. This isn't as rough as it gets but it is rough enough I am reluctant to post it which is why I am still typing....

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, August 21, 2007

Warm Fuzzy Pinkness To Go

(This is a (cluncky)recreation from memory of the post I posted at my new site Tuesday night. My site got suspended for four days for an infraction--something Ed forgot to do. Because this post was time sensitive, I thought I better make the content available. Rather than make a second pass through the seven sites listed below, I will let them know as I visit either their TT or their Friday Snippets.)

L^2 @ Dog's Eye View gave me this:

"This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you've been awarded please pass it on to 7 others who you feel are deserving of this award."

Seven bloggers who have been instances of sweetness and light for me:

Bri @ Have Goggles Will Fly
Candy Minx @ The Gnostic World of Candy Minx
Gattina @ Writers Cramps
Joely @ Joely Sue Burkhart
Julia @ A Piece of My Mind
Rhian / Crowwoman @ From My Brain to Yours
Susan Helene Gottfried @ West of Mars

Note: there were blurbs with each name that I'm not going to try to recreate from memory. I will copy them into here after I regain access to them if we--Ed and I--choose to abandon the new site host.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Joystory Is Moving

Well, I complained once too often about my formating woes with blogger. For months now--nearly a year, Ed has answered every complaint with, 'I can fix that.' But there was a big if attached. 'If you're willing to move to Wordpress.'

So here we go. It may be a bit chaotic for awhile. Moving always is. So bear with me as I learn my way around.

Joystory's new home

I'm feeling far from home tonight but maybe there is something to the principle expressed in this Tiga Far From Home video. That a change of pace can supercharge creativity. That home is really not all that far from wherever you are.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #13

Since so many of my posts lately have been referencing my upbringing in a fundamentalist sect, I thought this would be an appropriate time to present this poem which I wrote while in the midst of the psychological turmoil I was thrown into when I came face to face with the dark side of my religion, my fellow believers, my family, and my self.

The extended metaphor I use in it references the destructive power of gossip. A power I saw deployed both as conscious tactic and unconscious means of social positioning among my classmates on the playgrounds and school buses, in lunchrooms and classrooms; had frequently been the victim of it even; but never recognized for what it was when it was used by members of our assemblies until after the events that forced me to question the very foundations of all of my understandings.

I was shocked I tell you, electric-socket-finger-hairdo shocked, the first time I realized that teachers and elders and their wives were using the prayer chain to spread information calculated to disempower the prayer recipient: "Brother J and Sister K need our prayers because they are having financial problems, you know J had to take the credit cards away from K." or "Please Pray for Brother P and Sister D. Brother L's son saw their little R, only 13 you know, applying lipstick on the bus last week."

I could go on and on but I'm sure you catch my drift. You may not see the deeper implications though. See, teachers, elders and deacons were not considered worthy of positions that put them in authority over any segment of the flock if they could not keep their own houses in order. Thus, an easy way to discredit a teaching from the pulpit one might not like was to discredit the teacher by implying his wife or children were out of control.

See we didn't have pastors who were hired as full time preachers. There were about sixteen assemblies of various sizes from about 20 to just over 100 regular attendees spread between Saskatchewan Canada, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Arizona. Each one had two to ten Brethren capable of giving a lesson from the pulpit. All of them had day jobs 'out in the world'. Each assembly held four meetings per week, not counting the Bible Conferences some of them hosted at Xmas, Easter, Memorial Day, Labor Day etc that ranged from one to four days with three two hour meetings per day. Even if there hadn't been doctrinal disputes at issue, there would have been a bit of a shortage of slots for those who aspired to teach. But it was more about controlling the message I think. And it worked pretty well for nearly sixty years.

One of the events that catapulted me out was when I recognized that a message from the pulpit had been directed at one of the other teachers with whom the speaker was having a dispute with. Something clicked in my mind then. I asked why I should trust the words of someone who was using the Word of God to manipulate opinion about a Brother. And then I wondered how I could tell the difference between what was true about God and what might just be someone's opinion about God. Not long thereafter I became convinced that most of what was spoken about God from the pulpit, the airwaves, the press, etc was nothing more than gossip about God.

Just like the Telephone game.

Telephone Giclee Print by Diane Ong for sale at

Rule of Tongue
by Joy Renee

I’ll thank you not to speak of me
For you know nothing.
Only speculate upon illusion
Then speak my name in vain
When you proclaim and postulate
And spew out views
To congregate your pews
A fellowship of shrews

I’ll thank you not to speak of me
For you hear nothing
Not fear nurtured in the ground of hate.
Then speak my name in vain
To create the cruel rules
That castigate the other--the not-you--
To confirm your chosen few
A rulership of Rue.

I’ll thank you not to speak of me
For you say nothing
True. For shame is not my game.
And you take my name in vain,
Your guilt a project incomplete
You give another to do
To escape the dues
A dictatorship accrues.

I’ll thank you if you’ll keep for me
A silence of unknowing.
Then contemplate your ground of being
Where my name nurtures like rain
The blooming of your soul--
That making all things new
True worship will imbue.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sunday Serenity #19

Today my serenity lies in finding out what happens next in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I'm on the chapter where they are back-to-school shopping in Diagon Alley. Soon they will be off to Hogwarts...

Join us for a moment of Serenity


Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Snippets 6

This is the second part of an eleven part story in which the parts alternate between events on two fall days separated by about nine years. 

The story began last week on a day several weeks after the events depicted in Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities and will pick up next week in the moments following its rather abrupt ending.  Today and in all future even numbered segments, our POV character Faye is remembering the events of this day nearly a decade before.

For further orientation in this story world see the opening paragraphs of Friday Snippet 5 from last week.


Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes


Faye was waiting for the bus that morning--near ten years gone now. Having just walked the mile of gravel road from the house, she is grateful for the bus-stop bench, hard as it is. Behind her, a few yards off the road is the gate to Beulah, the estate where she has lived as resident steward since being forced to leave the sweet little cottage she and her Inny had once shared. She is on her way to visit Inny right now, and as she listens for the sound of the bus shifting gears, she is absorbed by thoughts of him--as he was, as he is now--and by the grief of losing him to this limbo, this un-death that has torn from her his companionship but not his body. There are no coffins to contain companionship for quick and decent burial, no ceremony to ritualize its loss.

Fay was so immersed in an inner world of grief, sights and sounds were muted as if reaching her through leagues of water. Then out of nowhere a voice, like a meteor landing in a lake and sloshing the water out, strips Faye of her insulation and she sees and hears with a clarity akin to curiosity--a child singing.

The child comes into view. She drags by its arm a rag doll that is nearly as big as she and dressed exactly like her, in red denim overalls and plaid flannel shirt. She appears much too young to be about unaccompanied. And much too young to have a voice so emotive and capable of such force, such control. Faye recognizes the song ‘Tomorrow’ from Annie. When the girl sees Faye she stops in mid-step and mid-note, leaving Faye’s heart aching with loss.

"Hi." said the child. Faye nods silently, taken aback by the fearlessness of the greeting.

"Well, aren’t you gonna say ‘Hi’ back, or ‘Hello’ or something?"

"Hi back or hello or something." Faye smiled a bit abashedly and the child giggled.

 "My name is Briana Morgan. What’s yours?" She climbed onto the bench beside Faye and stood facing her.

 "My name is Faith Gardner. And I’m very pleased to meet you, Briana Morgan." Faye held out her right hand and Briana took it.

"Likewise, Miss Gardner. Does that mean you grow gardens?" Briana tilted her head to the side and squeezed frown lines into her brow.

"No, child. Why don’t you just call me Miss Faye."

"OK, Miss Faye. This here is Dollbaby." She lifted the rag doll up. "Say howdya do to the lady Dollbaby." she commanded.

"Well, Dollbaby," Faye took a cloth hand into her own. "I’m very pleased to meet you. I must say, someone has taught you some very fine manners."

"Oh, yes mam. My mama says fine manners are real important. And most especially for us as we are to live in a mansion and have servants and fine dinner parties with eversomany important guests even movie stars and…" she inflated her lungs with a gasp and went on, "…and our own swimming pool and a garden as big as a jungle and a play yard with eversomany swings and slides and bars and such…"

"Whoa child." Faye reined in Briana’s runaway fantasy. "And just where is this mansion? I never heard tell of such a place around about Westmont."

 "Oh, but there is. Mama Mae Bea told me she was even there when she was little like me. It’s way up on that bluff there and from the front porch you can see Trojan and from the back porch you can se Mount St. Helens. An old old lady lives there, with about a hundred cats and nobody can remember her name so they call her Mama Cat."

"And just where is this Mama Cat and her hundred children gonna go when you and your Mama move in?" Faye held her laughter constrained by a raised brow--tenuous leash at best.

"Oh!" Briana shrieked her laughter. "We’re not gonna live in that mansion. Mama’s record is gonna sell a million copies someday and Mama Mae Bea’s lottery ticket is gonna win us a million dollars just any day now. And then we’re to build our own."

Briana giggled and jumped down. She landed on the run, swinging Dollbaby in an arc over her head. She let go on the up-swing and as the doll rose above her cradled by sunbeams and breezes, she spun in a dizzying circle arms upraised, laughing into the sun. The doll returned to her grasp as though handed to her by the gently gusting breezes. She clutched the doll to her chest in an ecstasy of joy as a halo of luminous dust motes embraced her small form for the brief instant between gusts. A breeze-borne leaf, the same tarnished-flame color of the girl’s hair, kissed her cheek. Briana squealed her delight and gratitude to the open generosity of the sky and ran toward the gate of Faye’s estate calling: "Dollbaby wants to swing on Heaven’s gate."

"Heaven’s gate?" Faye laughed, startled and amused to hear her own gate given such a lofty name.

"You know. Like in the song." Briana explained cryptically and in response to Faye’s puzzled look sang. "Jesus loves me. He who died, Heaven’s gate to open wide." The child’s voice rang upon the arch of sky, pure counterpoint to the clarity of the morning air.

"I see." said Faye, not seeing at all.

Briana wasn’t fooled. "I never did see a wider gate in all my born days!" she exclaimed with theatrical exasperation. "So, don’t you see, it must be Heaven’s gate or it’s twin."

"Ah. How logical." Faye conceded.

With a flounce of bronze braids, Briana turned, grasped a wrought-iron bar and swung herself and Dollbaby onto the gate. Over their heads Gothic curlicues of black iron spelled out BEULAH. As ludicrous of a misnomer as the child’s. Faye thought. Briana pushed off with one foot and the gate swung inwards--a smooth, oiled glide until it reached its ultimate position at right angles to the fence, whereupon it stopped with a jarring wrench that almost bucked Briana off and did cause her to drop Dollbaby.

She jumped down to rescue the doll, dusted it off with brisk pats and remounted the gate. This time she hung Dollbaby by her overall straps on the fretwork of the gate. Then she took a bar in each hand, planted her feet wide apart on the bottom rung and leaned her body out, tilted her head back until her braids almost drug the ground. This acrobatic position caused the gate to begin a slow swing back to base. It gathered momentum, speeding past the closed position, swinging outward ever faster until, once again, reaching its apogee it jolted to a halt.

Briana flew off to land in a tangle of arms, legs and braids, in the tall grass and weeds along the fence. She leapt up and ran at the gate like a football lineman making a tackle. She was on her third or forth swing-by when Faye’s bus snorted and wheezed to a stop. Faye climbed aboard a bit stiffly after her long sit, marveling at the agility and resilience of the young body--more than a little wistful at the memories of her own childhood conjured by Briana’s antics.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

I've Got Nothing

For the last several weeks I've been posting my Friday Snippet on Thursday night. But I did not get it prepared in time this week. Spent too much time with Harry Potter and to tell the truth that is where my druthers lie at the moment.

Last week it took me four hours to get my Friday Snippet prepared because of problems with Blogger platform getting snippy about formating. After several attempts to fix paragraph breaks one by one in the compose side of the platform, I finally had to do it directly in HTML. Putting in the paragraph tags in a 1000 plus word document is just not something I feel up to doing right now. Neither my mind nor my eyes are capable of the focus needed for working in code in 10pt font.

So I will work at getting part 2 of Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes ready to post sometime tomorrow, Friday.

Meanwhile, I'm going to give myself the treat of cracking open Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for the first time ever. I probably won't get very far though. Between eye-strain and sleep-deprivation, I'm pretty much due for some hours of unconsciousness.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #46

I was planning to do a follow up on last week's TT list on the fundementalist sect I was raised in. But I was having a hard time keeping my mind on it because, having just finished the book, it was still so filled with images and emotions from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Then I realized that there were parellels between certain elements of fundamentalism and the cult of Voldemort. And then I realized that I had the perfect opportunity here to get my revenge on the character that was giving me heartburn for the past week: Dolores Umbridge.

Each item in the list is linked to a YouTube video. The first five are segments from the A & E documentary about the movie. I posted them because there are clips of Professor Umbridge scattered through them that I couldn't get elsewhere. But I gave them the top slots because they touch on the theme I am discussing throughout. They are longish though at about ten minutes each. But well worth watching if you have the time. The rest of the clips are mostly short and occasionally humorous and some of them are actually related to the theme implied by the list item.

These weren't the only clips I watched. I confess that I began to prepare this post over twelve hours ago and intended to just make the simple list without much comment. But then I got the brilliant idea of looking for a video to illustrate the post. I mean a single video to embed at the top. Ten minutes round trip, right? Yeah, right.

I haven't seen the movie yet but cannot wait until it comes out on DVD so my niece can buy it and then loan it to me. :)

Now all I want to do is pick up Half-Blood Prince but I can barely see straight.

Thirteen Things about Dolores Umbridge with which I take umbrage

  1. She is pretentious
  2. She is cruel
  3. She is self-righteous
  4. She is controlling
  5. She is bigoted
  6. She is hypocritical
  7. She is officious
  8. She is malicious
  9. She is elitist
  10. She is xenophobic
  11. She rates rules higher than character traits like integrity or compassion but then exempts herself in order to enforce her will.
  12. She has ensured that pink will now give me nightmares
  13. She dredged up memories of my kindergarten teacher

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

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, August 14, 2007

Shhhhh. I'm Reading

Today I'm busy reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It is a reread for me but I can't remember very much about what happens until I am a page or so, and sometimes a paragraph or so, away. I'm about 170 pages out in this 870 pager. I can nearly taste the finish line. The treat waiting for me at the end is my very first read of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to be followed in short order by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.


Monday, August 13, 2007

You Took My Joy

This is the converstaion I'm having with my story world this week. How did I manage in under a month to get from this to this:

lyrics to Joy written by ?Lucinda Williams.
from CARWHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD (Mercury Records CD).

i don't want you anymore
cause you took my joy
i don't want you anymore
you took my joy

you took my joy
i want it back
you took my joy
i want it back

i'm gonna go to west memphis and look for my joy
go to west memphis and look for my joy
maybe in west memphis I'll find my joy
maybe in west memphis i'll find my joy

i'm gonna go to slidell and look for my joy
go to slidell and look for my joy
maybe in slidell I'll find my joy
maybe in slidell I'll find my joy
(first long instrumental break)

you got no right to take my joy
i want it back
you got no right to take my joy
i want it back

you took my joy
i want it back
you took my joy
i want it back

i'm gonna go to west memphis and look for my joy
go to west memphis and look for my joy
maybe in west memphis i'll find my joy
maybe in west memphis i'll find my joy

i'm gonna go to slidell and look for my joy
go to slidell and look for my joy
maybe in slidell i'll find my joy
maybe in slidell i'll find my joy

(second instrumental break)

i don't want you anymore
cause you took my joy
i don't want you anymore
you took my joy

you took my joy
i want it back
you took my joy
i want it back

you took my joy
i want it back
you took my
i want it back

(third & last instrumental break -- slows down)

i'm gonna go to west memphis
i'm gonna go to slidell.


Well, I don't know about the Memphis and Slidell part. That's hardly the first place I'd start looking. But going west to the coast? the sea shore? Or maybe someone elses story? How faithless is that?

But as much as I feel this way about it at the moment, I also know that there is only one to be blamed for taking my Joy and only one place to go looking for it. Afterall, the story world is really just a topological map of my psyche. Thus it is my self I'm having this conversation with. As always.

So I suppose the answer is to go deeper not run off looking in all the misdirections as every time before.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #12

This poem seldom sees the light of day. I've never even printed a hard copy of it. I wrote it a few years ago while in a funk, in an attempt to remind myself that the foul mood I was in would pass as surely as the sun moves south in summer.

You all are welcome to snort. I do whenever I read this over when my mood is on the upswing. I avoid reading it when I'm down as then I hear the lines intoned as though by a parody of a maudlin King Lear. But when I'm up, I hear the King's jester chanting them in a sniggering cackle. Either way, I cringe.

At the moment, I'm hearing both their voices in a weird duet as the king hunches over the parchment saying each word as he scratches it down while his jester bounces upon his shoulders repeating them with caustic glee. As the king I would like to tattoo the words on the jester's own skin. As the jester I would like to blow smoke in the king's ear and watch it come out his nose in the shapes of the words. Or better yet, the shapes of the things the words signify. Looms, louts, harpies, tombs, snouts, song-birds, moons, mouths, hearts...

=====The Womb Of My Mouth

The womb of my mouth is gravid with doom.
The loom of my fate does shuttle sans boon.
Can life breathe for long beneath such sad ruin?
Will my heart soon succumb to the lure of the tomb?
How long will the harpies their dire rant employ?
May the rabid louts with their baneful tunes rout.
May they take their long snouts way off to the south.
And howl their foul taunts to the stony-faced moon.
Then, (maybe soon?) I’ll hear once more the fair croon
As song-birds at dawn sing out: "Bright day Ahoy!"
So my heart, cleansed of doubt, will look all about
And see in the light only beauty and truth.
Then glad hymns of hope will be born of my mouth.
And my soul, exulting in the shadow-less noon,
Will sing for a future effulgent with Joy.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sunday Serenity #18 I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Can you think of a better way to spend a summer Sumday?

Please join us in a moment of serenity

Hat Tip to Candyminx


Friday, August 10, 2007

Gone Fishing

David Lynch on where the ideas live

I'm going deep-sea fishing for the next couple of days.

I'm baiting my hook with faith and love.

Do I need to explain that it has nothing to do with fish? Or the briny deep?

Ummmm. If you just answered 'yes'. Watch the video!


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Friday Snippets 5

Some orientation before we proceed to the story snippet. This is the beginning of a new story from the same story world and with the same POV character as Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities, the one that finished last week. This is the story world which I am working with for the 70 Days of Sweat challenge but these two stories are not from the new material as it will be awhile before any of that is polished enough to share. This story is going to take eleven weeks to dole out and even then some of the snippets will be longish for a blog post. In its entirety it is about 16K

There are more than half a dozen projected novels in this story world. Each one focused on a theme implied by the name of its POV character. This story like Of Cats belongs to Faye aka Jubilee Faith Gardner nee Fairchild. Of Cats is slated to have position one in Faith's novel, The Substance of Things Hoped For. Making Rag Doll Babies is slated for position three. The events in Of Cats occurred in late summer around the time of Back-to-School sales. The unfinished story slated for position two, Strange Attractors, which I have been focused on almost exclusively for the last two weeks of the Sweat challenge, takes place in September around Labor Day of the same year.

Making Rag Doll Babies
takes place on a single day in mid October of that year. Or at least one strand of it does. A second strand takes place a bit under ten years earlier. These strands are delivered in alternate sections that end in cliff hangers. The opening section, and thus all odd numbered sections, take place in what I consider the 'now' of Faith's novel. Next week's section and all even numbered ones thereafter take place on a single day about a decade earlier.

Strange Attractors
has fallen into the same pattern, with its 'past' strand taking place over a several month period about 12-15 years before. Another of the Faith stories is pulling in that direction as well. Thus I am seriously considering applying the same organization to Of Cats and even have a story in mind for it that sorta needs telling before Making Rag Doll Babies. A story that involves Cassie and her best friend Fancy and that long ago class room of Faye's alluded to in Of Cats. The story of a high-school production of Macbeth. OK. Well, only those of you who were with me last week will get that the significance of that.

Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes


Faye sits at the piano with her eyes closed, music flowing from her fingers to flood the room with the notes of her impromptu fugue. The multi-paned, double doors of the Music Room were thrown open to the enclosed garden where autumn leaves danced with the fitful breezes, heralding the arrival of a season-change. A brindled kitten, alert to every sound and motion, chased and tumbled among them. A video camera on a tripod was directed at this scene its red recording light glowing in the twilight gloom. At the concert grand in the corner Faye played, needing no sheet music for this music was of her own making, composed to accompany the swirling and swaying of the breeze-flung leaves.

A breathless voice broke in upon her and her hands fell to the keyboard as if suddenly remembering gravity. She winced as the dissonant chord reverberated up her arm with the sensation of a toothache.

"I knew if I followed the music I would find you."

Faye swiveled to face the voice, putting hands to breeze-tossed curls. "You gave me a start, child." she said.

"I’m sorry for that, Miss Faye. I did ring the doorbell out front but I suppose it blended right in with your music. I need to trouble you for a big favor." The figure in the doorway was a confluence of shadow silhouetted against the luminous post-sundown sky.

"Hmmm." Faye went to the camera and switched it off. She had to stand on tip-toe to do so. Her shape in the nebulous light suggested that of a chubby child. But when she spoke, her voice betrayed the years of training it had incurred in its mellifluous yet deliberate intonation. "Is this request made in your official capacity?" She bent to turn on a lamp that sat on a low table flanked by wing-backed chairs. She sat in one and patted the seat of the other. "Come. Sit Ask." She smoothed her gray linen skirt over her knees, fluffed the ruffles of her pink blouse, and then bent to pick up the kitten now nuzzling her ankles and brought it up before her eyes where it promptly reached out with extended claws and pulled her spectacles off her face. "Ai! You’re a feisty one you are." Faye planted a kiss on the kitten’s nose and set it in her lap, where she distracted it from the pearly buttons on her blouse by massaging its belly as she looked expectantly at her visitor.

"Unofficial." Cassandra Cosgrove sat hesitantly on the edge of the seat as if poised for sudden flight. "As you can see I’m not in uniform." She gestured at her jogging suit. "But I go on duty in an hour. If not for that and the fact I’m biking to work tonight, I would handle this myself." She held her shoulders squared as though she were at attention, braced by the straps of a backpack. Her long black hair was plaited close to her head in preparation for the State Trooper’s cap that would soon sit there. The effect was far from severe though, for it was impossible to hide its lustrous abundance in a braid. Faye marveled at the play of light upon it, wondering as always how a thing so dark could be so luminous. Silence stretched taut between them. In the reticence of Cassie and the tenacity of Faith Gardner’s patience were echoes of a decade-gone classroom. She would not plead or prompt Cassie to go on.

Cassie closed her eyes against Faye’s calm scrutiny, drew in a deep breath and plunged in. "You know Briana Morgan. Mae Bea Morgan’s granddaughter." It was not a question.

"Briana." Faye breathes the name, fanning a flame of memories like images flickering on cavern walls, echoes of voices reverberating. A voice. Briana’s….


Next week we meet Briana. In two weeks, the scene above continues and we meet..... Nope. Not telling. That would spoil the surprise. But I can tell you that Wilma and Julia will be back.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #45

Last week I touched once again on the issue of my fundamentalist upbringing and the impact it had and continues to have on my life. Because so many of my posts during this 70 Days of Sweat challenge mention in some way the story world I am working on whose main characters are involved in a similar sect, the subject keeps coming up.

My post last Wednesday touched on the emotional impact the images of the bridge collapse had on me, coming as they did in juxtaposition to my recent immersion in my memories of the milieu of my youth inside that sect, imagination of the lives and thoughts of characters involved in a similar isolationist and Apocalyptic world view, and research on the web sites of members of similar sects.

I have mentioned frequently the huge lacuna in my cultural experience because of the restrictions imposed by that sect. I thought it was about time I got more explicit. Today I focus on the cultural and behavioral taboos.

Thirteen Things My Childhood Religion Forbid or Frowned Upon

  1. Dramatic Performances: TV, Movies, Stage Plays
  2. Games without educational purpose. Zero tolerance for playing cards.
  3. Most post civil war era music other than hymns and classical. Opera? No way. See #1. Dance? Triple no way. See #6. Besides dance was a temptation to immoral thoughts and improper contact between the sexes.
  4. Celebrations of days or events: holidays, birthdays, anniversaries. (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Labor Day, we attended Bible Conferences. July 4th was Youth Camp.)
  5. Literature without explicit religious framing. Since they had as little esteem for most of the other Christian sects as for secular culture, there were few trusted writers of stories. Besides, all of these first five things fall under:
  6. Frivolity. Defined as any activity not related to attending to the necessities of living, study of the Word, prayer, fellowship with believers or proselytizing. Thus the closest I ever got to carnivals, fairs, concerts, sports arenas, parades and amusement parks before my teens was handing out gospel tracts outside the gates, in the parking lots or, in the case of parades, on the route in the hours before it began.
  7. Missing Bible Study Meetings Sunday mornings and Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings for any reason other than illness or a job. Schoolwork was an iffy excuse. Taking on jobs that required working on Sunday was discouraged. Mothers working outside the home was not encouraged.
  8. Embellishments or decoration of the self including make-up, tattoos, piercing. But apparel, for adults, was encouraged to be free of beads, ribbon, lace, sequins, bright colors, embroidery, etc. Simple, plain jewelry was tolerated by some. Major frown inducers: Short hair for females. Long hair for males.
  9. Any display of strong emotion. Aanger was often equated with either murder or rebelliousness, the latter considered a sin 'worse than witchcraft'. And joy in anything other than the 'things of the Lord'? see #6. So having the name, Joy, was, well...a bit confusing.
  10. The usual suspects: Alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs. Gambling. Cussing and vulgar language. Physical intimacy outside of marriage.
  11. Higher Education. The curriculum of both secular and religious schools contained too many 'false doctrines', including among others: Psychology and philosophy that attempted to explain human behavior by any frame other than the doctrine of 'original sin' and scientific theories that assumed an age for the earth of more than 6000 years or anything other than 'creation ex nilo (out of nothing) by the Word of God, or any expectations for a future extending more than a few decades and ending in any way other than destruction of the earth and all of man's creations along with all 'unbelievers' expected to consist of 99.99999% of those living at the time of the end.
  12. Divorce for any reason other than infidelity. Remarriage after a divorce? Not an option.
  13. Hanging out with anyone whose standards on these points or whose doctrines differed for any purpose other than proselytizing. Which of course made formation of sincere friendships outside the fold impossible.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

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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, August 07, 2007

As I Was Saying...

I don't do things by halves. Today the sleep deprivation caught up with me I guess. I shouldn't have been caught by surprise but I was. I had been getting by on less than six hours each day of my niece's visit which began with me already in the hole by 36 hours. I crashed hard when I finally let my guard down Tuesday morning about five. I probably would have joined Ed for a cup of the coffee I started for him before I lay down and then pushed on if I'd known that I was going to sleep until three and wake up with a head full of mud that wouldn't clear for another six hours after that.

I had hoped to wake before noon and get my meme visiting caught up before dinner and thus leave my night session free for getting back to my story world. Didn't happen. So I'm in the middle of returning my TT, Friday Snippets and Poetry Train visits on Tuesday night (thru the wee hours of Wednesday morning) and here it is only sixteen hours before this week's TTs start going up.

I've promised Ed use of the laptop from whatever time he gets home Wednesday (3-ish) until he's ready to give it up so he can do his TT. Which means I either have to have mine ready to go before noon or wait until after he goes to bed to do it. Which means I'm going to be sorely tempted to work straight on through until he claims the laptop which will be too late to get more than a nap before being called to dinner which means no work session tomorrow night and puts me right back where I was a week ago going into the TT and Friday Snippets rush hours with a major sleep deficit.

And where does all that leave my story world and commitment to Sven?

And then there is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Finishing my re-read of that and moving on to my first time with Half-blood Prince has taken on new urgency since Ed informed me this evening that a co-worker has loaned him their copy of Deathly Hollows which he left on his desk at work. So he'll probably have it finished by Sunday evening latest and if I'm going to take a turn with it before he gives it back... Though I still have the option of waiting for my nieces copy. She has finished with it and her mother is now reading it. Both she and Ed are aching to talk with me about the completed series.


Monday, August 06, 2007

I Never Do Anything By Halfs

Clips representing significant moments of Gilmore Girls Season 1 set to to When It's Over by Sugar Ray

For those of you as clueless as I was a month ago, here are links to YouTubes of the Starz Insider interviews with the cast after season 1: Part One & Part Two & Part Three

(I am seriously trying to avoid spoilers but just reading the titles on other selections as I searched for these has given me info I wish I didn't have yet.)

For anyone who has visited one of my memes since last Thursday and have not gotten a return visit yet, I owe an apology and explanation. I will be working to return those visits over the next day or so. The above videos represent the simplest explanation of what's become of me since last Thursday. The complex explanation follows: My 13 year old niece arrived here at her Grandma's last Wednesday in the late evening. We didn't get to have our usual into the wee hours of the morning hang-out that night because I'd already been up for over thirty hours by the time she got here. Though if she had waited until the following day as planned, I may have watched coverage of the bridge collapse right on through the night inspite of being punch-drunk with sleep depravation and ODed on Apocolyptic images.

By Thursday afternoon I'd gotten some sleep and we spent the day chatting and reading out in the yard. And that night we watched the second disc of Gilmore Girls Season 1, having watched the first disc the week before July 4th on her last visit. I had planned to keep on watching after she left last month but fell into Sven's Sauna on the 9th. So we started where we left off. Each disc exept the last one has four episodes on it and takes about three hours to watch straight through. We planned to watch one per night. But Friday night Ed stayed up waaaaay past his usual bedtime to visit with us and she and I were both too tired to start a disc by then. So we watched two on Saturday, starting one in the afternoon while every one else was at the dirt track races and another in the late evening which was interrupted for an hour when Ed and his folks returned near midnight. Then we watched the fifth disc Sunday night after everybody else had gone to bed.

We were watching the last episode on disc six when she had to leave Monday afternoon. That last one we were watching on my laptop in my room because we didn't have access to the TV with the DVD player in the front room. After she left, I watched the last ten minutes of the season 1 finale by myself. The scene with the 1000 yellow daisies for those in the know. And then I watched over an hour of bonus material.

I had pulled the box with the second season discs off the shelf and was seriously considering starting disc one to see what happens next. Season finales are almost always cliff hangers and this was not one of the exceptions. I might have succumbed to the temptation if Ed had not got home from work just then.

The problem with loving to be immersed in something is that it doens't leave room for other things to time-share your attention. I climbed out of my own story world Thursday night and into someone elses which was so awesome, I think I got intimidated.

My niece introduced me to the Gilmore Girls. She loaned me the first couple of seasons last Novemeber before news of the library closure. I had promised myself a reward for the hard work of NaNoWriMo in November of a fiction binge in December which was to include a marathon Gilmore Girls and the Lemony Snicket and Harry Potter books she had loaned me also. But word of the impending library closure derailed that plan. So what with one thing and another I never did watch a Gilmore Girl episode until after the series finale this year.

My niece has loaned me all six of the available seasons on DVD. I've had them for months (the last two since Easter I think) but because I've always been immersed in one thing or another since she handed me the first two last November, I kept holding them out as a reward for getting through something else. But now I've been immersed in Gilmore Gils and I am so tempted to stay in the water, to dive deeper and not come up for air until the end of season 6. But I don't dare. How would I explain that to Sven?


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #11

This is the poem I wrote for the invitations for the party we threw for my parent‘s 40th anniversary in 1995. It is the only thing I've ever had published as it was published in our local paper, The Longview Daily News, supposedly to announce and honor the anniversary of a local couple active in volunteer services. But an editor cut all the material tying it to them for space considerations whih irked me no end and makes me leary of submitting for publication in any forum where I cannot control the presentation. Yeah, I know. That's rules out just about every forum but blogging. I'm trying to get past that issue. But really. If editors can cut the thing that is the core of it, the whole point of it.....
I posted it before, shortly after my Dad passed on. The day before I read it aloud at his service. I post it again today in his memory as Tuesday would have been my parents 52 anniversary and thus the two of them are on my mind. I'd hoped to include a wedding pic but I forgot to remind my sister to scan and email it to me:

by Joy Renee

Time was there was no we
Only you and only me
Solitary I’s enclosed, apart.

Time went far to bring us here
To where we are--our
Unitary I’s--entwined by love.

Time is now for making strong
Our fragile, time-made bonds--
Singular I’s and thou’s in synergy.

Time will be when all our we’s
Conjoin in heaven’s harmony--
Tributary we’s in eternity.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sunday Serenity #17

Laughter is one of the shortcuts to serenity. And that's the truth.


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