Monday, March 31, 2008

My Apologies

To all those whom I owe visits for TT, Friday Snippets or Poetry Train. I've been fighting another respiratory virus since Thursday.

I've been trying to avoid mentioning it here because several weeks ago I put a moratorium on complaining and negativity as part of my attempt to address mental and emotional clutter in the same way that I had tackled the clutter in my room in January and in my schedule and files in February.

Almost immediately after making that resolution around the first of the month, I took a jarring fall while on a walk with Ed. This reinforced my belief that there is some kind of cosmic comedienne standing at the ready to turn every solemn oath we make into an occasion of slap-stick. I took it as a challenge though and resisted writing about the fall while I was still dealing with its fallout. I think it did help too. The joint and muscle pain cycle that follows such falls was much shorter than typical.

This is the third virus to knock me for a loop since early February. In the past the juxtaposition of such a string of 'bad' events following on my efforts to make positive changes and commitments to goals and dreams has often served as an excuse to quit. So far, I've resisted all the temptations to a mental and emotional meltdown, all the seemingly rational arguments offered before the Supreme Court bench of my mind that such things are 'proof' that every attempt to apply my will to my life needs to be punished as supreme acts of pride.

I know, that sounds fairly silly sitting there on the screen but it has been one of the deep seated beliefs I've had since early childhood. Becoming aware of it leaches it of much of its power. The trick is to become aware of it soon enough to apply opposing arguments before automatic and unconscious behaviors have a chance to sabotage my efforts.

In this case, a plausible opposing argument is that it was the unhealthy way I was living on adrenaline and caffeine and very little sleep and even less exercise between July and January. It was a miracle that I hadn't suffered worse consequences from that much sooner. The fact that the viruses didn't take hold until February, a month after the room do over, meant that I had a healthier and more peaceful place to rest in while sick. The fact that before the first virus zapped me I had had over a month of daily exercises in applying opposing arguments to the above and similarly bizarre accusations from the insane prosecutor in my head could as easily be offered as 'proof' that my efforts were being blessed not cursed.

I was reluctant to break my moratorium on posting about all this but I felt I owed an apology to the meme visitors that I owe visits too. I hope I managed to keep the tone free of the 'poor me' whine that talking about these things so easily degenerates to.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Monday Poetry Train #39

Riddled by
Spring's silver light with
Heart agape.


I took the picture down by the creek in early March. I'm not sure whether I or the tree is the subject of the haiku.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sunday Serenity 49

I'm going to be spending much of Sunday watching DVDs. Among them this documentary about Rafe Esquith, an elementary school teacher who teaches Shakespeare to his fifth graders at Hobart Elementary in Los Angeles, California.

I also have a performance of King Lear, two different performances of Macbeth and one each of Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night.

I may not get to all of them but the Hobart Documentary and King Lear have to go back to the library Monday morning.

I explained my interest in immersing myself in all things Shakespeare in several previous posts, the latest being last Tuesday's Hanging With Cliff.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Snippet #37

by Joy Renee

(part one; part two)

Crystal started separating her own belongings out and rummaged among a pile of bags looking for her own backpack. She found a woman's make-up kit that wasn't hers and near it a hair brush with long black strands in it. Also definitely not hers she grimaced as she raised her hand to her own tangled mass of baby-fine blond tresses. There was apparently more occupants of this room than herself and her 'friend'. She still could remember nothing of last night. In fact she wasn't sure if her memory of sitting on the beach with her lunch yesterday was really yesterday.

She turned to the maid and asked "What day is this?"

"Honey, it's Saturday morning."

"Is it still September?"

"Just barely. Must have been a rough night." the woman nodded knowingly at the basket full of empty bottles near the door.

"I guess." Crystal sighed. She turned back to her task. She needed to be prepared in case she was shooed out of here when the others returned.

She noticed a corner of a Polaroid picture turned backwards sticking up from a pocket in the lid of the make-up kit. Curious to see if it might be a photo of her room mates and possibly jog her memory, she pulled it out and turned it around and then almost dropped it.

It was a shot of herself and a woman with long dark hair and Latino features on the bed behind her. She was dressed exactly as she had been when she woke earlier--in a t-shirt and bikini panties. The woman wore matching bra and panties in a bright red. Crystal's eyes were closed, one hand cupped against one of the silky cups with long black strands of the woman's hair tangled in her fingers. The woman was bent over her nuzzling her ear, her eyes also closed.

Crystal shuddered in shock. She remembered none of this. It was just possible she had been asleep her hand cupped against the bra cup was also cupped in the woman's dark hand. She had never gone with a woman before and wasn't sure she would flatly refuse if the hour was late enough and her fear strong enough. But the picture was evidence of an audience and that was something she was sure she would have balked at. Let alone the taking of the picture.

She turned surreptitiously to see where the maid was and found herself alone in the room, the sounds of water running in the bathroom indicating she would be unobserved for a few more minutes. She reached into the pocket to see if there were any more pictures and pulled out two more. One was of the same woman and a black man with a high and tight hair cut wearing that Semper-Fi T and men's bikini briefs in olive drab to match the camouflage colors in the T. She thought for a moment that either she had taken this picture or there had been a fourth person in the room but then she noticed that the one edge of the picture was of the length of the muscular black arm which was apparently holding the camera aloft to take the shot.

The third picture was of her again. This time with the black man. Her eyes closed as before and her white-blond tresses intermingled with the long black ones of a wig. Probably the long hair of the Latino woman had been the same wig. Crystal was about to return the pictures to the pocket of the make-up kit when she caught herself. She could keep and dispose of the two of herself. But that would definitely mean she would have to be gone before her room mates returned and be faced with the need to find shelter for the night. The clock was ticking. Her hand hovered over the pocket.

Her mind flashed on an image of herself on a late September Saturday afternoon a year ago, sitting on the deck beside the swimming pool squinting against the bright sun as she tried to shade the page of her Freshman algebra text with one hand as the other raced over the notebook page doing calculations. How had she come to this? Where every day was a calculation of the odds of surviving another night?


Like last week, this one is hot off the keyboard. I'm working in an application without auto correct or spell check. I'm attempting to severely limit the impulse to edit as I work. I fixed a few glaring spelling errors and typos after pasting into Blogger but I'm going to resist a more thorough comb through of it. This is an exercise in distancing myself from the work and it seems to be helping. I chose this story because I am not as emotionally invested in its success as I am with so many of the other WIP. And because I can anticipate nothing in the story that will tempt me to detour off onto long research projects. All of the scene setting details are and will be from my own memory of working as a maid in a motel much like this one in Oceanside, California in 1979. And no, the maid in this story is not modeled after me. Nor is Crystal. Just want to clear that up.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

You Could Say That

It might even be true from a certain point of view.

Susan Helene in comments on yesterday's TT noted that I must be having another busy week. Her clue was my posting another 13 titles off an eleven page list of silly author/title combos which I've done approximately once a month since October whenever I am pressed for either time or ideas.

It wasn't so much about busy as about my normal schedule being thrown off track for the last week with my in-laws out of town and Ed having four out of those six days off work. A lot of regularly scheduled tasks got pushed to the fringes or abandoned in deference of things that can only be done (or at least more easily done) when we're home alone.

I must admit that much of it amounted to hanging out together in the living room with Sweetie and Merlin. I moved my office out to the couch. I saw a whole lot of the back of Ed's head as he played video games on the PC. I read from books. I and sometimes we watched TV or DVD on the large screen HD TV. Ed cooked for us several times and I acted as his gofer and cleaned up after. A couple of times he brought home take out.

Last time his folks went on a week long vacation was the first week of January and that time there was zero hanging out, zero relaxation and sleep could have been measured by the nano second. That was the week of the BIG room make over which I blogged about ad infinitum throughout January and into February.

This time the only chore on the agenda besides meal prep and clean up was laundry and we had let it slide for a couple of weeks in light of having this week to catch it up at our own convenience. Since the laundry facilities are in the hall outside his folks room and they sleep with their door open so Sweetie has access to her doggie door to the yard, I can't do laundry between 9PM and 7AM. Since my MIL does laundry in the afternoons several times a week, I shy away from starting any of mine between noon and the dinner hour. So that leaves the two hours between kitchen clean up and their going to bed at 9PM or 6AM to noon on the days she works. I'm not a morning person.

This is the way things are between October and mid April anyway. As soon as the racing season starts at the dirt track, I'll be having my weekly Saturday home alone from 2PM til after 10PM. Except for the two years I was sitting with Ed's Grandma on those days, that has been my appointed time for laundry and room cleaning chores. Before I got my laptop in fall of 2005 and the WIFI in fall of 2006 that was all time dedicated to as much face time with the PC as I could squeeze in between loads of laundry. Last year, for the first time since race season 2001 which was BPC (Before PC) I actually spent a lot of Saturday afternoons hanging in the back yard with Sweetie and Merlin.

Well this week, counting all of the bedding, there were only six loads. That was nothing compared to the thirteen we did the first week of January.

So in a sense it was a busy week but as I look back over it, I am hard pressed to justify that word. A lot of time got frittered away. I tended to wait until Ed went to bed to get started on my own serious writing work, including post prep, and since he pushed his bedtime past 11PM on most nights that left me with the wee hours and because I wasn't working in the room where he slept, it was hard to resist the temptation to have the TV on. On several occasions I would still be awake when he got up and would then resist laying down at all so I got severely sleep deprived.

This was the case on Wednesday morning. When Ed came out of the bedroom at 7AM I was totally startled. I had been working on Tuesday's post since before midnight. Wednesday was the day his folds were due back and I had a lot of little things to do to get the hosue put back in the condition they left it. There was no way I was going to risk laying down even for a nap before it was all done. This included putting the folded clothes away and dealing with the last load in the dryer, cleaning up the kitchen, moving my 'office' off the couch and back to the bedroom, moving Merlin's kitty condo back to the bedroom.

I probably could have got all that done in ninety minutes or so if I'd pushed it but I managed to spread it out over four by stopping to rest, visit with Ed,. play with Merlin, eat breakfast etc. It was done by noon and I was ready to crash but it took me an hour to wind down. I'd left a wakeup call for four because Tuesday's Oprah had been continued and it had been about hoarding, which is one of my issues as I confessed during the January room project.

So I was severely sleep deprived Wednesday evening and had the option of writing a post something like this one and pushing TT off until Thursday or posting another batch of those silly titles. I knew this rambling post option would take at least an hour and the TT w/ silly titles could be slapped together in fifteen minutes.

Then I slept for ten hours!

I'd hoped to start visiting other TTs and get another snippet of Crystal's story prepared for today's post. But I'd given myself an urgent task that took priority over even going to the library which I've done most Thursday's since the first of the year! I had yet to make the bib slips for the first time books from the last two weeks or pull the bib slips of books returned over the last two weeks from the current items stack and return them to the accordion file and pull the slips of repeat books out of the file and place them in the current items stack.

I figured that would take about an hour. Ha. It took me six and a half hours. Because I kept getting caught up in reading the books or it took me exasperating long times to find a slip in the file which I had stopped keeping organized in the two months leading up to the library closure last April. I had also forgotten to make a slip for a book I'd begun and finished on the same day I checked it out two weeks ago. And hadn't marked the date finished on the last several books I'd finished and moved them to their paper-clipped stack.

A bib slip is a 3X5 slip off a scratch pad with title of book at top of 5 inch edge and author below that. Number of pages at far left edge with the page number I left off on under that. A quick glance and subtraction gives me number of pages left. Every once in a while I send for a bunch with under 150 pages left and target them for finishing. The date begun is noted in bottom left corner with room to put date finished below that. I've been making these since December of 1992 and still have all the ones for library books I never finished but my files for finished books and for books I owned at the time were left behind in the 2001 move. From 93 to 99 I averaged 100 books finished per year. The average hovers around 70 since then.

So I didn't get the bib slip project done until it was too late to go to the library. I rewarded myself by settling down with a book to read at two-thirty. But within twenty minutes I could not keep my eyes open and next thing I know, I'm being called to dinner which was an hour late because my in-laws had had company in the afternoon. I didn't get back from doing dishes until 7:30 and the thought of trying to get a snippet written this evening panicked me so I chose the rambling journal route.

If you came looking for my Friday Snippet, cross your fingers and wish hard. That will be my urgent task for tomorrow. Followed by visiting TT and Snippets.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #79

Another Thirteen Silly Book Title/Author combos

Eating Disorders: Anna Rexia
Ecclesiastical Infractions by Cardinal Sin
Employment Handbook: Ernie Living
En Garde!: Drew Blood
Equine Leg Cramps by Charlie Horse
Erotic Adventures by Oliver Klozoff.
Errors and Accidents by Miss Takes and Miss Haps
Events In The Soviet Union: Perry Stroika
Exercise on Wheels by Cy Kling
Exotic Irish Plants by Phil O'Dendron
Explaining it Better: Clara Fie
Exploring The Dutch Frontier: Will Der Ness
Ex-Presidential Retreat: Kenny Bunkport

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, March 25, 2008

Hanging With Cliff

Remember CliffsNotes? Yeah, those black and yellow striped pamphlets that provided study guides for school subjects and literature.

Well I stumbled on their official website while looking for an online glossary for Shakespeare. Found that and so much more. I've been hanging out on the site for hours.

Shakespeare is an integral part of my Fruit of the Spirit story world. My character, Estelle Starr, is a Shakespearean stage actress who has memorized every part of every play. She is also quite eccentric (some might say touched in the head) as she speaks only Shakespeare. I don't mean that she speaks in Elizabethan English, I mean that even off stage she speaks only lines from Shakespeare. Though she can range among the sonnets and other poems, it is mostly from the plays.

There is another character in the FOS story world who speaks only KJV Holy Bible. He was once a preacher who was excommunicated after a shocking incident for which he was innocent of all wrong doing. His name is Inny aka Innocence and he is the husband of Faye aka Faith who is the POV protagonist of the first novel in the planned series of novels. In the two stories from the novel which I posted for Friday Snippets last summer and fall, there were several scenes in which either Estelle Starr or Inny appeared but only one which included both of them.

Those two stories, though they can stand alone as longish short stories, are intended also as chapters one and three of the novel, The Substance of Things Hoped For. The story for chapter two remains unwritten largely because it is the story in which Inny and Estelle are introduced to each other and enter into dialog. Though I was delighted by the idea at the time I first conceived it, at some point I lost confidence in it and became intimidated. It didn't help that I lost all my notes about that scene in our 2001 move. But I can't blame that entirely since those notes had been sitting in my files for over six years before that.

When I first started working on these stories I had never heard of the Internet. I used concordances for the KJV Bible and Shakespeare. At the time I had access to the Shakespeare collection at SOSC (now SOU) in Ashland, Oregon. In case you don't know what a concordance is, it is a reference book in which every instance of every word in the referenced book(s) is indexed. Thus I can begin with a concept of the intent of their communication and look up the words that may or must be included and in that way find phrases, whole verses or monologues that can convey their meaning. (To see how it is worked out in scenes, you can find the stories through the FOS portal. Yikes! I've not updated that post as promised for quite awhile. I've posted snippets from other FOS novels in progress that need to be included there. The best scene to demonstrate the concept is probably the one mentioned above in which Estelle and Inny both participate: Part Seven of Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes)

It was the discovery of a searchable Complete Works of Shakespeare online in 1997 that enabled me to finish Rag Doll Babies and start collecting promising quotes for planned scenes in other chapters. But it also spoiled me for after loosing access to the Shakespeare concordance in 1987 I'd had to resort to reading the plays and collecting the promising quotes the hard way. I had finished the first story, Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities, that way but I had purposely limited myself to Macbeth for the quotes because that play reflected the theme I wanted to emphasize.

Well recently I have decided to add a new strand of scenes to Of Cats. After I had mapped out the second chapter, Strange Attractors, and discovered that it needed to alternate between NOW and THEN just as Rag Dolls did, I decided to make that the format for all of the chapters. Besides, I was unhappy that so many very significant characters did not show up until well into chapter three and adding the THEN strand to Of Cats would give the opportunity to introduce them. It seemed appropriate then that that strand of scenes should be Faye, Julia and Wilma overseeing a high school production of Macbeth in which Cassie and Fancy perform and Briana, Fancy's daughter, debuts as a toddler and Mae Bea, Fancy's mother, in charge of costumes and Inny in charge of props and lights.

In preparation for writing that addition to Of Cats, I've set out to review Macbeth which will include rereading it of course but also watching several stage productions on DVD which I have access to through the library system. (Love Your Local Libraries!) With Ashland being home to the Shakespeare Festival and SOU's serious Shakespeare collection, it behooves even the public library system to have significant Shakespeare material available.

Which is lucky for me because I have no clue how a Shakespeare play is produced. I've never seen one in person. So I've got to research all aspects of it from costumes to props to what kinds of directions and advice Faye, Wilma and Julia would likely be giving the student actors. And since one of the trademarks of the three women's relationships is a certain amount of banter that shades into bickering, I need to familiarize myself with some of the controversies regarding the proper way(s) to produce Macbeth.

Though I have acquired several library books to aid me in this, I was please to discover that the CliffsNotes on Macbeth include an essay about the historical and contemporary issues surrounding the staging of Macbeth.

Faye's story, The Substance of Things Hoped For, is the novel I targeted at the first of the year for a sustained effort to complete a draft this year. Because of the research still necessary and several plot holes in the latter half not to mention the need to resort to searchable databases of Shakespeare and KJV every time Inny and Estelle enter a scene, I am beginning to think even sustained effort won't be enough. This was the project I designated for the Sven III aka 70 Days of Sweat Challenge too but I've not added anything but notes since it began at the first of the month. Because of that, I've missed several check-ins.

The Friday before last when I posted a snippet about a teen runaway, I remembered that I had foreshadowed her appearance in Faye's story in the same scene I linked above (part seven of Rag Doll Babies). She is the shadow that faded into the woods when Cassie stopped to give Estelle a lift. This past Friday I wrote a new scene for Crystal's story, Home Is Where the Horror Is. Since the story is set in an Oceanside, California motel much like the one Ed and I lived in for a time when he was stationed at Camp Pendleton, I anticipate little need for research which makes working with the story much less complex. I am planning to write another scene for this Friday's snippet.

If I'm to continue posting snippets and participating in Sven III, I suspect I'm going to have to start ranging over the whole of the FOS story world stories again. There are many that are much less complex than Substance.

Well, another post has gotten away with me. I began this with the intent of a quickie about a neat reference resource for readers, researchers and Shakespeare lovers. I had said all I set out to say by the end of the third paragraph. That was hours and hours ago. Before midnight! and it is now 7:30 Wednesday morning!


Monday, March 24, 2008

For Its Own Sake

You become most powerful in whatever you do if the action is performed for its own sake rather than as a means to protect, enhance, or conform to your role identity. Every role is a fictitious sense of self, and through it everything becomes personalized and thus corrupted and distorted by the mind-made "little me" and whatever role it happens to be playing.

Eckhart Tolle
A New Earth
page 107

I had an Aha! moment when I read this. I realized that most of my best writing had happened when I had slipped out of self-consciousness and into a zone where my awareness had zeroed in on the project and I was no longer projecting either hopes or fears onto it--success or failure became irrelevant as engagement in the process became enough.

But these moments have always come over me spontaneously. I was referring to them in my Monday Poetry Train post of two weeks ago:

The [poems] I've written just sorta happened to me like waking up or blushing. Now I'm hoping to see if I can learn to make poems happen on purpose like making the bed or brushing my teeth.
My aha moment was realizing that learning to make poems (or stories) happen on purpose meant learning to 'wake up' into that zone of unselfconsciousness on purpose in order to engage in the process for its own sake.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Monday Poetry Train #38

The Reading Lamp
by Joy Renee

it sits upon the edge,
basking in its own shed
essence. In stillness it is
and in stillness it gives of
its substance. In serving
without stint its charge,
it reads by means
of its giving
a glowing
gospel of


Like Friday's snippet, this one is hot off the keyboard. It was, in part, inspired by the image of that reading lamp which I got such a kick out of last week, I included it in Tuesday's post with a H/T to the blog I saw it on. I was thinking of posting the picture with only a caption as my Poetry Train contribution just because the pun was so fun and I figured it would tickle other word-wrights as much as myself. But then it occurred to me that I could at the very least attempt a haiku.

Soon I had too many syllables for a haiku so the next idea was to try making a shaped poem like some in the verse-novels of Ellen Hopkins which I featured on last weeks Poetry Train. The shape that came immediately to mind was so obvious I almost dismissed it as cliche. but without resorting to a table I had to settle for a symmetrical shape that could be created with centering alone.

The theme imposed itself without conscious intent at first and was likely a result of having begun to play with this immediately following Oprah's Big Give and Extreme Home Makeover on ABC this evening. And probably influenced as well by the reading in Eckart Tolle's A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose which I've done this weekend in preparation for Monday evening's webinar with the Oprah Book Club.

OK that's enough babbling. I'm clicking the publish key before I get cold fingers.

Anybody feel that draft?


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sunday Serenity #48

This YouTube is of an Easter Egg hunt at the Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon about ten miles south of here. Lithia is my favorite park in the entire Rogue Valley. I used to hang out there to do my homework or class reading when I was going to then Southern Oregon State College (now known as Southern Oregon University) in the late eighties.

The video was shot and posted by the Ashland Daily Tidings, Ashland's Newspaper. I just discovered there are nearly 200 more videos posted by the Tidings so I'm going to be exploring them for potential posting in the future, looking for things that show off the local color.

I love Ashland and would like to live there but it is currently way out of our price range. But you know what? I'm going to stop being ashamed of claiming my love for it and my desire to spend more time there.

That might sound strange if you don't know this area but there is a lot of tension between the 'artsy,' 'tree hugger,' 'elitist egg heads,' and the 'working class,' 'Jefferson Stater,' 'red neck,' 'Libertarian,' 'Patriots,' among these valley communities whose economies were once dependent on mining, agriculture and timber and have been suffering the throes for the past thirty or so years of a transition to a tourist, retirement (read out of state millionaires), and high-tech dependent economies; similar in some respects to what happened to the Silicon Valley in the last thirty years of the 20th century.

Note that I put all the labels in quotes to indicate that for the most part they are the pejoratives each side uses against the other. I don't hold with stereotyping and labels lend themselves to that kind of thoughtless empathy-blocking relating that is as unattractive in the one as the other. It is probably evident from a casual perusal of Joystory that my sympathies lean toward the 'artsy' and the 'tree-hugger' and the 'egg head.' But I spend more time among those with the 'working class' and the 'red neck' sympathies and I know them to be good people with hearts of gold and no more deserving of the disdain directed at them then are those to whom they direct their disdain. I just wish they could all see each other past the labels the way I do and could come together to solve their community problems in a win-win way.

Not least (but not only) because these tensions were a direct cause of the inability to create a long term solution for our local library funding. Players on both sides made in-your-face power plays that aimed at win-lose solutions that showed no respect for the dignity or the legitimate anxieties of the 'other side.' The solution that opened the doors of the 15 library branches after seven months of closure is temporary, covering only two to three years and some consider it 'union busting.' So the joy of having the libraries back is a bit dampened by the sorrow of seeing so many of my favorite people (read librarians) loose so much (read jobs, benefits, income) and the anxiety of watching this whole drama play out again in two years.

OK. This post kinda went off track. But I'm going to let it stand and swing it back to topic in closing. To restate my intent: I'm going start practicing a sense of serenity about owning my love of Ashland and all it symbolizes for me in spite of the fact that I interact daily with those for whom 'Ashland' is an expletive because of what it symbolizes for them.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Snippet 36

by Joy Renee

continued from last week.

With water streaming into her eyes, Crystal groped at the towel rack. Futilely as it was empty. Rubbing water from her eyes with the palms of her hands she stumbled back towards the bed. She wondered how close it was to check-out. She could tell by the slant of light it was not yet noon but not by how much. As if by her very thoughts there came a knock on the door and a voice calling out, "Housekeeping."

Crystal headed for the door, not realizing until she had her hand on the knob that she was wearing only her undies beneath the now soaked T-shirt. A glance back at the bed and the jumble of covers, sheets, clothes and towels on and around it and the chairs revealed it would take way too long to locate her shorts or sundress. She shrugged and opened the door a crack.

The woman outside was holding out a stack of towels and wash cloths and fresh bath mat. "Do you need maid service today? Or would just like to trade me?"

"Trade you?" Crystal was stymied by the question as by a cryptogram.

"These for the used towels. Or I can come in and do the room up."

"Umm. What time is it?"


Crystal gathered from the offer of fresh towels and a room do that the room was paid for for at least another night. That didn't necessarily mean she would be spending another night here but at least she wouldn't have to leave immediately. She glanced back at the room and grimaced at the mess, embarrassed for a stranger to see it, even a maid. But, if there was a chance of another night here, it might as well be in a clean room. She swung the door on open. "I guess, you might as well do up the room. I'm not sure what he wanted. He didn't tell me before he left." she was flustered at not being able to use a name for the guy who'd paid for the room last night. Not only that she could not remember his face either.

As the maid maneuvered her cart over the threshold, Crystal started to gather up personal belongings from among the jumble of bedding, tossing the wet towels to the middle of the floor as she found them. A T-shirt with a Semper-Fi symbol on it revealed to her that her 'friend' must be another Marine. Not so surprising in this town, Oceanside, California just a few miles from Camp Pendleton. This town with its slew of beachfront motels was hit by a tsunami of Marines on passes every weekend.

It wasn't until she had pulled the top sheet off the bed that she found her shorts. With the bed sorted out and her shorts on, she began to gather up fast-food wrappers and beer cans. "I'm sorry about the mess."

"Oh, Honey, this is nothing. It's a rare day when I don't find at least one pillow that's been used as a barf bucket or a toilet plugged by a cucumber."


Obviously this is continued again. Hopefully not for another quarter century. As promised last night, this was hot off the keyboard. I cringe.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

From Ringing Ears To Stinging Toes

This pic was taken of me the week the libraries closed for seven months last April. You might recognize it as my profile pic there in the side bar. The book bag I'm pulling is the one mentioned below. The one on my back then was not necessary today. But only by a whisker.

I'm not much in the mood to write tonight. My left ear has been ringing like a fire alarm for two days. Both little toes are yapping in the other ear about the torture I subjected them to by stuffing them in shoes and making them walk for thirty-five minutes, not once but twice today. With less than an hour break between. Both hands are equally irate from the ordeal of gripping the handle of the full wheeled book bag alternately with the handle of my white cane as the lot of us treked to the new library for the first time. Its about five extra blocks from the temp building which was two extra blocks from the old building. This was the first time I had to make the walk since the new building opened in February as Ed always managed to get home in time to give me a lift. But this week he worked full time for the first time since Xmas week.

Gah, I am so pathetically out of shape.

So I think I'm going to pamper us all with an early rendezvous with the pillow.

{If you came looking for a Friday Snippet, check back again late tomorrow. I've been contemplating doing something really daring. For me anyway. I was hoping to post a hot-off-the-keyboard continuation of Crystal's story from last week. I've been thinking about it all week and I know the scene I want to write. Here's hoping I can pull it off tomorrow.}


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #78

Thirteen Things I Want To Remember About
Gremlyn 6/4/93-3/18/07

1. The way she rode on my shoulder from a tiny kitten to the last week of her life one year ago.

2. The way she would groom the tears off my eyelids and cheeks.

3. The many 'conversations' we had that would go on for as long as I replied for she always had the last word.

4. The way she slept in my lap while I read or sewed.

5. The way she kept us in stitches with her antics chasing shadows and dust motes if there was nothing more substantial; literally climbing the walls and launching herself into backflips off them.

6. Finding her asleep in the salad bowl on the second shelf up above the kitchen counter. More than once. (Tho I'd rather not remember having to wash every last dish on those two shelves each time.)

7. Having her land on my head or shoulder as I passed through a door or by the fridge or mantle or the living room drapes.

8. Having her purr next to my ear as I'm falling asleep.

9. The weight of her curled in a ball on my hip, or chest as I slept.

10. The way she would climb a door and ride it back and forth as she pushed against one wall and then the other until that moment she miscalculated and didn't get her front paws back under her in time so that her belly was arched over the abyss as she howled> And how if her front paws happened to be on the top of the doorway she would hang from the molding screaming until rescued but if she had just pushed off against the wall and did not jump down before the door closed then her hind paws would be shoved off as the door closed and she would fall and if she had trapped herself in the room would howl and scream until rescued.

11. Having her snuggled inside my fleece jacket or windbreaker with its bottom tied off to prevent her from slipping out and its front zipped up but not far enough to keep her from poking her head out at will. She would stay there for hours as I typed at the computer or as I paced up and down the driveway or as I did laundry, dishes or housework or sat on the front steps reading.

12. The way she would put a paw on my face to turn my head to face her so she could 'tell' me something. Occasionally the 'telling' was emphasized by a nip on the nose.

13. Her funny face.

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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, March 18, 2008

Book Patrol, Reading Lamps & Misc Distractions

I just discovered a truffle of a blog called Book Patrol and have been lost in it for a couple of hours. I was supposedly researching something for tonight's post and took a major detour that landed me here. When I came up for air a few minutes ago and saw the time and tried to yank my attention back to the original project but kept feeling the pull back to Book Patrol, I thought, Well why not post about it?

The proprietor of Book Patrol is Michael Lieberman. In the words of his profile:

Book Patrol is where I share my passion for book culture. Book Patrol also appears on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's website and has had posts/reviews that have appeared on, and numerous other media related websites throughout the country. I have been active in the Seattle bookselling community since 1991 and have co-owned Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers since 1992. I have served on the Board of the Friends of the Seattle Public Library and the Book Club of Washington. I currently serve on the Board of Governors of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) where I am also the president of the Pacific Northwest Chapter . I am also a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
He not only knows his stuff, he presents it in a fun, interesting, eye-catching and thought-provoking manner. The topics are as often quirky as they are contemplative or informative. He discusses book selling, libraries, reading lamps, book binding, literary giants, e-books and other digital age impacts on book dissemination, free speech, publishing, rare books...

The post I landed on off a Google Image search for reading lamps qualifies as quirky:

It's a reading lamp.

Get it?

It is a lamp for reading.

And the lamp is reading.


OK, so maybe I'm too easily amused. Not to mention too easily distracted. But can I help if if some distractions are as irresistible as chocolate?


Monday, March 17, 2008

Introducing A New Earth

Just like last week and the week before, I'm having trouble switching my mind off what has occupied it all day in order to post about something else. This is the third Monday I've participate in the Oprah and Eckhart Tolle webinar about Tolle's book A New Earth. Each time I spent several hours preparing by reviewing the chapter to be discussed. I don't know if I can keep coming up with something fresh to day about it for seven more Monday's but tonight I'm bowing to the inevitable one more time.

But I'm really too tired to organize my thoughts to write about it so I'm posting three YouTube vids. The first is a short trailer posted by

The second, also posted by Oprah, is a clip of the discussion with the audience after the show the day Oprah announced the new book club selection and the planned ten week live web event:

The third is the first nine or so minutes of the first class and it was posted to YouTube by a fan. The entire ninety minute class each week will be available for download or streaming view on on the Tuesday afternoon following the live event.

I'm posting this opening clip partly to show a bit of the flavor of the event. But also there is an interesting comment he makes near the end of it about the process of writing both The Power of Now and A New Earth which I think is applicable for any writing task. It is about making the writing time/space available and honoring it each day whether the words are flowing easily or not. And something about being available for the thing that is trying to be born through you. Those are both mangled paraphrases from memory after one viewing of the clip a couple hours ago.

I haven't seen the video of the first class yet as I was among the thousands who, due to technical difficulties at their end and mine, saw nothing but a black screen that first week. I have listened to it on Oprah and Friends XM radio but haven't got around to watching the archived video yet.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Monday Poetry Train #37

This week I wish to introduce you to the verse-novels of Ellen Hopkins which my then 13 year old niece introduced me to last summer. Who could have predicted that long stories in verse format would become huge best sellers in our time? And among young adults at that.

Each of the stories deal candidly with real life and death issues teens and young adults confront in our modern culture:

crank and its sequel Glass with drug addiction.

burned with domestic violence and intolerance.

impulse with suicidal despair and the impulse to self-harm.

identical, due for release this August, is about a father's twisted obsession with one of his twin daughters --according to a blurb on Ellen Hopkins' homepage.

What I find fascinating is the way Hopkins weaves dozens of one or two page poems that in many cases can stand alone into an intricately plotted, emotionally cathartic and psychologically complex story. The poems are sometimes rhyming and sometimes free verse and often carved out of space as well as molded with words as Hopkins uses placement of whitespace around lines and verses to indicate mood, theme or pace.

I can't in good conscience reproduce any here to illustrate exactly what I mean. But the links to the graphics above take you to the page on Ellen Hopkins' site for that book where there is an excerpt. All that is except the last one which hasn't been released yet and I've linked that to Hopkins' homepage.

And I've just followed a link off Hopkins' homepage to Simon and Schuster where there are more excerpts. I'm going to drop the one for burned here. I strongly encourage a visit to one or more of these as my description just can't do justice to the effect of seeing the shapes of the poems on the page and feeling the shapes of the words on the tongue or experiencing the frolicking of the images in the mind.

Dare we hope the groundswell of interest in Ellen Hopkins' verse-novels will continue and the youth making them bestsellers today will continue to demand more long story-poems thus creating a climate in which poets who can tell stories can hope to compete on an even field with novelists and screenplay writers? Or that the generation cutting its literary teeth on these verse-novels will produce a Chaucer, a Dante, a Milton or a Shakespeare for the 21st century?


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sunday Serenity #47

One of my favorite serenity inducing pastimes is to walk on the paved path next to Bear Creek just outside the perimeter of our trailer park. The following pictures were taken near the beginning of March.

This is Bear Creek, looking north, taken from the Fern Valley Rd bridge 50 yards or so east of the entrance to our trailer park. To the left just out of this shot is the ramp down to the paved path for walkers, joggers, runners, bikers, hikers, rollerbladers that follows Bear Creek from Ashland 20 mi south to Grants Pass about 20 mi north. Ummm. I'm grossly estimating that mileage. As I'm not a driver, I don't keep track. And Bear Creek can't run up hill so the path must get along without Bear Creek for a spell at that end.

There were duck swimming in this shot, riding the little rill in the approximate center. I had to zoom to 200% to find them though. I haven't learned how to take a picture with the zoom feature yet. The other side of the creek is an RV park and to the other side of it a strip mall which is next to the I5 freeway.

A stretch of the path, looking back the way we came. Bear Creek is on the left and our trailer park on the right.

See the woodpecker holes?

A smaller creek running into Bear Creek and between two mobile home parks. Ours to the left and a more upscale one to the right. We usually turn around and head back at this point as we've walked over half a mile from the front door.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

I'm feeling a lot like I did as a teen when I was supposed to be doing my homework but couldn't put down the latest story I was engrossed in. Usually a novel back then but these days not necessarily since I've discovered the power of story to be as gripping in a variety of other formats.

This week the 'homework' was daily posting here and work for the 70 Days challenge. I am my own task master so there is nothing but my own stern mental chastisement standing behind that guilty frisson, that cold shiver that hunches my shoulders around my ears as I sneak a peak over my shoulder.

Yesterday I went to the library and after pulling a bunch of books off the shelves until my arms trembled with their weight, I went to sit in the chair by the hearth with that stack in my lap; ostensibly to winnow them down since I already had a stack of similar size of requested items from other branches. I quickly put two of those books with the to go stack but then something happened when I applied my quick pre-read protocol on the next book--cover, inside cover, title page, table of contents, first paragraph followed by dipping in at random at several places as I riffle the pages.

Apparently I didn't stop after the first paragraph and move onto the page riffling for some time later I was brought to awareness of the stack of books still on my lap when they started to slip. And discovered I was thirty pages into the novel I had been vetting.

Needless to say that one went home with me. And I returned to it almost as soon as I'd gotten back in our room. Instead of preparing the bibliography slips for all the first timers in the bag, I just rummaged in it until I found the book I'd begun and started reading and didn't quit until I was called to the table at six. Then as soon as I was done with the dishes I went right back to it, only forcing myself to set it aside at 10 PM in order to get my Friday Snippet prepared. It was after 2AM by the time I'd posted both the snippet and the update to the TT describing my purpose or interest in all the library items I'd listed there. In spite of knowing that sleep was a wiser course, I picked up the novel again and didn't put it down until I finished it at 4:30 AM.

The story that held me in its grip? The Gift by Richard Paul Evans.

This afternoon, I set out to get that bib slip chore done but before I started pulling the books out of the bag, I needed to prepare the shelf which I'd left in a mess when I pulled out the ones going back yesterday. I decided I needed to refresh my memory on which books were coming due next week so I could set priorities. I pulled all the library books onto the bed with me and then logged onto my library patron account online. I quickly separated out the ones coming due next week. And as it happens they are all due on Thursday again. The following week there are items due on both Monday and Thursday.

At first I was able to stay on task and then it happened again. Except in this case it wasn't a novel. It was a book that I'd checked out before and forgotten to mark on its bib slip the page number I'd left off on. I picked it up and started thumbing through, reading lines at the top of pages, moving on as soon as I recognized them. Or at least that is how it started. At some point I stopped moving on. I got caught up in re-reading and once again found myself lost in a story and reluctant to move on to designated tasks. The bag of books from yesterday's library haul is still unpacked. All I've got to show for this day is a hundred odd page advance of a bookmark.

The story that has me in its grip tonight? Poltergeist: A Study in Destructive Haunting by Colin Wilson.

Wilson was one of the authors I discovered early in my quest to learn to think for myself. I found his first two books, Outsider and Religion and the Rebel in the early nineties and was completely drawn in by the way his mind worked as it came across in those books, because it was so similar to the way mine worked. Not necessarily in the conclusions he comes to but in the way he ranges all over the realm of accumulated knowledge and theory to collect support for his thesis instead of staying inside the confines of a discipline. He has since written some eighty books and has garnered a rep for tackling controversial topics and for applying startling new perspectives to old puzzles.

I discovered Wilson's interest in the paranormal only after I'd read those two books that established him in my mind as a philosopher and deep and meticulous thinker. I wonder sometimes what opinion I would have formed if I had first discovered him through Poltergeist or (another of the books due next Thursday) Alien Dawn?

These topics are among my guilty pleasures ever since I discovered ghost stories around age eight or nine and Star Trek around age 10. Such stories were considered sacreligious at best and dangerously evil at worst by the religious culture I was raised in. And they are held in contempt and derision by the scholarly circles I began shifting my identity to in the late eighties.

I just can't help it. Such stories of mysterious otherness are as irresistible as chocolate or potato chips for me. Guilty pleasures. I wonder sometimes if the guilt part is actually part of the pleasure.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Friday Snippets 35

Crystal woke slowly, the soporific sound of an overworked heater blowing its hot breath into an already over warm room encroached upon the warm, lulling dream of floating gently in a heated pool. She sank slowly into consciousness, her open eyes trying to focus on the pale wavy shapes gliding by them. With a lethargic sleep-logged arm she pushed back perspiration-damp sheets.

Motel room. The word’s fog-horned inside her head. I’m in a motel room. But who…? She searched frantically for a name, a face, for the person she had shared this room with last night. For it was certain sure she had not paid for it. She sat up loggily, breathing deep as if coming up for air. She pushed herself to her feet and with swim-like motions she padded towards the bathroom pushing a path through the dense air with her left hand, reaching out for things to hang onto with her right: a chair, the wall, the heater. Turn it off! She gasped for breath as the hot air buffeted her face then sighed deeply when it stopped.

Crystal aimed her body at the bathroom once again and upon reaching the approximate location of its door, dove through it.

Hung over. Again. What was it last night? Just booze? She couldn’t remember.

The odors that assaulted her as she entered the bathroom almost knocked her back out the door. Vomit. Urine. Beer.

It must have been some party. If only she could remember it. Damn if you’re not thinking like a bad novel, she admonished her reflection in the mirror. Damn if you don’t look like you belong in one. Crystal attempted a mischievous grin at the image in the mirror but the apparition only sneered back. "Girl you look older than your mother." she hissed at it.

She turned on the cold water tap in the basin anticipating the feel of cool water splashed on her hot face, but the liquid that gushed out of the faucet was tepid. We got us another scorcher brewing out there, she thought screwing up her face in disgust. She leaned over the basin in hopes that it would get cooler as the water from the buried pipes began to reach her. It did. A bit. But no one would ever mistake it for glacier run-off.

Crystal sighed heavily as she placed the stopper in the drain and began splashing it on her face and even on her grimy t-shirt, drenching it so that it was plastered to her chest and belly, almost chilly in its effect. The figure revealed by the wet t-shirt belied the ravaged appearance of her face. It was the figure of a girl just barely entered into pubescence, with just a suggestion of breasts above the corrugation of her rib-cage.

When the water was deep enough she dunked her whole head into it and held it under while she very slowly let out her breath. And then a few beats longer as her lungs screamed for relief. When she finally lifter her head she had to gulp frantically for air for several moments before she could duck under once again. She repeated the ritual several times in the next few minutes until she began to feel better, almost invigorated by the shock and the hyperventilation. Although her head still pounded fiercely she could almost think now. And it was time to start thinking.

The one thing Crystal had learned well in the last few weeks was that the nights came on fast, rushing towards her like a tsunami from the first moment she opened her eyes in the morning. The days were filled with the frantic search for a secure place to spend the nights which were then lost in the oblivion of exhausted, sometimes drunken or drugged sleep, the morning returning irresistibly as on the undertow of the retreating wave.

Hunger too was a force to be reckoned with but its insistent, primal cry for her attention was often drowned out by the need to feel safe during the dark-flooded hours. The aimless wandering of the streets in daylight was accomplished with the daring and arrogance born of anger which, ferocious as it was, could not sustain her through the night.

She had not been prepared for the terror she had experienced the first time she had not found shelter before dark. It had not occurred to her that it could actually be worse than the terror she had felt each night of her life since age five, laying in her bed waiting--waiting to see if this night would be one of those times when he chose to visit her. The actual physical reality of locked doors and windows, the security of the four walls of her room, which had closed out the night if not him, had seemed insignificant in comparison to the fear which had flooded her each night, to the inundation of whispers that swallowed her will on those nights.

The memory of her room at home loomed large every night now, a temptation to return which she had to strenuously resist for she knew it to be illusory sanctuary. If night on the streets held its own terror at least it was a terror which she had some power over, which responded to acts of will on her part. Decisions made and followed through on and consequences following upon them naturally, diluted the terror of being totally alone and vulnerable to barely guessed at dangers. She could not, she would not go back now.

Surfacing a final time Crystal appraised her reflection once more. Better. But now, with her tangled hair plastered to her skull and the remnants of yesterday’s make-up and last night’s drugged sleep cleansed from her face she almost resembled the fifteen year old who had left home a month ago. Except for a certain set to the mouth and a certain cast to the eyes that expressed a weary cynicism, it was the same face that had appeared in last summer’s family photos taken around the backyard pool.

She tried to run her fingers through her snarled hair but it was no use. The tangles were dense, impenetrable. Probably not even a comb would help much. It was going to take hours of patient work, unweaving strand by strand and undoing knot by knot. Only her mother had ever had the patience for that. Nostalgic tears mingled with the water streaming down her face for all those hundreds of hours over the years that she had sat at her mother’s feet watching TV, as those gentle hands worked to undo the damage of an afternoon of rough and tumble play; never complaining, never admonishing for that had been part of the pact that she had made with her seven-year-old daughter.

Crystal could still remember that day as vividly as if it had happened last week. Tearfully impatient after an interminable half-hour of working with her tangled baby-fine hair, she had been about to chop a fist-sized snarl out with the scissors when her mother had walked in. there had ensued an angry quarrel between mother and daughter which Crystal had won with a child’s simple logic. "I don’t want to take care of it anymore. Anyway it’s your hair, not mine because you’re the one who wants it long, not me." So they had made the pact. If Crystal would promise not to cut her hair before she was sixteen, her mother would care for it as if it were her own.

There were six months to go on that pact but it began to seem inevitable that she would have to break it. She hadn’t the patience or time to care for it properly and looking like this it was becoming a liability. For that was the second thing she had learned well. Appearance and attitude were a currency on the streets. In the last couple of weeks as she put less and less effort into looking pretty and acting confident the places she spent the night and the people she spent them with became proportionately sleazier.

This place was the worst yet. She doubted they could get much worse than this. The mildew-stained grout in the shower gave off a stultifying odor and the sight of it made her skin crawl. The ceiling seemed to have erupted in a rusty rash and the wall behind the toilet was leprous with moisture-swollen blisters of paint and plaster.


This was the beginning of a story I started to write while in my mid twenties. Half a lifetime ago. I still remember the story I meant to tell. The character Crystal was inspired by a young girl I saw hanging out with Marines on weekend passes in the Oceanside, CA motel Ed and I were living in shortly after we were married; where I did housework and laundry in exchange for our room. She had baby-fine hair that was long and hopelessly tangled and she looked no older than my own 14 year old sister. Memory of her haunted me as I contemplated what could have led her to prefer the kind of nights and days I witnessed glimpses of rather than the home she must have run away from.

My own sheltered life previous to those months living in that motel had not given me much for my imagination to work with. Those months were a crash course in the coarseness, desperation and depravity many lives are lived in. I was wakened to the knowledge that my sheltered childhood and loving home was not necessarily the most common. "Crystal" still haunts me. She would be in her forties now. If she survived that year, that is.

And that's my last snippet unless I find something in the messy NaNo or sweaty Sven files that I can clean up. That is a big IF. Those files are in worse shape than Crystal's hair.

Several have asked in comments what the books I listed in my TT yesterday were for. I guess the easiest way to answer that is to update the TT. The short answer is that much of it was research for stories.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #77

Updated to add comments about my interest in each item due to popular demand.

Last week I posted pictures of our new library building. A year ago my blog posts were preoccupied by the impending closure of our entire county library system for lack of funds. Since today I am preoccupied by the slew of items I must return to the library tomorrow which I'm not finished with I'm just going to list 13 of them for this week's TT.

And while I'm at it, remind you to: Love Your Local Library.

Thirteen Items Due Today That I'm Not Finished With Yet

1. Title : The voices of time; a cooperative survey of man's views of time as expressed by the sciences and by the humanities
Author : Fraser, J. T. (Julius Thomas), 1923-
Publisher, Date : New York, G. Braziller [1966]
Description : xxv, 710 p.
My Interest: research for my novel Spring Fever in which time and seasons are major themes.

2. Title : Man and time
Author : Priestley, J. B. (John Boynton), 1894-
Publisher, Date : [New York] Crescent Books [c1964]
Description : 319 p.
My Interest: research for my novel Spring Fever

3. Title : Being and time.
Author : Heidegger, Martin, 1889-1976.
Publisher, Date : New York, Harper 1962
Description : 589 p.
My Interest: research for my novel Spring Fever. Or at least that is why I sent for it but it's way deeper than I was prepared for. It is formal philosophy which I was wading through one paragraph at a time at the rate of three or four pages per hour. I don't know how much use it is actually going to be for the novel background but I find the concepts fascinating. When I get them. I've long had an interest in the metaphysical side of philosophy.

4. Title : The holotropic mind : the three levels of human consciousness and how they shape our lives
Author : Grof, Stanislav, 1931-
Publisher, Date : San Francisco, CA : HarperSanFrancisco a division of Harper/Collins, c1993.
Description : xi, 240 p.
My Interest: a personal interest in just what consciousness is. I've been reading on this topic for over twenty years.

5. Title : Everyday grace : having hope, finding forgiveness, and making miracles
Author : Williamson, Marianne, 1952-
Publisher, Date : New York : Riverhead Books, 2002.
Description : 252 p.
My Interest: related to my spiritual quest.

6. Title : The fabric of the cosmos : space, time, and the texture of reality
Author : Greene, B. (Brian), 1963-
Publisher, Date : New York : A.A. Knopf, 2004.
Description : xii, 569 p.
My Interest: my interest in cosmology is as strong though older than my interest in consciousness. The theories that fascinate me the most are those that seem to indicate that cosmology and consciousness are as tightly intertwined as space and time or energy and mater.

7. Title : The gift of change : spiritual guidance for a radically new life
Author : Williamson, Marianne, 1952-
Publisher, Date : San Francisco : HarperSanFrancisco, c2004.
Description : x, 257 p.
My Interest: re my spiritual quest.

8. Title : The dance of the dissident daughter : a woman's journey from Christian tradition to the sacred feminine
Author : Kidd, Sue Monk.
Publisher, Date : [San Francisco, Calif.] : HarperSanFrancisco, c2002.
Description : xii, 238 p.
My Interest: re my spiritual quest and research for my Fruits of the Spirit story world. Like myself and several of my FOS characters, Sue Monk Kidd and David James Duncan (#9) came out of fundamentalist churches and reinvented their relationship to the sacred.

9. Title : God laughs & plays : churchless sermons in response to the preachments of the fundamentalist right
Author : Duncan, David James.
Publisher, Date : Great Barrington, Mass. : Triad Institute, c2006.
Description : 231 p.
My Interest: see #8. Duncan's novel, The River Why was a huge help to me while I was in the midst of my own self-extracting from the fundamentalist mindset I was raised in.

10. Title : The weather makers : how man is changing the climate and what it means for life on Earth
Author : Flannery, Tim F. (Tim Fridtjof), 1956-
Publisher, Date : New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, c2005.
Description : xv, 357 p.
My Interest: to be informed on one of the most important issues facing our generation and impacting local, national and global policy, politics and lifestyles.

11. Title : The great turning : from empire to Earth community
Author : Korten, David C.
Publisher, Date : San Francisco, CA : Berrett-Koehler ; Bloomfield, CT : Kumarian Press, c2006.
Description : xi, 402 p.
My Interest: Korten has been one of my goto guy's for economic insight ever since I began a formal study of economics in 2001 after Ed lost his job. There is nothing like loosing a job and becoming homeless to get you interested in economics. (Yeah, my response to crisis and catastrophe is often to go to the library. I continued to use the library in Sunnyvale while we lived on the streets of the Silicon Valley for two weeks in August of 2001. Sometimes I was pulling a wheeled backpack full of books and other times Ed was wearing it while I pulled the luggage cart with our cats Gremlyn and Merlin in their crates.)

Korton caught my attention at first because his name was the same as the family-run music and appliance store in my home town of Longview, Washington where my clarinet was bought as I entered 6th grade and a few years later I bought my LP of William Shatner's The Transformed Man. I was even more intrigued to discover he was a son of the family and had grown up in Longview and then chose a life in government service instead of returning to work in the family business. He worked for decades in agencies trying to implement the policies of the World Bank and IMF in third-world countries until he lost confidence in their long-term effectiveness. He is co-founder and chair of Positive Futures Network which publishes the quarterly magazine Yes!

12. Title: War and peace [videorecording (DVD)]
3 videodiscs (403 min.)
Originally produced in 1967 by Mosfilm. Sergei Bondarchu director
1968 Oscar Win for Best Foreign Language Film
My Interest: I loved Tolstoy so much that I studied Russian in college for two years solely in hopes of learning to read Anna Karena and War and Peace in Russian. I was excited to discover this in our library system but just couldn't seem to find a seven hour block of time in which to watch it. Next time I send for it I won't try to find the time to watch it all at once.

13. Title: The Mahabharata [videorecording (DVD)]
2 videodiscs (325 min.)
Peter Brook wrote screenplay and directed this adaptation of the play by Jean-Claude Carrière.
Originally released as a motion picture in 1989
My Interest: the Mahabharata is part of the Hindu mythology which contains some of the oldest stories with deep roots in both western and eastern cultures. Mention of it has popped up in several areas of my research including comparative mythology, comparative religion, psychology, archetype studies, history and more. Again, I tried to find a block of time big enough to watch it all at once. Just isn't reasonable for anything much longer than two hours.

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, March 11, 2008


I discovered the Storymind site a couple weeks ago and have spent considerable time exploring the hundreds of pages of free articles on the theory of story behind the creation of the story development software Storyweaver and Dramatica.

Storyweaver was created by Melanie Anne Phillips who is also co-creator with Chris Huntley of the theory behind Dramatica. Both are are predicated on the idea that stories are

a model of the problem solving processes of the human mind. Characters, plot, theme, and genre are different families of thought that go on in the mind, made tangible, so the audience can watch the inner workings of their own minds to learn how best to solve different kinds of problems.
I find their theory fascinating because it fits with the notion I've had for some time that there is something about story that is as rooted in the deep structure of the human mind as language itself.

I can't vouch for the software as I've not tried them out. I find the screen shots intriguing and the video demos I found on YouTube tempt me to download the demo versions for a closer look. Storyweaver is potentially in my price range in the near term but Dramatica not so much.

Here is a video demo of Storyweaver put together and posted by a user of the product..
Here is a video demo of Dramatica put togehter and posted by seller of the product.

And here is Melanie Anne Phillips herself, describing the story mind concept in one of the many free excerpts from her 20 hour video course on writing using the Dramatica theory.

Below I am embedding a blooper reel from the video course. Not because it contains anything of substance about Storymind, Storyweaver, Dramatica or story writing theory but because there is a gorgeous cat who steals the show--and something else. Reminds me of the way some of my characters act in my stories.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Splashed By Joy

This picture was taken of me in the spring of 1995 at Seaside, Oregon. I had just been splashed by a hip-high sneaker wave. One of those extra large, extra fast waves that seem to come out of nowhere. I had been walking on the wet sand at the edge of most of the waves; highest reach. It was an incoming tide. I had been dabbling my toes in the edges of the waves where the water barely covered the top of my toes. Then suddenly there was this wave that hit me at hip level and just about knocked me down. It splashed me in the face. I remember this moment of surprise that became almost exaltation and then laughing out loud with a spontaneity that was/is quite untypical for me. It was in that moment of laughter this picture was taken.

I am posting this picture today because I've been contemplating again lately the irony of having been named Joy and then having struggled from at least age four with anxiety and depression and volatile mood-swings. Somehow I don't think it is coincidence. And even if it was, at some point in my mid teens I invested significance in it, made it into a kind of quest before I knew what that term meant. And ever since then my life has appeared to have a central theme related to the access to joy.

Awareness of that theme is included in the title of my blog. It might seem like nothing but a playful pun but at the time I came up with it I was aware of and gave equal meaning to both these senses: Joystory= the story of the life of this woman named 'Joy' and Joystory=the story of one woman's quest to attain a stable consciousness of joy.

I like to imagine that someday it will be possible to say, and to the fullest extent of both those senses, "I am Joy."


These thoughts were stimulated by today's musings and readings in Eckart Tolle's book A New Earth and the Eckart/Oprah webinar that I participated in this evening. I had some insights aka 'aha moments' that I'm still mulling.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Monday Poetry Train #36

Creating Poetry
by John Drury

I just checked this out of the library again for the first time in over two years. I first discovered it on the Phoenix branch library shelves in 2002 or 2003. I was excited about it then but so must have been many others in our area because I was seldom able to renew it at the end of three weeks.

Since it was a book that belonged to the Phoenix branch I never bothered to order it as I just watched for it to show up on the shelf again. I hadn't spotted it for a long while and wondered if it had gotten lost or something. I finally saw it again the day of the Phoenix branch library grand opening for the new building and I realized it had probably gone into storage when we moved out of the old building into the tiny temp building. There were probably other copies in the system which was one of the criteria the librarian used to decide which books stayed and which ones went on ice.

I remember seeing it on the shelf the last day the old building was open and chose not to check it out because I already had such a large haul that day--the day the Phoenix branch closed for two weeks for the move into a temporary building. (And if I thought that was cause for panic, what do you think it was like when I learned the entire county system was closing indefinitely for lack of funding and no stockpiling allowed? Can you believe that was a year ago the clock was ticking down on me?)

For a look at what excites me, here is a glimpse at the table of contents. It is inspiration, induction, and education for the would be poet. I'm hoping it will also be stimulation of new poems to post here as it is chock full of exercises that have passed muster for others. See, poem writing kinda snuck up on me. I never planned on writing poems. The ones I've written just sorta happened to me like waking up or blushing. Now I'm hoping to see if I can learn to make poems happen on purpose like making the bed or brushing my teeth.

I had just ordered a bunch of books on poetry writing and poetry appreciation about the time I learned the libraries were closing indefinitely as I had planned to make 2007 the year that I would make a formal study of poetry writing and reading. I put that project on hold in favor of trying to wrap up several more already in process. Now I'm returning to it.

If you are interested in more of the saga of the Southern Oregon Library Closures click on the label below. It was a local story that made national news and I was even interviewed by a SF Chronicle reporter.

There is nothing like temporarily loosing something you love and depend on to make you really appreciate it.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Sunday Serenity #46

This Sunday, like today, is going to be dedicated to reading. I started Sue Monk Kidd's novel, The Mermaid Chair, this afternoon and am enthralled. I'm a hundred pages in. It is the first fiction I've read since Sven III began last Saturday even though I had declared my intention to make sure this time that working on my own stories did not push out all other stories.

Many writers testify to what I have also learned: that reading fiction is a necessary part of the care and feeding of the muse. So, in response to the frustration of the past week's work with my WIP, I decided to spend the weekend reading a novel while giving Ed have unfettered access to the laptop which is a major source of serenity for him.

If I finish the novel, I will probably return to Kidd's memoir, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, which I've been meandering my way through since early December. Both are library books. I think I'm on my third check-out of this one and it is due again Thursday. As is The Mermaid's Chair which I've had checked out a least once before. At least a year ago because it was before the library closure last April.

The memoir deals with Kidd's experience of awakening spiritually and finding the patriarchal straight jacket imposed upon the Christian tradition she had dedicated her life heart and soul to was suddenly intolerable. She chronicles her years long quest to integrate honor of the feminine into her relationship to the sacred. Many of the themes of the memoir underpin the novel.

I am grateful to Bonnie Jacobs for directing me to The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. She thought it might be helpful to me because of my own experience of having jettisoned many of the doctrines of my own faith tradition while struggling to find a foothold on life as I redefined faith itself.


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