Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wonderfully Wretched Day...

The weather is compellingly horrible today...and I just love it.  There's an edgy, sort of scary, excitement when the thunder rolls, and the wind rages, bending the gnarled branches of the old oaks with creaks and groans, while the graceful limbs of the birch dance and sway.

As it got darker and more ominous into the late afternoon yesterday, I walked the boys down the road to collect the mail before the storm hit.  When we got back to the house, the view over the valley was very dramatic with the light in the distance while Armageddon churned to life overhead.  A blue jay stopped for a moment--no doubt looking for a place to hunker down--just as I was framing the shot...

The storm held off until after dark, but then the deluge began in earnest, and is still going strong.  This afternoon the wind has finally died down, though the rain is worse.  When I opened the blinds this morning, my prayer flags on the back deck were sodden silky bits of fabric, though oddly, one had been neatly folded by the storm into a very cool origami bird.  Maybe that will help fly more prayers out into the world...

Just off the deck is a sweet little oriental cherry tree and though all the leaves have been gone for a few weeks now, this morning I had this: bird leaves.  There were many more perched in the branches, but even trying to stay as motionless as possible, half of them freaked anyway and flew off just as I took the picture.

Here's a strange association thing.  Just proves that either my brain is truly warped, or my heart will always belong to Scotland...

After I'd taken the top photograph, I took this close-up of the pine tree on the back slope.  I love the symmetry of the limbs, and it reminded me of St. Michael's Church, next to Linlithgow Palace.

St. Michael's, Linlithgow, Scotland.  I took this photo on a gloriously beautiful day in July, just before my birthday a few years back.  No doubt this is a case of you had to be there, but even if no one else sees it, I do.

Okay, before I get all morose, I'm going now for a nice cup of Yorkshire tea and a warm chocolate chunk cookie.  Besides, I can't resist the lure of my cozy chair, or the siren call of my book, especially while the rain pounds the roof and the gloom of a stormy afternoon deepens.  Sigh.  Heavenly...
[As always, click on photos to enlarge]

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


"Excuse me," she says to get the pharmacist's attention.
He turns from measuring capsules into a bottle and gives her a smile.  "How can I help you?"
"I guess I want a flu shot."
Raised eyebrow.  "You don't know?"
Smiling ruefully, she shakes her head.  "I'm not sure.  I really don't do well with shots," she gulps audibly, "or needles."
The pharmacist comes to the counter, and after reassuring her that many people feel the same way, he goes over the particulars involved in having the shot.  Fearful, stomach roiling, she takes a deep breath and decides to do it.  After paying and filling out the form, she follows the pharmacist to a small room behind the counter.
"Take a seat," he says softly, "and don't worry, I haven't lost a patient yet."
She tries to smile, appreciating his attempts to allay her fears, though her heart has kicked into overdrive at the sight of the needle in his hand.  "Seriously," she reiterates, "I truly have a problem with shots.  When I was a kid they practically had to knock me out to even get near me, and once when I was in high school and had to get a tetanus shot, the nurse left me alone in the exam room.  I snuck out through a back door, and tried to leave the clinic."  She grins slightly.  "I would have made it too, if the nurse hadn't been so quick."
He laughs, then calmly tells her to pull up her sleeve.  When he swabs a spot on her shoulder with a cold alcohol wipe, the odor fills her nose, her head begins a loud buzzing like a hive of bees and oddly, the floor seems to be rushing toward her.  Dimly she's aware the pharmacist has his hand on the back of her neck and is gently pressing her head onto her knees.  "Just take some deep breaths, everything's fine, just breathe," he murmurs from the bottom of a well.
A few moments later, embarrassed, she slowly sits up.  "I am so sorry.  What a baby!"  She pulls her sleeve down and smiles sheepishly at the man.  "Maybe I can come back in a few days?"
The pharmacist smiles.  "What for?" he asks.
Confused, she says, "To try again?"
Still smiling, he helps her into her coat, then turns to gather up the used paraphernalia.  "I gave you the shot before you...ah, got lightheaded."
Staring at him in disbelief. "What?"  At his nod, she laughs, then holds out her hand.  "I didn't even feel it!" she says in amazement as they shake hands.  "Thank you so much.  You're my hero."

"Sometimes the anticipation is far worse than the actual event."  He pats her on the shoulder.  "You did fine."  Smiling, he says, "See you next year."

Judging by the new bounce in her step, the broad smile on her face as she walked away...he just might.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On a Binge...

(photo from

No, not food, not booze. Binge reading. After spending most of October doing research and making notes for NaNo, then half of November writing, I had a nice stack of books calling my name, whispering in my ear, demanding my attention, but first there was the holiday...

Thanksgiving was good, with yummy food and wine, and a wonderful phone call from my friend Morag in Edinburgh who brought me up-to-date with all the news from my old neighborhood.  It always makes me so homesick, but it's worth it to hear about everyone.

Then Mom and I did the Black Friday shopping thing--which wasn't as crappy as anticipated, though still not something I would normally do.  As it turned out I was able to find the perfect Christmas present for her, so it was worth braving the crowds and insane parking situations.  On Saturday the boys and I spent the day readjusting to being on our own again: they collapsed in their beds and slept all day as if they'd just finished the Iditarod, and I watched movies whilst getting things back to normal.

So, on Sunday, with chores done, dogs walked, house clean, no company, I dove headfirst into my beckoning pile of books...and sometime around 2:00am this morning, I swam up to the surface for a breather.  Now, obviously I had to walk the dogs, make meals, do laundry, take showers, etc., but in all those minutes and hours in between?  Submerged, buried, lost in space.  And it was great.  Totally, absolutely great.

The weather was atrocious, which means it was perfect for reading.  The rain streamed down the windows, winds howled around the house, but the dogs and I were warm and toasty inside, and while they napped, I read.  I've been to Hell with Sandman Slim, battling hellions and his evil nemesis as he tries to rescue his murdered love, while Lucifer's gone back to Heaven and God's on holiday.  I spent some time in a small California town solving a seventeen-year-old murder mystery.  And had a most intriguing adventure in the alternate reality of 19th century London, filled with steampunk and sorcery.

I'm kind of tired today, what with all the traveling and exploits, plus staying up too late last night, but I don't mind.  It's not often that the planets align just right: miserable weather, a stockpile of unread books, and a few days to leave this world behind to explore others.  And being a reader, that pretty much describes nirvana...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Being thankful should be a daily thing really, not just on the fourth Thursday in November.  Still, at least we have one day set aside to think about our friends, families, to appreciate what we have.

Last night as I was shutting the blinds, I saw this stunning sunset.  I grabbed my camera, took a few pictures, then just stood quietly on the front deck and marveled at the beauty in our world.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!  And, for those of you who have already celebrated (our Canadian neighbors), or don't have such a holiday, take a moment anyway, to be thankful for what you have, who you have.  Even if it's a small thing like a sunset, the sound of laughter, a sparkle of light across water, a deep breath, a smile...see it, hear it.  Feel it. 

And be grateful.

[P.S.  And don't forget to kiss the cook for miraculously getting all that food on the table...]

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Magpie Tales 144...Foul Weather Gear

Squall, 1986, by Andrew Wyeth

Wild winds 
squalls and tempests
turbulent waves under ominous dark
Rain-slick path guides the way home
Water drips
down warp and weft
pools and puddles over cobbled floors
Storms embedded in worn yellow seams
This prompt from Magpie Tales seems particularly apt today since we've just had our first truly awesome and scary storm of the season.  Around Thanksgiving is generally when the Pacific NW goes bonkers, and true to form, the past few days have proven it yet again.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bluster, Birds, and Drool has chosen the Hot Word for 2012: bluster.  Nothing fancy, not a new catchphrase or done-to-death word.  Just plain, uncomplicated bluster.  Which seems very apropos to me, considering we've just survived a grueling (and disgusting) political campaign filled with more bluster than intelligence. 

On the personal front, it's been so blustery here for the past two days, I've had more than a few moments to wonder if the boys and I will end up in Oz.  Serious bluster, winds steady at about 35-40mph, with gusts to 60mph.  One great thing: all the birch leaves that were piling up everywhere in the front yard are now in San Francisco...


This morning to walk the dogs, I parked at the soccer field, figuring with all the branches and limbs falling all over town, they would be safer from flying debris in the open.  I get out of the car, open the back to let them out, then notice something stuck in one of the soccer nets.  Oh holy crap.  It's a poor bird.  Blown into the net by the wind?  Not paying attention and flying into it accidentally?

With the wind swirling wildly, I can't tell if the bird is dead or alive. I don't want to go closer, but the poor thing shouldn't just hang there, how horrible. I cautiously approach; if it's alive I don't want to frighten it, or make things worse.   Oh, the poor, poor...

...pair of gloves.

Needless to say, I burst out laughing, totally relieved that my misconception wasn't a captured, mangled bird.  Then I stood for a moment, thinking about perceptions; optical illusions; sight versus mind.  No wonder eyewitness testimony is practically worthless.  Still.  Changing what I thought into what actually was, made my day.


Then I came home and made these:

The best chocolate chunk cookies in the world.  They're slightly fussy to make, and there's no instant gratification because you make the dough then refrigerate overnight.  But when they're finally done?  Oh man.  A bit crunchy on the outside, then soft and gooey inside.  Mouthwatering.  Truly.  These are swoon-worthy cookies.  They're also bigger than my palm, and because the recipe only makes 20, they're like treasures.  I freeze them, parcel them out to myself one at a time, then heated for 10 seconds in the nuker, they taste just-out-of-the-oven delicious.

Huh.  I seem to be drooling.  And since I have a cookie set aside for my afternoon treat, I'm going be thankful for a pair of gloves, being inside while the wind rages, and having 18 cookies stashed for another day.**

**Yeah, I said the recipe makes 20 and I'm eating one this afternoon which in another dimension would mean I have 19 in the freezer.  Not in my world.  Because of course I had to eat one from the first batch this know, just to make sure they tasted all right.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Harry, Can I Borrow That Basilisk Tooth...??

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

I'm throwing in the towel.  Cutting my losses. Folding up my tent.  Admitting defeat.  I haven't been able to write a single word on the book since Friday, due to unavoidable circumstances (life), and with Thanksgiving--cooking, cleaning and company coming--there's just no way I can finish writing this year.  Besides, if I hadn't started the story during NaNo, I would've shit-canned it after the first week anyway, but instead I tried to plow on, forcing myself to write even when I knew it was crap and not working. 

This morning, walking the dogs in a really great wind storm which must have blown away my malfunctioning brains cells, my mind finally cleared, and at last I got it.  When the fun turns to nothing but aggro and stress, what's the point?  It's not like having a moment in the story where you struggle with an idea, or a paragraph, or a scene, but you still love the characters, and where the plot is going.  No, in this case, struggling became the process, not a random obstacle.

And you know?  I'm okay with this decision.  If there's anything I despise more, it's doing something pointless.  So, I'm going to pack the notes, the first nine chapters, and my second thoughts in a drawer and move on.  I should have known better, too.  I'm halfway through writing another book, but decided to try something new for NaNo rather than work on the other.  There's a lesson learned.

Another indication that this is the right move, is the relief I'm feeling.  Now I can concentrate on the upcoming holiday, read, watch movies, write what I feel like, when I feel like...and with no pressure.  Sounds way better than what I've been doing for the last few weeks.

So, to all of you out there, still marching forward, building your word counts, loving your story:  more power to you and the best of luck in finishing!  I'll be here, cheering you on...because now I actually have the energy to be enthusiastic!

[How I wish I could have stabbed that basilisk tooth into my own crap story...]

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Haiku Heights 196...Tree

Fog wraps the blanket
Winter croons the lullaby
Life sleeps in Spring dreams
I've been meaning to post at Haiku Heights for awhile, though one thing or another always sidetracked me.  However, today's prompt was Tree.  The one above stood on a large hill overlooking the Firth of Forth, not far from where we lived in Edinburgh.  I have taken many pictures of it, in all seasons.  When I saw the theme for this week's haiku, I thought of this photo: My tree, in the chill of a fog-dense Scottish morning, waiting.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bottom of the Ninth

Yesterday I stumbled over the halfway line in my word count, at the halfway point in the month.  You would think happiness ensued, especially as it's been a battle with this story every step of the way. But no.  No hopping up and down with glee in my world.  Why?  Well, belly up to the bar and I'll tell you...

Because I'm writing my NaNo book in America--unlike the thousands of folks who live elsewhere in the world and aren't about to face the trials and tribulations joys and merriment of Thanksgiving.  I realized last night, even with the best case scenerio time loss of only 3 days, I will easily fall behind about 7-10K by the time I get back to writing.  It might be insurmountable to catch up.  I'm thinking there should be a handicap for the Thanksgiving contingent.  Or maybe I'll start a rebellion to move NaNo from November to that long, dark, boring month of January so all participants are on the same page (so to speak).

But since I have no time to plan a revolution at the moment, I'm going to have to try, really really hard, to write like a maniac over the next few days.  I could wish the plot wasn't being so arbitrary, and if I weren't halfway to hell already, I would seriously consider throwing the whole mess in the burn barrel and starting over.  In the meantime, however, I need to work with what I've got, even if it's torture and threatens to fry my brain.

So, I'll leave off with this, from one of the great writers.  Words that I understand far too well these days...

"They can't yank a novelist like they can a pitcher. 
A novelist has to go the full nine, even if it kills him." 
                                         ~  Ernest Hemingway ~

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Trade Off...

I took the boys to the county park yesterday.  It's a bit of a drive, and very isolated and empty in the Fall/Winter months, but every couple of weeks I like to mix things up, give them different scenery and smells.  And sometimes the emptiness is just what I need for myself.

Because I was having difficulty with the albatross cursed book, it seemed like a good plan to head off into the wilderness for some ear-ringing quiet, let my thoughts unwind, maybe even snag a plot twist or two drifting past in the mind stream.

Driving down to the valley, I turn off the main highway, drive some more, turn onto an even smaller road, more driving, finally enter the park--and find men and machines, trucks and electrical cords, wires and tools, spread from one end of the park to the other.  Buggers. Just my luck, they're setting up for the annual Holiday Festival of Lights, a drive-through event of epic proportions that opens the day after Thanksgiving.  I didn't realize they started constructing everything this early, though it's a huge park, and there are literally hundreds of displays. 

[Later, when I get home, I realize they actually weren't getting an early start on the Festival, because--holy crap--Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK!]

Anyway, so much for silence and solitude.  Course, the boys didn't care, and hey, after awhile I got used to jumping over cables as thick as my arm.  The only scary moment was when I had to yank Ozzy away from a bank of electrical wires plugged into an elaborate socket board leaning against a tree just as he raised his leg to pee on the whole thing.  Nothing quite like death-by-electrocution through the wiener schnitzel.

Walking along the trail toward the river, I see Nessie down the slope, waiting patiently for the show to begin.  And what this has to do with Christmas, I have absolutely no idea...

Alan and I had a great laugh about Nessie two years ago, having just moved from Scotland.  I took this shot from the car during the Festival.  He actually looks pretty cool at night...

Later, on the river path, I thought I could see something across the water on top of a large boulder.  I wasn't totally convinced it was anything other than debris from the surrounding trees and looking through my camera didn't help much...

So I zoom in...and yeah, there really is something on the boulder.  It's a heron...

Dialing up the telephoto...and there's the handsome chubby fellow.  From his perch, this guy must have had a great view into the water to spot his lunch...

Although I didn't exactly have the meditative morning I was hoping for, the trade off was worth it.  It's not every day I get to see a smiling Loch Ness monster waiting to dazzle, or a very plump heron standing at the deli counter...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Plodding and Plots

I'm not sure taking the weekend off accomplished much in the NaNo writing and word count scheme.  Saturday went fairly well, but yesterday was a total wash.  A plot twist changed a key element in the story, which meant the rewrite of an entire chapter.  My goal had been to reach 20K by the end of Sunday, but I had to really work to get halfway through 18K.

I can't figure out what the problem is this year.  Everything has been a struggle, the words coming piecemeal and wrong, then having to be fixed, taking more time.  Frankly, I'm not sure where the frigging plot is going at this point, and it's too late to start over with something else.  Buggers. 

Still, I will carry on.  Mainly because I'm stubborn and refuse to give up, or give in, though making 50K by November 30 seems unattainable right now.  At my present rate, I could possibly limp over the finish line...if it weren't for Thanksgiving.  I like being way ahead by then so I can relax, have fun, drink and be merry, knowing I'm in good shape and don't have to stress about writing for a few days.  Although, unless I have a sudden epiphany about the plot, or I start channeling my characters without having to think or make constant changes, I not only won't be in good shape next week, I might be typing with one hand and eating turkey with the other.

But you never know.  Underdogs, lame ducks, plodding turtles, forehead slapping L-word losers, and clueless writers sometimes manage to cross that elusive finish line.  Sometimes...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Off the Grid...

I've reached the Dreaded Week Two (DWT) in NaNo.  The week where you question your sanity; your intelligence in thinking you can write a sentence, let alone a novel; the week where your mind becomes your worst enemy and fiercest, cruelest critic.

In 2009, my first NaNo, I gave up in DWT and stopped writing for nearly four days.  Alan, my head cheerleader and positive attitude adjuster, convinced me to forge ahead, even if what I was writing was crap, or made no sense: just keep writing!  Encouraged, I plowed through and finished 56K by the end of the third week, a week ahead of schedule.

2010 was a wash.  We had just moved to America, Alan got sick in November, then Ozzy nearly died, spending a week in doggy intensive care hovering on the brink.  My DWT never happened that year because I didn't have time to write, between dashing from doctors to vet hospitals and back again.  By the time the dust had cleared, it was Thanksgiving and there was no way for me to catch up.

A few months later, Alan was gone, and by the time NaNo rolled around last year I wasn't sure if I wanted to participate.  After I got back from a visit to Edinburgh in October, I started this blog, which gave me the incentive to join in again.  For some reason, I didn't even notice the Dreaded Week Two, and wrote right through it, finishing well over the 50K Thanksgiving weekend.

This year? 

I sat down yesterday afternoon, wrote my way past the elephant blocking my plot, then came to a complete and utter stand-still.  Mind parasites wiggled and chewed, boring through my confidence, eating my self-esteem, voraciously munching away at my foundations.

Taking a break, I wrestled with quitting, because, really, who cares?  What difference does it make in the great scheme of things if I write or don't write?  I walked the boys to collect the mail, thinking I was going to throw in the towel.  At first I felt okay with it.  I could relax, stop putting myself through all the pressure, sit down and read some good books, fire up the camera. 

Except.  When I got home, and looked at my work, the research notes, the stickies with plot changes, weeks of excitement waiting for November...I couldn't do it.

I thought of Alan, and what he'd said to me in 2009, his gruff Scottish accent urging me on, telling me to just write, keep putting those words down.

I didn't write more yesterday, or go back to it last night.  I had too many thoughts in my head, and needed to dose those mind parasites with some serious Bugger Off juice.  I reviewed the plot, mentally moved a few things around, added a good twist that came to me out of the blue, then settled on the couch with the boys and read a book for the rest of the evening.

Today, of course, I'm very behind in my word count, have to rework a key thread in my story, and am still a bit weakened by the assault on my confidence.  So, I'm dropping off the grid, taking the weekend away from the blog, from any outside intrigues, from the internet.  I need to push through this malaise, come out on the other side of the Dreaded Week Two, and get back on track.

I'll return on Monday, but for now I want to find my place, get better acquainted with my characters, listen to what they're trying to tell me.  Because giving up is not an option.  I learned that from my head cheerleader, and thankfully his words came through for me, loud and clear, yesterday...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

One Thing Always Leads To Another....

After posting yesterday, I took the boys outside to do their doggy thing, clearing the decks for a long, undisturbed afternoon writing session.  As I'm standing in the backyard, in the freakishly hot sun, I notice the lawn needs mowing.

Deciding to do a quick mow, I'm hoping this will be the last time until Spring.  Then I have to edge.  And crap, look, the last scraggly tomatoes are falling off the vines, so I pull out the plants, drop them over the embankment for the wildlife, and plant dahlia bulbs in their place.  This reminds me I have a huge bag of daffodils (100 bulbs) that need to get in the ground before they sprout, so I get the shovel, the hoe, and the axe, and pick my three planting spots.

Wondering about that axe?  I live on a mountain.  My house is built on solid bedrock.  Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I can plant something in a miraculous sweet spot of real soil; most of the time however, I have to break through the earth's crust and the only way is with my big ol' axe.  Yesterday the score was: Mountain = 2, Me = 1.

So, I make a long trench along the driveway--the one place where I got by using just the shovel and hoe--then I hacked, chopped and cleaved my way along the front path, and finished by excavating a nice triangular section beside the garage.

I thought I was gonna die.
Did I mention it was freakishly frigging hot?  My tee shirt was soaked, lower back was killing me from the digging and hewing, then near the garage, I tripped on a buried tree root and luckily (!?!) fell toward the soft, loamy compost I'd put in my freshly dug hole.  Heading down, I flung the remaining 30 or so daffodils I had in my hands straight up into the air as I tried to save myself.
I've said before that I have a very long, steep driveway; what do you think those damn bulbs did after they stopped flying?  Yep, that's right, they rolled.  And rolled.  And rolled some more.  Several actually made it down the drive, across the road, and halfway down the bloody bank.  I felt like a total idiot chasing the bouncing, wobbling bulbs.  And really, they aren't round like balls, they're weirdly pear-shaped, so how they could move like they did is a mystery to me.
At last, when I finally finished the planting and clean up, I dragged myself up two flights of stairs, ready to collapse in the middle of the living room floor.  Alas, too bad for me, I discovered more than two hours had passed, and now it was time to take the dogs for the mile hike to collect the mail.  The fun never stops in my sirree.
Now, all these chores needed doing, and though they weren't on the agenda to do yesterday, sooner or later they did have to be done.  The problem was, yesterday I was supposed to be tackling that big elephant threatening to stampede my book plot.  But here's the good part--besides getting the garden work done--I worked it out!  Somewhere between mowing the lawn and rending the earth with my trusty axe, the solution came to me.
It's just a shame that by then it was too late:  I was tired, muscles were screaming, back was aching.  All I could think of doing, once the boys and I had gathered the mail, was to sit down and have a glass of wine, or two.

Needless to say, my only recourse was to take the rest o' the day off.  Which I did.   And today I'm feeling refreshed, pleased that the outside chores are done, and other than the brutal aches and agonizing pains, I'm raring to go, and ready to tackle the story.

Right after I take a few more Advil...and strap myself into this back brace...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Idle Chatter...

Shortly after I posted yesterday, the plumber showed up...and didn't leave until nearly 6:00pm.  I won't go into my frustration at the interruptions--from him and/or my curious dogs--because the guy was working on my wretched bathroom after all.  He fixed both sinks, and my nemesis, that frigging California spa tub, and even if it seemed to take an inordinate amount of time, he did the best job ever!! 
I keep going in and fondling the fixtures--the gleaming, beautiful, new fixtures that don't drip, or leak water on the counters, or do anything other than look perfect.
Here's a shot of one sink--and in the mirror, a small glimpse of the space-wasting monstrosity of a bathtub.  In reality, the thing is as long as the whole wall and totally pointless, though the dogs do love their Olympic-sized swimming pool...

A close-up, because I just totally love the clean style and the sparkle, and the thrill in turning the faucet...and the water actually stops flowing!!  What a brilliant concept...

So, even though having the dogs and the plumber seriously screw with my writing, in the end I couldn't be happier that another Money Pit issue can be crossed off my list.
Before I settled down to write after the guy left, the boys and I did our mile walk to the mail box.  Coming back, climbing up my steep driveway, the sky was coloring everything an intense orange, so I raced up the stairs, grabbed my camera, and went out onto the front deck.

Can you see that odd beam of light in the middle of the sunset?  It was really pronounced when I first saw it, but had already begun to fade in the two minutes it took me to get outside...

Here's a closer view, though still, I wish I'd gotten the shot about two minutes earlier.  It was hard to figure if the light was beaming down, or shooting up.  Either way, it was a beautiful, though curious sunset...

Because of plumbers and sunsets, dogs and interruptions, I was writing until far later into the evening than I wanted to, though did manage to redeem myself a bit after Sunday's crap word count.  Unfortunately, I seem to have painted myself into a corner with the plot and can't quite figure out this one teeny, tiny little problem--which will become a monumental rampaging bull elephant if I don't find a solution.

So, on that note, it's time to stop procrastinating and get to work.  Hopefully the answer will come in a blinding burst of inspiration, though for the life of me, I can't see a way out of this corner other than repainting the floor...


Monday, November 5, 2012

Tick, Tock...

I was disappointed yesterday--I suppose in myself, though I'm also putting half the blame on the frigging time change--that I missed reaching my 10K goal on NaNo.  I managed to get to 9,470 before taking a break for dinner, fully intending to resume my quest afterward.
Had dinner, fed the dogs, did the dishes, checked my emails, let the dogs out in the backyard, looked at my story...and nearly had a narcoleptic attack.  Seriously.  Just the thought of having to write 600 more words threatened to put me under.  I was already tired because I really don't do the time warp well, so I had no recourse but to stop writing and shut off the computer.
And this is what I get for bailing:  Later in the evening, I got a phone call from the plumber, who wants to come this afternoon to fix that ongoing damnable nightmare of a bathtub.  He anticipates the job taking about three hours. Hopefully he won't want to talk, or ask me questions every five minutes because really, I don't have time.

The weather, which has been unseasonably warm (it was actually 82* in my living room yesterday afternoon--in November!), is supposed to plummet by mid-week into unseasonably cold, with snow in the mountain passes, frost everywhere else.  In other words, we're getting a good taste of real winter.   As there probably won't be many days left to appreciate the Fall colors, I took my camera with me on the walk this morning.
Sea of gold...

A ring of toadstools that completely circled this large oak tree...

Really big, fat toadstools...

And from a different perspective, with a squint of the eyes, don't see leaves...see tiny fallen stars...


Okay...clock's ticking and this isn't getting my book written, or my word count back on track.  Besides, I might be on borrowed time here, depending on how the plumber thing goes.  Since I had a hard time getting him off the phone last night, it's clear he does like to chat, which isn't going to help me concentrate or stay focused. 

Hmmm.  Is it kidnapping if I lock him in the bathroom...??

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Magpie Tales 142...Perception

Charis, Lake Ediza, California, 1937 by Edward Weston

"Eddie, you need to change your perspective," she said.

"I have the perfect perspective, thank you."  He paused, adjusted his camera, murmured, "Open your legs, just a few more inches, yes, yes, that's better.  Drop your hands, no, just let them dangle.  That's good, good, hold that."

"You realize this position is torture on my thigh muscles after hiking for the past two hours."

"Charis, please.  Just give me that I'm only putting up with you for two more minutes look and we're almost done.  Yes!  There it is.  Perfection, my darling girl."

"Edward!  Listen to me.  You're wasting your time taking pictures of me squatting by a boulder.  You're not seeing the beauty--"

"I'm looking at the beauty through my lens right now," he interrupted.  "And who's the photographer here?"

"To be honest, I'm beginning to wonder," she snapped.  Abruptly she surged to her feet and stomped over to where he stood next to the large boxy camera.  Putting her hands on his shoulders, she turned him around as she grumbled, "You foolish man."

The mountains rose in the distance like exotic dreams of Shangri-la; surely in that jagged landscape of weather-sculpted minarets, there must be a path to paradise.  With a gasp, he spun, repositioned the camera and began shooting frame after frame, muttering incomprehensible words under his breath.
Charis smiled to herself as she returned to the boulder and sat.  Watching him work, excitably, almost feverishly, she thought perhaps she would have to marry him.  After all, who else could convince him to see what was right under his nose.

Magpie Tales 142.  I got hooked on photography--landscapes in particular--because of Edward Weston, along with a handful of other brilliant camera geniuses.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

There Is Only One...

Now comes the dreaded moment on the calendar that ruins my sleep patterns, bio-rhythms and mental acuity for a good week or more.  Yes, tonight my reality is altered by that peculiar game, Playing with Time.  Governments around the globe, apparently wanting to emulate Dr Who, put on their Time Lord scarves, force us all into the Tardis, and against all that makes sense in a modern 21st century world, spew us out on Sunday morning to find we've fallen backward (or forward) in the space/time continuum one whole hour.

Did you know this arcane practice was started in 1916, in Germany?  To conserve coal during World War I.  Europe decided it was a splendid notion, and hey, never let it be said America can't get on board a stupid idea, so in 1918, we joined in the madness. 

Now, I have two real issues here.  Has anyone noticed that WWI has been over for nearly 100 years?  And hey, how 'bout all that coal we're using these days?  When was the last time you were down in the basement, shoveling coal into a shuttle to haul upstairs? Uh huh. 

Another interesting factoid: most of the planet has dumped time change.  Seriously.  It's not done throughout the world anymore. Check this out:

Blue: Time Lords Rule
Orange: Threw Time Lords Out
Red:  Never Let Time Lords In

We Spring Forward, we Fall Back. We're pushed, we're pulled.  We gain, we lose.  What are we, yoyos?  No.  We're just tired humans, exhausted by the machinations of an antiquated and meaningless system.  Let's free Time to live on its own terms, as the universe intended.  We need to stop the madness, people.  It will save our sanity, our internal rhythms, our basic way of life.  Let's start a petition, rally the troops, take back our clocks!

Most importantly, however, we need to make it perfectly clear to those foolish and inept pretenders, those government officials with lofty aspirations:

There can be only one Time Lord, and his name is Dr Who...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day One...

So, today was the first of 30 in the grueling and exhausting NaNo event.  I struggled in the beginning--it's looking at that blank page, wondering where to start.  I changed my mind from the original start that I'd intended, and just as I was finding my new stride, the phone rings and it's Jan (BFF), who is in LA at the moment trying to deal with family issues.  What could I do?  She's my best friend, I know her mother, I understand the problems.  We talked for about an hour, then I needed to clear my head, but at last...I'm cooking.

And four hours later, 2,869 words, an Epilogue and a completed Chapter One, I am a very happy girl.  Course, after all my efforts leading up to this--the outlines, research, etc.,--what happens?  The story veers off into another dimension almost from the get-go.  Oh well.  I've still got the same basic premise, and I'm more than pleased with my word count on the first day...because speaking from experience?  There will be days ahead where I lose the plot, my mind, and the will to live.  It's just part of the process.

After stopping for the day, I spent about a half hour on my frigging word count meter (off to the right there...) and can't get the blasted thing to record my 2,869 words, let alone a percentage.  I'm too tired to care right now, but tomorrow I'm going to find another one.  I like the incentive of that little meter counting off the numbers.

Okay.  It's getting late, I'm hungry and want a celebratory glass of wine for exceeding my target for the day by 1,202 words.  Remind me about this euphoria when I fall on my face next week and want to tear the whole manuscript into confetti and move to the Outback.  Trust me, I'm not kidding...

NB:  Found a counter at the NaNo site.  Happy happy...