Friday, July 31, 2009


I can thank my aunt for the serious interest my second manuscript, Drain, is generating. She'd been telling me, Write What You Know.

My first book was about everything I didn't really know: boys, Division I recruiting, crime. It was interesting to write, and I had a focused macroperspective, but I had to talk to a lot of boys, especially athletes, and coaches, and judges, and probation officers, and criminals to be able to deliver it.

Afterwards, I wrote Drain during the hardest three months of my life. Of Daney's life.

Newly diagnosed with epilepsy, the nine-year-old had launched into a long serious of daily grand-mal seizures. She was ambulanced and hospitalized and tested and treated. And even with the medicine, she's had two more seizures.

Now, Dave and I are not strangers to tragedy. Since we were 18, we've pulled each other through deaths and sickness and surgeries and other things that will wait for another post.

But this one killed me; I couldn't get past seeing Daney shake and stop breathing.

My writing group let me take two weeks off. And when I came back, crying, with Daney all loaded up with books and sketch pads and Calico Critters because I couldn't let her out of my sight, they gave me seven days to return with something.

I told them there was no way.

But the next Wednesday, I brought Daney again. And the first few pages of Drain.

I didn't really know what I was writing: the story of a Seer. Her voice was hollow. She was all alone, despite all the people around her. She suffered over not being able to change things.

It was starting to sound pretty familiar.

I didn't know what I was writing, but I was Writing What I Knew.

Next time, I would love to write a quirky book: lighthearted and funny.

It's not in me right now.

But it will be.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Informational Impairment

Technology is failing me.
It's not that I was ever tech-savvy, but lately, my media world is seriously crumbling, and I don't know why, or what to do about it.

The first sign of my e-pocolypse came from the keyboard Christy lent me. We used it once, and it worked beautifully. After that, crickets.

Then there was our printer/scanner/fax machine. Okay, so I was watering the lawn with the window open when a few sprinkles hit it. A few! And now, nothing. Not a single blip or blurp or even a glow.

When I can find it and when it's charged, my cell phone is all staticky and doesn't hang up. Could have something to do with my driving down our long driveway with it on the top of the car, then its launching itself onto the pavement at the bottom.

What else? Oh, yes, my iPod's been freezing up when I try to recharge it. And a hundred of the same windows pop up sometimes on my computer. Plus, the other day I thought I was going 100 MPH on I-5, until my man figured out I'd accidentally flipped the spedometer to measuring in kilometers.

Everyone, everyone I know knows I'm way better off without plugs and batteries.

But I have to live with it, right?

So please, help me with this: What's the feng shui element to balance out bad technology?

I can tell you one thing. It isn't water.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Forty-five Thousandth Reason I'm Glad to be Married to an EMT

I'm still sweating buckets, and it's been over an hour now.

Dave had come off a busy shift and had taken me to Morning Glory for a mocha and famous oatmeal pancakes, before catching a few winks. I loaded up the kids on their bikes and hit the sunny Bear Creek trail. Yes, it was almost noon. Yes, it was a million degrees. But we had the whole trail to ourselves!

Three miles in, though, I started to get a little hot. Okay, really hot. Like, burning up. Baked.

Now, I can usually seriously tolerate heat. I mean, it can be ninety degrees in the kitchen, and I can be whipping up a sour cream chocolate cake, no problem. Once, I stayed in a day spa sauna so long, the front desk girl came in to check on me. Plus, I put Texas Pete and pepperoncinis on everything. Except sour cream chocolate cake.

Anyway, I was running and roasting, and by the time I got home, my whole cooling system had somehow blown. I was red and panting and ready to hurl. Or die. Ponds of perspiration were forming in places I never knew could sweat. Even my gums were steaming.

Dave was up. He took one look at me before laying me down with my feet up and a package of frozen peas behind my neck.

He took my pulse and fed me gallons of water, and my kids covered me with organic otter pops. And ponds of perspiration were forming in places I never knew sweat.

Now that I'm finally cooling off, I completely understand why the trail was deserted. Everyone around here is way smarter than me.

Including the people who buy regular Otter Pops. They're so much better than these fruit juice things.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bored on a 100 Degree Friday Afternoon

Me: Let's talk about...the kind of girl you want to marry.

Rees: Hmmm?

Me: You know, what she might be like.

Rees: Oh! Well, she has to like cats. That's obvious.

Me: What else?

Rees: I don't know. Do you have any recommendations?

Me: Sure. Do you want her to be smart?

Rees: Duh.

Me: And do you want her to be funny?

Rees: Uh, yeah.

Me: And will she be pretty?

Rees: Hey! I have an idea! You're smart and funny and pretty. I'll marry you!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mid-Review: Honolulu

I'm halfway through reading Alan Brennert's Honolulu, which Daney had picked for me in Tahoe, based, I'm guessing, on its lush cover.

"Regret"-turned-"Jin," a picture bride from Korea, is sent to Hawaii to marry a sugar cane worker in the 1920s.

The narration is stilted with short sentences and common beginnings, and too often, I am reminded that a man is writing Jin's life, that he doesn't nail the emotions and reactions of women, particularly Jin, who is drawn much too simply, especially after she leaves her home, and when she loses her child during a domestic dispute.

The plot moves forward, though. The reader wonders whether Jin will find a home, or work, or the love she deserves and seems to crave, and whether her young sister-in-law, Blossom, will join her in the islands.

What is striking is that Jin's joys and struggles haven't strayed much from the modern woman's; she works hard for her family, both in the fields and at home, and her work is never done. She plans out good, healthy meals, stretching her grocery budget and worrying about money.

On her "lunch break," Jin mingles with other women, who have come from all over the world, and between the canes, they share stories and ethnic foods. When Jin isn't working or cooking or washing her husband's clothes, she cherishes her time with friends. She carries the burden of being a wife, a sister, a daughter.
It's always interesting to me to see whether a man can write a woman's story. While the thread of Jin's physical and emotional sacrifice is evident, the depth of it is not. At this point, I'm just unsure what Jin is doing in Honolulu, and why. But I'm hoping it all comes together by the end.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Night Out In Ashland

The other night, Daney and I went to the fabulous 25th Annual summer ballet in Lithia Park.

The costumes were more beautiful than ever. So was the dancing.

And Daney was her usual cute self.

After the show, we took pictures in the amazing park.

And the boys called us three times to see when we were coming
home. With ice cream.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

This Little Piggy

People's appendages seem to be in serious jeopardy lately.

Maybe it's because I ripped off my own toenail (getting into the car) last month, but I seem to be seeing and hearing a lot of toe and finger tragedies.

There's the guy at Dave's fire department who severed his pinky at the knuckle when it got caught in a ladder.

Another brother sliced his finger a few days later.

My little friend Riley tore off her big toenail.

And my friend Linda was run over by a grocery cart, then stepped on by a coffee shop customer.

What's interesting about these stories is not so much the plot of it all, but the characters' reactions to it.

Honestly, it's quite telling, the way one responds to driving a hammer into one's thumb.

Though I'm sorry for these folks' suffering, I am, admittedly and sickly, except for the lost finger, amused by the effects. There's been some crying, some swearing, some shrieking, some grace.

I guess there are two things to learn from all this: to study people in appendage crises, and to be extra careful right now when walking barefoot or shutting doors or using electric knives.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Free Time

Now that my manuscripts are circling the universe, I have time, free time! I feel like a second grader again, like I've finished my math and can choose something to do until the rest of the class finishes.

Okay, math might be a bad example. Because unlike math, I love writing. It's weird, though, not thinking about writing the next scene, or revising the conclusion, and although my kids have begged me not to write any more (and although I really am considering that), a few tiny ideas are swirling around my head.

For now, though, I'm just letting them swirl. While I:

* walk/run/hike/swim
* do yoga
* read to the kids
* listen to the kids read to me
* sip Noble coffee at early morning swim lessons
* pick blueberries
* pet-sit
* cook complicated, delicious vegetarian meals for Rees and Daney, who often get the food shaft because of the high-profile carnivores around here
* hang out with the girls
* go to plays
* go to the dentist
* go to the movies

Wow! When there's no writing, there sure is a lot of living!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Proud Mom-ent

My favorite little girl in the whole
world, with Cabaret's Emcee.

Friday, July 10, 2009

New Hobby: Continuity

At writing group the other night, Christy talked about the edits her continuity editor had suggested.

Since I'm so new to the bizz, I had no idea what that was.

So I Googled it.

And, wow! Continuity is cool!

I found out that "The Wizard of Oz" movie had over 170 continuity mistakes. But still, much less than I'll probably have. If I make it that far.

And NPR has a fascinating interview with a Harry Potter continuity editor, who admits to a mistake involving toilets.

It's funny, though, my man has been quite the unofficial continuity editor for some time. He was the one who showed me the huge then diminutive plate of nachos in "Napolean Dynamite," among other fun things.

My eyes are open now. I'm going to be watching...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Back from Bandon

Bandon was beautiful, and super fun!

We stayed in a yurt-- with bunk beds, and a heater, and everything!

Rees explored an underwater cave at negative tide. He found oodles of starfish and crabs and sculpins, and even ghost shrimp and a chiton!

There were no cell phones, no computer, just a lot of salt water and a happy little family. A great last hoo-rah. Before diving into the next revision.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ashland Tradition

Ashland's crazy little Fourth of July was a little tamer than usual this year (there was no Naked Lady and no giant George Bush puppet).
There was, though, plenty of heat.
And a little of this:
And some of this:

And even some of this:

Of course, I am all over the parade with "Cabaret" in it:

Best ever? The cast of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," with Dominic, who was part of the show two weeks ago. Check out the monster on Coneybear's finger. Hi-larious!!!

Now, we're packing up and heading out for some camping in Bandon. Yippee!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I'll Know I've Made It When

I get more Google hits than the Swedish bikini model with my same name.