Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Listening to Witty Kitty

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Last week I was all down on my self and my files and threatening to hand them over to the cat to trash like a role of toilet paper. I was upset with myself for not being able to stay on task, for fiddling and fussing with my stories instead of getting hard copies printed off.

This week, having spent an inordinate amount of time on LOLcats while looking for lazy post concepts during this enervating heatwave I was reminded of a lesson learned and forgotten and learned again so many times I can't count. It is this: that every success I've ever had with my writing (fiction or other) has without exception begun with a sense of play and wonder. And every time that something bogs down the process or puts me in a funk the only way out is to go back to first things; to seek out the spirit of play. Who better to learn (or relearn) that lesson from than a cat?

Now if only I could figure out how to not forget it again. Maybe a string on my finger? A bracelet? A locket? A tattoo?


Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Key of ZZZZ

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

It was another scorcher today, reaching 102F. But I didn't suffer nearly as much because I got to commandeer the living room where the cooler is all day. I was asleep before midnight last night and then got up to see Ed and his folks off on a road trip. They're off to see dirt track races in Washington state in the Pudget Sound area. Elma? Almah? Did not think to ask how it was spelled.

Anyway its a two day event Friday and Saturday nights with Thursday and Sunday for travel. I'm staying here to pet sit with our cat Merlin and Sweetie, my FIL's dog. I had intended on going back to bed after they pulled out this morning but it was so blessedly cool in the front of the house I couldn't bear the thought of our sauna of a room. I brought a pillow out to the couch but I was too wide awake. So I sat and read until nearly 8 when I then chose to fix a pot of coffee. I enjoyed my first hot coffee since returning from Longview a month ago. I figured I would go ahead and take advantage of the cool morning and then sleep through the heat of the day. But I didn't get sleepy.

Instead I moved my laptop, some sewing projects and some books and DVD out to the living room. Then I spent three hours watching Keeping Up Appearances episodes and finally after reaching disc 4 of the 9 disc set I checked out of the library two weeks ago, I ran into one I'd never seen before. And not just one but all three. It was LOL fun. So relaxing.

Also relaxing was knowing that I didn't have to be anywhere or do anything and any particular time all day. It has been months since I've had a day like that. Essentially I've got 2.5 more of those left. The only musts on the agenda is to clean the litter box and do 3 or 4 loads of laundry. But spread over four days that is nearly nothing.

Of course I will also have to move my stuff back into our room by early Sunday afternoon. And there is the fixing of my own meals. Which is set up to be more play than work. I've got enough fixings to do nachos every day if I choose. I could live on nachos or burritos. Not the fast food kind though. I do them with a base of refried beans and little to no meat with the bulk in the veggies: a green lettuce, green onions, tomato, avocado, jalapeno, and plain yogurt instead of sour cream, and salsa of course.

I'm not fixing them tonight though. I'm too hot and too tired for an appetite and I won't waste the fixings. I'm going to go ahead and lay down early hoping that I will wake for the cool morning hours again. I will be sleeping on the couch under the fans instead of in our room. I'm going to be sooooo spoiled by Sunday.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

If Seeing Is Believing...

I can't look!
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Pardon me that I've been making so many lazy posts lately. I can't stand to spend much time in close contact with my laptop. It's about as appealing as snuggling with a heating pad. We're in the middle of a heat wave closing in on two weeks now if you count from the day it hit 95. The first day that zapped me. I'm almost nostalgic for 95 degrees now. Rumors are it reached 109 here this afternoon. I don't know for sure as the last time I went outside to look at the thermometer on the porch was shortly after noon when it already read 98. It has topped 105 every day this week and had topped 100 for several days before that. They're saying it will reach 102 tomorrow and then drop back down into the 90s for the next several days.

It's enough to make even a cat long for a cold bath.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Book Giveaway: The Lost Dog

I'm authorized to give away 5 copies. Rules for entry in the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

The Lost Dog
by Michelle de Kretser
Trade paperback publishing date: 8/13/2009
Publisher: Back Bay Books

Tom Loxley, an Indian-Australian professor, is less concerned with finishing his book on Henry James than with finding his dog, who is lost in the Australian bush.

Joining his daily hunt is Nelly Zhang, an artist whose husband disappeared mysteriously years before Tom met her. Although Nelly helps him search for his beloved pet, Tom isn't sure if he should trust this new friend.

Tom has preoccupations other than his book and Nelly and his missing dog, mainly concerning his mother, who is suffering from the various indignities of old age. He is constantly drawn from the cerebral to the primitive--by his mother's infirmities, as well as by Nelly's attractions. THE LOST DOG makes brilliant use of the conventions of suspense and atmosphere while leading us to see anew the ever-present conflicts between our bodies and our minds, the present and the past, the primal and the civilized.

About the author:
Michelle de Kretser was born in Sri Lanka and emigrated to Australia when she was fourteen. She was educated in Melbourne and Paris and has worked as an editor and a book reviewer.

The Hamilton Case, her second novel, received the Commonwealth Writers Prize (SE Asia and Pacific region), and the Society of Authors’ (U.K.) Encore Award for best second novel of the year. It was also first runner-up for Barnes & Noble’s Discover Award in Fiction, and a New York Times Notable Book.

The Lost Dog is her third novel. It was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and received the 2008 Christina Stead Prize for fiction.

Article: Michelle's motivation for her newest novel


  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • Bonus Entries: If you blog or twitter about this giveaway or link to it in other ways (ie facebook, myspace etc), send me a link to the post or page and your name will be entered again for each case. Meaning, you can blog and tweet for two extra entries. (Multiple tweets will not gain you further entries as I do not wish to encourage twitter spam.)
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST Saturday, August 22, 2009. I will select the winners with a random sequence generator using
  • I will announce the winners in a post as well as notify by email. Winners must respond with their mailing info within two days or forfeit. In which case I notify the next entry in the sequence generated by
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes. Also, for those of you winning the same title in more than one contest, be aware that Hachette may not deliver multiple copies of a single title to a single address.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Book Giveaway: The Blue Star

I'm authorized to give away 5 copies. Rules for entry in the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

The Blue Star
by Tony Earley
Trade paperback publish date: 8/26/2009
Pub: Back Bay Books

Seven years ago, readers everywhere fell in love with Jim Glass, the precocious ten-year-old at the heart of Tony Earley's bestseller Jim the Boy. Now a teenager, Jim returns in another tender and wise story of young love on the eve of World War Two.
Jim Glass has fallen in love, as only a teenage boy can fall in love, with his classmate Chrissie Steppe. Unfortunately, Chrissie is Bucky Bucklaw's girlfriend, and Bucky has joined the Navy on the eve of war. Jim vows to win Chrissie's heart in his absence, but the war makes high school less than a safe haven, and gives a young man's emotions a grown man's gravity. With the uncanny insight into the well-intentioned heart that made Jim the Boy a favorite novel for thousands of readers, Tony Earley has fashioned another nuanced and unforgettable portrait of America in another time--making it again even realer than our own day.

This is a timeless and moving story of discovery, loss and growing up, proving why Tony Earley's writing "radiates with a largeness of heart" (Esquire).

Interview with Tony Earley

Read a Chapter Excerpt

Tony Earley is the author of four books: Here We Are in Paradise, a collection of stories; the novel Jim the Boy; the personal essay collection Somehow Form a Family; and The Blue Star, a novel released in Spring, 2008. A winner of a National Magazine Award for fiction, he was named one of the twenty best writers of his generation by both Granta, in 1996, and The New Yorker in 1999. His fiction and/or nonfiction have appeared in Harper's, Esquire, The New Yorker, The Oxford American, The New York Times Book Review, Tin House, Best American Short Stories, New Stories from the South and many other magazines and anthologies.

He is a native of western North Carolina and a graduate of Warren Wilson College and The University of Alabama. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and daughter, where he is the Samuel Milton Fleming Associate Professor of English at Vanderbilt University.


  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • Bonus Entries: If you blog or twitter about this giveaway or link to in other ways (ie facebook, myspace etc), send me a link to the post or page and your name will be entered again for each case. Meaning, you can blog and tweet for two extra entries. (Multiple tweets will not gain you further entries as I do not wish to encourage twitter spam.)
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST Saturday, August 22, 2009. I will select the winners with a random sequence generator using
  • I will announce the winners in a post as well as notify by email. Winners must respond with their mailing info within two days or forfeit. In which case I notify the next entry in the sequence generated by
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes. Also, for those of you winning the same title in more than one contest, be aware that Hachette may not deliver multiple copies of a single title to a single address.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Serenity #137

If I had to choose which I most admired about Lucinda Williams between her sound and her stories, I'm not sure I could. She simply rocks as both a singer and a writer.

These two songs aren't really my favs of hers. I'm posting them for Sunday Serenity mostly for the pictures in the slide shows set to the music.

Two of my favorites are Sweet Side and Righteously. I also love Tears of Joy and World Without Tears and Honey Bee.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Old Joy

I want to see this movie. And not just because my name is in the title or because it is set in Oregon with scenery familiar from childhood or because it's based on a short story by an Oregon writer or even because it won acclaim as an indie film with a soundtrack provided by the awesome Yo La Tengo. Tho all those reasons are good enough to draw my attention to it and they combine to hold it longer they wouldn't be enough to make me yearn to see it. The strongest draw is the sense that the story is strong and of the sort I am drawn to--character driven with a quest for significant insight in to life at the center of the plot rather than the more typical quest to outrun or out maneuver forces set against you whether cars, cops, crooks or cupidity.

This quote from the movie apparently explains the title:

Sorrow is nothing but worn out joy

This one is definitely on my wishlist.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Junk It Funks

Ever feel like giving your files to the cat to play with?

The project of printing hard copy is not going well. In fact its not going at all. When I open the file I'm thinking of printing I fiddle and fuss and flit about the other fifty files to remind myself of things done there that effect things here and visa versa. And when the scope of the story arc that covers the entire FOS story world begins to sink in I begin to feel like I'm sinking into a sinkhole created by a leaking septic tank. And I begin thinking what's the point of printing off this dreck? Of what use would it be other than for litter box filler or toilet paper?

When I look at the title list of the WIP or the character rosters with some fifty significant characters (story carrying POV) and the hundreds of others ranging from major to minor I wonder if I've even got enough time left to finish all of them. For sure not if all of them are full length novels of 80K+ words for that would put me in my late 70s unless I could pull off a pace of better than one per year. Based on past behavior that's hardly likely.

What if I knew for sure I only had time for one? Whose story would I choose? And what about all the new story ideas both in and out of the FOS story world which I've developed an averson of committing even a few jottings to paper or screen for fear of further overwhelming myself; for fear of becoming attached to yet another character I can't give the required TLC to?

What does one do when the place in your mind where the stories live begins to resemble a roll of toilet paper unfurled by a kitten?


Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Cool Place to Be

The chair with its back to the window is my favorite reading chair at our local library, the Phoenix branch of the Jackson County Library System. This is where I sat today from just after 2 to just after 3:30 browsing the books waiting for me on the request shelf. It wasn't exactly how I'd dreamed of it since Monday because I'd planned to get there before noon and stay until it closed at 4. But because I couldn't get to sleep early enough because of the heat a various anxiety issues (some of which I discussed in yesterday's post) I also couldn't get my act together in time this morning to leave before eleven-thirty as planned in order to beat the heat. In fact I didn't walk out the door until 1:30 and by then the temps were pushing 90. So I walked slower which meant it took me a good 40 minutes and possibly 45 to get there. Also had a bad stumble that twisted my ankle mildly and jarred my back and hip at about a third of the way there and then limped for most of the rest of the walk.

After sitting in that chair browsing the books (mostly the crochet pattern book) until 3 I was finally ready to start browsing the shelves when Ed showed up. I wasn't expecting him that early as he had warned me he might not get off work before 5. He wanted to leave almost immediately but he gave me another twenty minutes before he pressed. Having the ride home was more important than spending another 90 minutes in the wonderful air conditioned and brightly lit room.

Walking out the library doors was a shock. It felt much like opening the oven door but you have to walk out into it. Temps mus have been pushing 100 by then. They had topped them by a degree or two before dinner.

I can't believe I managed to find spaces for all the books I brought home. As I was shuffling them around and reminding myself what was due when and what was not likely to renew and so forth it occurred to me that it was time to take inventory in such a way I can keep track at a glance. I used to have a system and dropped it for a new system which I let slide before it became habitual. Before the libraries closed in 2007 I had a system I'd been using for over a decade. It consisted of making a bibliography slip for ever first time check-out and fishing the bib slips of repeat check-outs out of the file and paperclipping the bib slips for a single library visit together with something indicating the due date for that batch. I usually had nine of these batches I was keeping track of at any one time because back then I went to the library weekly at least and the books were checked out for three weeks and renewable twice for a total of nine weeks.

Then in February of last year when I started using the WhizFolder application for all my other note taking I thought it made sense to start making my bib slips in Whiz. But I never established a good habit of getting them done. The old way I did in my lap with the stack of books as a 'desk' for the little 3x5 slips. Doing it in Whiz meant finding a way to set a book next to my laptop and prop it so that it was just the right distance while making sure the light was shining on it and not on the laptop screen.

It just occurred to me--and I don't know why I didn't see it before--that I can copy and paste the bib info off the library's online catalog. And the list of all my items out is in my library account. Like DUH.

So I'm set up here with my library account open in a tab next to this one and I'm going to go back and forth using copy/paste. Don't worry I'm not planning to make a habit of listing all the items I check out here. After this one time I'll probably use my gmail and create a draft I can delete after the list is transferred to WhizFolders.

Here's the current list of items out on my card:

Title: Annie Hall [videorecording (DVD)]
Author: Allen, Woody.
Publisher: MGM Home Entertainment [distributor, 1998]

Title: Amarcord [videorecording (DVD)]
Author: Fellini, Federico.
Publisher: Criterion Collection, c2006.

Title: Eve's Christmas [videorecording (DVD)]
Author: Donovan, Elisa.
Publisher: Image Entertainment, [2005]

Title: Sit and be fit [videorecording (DVD)]: arthritis workout
Author: Wilson, Mary Ann.
Publisher: Sit and Be Fit, c2008.

Title: Keeping up appearances [videorecording (DVD)] 9 videodiscs (ca. 1340 min.)
Author: Clarke, Roy, 1930-
Publisher: Distributed in the USA and Canada by Warner Home Video, c2004

Title: The song is you : a novel
Author: Phillips, Arthur, 1969-
Publisher: Random House, c2009.

Title: The crime of reason : and the closing of the scientific mind
Author: Laughlin, Robert B.
Publisher: Basic Books, c2008.

Title: Mistress Shakespeare
Author: Harper, Karen (Karen S.)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons, c2009.

Title: Home safe [text (large print)] : a novel
Author: Berg, Elizabeth.
Publisher: Random House Large Print, 2009.

Title: Willow
Author: Hoban, Julia.
Publisher: Dial Books, c2009.

Title: How fiction works
Author: Wood, James, 1965-
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.

Title: Goldengrove : a novel
Author: Prose, Francine, 1947-
Publisher: Harper, c2008.

Title: Fool on the hill : a novel
Author: Ruff, Matt.
Publisher: Grove Press, c1988.

Title: The bell at Sealey Head
Author: McKillip, Patricia A.
Publisher: Ace Books, 2008.

Title: The secret papers of Madame Olivetti
Author: Vanderbilt, Annie.
Publisher: NAL Accent, 2008.

Title: Designer beadwork : beaded crochet designs
Author: Benson, Ann.
Publisher: Sterling Pub., c2005.

Title: Hunger's brides : a novel of the baroque
Author: Anderson, Paul (W. Paul)
Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005.

Title: The crochet stitch bible
Author: Barnden, Betty, 1948-
Publisher: Krause Pub., 2004.

Title: Moral minority : our skeptical founding fathers
Author: Allen, Brooke.
Publisher: Ivan R. Dee, c2006.

Title: The Bates method for better eyesight without glasses
Author: Bates, William Horatio, 1860-1931.
Publisher: ISIS, 1971.

Title: The spark in the stone : skills and projects from the Native American tradition
Author: Goodchild, Peter.
Publisher: Chicago Review Press, c1991.

Title: The weekend novelist
Author: Ray, Robert J. (Robert Joseph), 1935-
Publisher: Dell Pub., c1994.

Title: How to crochet : the definitive crochet course complete with step-by-step techniques, stitch libraries and projects for your home and family
Author: Turner, Pauline.
Publisher: Distributed in the U.S. by Sterling Pub., 2001.

Title: The book against God
Author: Wood, James, 1965-
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003.

Title: The anatomy of hope [text (large print)] : how people prevail in the face of illness
Author: Groopman, Jerome E.
Publisher: Random House, 2004.

Title: Knit and crochet with beads
Author: Chin, Lily M.
Publisher: Interweave Press, c2004.

Title: The gospel according to America : a meditation on a God-blessed, Christ-haunted idea
Author: Dark, David, 1969-
Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press, c2005.

Title: Crocheting school : a complete course
Author: Sterling Publishing Company
Publisher: Sterling Pub. Co., 2004.

Title: The faith of a writer : life, craft, art
Author: Oates, Joyce Carol, 1938-
Publisher: Ecco, 2003.

Title: Big book of scrap crochet projects
Author: Blizzard, Vicki.
Publisher: House of White Birches, c2003.

Title: An alchemy of mind : the marvel and mystery of the brain
Author: Ackerman, Diane.
Publisher: Scribner, 2004.

Title: So you want to write : how to master the craft of fiction and the personal narrative
Author: Piercy, Marge.
Publisher: Leapfrog Press, 2001.

Title: The ethic of time : structures of experience in Shakespeare
Author: Sypher, Wylie.
Publisher: Seabury Press, 1976.

Title: The upstart crow : an introduction to Shakespeare's plays
Author: Lloyd Evans, Gareth.
Publisher: Dent, 1982.

Title: At risk
Author: Hoffman, Alice
Publisher: Putnam, c1988.

Title: Writing fiction : a guide to narrative craft
Author: Burroway, Janet
Publisher: Longman, c2000.

Title: Shakespeare cats
Author: Herbert, Susan, 1945-
Publisher: Thames & Hudson, 2004.

Title: The Marshall plan for novel writing
Author: Marshall, Evan, 1956-
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books, 2001.

Title: First draft in 30 days : a novel writer's system for building a complete and cohesive manuscript
Author: Wiesner, Karen, 1969-
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books, c2005.

Title: The tyranny of dead ideas : letting go of the old ways of thinking to unleash a new prosperity
Author: Miller, Matthew, 1961-
Publisher: Times Books, 2009.

Title: Lamentation
Author: Scholes, Ken.
Publisher: Tor, 2009.

And on Ed's card either checked out for me or something he's checked out that caught my eye:

Title: Joshua [videorecording (DVD)].
Author: Williamson, Fred.
Publisher: Artisan Home Entertainment, c2002.

Title: Jellyfish [videorecording (DVD)]
Author: Fogiel, Yael.
Publisher: Zeitgeist Films, [2008]

Title: Dear husband
Author: Oates, Joyce Carol, 1938-
Publisher: Ecco Press, c2009.

Title: The heretic's daughter : a novel
Author: Kent, Kathleen, 1953-
Publisher: Little, Brown, 2008.

Title: Quantico
Author: Bear, Greg, 1951-
Publisher: Vanguard Press, 2007.

Title: Quantico rules
Author: Riehl, Gene.
Publisher: St. Martins Minotaur, 2003.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009


funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I was having a pretty good day right up until a quarter to nine when Merlin slipped his harness while hanging out with Ed and I on the front porch. Ed was on his laptop and I was on my mini-tramp. I'd been stepping lightly for about ten minutes and was starting to sweat when Ed sounded the alert. Merlin was still in the yard at the bottom of the steps not a foot from the leash he'd just freed himself from. He was hunched down all big-tailed and staring down a big dog that was walking by with his mistress on a leash--umm the dog was on the leash not the woman but it was hard to tell which of them was actually controlling the leash. The dog had lowered its head in an aggressive stance. Ed had noticed all of this not me, I'd had eyes only for Merlin and since I was the one standing and not penned in by a laptop on a TV tray I'd started down the steps toward Merlin when Ed told me to stand still.

I still think I could have grabbed Merlin before he took off while he was occupied by the stare-down with the dog. But Ed had been afraid if either of us and rushed off the porch it could have startled the dog into lunging free and then who knows what would have happened next.

What did happen was that the woman got control long enough to head her dog on down the lane. At which point Ed hit the steps. But before he got to the bottom Merlin was at the end of the driveway and by the time Ed got to the end of the driveway Merlin was in the neighbor's yard on the opposite side of the house from the porch. Ed sauntered after him and I followed even slower because I was bare foot and there was a lot of gravel in the path from the steps to the driveway as well as on the driveway and the lane running past the house. By the time I got around the front of the house Ed had Merlin cornered under one of the two vehicles in the neighbor's driveway.

For the next half hour as daylight turned to dusk and then dark, Merlin played hide and seek and dodge and dart with the two of us and the neighbor lady from the porch side of the house. He hid under bushes, vehicles and porches of four different houses not his own. Except for Ed's Dad's car parked in front of our house (or Ed's folk's house actually). That was the closest he got to home during his little game. We had him cornered under that car three different times and each time he darted past us and across the lane into one of the driveway's or hedges over there. Then just as it was getting too dark for even Ed to keep track of him, he found a way through the gate into the neighbor's back yard where we couldn't follow him.

Our Merlin. How more aptly named than after a vanishing wizard?

Ed gave up and headed for the porch for a smoke and ten minutes after that he headed for the store for a beer leaving me home alone sitting on the porch waiting and hoping Merlin would show up before Ed had to go to bed. I've never come closer to wishing that I smoked and/or drank. My anxiety was bordering on panic-attack levels.


I really need to start meditation practice again. I had a nearly daily practice all last year and was finding it more powerful as an anxiety reducer than the anti-anxiety drugs I was on eight years ago. I let the practice slide shortly after arriving in Longview last January and it should have been the last thing I let go of.

Actually I'd gotten a bid shoddy about it as early as mid November. It is quite possible that if I'd kept it up, my shin-bruising encounter with Mom's dishwasher door New Year's Eve and the resultant ER visit six days later would never have happened because I wouldn't have been so startled and flummoxed by the simultaneous sounds of Mom's voice calling me and the door bell. I wouldn't have started walking away from the dishwasher leaving the door down and then seconds later ran back across the room having forgotten I'd just been loading it and thus it was down in the path to the door. Of course this is just speculation. But based on the memories of the calmer mind I had for much of last year.

Anyway. Back to the missing Merlin saga. A few minutes after Ed left, I went in the house to grab my slippers in case I needed to walk back down into all that gravel. My feet were stinging pretty fierce. No sooner did I get back to the porch I heard cats yowling. It was coming from behind the house. It could have been the back yard or the neighbor's back yard or the swimming pool and playground of the park's common area just over the back fence. There were two distinctive yowls and I recognized one as Merlin's. So I made my way off the front porch and across the side yard only to discover that my FIL had locked the gate to the back yard. I had to go back around through the house and out the back door. The side yard is dark but the back yard is lit up by the big sodium vapor lamp presiding over the common area. That light is so bright that even I can read by it.

I walked around to the very back of the house where I could peer into the neighbor's yard--the same yard Merlin and disappeared into not fifteen minutes before. Most of that yard is missed by the big lamp and there is a lot of stuff stored back there. It was a jumble of shadows so I could make out little and spotted nor heard no cats. The yowling had stopped before I'd got to the back door. After calling Merlin a few times, I gave up and returned to the front porch to wait for Ed.

Seconds after I got sat back down on the front porch the yowling commenced again. And this time it was much closer and I would have bet money it was in the yard itself. I stood where I could peer at the back porch which is in shadow since the big lamp's light is blocked by the shed next to the steps. But I thought I saw motion and I knew I heard Merlin. I rushed back through the house to open the back door and the first thing I saw was Merlin's tail floating back down the steps. I followed and as soon as he cleared the edge of the shed he was lit up like a camera flash that doesn't quit.

This time he was merely meandering. He reached a rose bush and stopped to sniff at it. I caught up and grabbed his scruff and carried him into the house by it and as I passed our room I dropped him inside the door and pulled it shut. Then returned to the porch to wait for Ed. It was nine-thirty. Merlin had slipped his leash only 45 minutes earlier and had been out of our sight only 20 tops but I felt like the whole episode had been hours.

As much as I wanted to cuddle and hug him with relief, I resisted because I did not want him to get the idea I was at all amused. Plus I was beyond annoyed that the pleasant mood I'd cultivated throughout the day as I sewed and read in the living room in front of the cooler was gone. Vanished in the mental mists.

A few minutes spent at LOLcats helped though. And the following video found there surprised a giggle from me:

With my in-laws home again now, I don't have the option of spending the day in front of the cooler tomorrow and the thought of spending it in this room as it heats up again is just too much. So my plan is to leave here before 11AM to make the walk to the library before the worst of the heat settles in. And stay there until Ed can pick me up after work. Even if he doesn't get off before the library closes at 4, I'll wait there for him. I'd have to even if the heat wasn't an issue because I may have as many as 17 requests waiting for me and Ed has a few of his own. I can't pull two wheeled bags while using a white cane and I really don't want to carry a backpack in this heat.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dreaming of Cool

funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures

Temps are still nudging 100 by late afternoon. But either it was a tad cooler today or I'm starting to acclimate. I found the energy to sew for several hours this afternoon and even went outside and sat on the porch with it after 7pm. I was working on the embroidered bookmark. The picture to the right was taken a couple of weeks ago when I was taking inventory of my sewing works in progress. I started this in 2005.

The words you see on the bottom were put on then. "Books can take you anywhere!" They are done in back stitch. Each one a different color, which wasn't on the pattern that came with it. The pattern shows them all done in red. There will be three balloons and a book cross stitched in among the words. Each one a different color and I hope a different color from any used in the words. I put on the book today and I made it brown instead of the blue the pattern showed because I was using the thread left over after petite-pointing the teddy bear in the picture at the top.

The picture at the top was painted on and I don't think it was intended to be stitched but I wanted to anyway. It is of a child laying on an open book that is flying in the air. I didn't care for the shade of green they had made the book so I thought it would look better needle pointed in purple. I started working that in the summer of 2005 and got about a quarter of the book covered in purple before the events preceding my Dad's passing that year distracted me. I'd been working on it while sitting with Ed's grandma that summer but when I got back from Longview after my Dad's funeral that November I'd switched my attention to another project.

Last week I finished covering the book in purlple then did the edges of the pages in gold floss with gold metalic thread and put some decorative stitches on the cover in gold metalic as well.

At 8PM I had to quit sewing and switch to reading as the light wasn't right for sewing anymore. Shortly before 9PM there wasn't enough light to read by either so I got on the mini-tramp and ended up spending an hour on a gentle workout, visiting with Ed during part of it. I'd missed getting on it for the last two days.

I also read for several hours earlier today and will be retuning to the books again as soon as this is posted as I've got four library books that must go back by Thursday morning. Also two DVD so I may play a movie if my eyes wear out on the books. I'm not likely to finish any of the books so I've already put my request in for all four of them to come back to me. One of them though, has a queue and I'm forth in line. That is the one I'm spending most of my time with. Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them) by Bart D. Ehrman. The author is an ex-fundamentalist who is a professor of Religious Studies at Chapel Hill University in N. Carolina. He is a scholar of the Bible in what is know as higher-critisism. I guess it's obvious (if you read my profile) why I'm interested. I may want this one in my personal library someday.

Tomorrow my in-laws will be out of town and I'm taking advantage of that to do our laundry. Then I won't have it do on Saturday when everybody is at the races and I'll be free to do something else.

Thursday I'm planning to go to the library and spend as much of the day as possible in their airconditioning. I went a little nuts ordering books in the last week and may have close to twenty waiting for me by Thrusday. What was I thinking? I don't have room for twenty more books in this room.!!!!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Ice Dreams

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Oh I'm thinkin I b likn it jus fine thx.


Hey, I know, I'm being extremely lazy. And whiny. 100 degree days tend to bring that out in me...

Off to try to read with the fan blowing hot air (and hair) into my face.

Maybe a pause for a nice cuddle with an ice cube.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Serenity #136

On days like this with temps topping 100 a fan can be your best friend.

I heard a rumor on the radio that we're in for more days of this high 90s nudging over into triple digits.

Drinking ice water or iced tea and reading in front of the fan was how I spent most of this Sunday afternoon and evening.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Drawing Winners

Sorry it took me so long to get this posted. It was so warm this afternoon I just couldn't bear to have my hands hovering over the heat coming off my laptop keyboard. Ugh. And even thought it's now closing in on midnight, I still don't want to spend any longer than I must in physical contact with it. So on with it.

The winners of today's two drawings are:

tetewa for Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons

Nicole for My Name is Will by Jess WinField

Congrats to the two winners and thanks so much to all who participated and special gratitude for those who helped spread the word.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Intentions

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As promised last week, I've selected the WIP I wish to focus on for the next several weeks. I'm aiming my focus on the finish line for Home Is Where the Horror Is AKA Crystal's story.

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

I was already leaning toward's Crystal's story last Friday but wanted to give it more thought. Then last weekend my niece's vote in favor of Crystal tipped me over. The last time I focused on this story was around Easter of last year. My attention was derailed when I was hit hard by a virus (me, not my puter) probably the flu. By the time I felt up to writing again it was time to focus on NaNo. Then during NaNo news of my mom's broken hip....and four weeks ago I returned from a six month stay helping my sister with her care. And so went a year!

It's nearly time to put focus on prepping for NaNo again already. Especially if certain of my WIP still eligible were to be chosen--a few need some heavy research prep.

One possibility is to go with the novel containing Brook's story. Brook is a character in Crystal's story and much of her story is set in the same motel as the sections of Crystal's story in which she appears. That makes a lot of sense in a way. It wouldn't be such a wrench to get my head into the story.

There is one major con though. Brook's story was the one I used for my very first NaNo attempt in 2004. But since I discovered and joined NaNo less than 10 days from the deadline that year and didn't get more than a few K in word count... Hmm. Maybe if I promise to not look at that old file and start from scratch? Or put more focus on the POV sections of other characters in the story? See, sometime in the last few years I folded Brook's story in with Kay, Lance and Atticus' stories in my WIP To Sip the Light Prismatic, a novel set in the same story world as Faye's.

Another possibility is to go with Faye's twin sister Julia's story, The Lever of Love. That one has so many common plot points with Faye's story which can be a plus--and a minus. A plus in that so much of the story is already well imagined already. A minus because the same issues that plague me regarding Faye's story would do so with Julia's. But maybe coming at those issues from a fresh angle would help. The Lever of Love is going to be ( I think) written entirely in the form of letters, journal and diary entries, blogs, email, IMs with a sprinkling of news headlines and student essays and other things that Julia either writes or reads.

Yet another candidate for NaNo this year is Must Everything That Rises Be Submerged? a YA novel that is probably (though only peripherally) in the FOS story world also. The drawback for this one is that I would need to immerse myself in the stories, lit crit and bio of Flannery O'Connor for several weeks as my precocious little protagonists is an expert on the subject and the plot, metaphors and theme is supposed to reflect those of O'Connor's preoccupations.

Low on the list of potential NaNo novels for this year are A Tale of a Wail and the first in my fantasy trilogy A Wailing Womb. The former is set in the FOS story world. The latter is completely free of it. Both are less likely candidates because of the huge amount of prep work they both need.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lolling at the Library

It was a scorcher today. The last time I looked at the outside thermometer it was a nudge under 100 on the porch. That was as we were returning from the library just after 4PM. I say we but I was the only one who went to the library. Ed found a note from me when he got home just before 4 asking for a ride if he happened to get home early enough. I'd let him know I'd got a ride from his sister just before 2 and would start walking towards home when the library closed at 4. He pulled into the parking lot just after the librarian had locked the doors to prevent anyone coming in, I was standing just inside the door watching and hoping and not about to step out of the air conditioning one second before I was chased out. There was still a small line at the checkout counter so I probably had three to five minutes.

You're probably wondering what the video at the top of this post has to do with all of this. Well it's this: one of the unexpected treasures I found on the shelf today was a boxed set of 9 DVD containing the entire series of the British sitcom Keeping Up Appearances plus extras and special features. I happen to love that show and never tire of the reruns when I catch them. And I've never been sure I've seen all the episodes. Now I can be sure. If I can find the time to watch approximately 25 hours of ROTFLOL in the next two weeks. Late night is out of consideration as even if I watched on my laptop with the earbuds in I would have Ed dreaming he was out at sea in a storm for all the bed jiggling my suppressed laughter would generate.

I'm going to have to find the right time though, as I am sorely in need of sustained hearty laughter.

Another of the treasures I picked up was the DVD of Woody Allen's Annie Hall. I've never seen it and don't have a clue what it's about but recently something else I was watching mentioned it in a context in which knowing the story and especially a certain scene in that story made the point the speaker was trying to make. Since I haven't been watching a whole lot lately other than news and Gilmore Girls it was likely one or the other. It bugs me now that I can't remember because now I'm going to watch the movie and possibly not realize it when I see the scene in question. Ah, well. Next time it's relevant to a point someone is making...

Now, you're probably wondering where the 'lolling' in the title comes in. And that's tied in with the third treasure I found at the library: air condistioning. It made it possible to sit and read in sustained concentration for nearly two hours. I was done with my shelf browsing shortly after two and I spent the rest of my time there reading.

Ah, reading. I've not been able to return to that book for more than a few snatches since we got home. The heat was the primary factor. It steals my IQ. So I spent a couple of hours embroidering on a bookmark while listening to news. I think it's cooling down enough to give the book another try.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Merlin is Missing

Update 1:25 AM Thursday:
He's back. I stepped out on the back porch for the upteenth time in two hours and there he was. So relieved, I'm shaking.

Our cat Merlin, an inside cat, got out and I can't think of anything else at the moment. It was my fault and I've got to sit here by myself with the thoughts because Ed has to be up early for work. He got out because I left the bedroom door open when I rushed back to the room for something I need to get the quick shower I had fifteen minutes to finish before the park's water was being turned off at eleven for the next ten to fourteen hours. Ed was out on the front porch having his last cigarette before bed. Merlin got out Sweetie's doggie door in the back door.

It's happened before and he has come back safe. But this is the first time it has happened since I got home and the first time since Flipdizzy, the stray kitten that was living under the front porch last July and adopted the family winning all our hearts, was found dead under a rose bush last January probably having been poisoned. There has been a rash of pet death to poison in the park and the suspicion is that someone is taking it upon themselves to deal with the strays and raccoons that plague this trailer park.

This is one of the reasons Merlin is an inside cat and we always put him in a harness and leash to go outside. There are a lot of feral cats, raccoons, possums, and mean dogs running loose. Not to mention some of the malicious people. There is a creek next to the park that is home to more wild animals (where some of the coons and possums come from) and on the other side of the park is a busy road--two actually and one of them is the connecting road between the freeway and the main street going through town aka Hwy 99. It is just not a safe place for a cat raised indoors to be roaming free. Especially one as timid as Merlin.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Facebook Frolics

A couple days before I left Longview, my sister talked me into joining Facebook as she had just done so herself. She walked me through the process. And I pretty much left it alone ever since because of how busy I was in getting moved back here and settled in and...and...and.

Well I gave myself permission to fool around on Facebook this evening. I was partly motivate by having been tagged by a Facebook friend for this meme called Bucket List. Thing is, I'm so new at Facebook that I don't have enough Facebook friends to tag the requisit 20.

So, I'm putting out a plea for friends. Is that pathetic or what?

Oh, its not just for the purpose of meme tagging, I seldom have the time for them anyway. So don't worry if that gives you pause. But I did start thinking as I tooled around Facebook that it would make another good place to announce when I have another book giveaway posted here.

Since I don't have twenty facebook friends to tag I'm posting the meme here too. If it looks fun play either here in comments, on your blog, via email (joystory AT or at facebook.

The Bucket List

The Bucket List. Place an 'X' by all the things you've done and remove the 'X' from the ones you have not. At the bottom of the list, add something you've done that's not already on the list.

NO EXPLANATIONS! If someone asks you about something, then fine - explain away. [for facebook play: Tag 20 friends (including me) and then publish. To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, do the list and tag 20 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish. If you don't see the Tag people in the upper right hand corner you are in the wrong place.]

Things you have done during your lifetime:

(X) Gone on a blind date
() Skipped school
(x) Watched someone die
(x) Been to Canada
() Been to Mexico
() Been to Florida
() Been to Hawaii
(x ) Been on a plane
() Been on a helicopter
( ) Been lost
() Gone to Washington, DC
(x) Swam in the ocean
(x) Cried yourself to sleep
(X) Played cops and robbers
(x) Recently colored with crayons
( ) Sang Karaoke
(x) Paid for a meal with coins only
(x) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't
() Made prank phone calls
(x) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose or elsewhere
(x) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( ) Danced in the rain-naked
( ) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(x) Been kissed under the mistletoe
(x) Watched the sunrise with someone
(x) Blown bubbles
( X) Gone ice-skating
(x) Gone to the movies
( ) Been deep sea fishing
( ) Driven across Canada
( ) Been in a hot air balloon
( ) Been sky diving
() Gone snowmobiling
( ) Lived in more than one country
(x) Lay down outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets
(x) Seen a falling star and made a wish
( ) Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser
() Seen the Statue of Liberty
() Gone to the top of Toronto CN tower
() Been on a cruise
(x) Traveled by train
() Traveled by motorcycle
( ) Ridden on a San Francisco CABLE CAR
( ) Been to Disneyland and Disney World
(x) Truly believe in the power of prayer
(x) Been in a rain forest
(x Seen whales in the ocean
() Been to Niagara Falls
( ) Ridden on an elephant
( ) Swam with dolphins
( ) Been to the Olympics
( ) Walked on the Great Wall of China
( ) Saw and heard a glacier calf
( ) Been spinnaker flying
(x) Been water-skiing
(X) Been snow-skiing
( ) Been to Westminster Abbey
( ) Been to the Louvre
( ) Swam in the Mediterranean
( ) Been to a Major League Baseball game
() Been to a Canadian Football League game
(x) Thrown up after riding a roller coaster or other carnival ride
(x) Buried a pet
( ) been parasailing
( ) Learned a second language fluently
() Dipped feet into both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the same month
( ) Seen the Panama Canal
( ) Spent years in a National Park
( ) Have been wake boarding
(x) Truly believe in miracles
() Has passed gas and blamed it on someone else (as if I'd admit that!)
( ) Driven a Nascar
(x ) Saw the Aurora Borealis -- The Northern Lights
(x ) Crashed the same car twice in 6 months (twice in 10 days!)
(x) Been to a drive in theatre
() Peered over the edge of the Grand Canyon
() Climbed Ayers Rock (Northern Territory, Australia)
()Milked a goat
( ) Youth hosteled around the UK
(x ) Eaten a meal at the top of the Seattle Space Needle


Monday, July 13, 2009

Feelin Lazy

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I severely shorted my sleep all weekend and am paying for it today. My niece and I watched Gilmore Girls episodes til the wee hours both Saturday and Sunday night. Had to get up to go to the family picnic Sunday on less than five hours and today I had stayed up until after seven this morning to finish the tank top embroidery and get it ready for shipping to my sister before Ed left for work. Then my niece called me at 9:15 because I'd made her promise before she went to sleep at 3am to do so before she left. At that time we both thought that would be well after noon but her plans got changed and her older brother came to pick her up at 9:30 to go look at a car that might be right for her (she's old enough for her permit this year) I heard this evening that she got it--a 1970s VW Beetle.

I did lay back down but got up with my alarm at noon. Had a frustrating hour trying to get the TV to give up the blue screen with the word 'Video 1' on it and give me back the satellite menu. Fussed with three different remotes for an HOUR!!! before I figured it out. Or rather accidentally pushed the right combo of buttons or something. Who knows. My niece had been controlling the controllers because I was sewing and because she knew the TV remote well it having been her Dad's TV seven months ago.

Today was another dirt track race day so I had the house to myself from 3pm to after 10. But I could barely enjoy it. I did a lot of zoning in front of the TV. Not even watching it just half listening as I stared at the ceiling. I wanted to sleep but wouldn't let myself because it seemed like a waste of the opportunity to do the things I get to do on race day's--laundry, cranking the music, watching a movie on the big screen TV in the livingroom, washing my hair, hanging out on the porch or in the yard with no worries, cleaning our room, playing with Sweetie (Ed's folk's dog)--soooo many better things to do on race day than sleeping!

I did finally snap out of it. I put the bedding in the washer. Then, finding myself yearning for the embroider needle that had been in my hnad so much for the past week, I got out the embrodered bookmark I began back in 2005 when I was sitting with Ed's grandma and worked on it while listening to TV and sometimes glancing up at it and later while listening to news podcasts on my computer.

Then, I got all my needle and craft projects off their various perches or cubbies and set about addressing little issues that had come up since the last time I had them all spread out--issues related to making a project more independent and more compact. I fiddled and fussed with this project and that project and did much musing on several which are not needle ready because some necesary thing still needs to be bought (embroidery needles, needle threader, seam rippers), taught (blind stitch, a new crochet stitch) or caught (a plan, a pattern, an idea, a design).

I was still all spread out on the bed when the others got home and had to scramble to get the load in the dryer out and processed as there is nowhere to keep a pile of clean laundry in here and get my sewing mess cleared away. This is a work night for Ed and he is usually snoring long before 10PM and it was after 11 tonight.

I think I'm going to prepare to sleep myself. Maybe I'll lay down with the novel I started over a week ago and was almost finished with before my neice arrived--about 30 pages out. But I suspect I won't be able to finish it before my eye lids insist on gluing themselves to my eyeballs.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Serenity #135

This was taken from our picnic tables at Touville Park on the Rogue River today. That is not actually the other side of the river showing but the edge of the island splitting the river in two--into an oxbow is it? Anyway it was a pleasant site not to mention full of pleasant sights. Breezy, sun-dappled.

My nieces parents were there and I expected her to go home with them but she returned to her grandparent's house with us and she and I holed up in my room and watched several more Gilmore girls episodes before Ed needed the bed and then we moved into the front room and watched more. We quit at 3AM (Monday) She to sleep and me to finish the sewing project I've been focused on for the last several days.

A birthday present for my sister whose birthday was Saturday. Ed said he would get it shipped overnight for me if I had it ready by 7:30 Monday morning.

I guess it is ready. I'm not as thrilled with the result as I was with the concept. I could not for the life of me keep my stitches going straight or of similar size. For most of the time I was taking out more stitches than I left in until I finally gave in to the reality that I wouldn't have it ready for her next birthday if I kept holding such a high standard for every stitch.

I consoled myself with the thought that most people would not be looking as close as I was--through magnifying lenses from two inches away. Or at least let's hope not considering where the design will be setting once she is wearing the tank top.

I used the embroidery stitch known as the back stitch to create at diamond shape traced by rows of color in the approximate positions of the colors in a rainbow.

Oh, well. I guess the important point to focus on is that I actually started a project for a specific gift occasion and finished it within a week of the occasion. Even more amazing, I finished a project inside a week of starting it. More amazing still, I gathered the materials for, started and finished a project inside of a month of first conceiving of it. All of these are significant WINS. Big time pluses worth kudos and back pats and victory Vs.

I also dressed two of the naked crochet bookmarks today and then gave them to my sister-in-law (my nieces mother) in recognition of her having just graduated with honors from college. I took both the tank top project and the portable bookmark wardrobe with me to the park but I forgot to take something to use as a backdrop for the pictures of the finished bookmarks. I improvised with a paper plate which wasn't ideal. But better than no pictures at all.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Almost Forgot

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Today was dirt track racing for Ed and his folks. It was laundry day for me. But it wasn't all drudgery. My niece came over to hang out with me. We had a long visit. Our first since Thanksgiving week. And we watched 7 episodes of Gilmore Girls. Beginning with the last two from season 6 which we'd both seen multiple times before but wanted to set the scene to segue into season 7. She had loaned me her Gilmore Girls seasons 1-6 two years ago and I took the first three with me to Longview to share with my sister. Got her hooked on them and surprise, surprise got my mom hooked on them too. We had to ask ed to mail the next three in March which we had watched by mid April. My sister and mom hated the season finale cliffhanger of season 6 as much as I had when I saw it the first time in August 2007. So much so, they decided to order season 7 online. I contributed part of the cost and the idea was to put it with the rest when I returned them to my neice. I watched season 7 with them in late April and May. I've been looking forward to watching and talking about the season 7 episodes with my neice ever since. We are both ga-ga over the Gilmore Girls.

It's already dawn on Sunday and I've got to be up and ready to go before noon as we're having a family pic-nic at the river. My neice will be returning home afterwards and we won't get another chance to visit or binge on Gilmore Girls until late August as she is leaving next weekend for a stint in Youth Corp

I opened this post during an intermission while my neice was on the phone while it was still light out but didn't get anything written before she was ready to get back to the next episode. We had to take a break when Ed and her grandparents got home from the races but after everybody else went to bed we started watching again. I finally called it quits at 4AM even though she was game for one more. But I still had to wash the dishes we'd used today and post something here or break my over two year streak of daily posting.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Inventory

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The inventory I took earlier this week of my sewing and craft projects in process got me to thinking that it was time I did the same for my fiction WIP in preparation for printing hard copy of everything for the first time since 2001 and for choosing this year's NaNoWriMo project from among those of projected novel length not yet having that honor and still under 2000K of scene work.

By next week's FF I'll have selected a story to focus my finish-line intentions on for the next couple months. Not necessarily a novel tho possibly a chapter in a novel (most of my novels feature chapters that can stand alone as a short story).

By the end of August, if not sooner I will have settled on which novel to focus on for this year's NaNo so I can begin prepping it and doing any necessary research. The candidates are graced with an * below.

You can find links to outtakes of some of these titles here: Fruits of the Spirit Story World Portal

By Their Fruits ( A series aka The Fruits of the Spirit story world)
The Substance of Things Hoped For (Faye's Story. The four titles below are all short stories with Faye as POV and also chapters in this novel)
Of Cat's and Claws and Curiosities
Strange Attractors
Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes
Cat Apostrophe

Home is Where the Horror Is (aka Crystal's Story)
*The Lever of Love (Julia's Story)
*To Sip the Light Prismatic (Brook and Kay's stories)
Seduced by Death (Book I of SLP)
Enthralled by Life (Book II of SLP)
___Majoring in Marine Biology (a chapter in SLP & a piece of a short story that was my first NaNo novel)

The Woman Who Swallowed a Baby
Brooding Instinct (second NaNo novel)
*Tale of a Wail
Spring Fever (forth NaNo novel)
Storyteller's Spouse (third NaNo novel)
*Braided Rainbows
*Making Determinations
Mobile Hopes (fifth NaNo novel)
Hitches and Glitches and Snags in Her Stitches
*Must Everything that Rises be Submerged?

The Lore's Prevailing (a fantasy trilogy)
*Wailing Womb
Sailing Moon
Availing Tune


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Sew Busy

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I'm busy working one of the projects in yesterday's list. The one I'd like to put in the mail first of next week.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

High Priority Sewing and Craft Project in Progress

Several of the sewing projects I've got going which. These and more will be described individually below.

I am embarking on a finishing project for the several sewing and craft projects I have going. I'm hoping that by posting about it here, I will be more motivated to stick to a plan to wrap most of them up in the next six to eight months.

As you can see my working environment in this room is often compromised so its nice to be able to take a project elsewhere. I also like to take a project with me whenever I leave the house. I never know when a free minute or two might be available. And pulling out a needle or crochet project is more acceptable socially than pulling out a book. :)

Below, in no particular order, are the in-progress sewing and craft projects I currently have in portable condition and which are also high priority:

  • The sixteen naked bookmarks discussed extensively in yesterday's post. I'm planning to offer several as prizes for the next Read-a-thon in October. And more are slated for birthday and Christmas gifts over the next year.

    This picture is not current. It was taken over a month ago in Longview and a few of those have been finished and given away. And many more added.

  • The sweet pea vine embroidery on my Mom's sweater which I've promised her she'll have by the time it is cool enough to wear it in Washington--early October.

  • The tank top I'm embroidering the neckline for my sister's birthday--this week!! Not even started yet!!! But I want her to have it for a road trip she is taking later this month. The design I have planned is very simple and shouldn't take me long.

  • A needlepoint three panel Bible cover with room for a note tablet for my niece whose birthday was also this week so I'm aiming for Christmas.


    I started this for her sixteenth birthday and she just turned 25.

    But at least I finished the needlepoint step while in Longview. Now I need to turn the edges in and cut out the cloth for the lining and sew it on.

  • A needlepoint three panel notebook and file cover for myself. Still have several hours of stitching on the front and then sewing on the lining. No time pressure I guess though I did start this a year before I started the Bible cover for my niece. Sigh.

  • Several embroidery, needlepoint or cross stitch bookmarks and book covers slated for Christmas or birthday presents in the coming year.

  • A needlepoint on plastic canvas cover (front and back) for a writing tablet. It's to include space for filing loose pages and carrying writing implements. Maybe stamps and envelopes as well.. Not begun yet but planned and all materials gathered for it.

  • A needlepoint on plastic canvas cover for a small spiral notebook like the one I made for my traveling writer's notebook.

    I always intended to make a second one either for a different purpose notebook for myself or for a gift. I bought the materials for two when I made the first one in 2005. That one only took a week from the day the materials were bought because I was highly motivated by the fact the original covers on my writer's notebook were falling off.

  • A 10x10 inch petit point mandala. Petit point is needlepoint that is more than 16 stitches per line inch. I believe this one is 18 count but I didn't stop and count while taking the picture. This will probably be a wall-hanging but possibly something functional like a notebook cover or purse. I started it once but there are no patterns or pictures with it and I can't remember my plan except the concept 'mandala' though possibly I was going to try free-form--make it up as I went. I'm not currently loving what I see here so I'm probably going to take out what is already there and restart it. Maybe I'm not cut out for free-form? But maybe I should make myself give it a whirl anyway. As an exercise in trusting the creative process.
  • A long sleeved red blouse needing mending at the seams in several places and one sleeve's hem. Would be nice to have it wearable by October.
  • A short sleeved blue and gray shirt needing mending on the shoulder seams.

  • A long sleeved white blouse with over long sleeves which I wish to blouse with elastic at the wrist. I want it wearable no later than October 1st.

  • A blue table cloth with a white geometric design embroidered around the edge. It's too small to be a dining table cloth and probably not of the right fabric for it either. I was picturing it as a runner for a dresser, upright piano, or lamp table.

    I've also considered making it into a throw by backing it with fleece or flannel. I was excited about it when I bought the thread for it ten years ago but I've packed it around with me ever since and keep dithering on design and function. It was once meant as a gift but I may choose to make it for our future home. We are going to be more bereft of the furnishings and decor for our next place than we were as newlyweds seeing as there won't be a bridal shower and wedding presents and we are starting from nearly scratch. So if I don't settle on what and who in time for this to be a Christmas gift this year, I'll aim for finishing it for our home sometime in the next year.
  • The knee length wind breaker which my sister scorched with the iron across the left breast in 2007 while trying to iron on one small butterfly to cover a small tear and then ironed on a bouquet of butterflies to cover the scorched area but the edges of the iron on pieces keep curling and starting to peel off after washing so we brainstormed the idea of sewing an outline of sequins around tha edges. I would like to have that ready to wear by the time the weather permits--probably mid to late October.

  • The dolphin cross stitch which is 90 percent finished. The only cross stitches left are the decorative metalic gold ones framing the picture. I've got one of the two rows going around about a third done. Then there are a lot of other decorative and enhancing stitches that need to be applied--more akin to embroidery than cross stitch per se.

    Neither the dolphin nor the orca project (below) are small really but they are compact and portable to the extent I could work on them here on my side of the bed, out in the yard or in the living room when there is company as long as I have the necessary light source.
  • The orca cross stitch barely begun. Both these cross stitch kits were bought the year Ed got his Silicon Valley job 1999-2000 and started before he lost it and we were forced to move in with his parents in 2001. I was making them to hang on the walls of our beautiful double wide mobile home in Sunnyvale. I lost heart for the projects when we lost that home. But Ed thinks we are less than a year from being able to have our own place again. In light of which I would like to put my heart back into them as a token of my faith that will really happen this time. I'm picturing them gracing the walls of our new place.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Getting Crafty

I now have sixteen crocheted bookmarks off the hook and waiting to have their tails tucked and their wardrobe (ribbons and beads) applied. I've been saying since the twelfth one that its time to stop starting new ones until I get the de-hooked ones tended to. The problem is that the crocheting step is so much more portable than the dressing up steps. I can often keep a project on the hook in a pocket or very small purse and pull it out when I've only got a minute or two of free time. Like waiting on the microwave to heat my tea water, during commercials, waiting on a page or podcast download, waiting on an IM response and so forth. The wardrobe step entails having a place to spread out the ribbons and beads; having excellent lighting coming from over the left shoulder; and time for thoughtful concideration and dithering, experimentation and fiddling.

I have set myself to the dressing up step several times since I arrived back in Phoenix two weeks and two days ago. The first time I ended up having to reorganize my ribbon box. The second time, which I blogged about here, Merlin used the tray I had laid out the bookmarks and dozens of beads as a launching pad to get to his window perch. Big mess.

The third time, last Thursday, I discovered the in-waiting bookmarks were all curling at the corners and edges and needed to be blocked and dampened. Pinning the corners of over a dozen of them was a time-consuming and tedious job. While I waited on them to dry under the fan, I got out the ribbons and beads and put together a portable kit for bookmark dress-up.

I began by measuring out and cutting one to several lengths off each of the ribbon spools of either 10 or 20 inches. The 10 inch lengths are for the simple, usually beadless bookmarks with a single ribbon threaded through the center row of holes. The 20 inch lengths are for the doubled over ribbon with a large bead in the top loop and sometimes small ones on the bottom tails.

I lay these lengths of ribbon in a clear plastic bag long enough that only the 20 inch ones needed to be folded over. Later I placed the waiting bookmarks in one corner of the same bag.

There were also several cards of rickrack scavenged from my mom's sewing remnants not shown in these pictures which work like ribbons.

Then I selected several dozen of the large beads and two snack baggies full of smaller beads and key rings and charms. I lay the beads and rickrack in the small tray (aprox 5x7 inches and half an inch deep) and lay the tray on top of the bottom end of the bag holding the ribbon and bookmarks and then folded the top of the bag over the tray. This prevents creases forming at the five inch mark on all the ribbons.

Then I slid that package into the portable pouch:

This was one of the pouches the shams I bought for 99 cents at the liquidation store in Longview came in. I bought them just for this purpose--for holding portable craft projects. I wouldn't have bought the shams if they hadn't been in these pouches. But now they are holding a quilt and comforter for the summer and serving as props for reading or watching TV in bed.

I think I need to learn how to make pouches like this so I don't keep buying things I don't really need just to have their packaging. :)

The pouch is approximately the size of an average hardback book if filled to capacity which this one isn't. Yet.

My primary motivation for preparing that pouch last Thursday was to take the bookmark project to the dirt track races on Friday. After I'd spent hours getting my bag of books and crafts ready to go, Ed told me I might want to reconsider because they didn't call it 'dirt track' for nothing and proceeded to describe blowing dust and flying mud clods. But instead of scrapping the plan entirely, I repacked the bag so that the seven or so spools of crochet thread were protected from the blowing dust and flying mud clods.

I put all the spools into one large plastic bag and pulled the end of each thread through the top before sealing all but a small hole at the top of the bag. That bag represented over fifty percent of the volume of the big bag containing crafts, books, binoculars, camera, waterbottle, white cane, visor, clipboard and notepad, etc.

One of the books was a crochet stich bible with how-to sections for beginners. I spent some time looking at it and studied how to change thread color mid project so I could start the bookmark I'd been designing in my head for a week--a red, white a blue one. What better time to be making it than July 4th weekend.

I had finished four of its seven rows before the announcement that the lights were about to go out for the fireworks and I had to speedily put it away and pack my bag. There was one race after the fireworks but I didn't get it out again. I read instead.

I never did get the dress-up pouch out Friday. I was holding off until I finished that red, white and blue bookmark but I spent more time reading, watching the races while taking pictures and notes. and watching the crowd. I was there partly as field research for a story afterall.

When I got home Friday night, I had to unpack the big bag as there was no place to keep it while that big. But I didn't unpack the thread spools as I couldn't until I'd gotten that bookmark off the hook so I could untangle all the thread and rewind the spools. So the bag of spools got set on top of the open drawer the spools belong in where I was forced to stare at it whenever I was at my laptop workstation.

So Monday I finally picked it up and finished the last three rows, blocked and misted it and then got the thread wound back onto the spools and the spools back in their drawer. That is the middle of three drawers in my sewing chest. The top and bottom drawers are currently serving as jumble drawers. Not junk drawers as its all sewing and craft related but it is all stuff I DID NOT take with me to Longview and thus did not get sorted and organized. The bottom drawer is almost entirely empty bags while the top drawer does have some actual supplies and tools but is largely empty containers I've imagined useful for organiaing.

So much of the fairly well organized stuff is taking up space elsewhere:

Like on the high shelves behind me on Ed's side of the bed. I have to stand on the bed to get them down or put them away and needless to say I can't do that when Ed is sleeping or set up in that corner with his laptop on his lap.

Thus even here in my own room, it behooves me to have small portable projects.

There are several I currently have in portable condition and which are also high priority. Check in on tomorrow's post for a list of them and some pictures. I'm hoping that maybe by posting my intentions I will hold myself accountable to get most of them finished in the next six to eight months.


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