Yesterday I got zero writing done on my work-in-progress. I was enraged and exhausted by news and events. Late last night I fell asleep wondering whether, in the face of relentless misogyny and violence against women, my idea for a middle-grade novel narrated by a boy was what I should pursue. Maybe, I thought, I should abandon that story and instead write a burn-it-all-down book filled with pitchfork-wielding girls.
Well, I’ve spent the last several hours analyzing and fleshing out the beginning outline for my boy-based work-in-progress and have decided it’s a GO. Not only am I moving ahead with this story, I’m kinda excited about the plot lines. My main character won’t be fighting the power structure, but he is a decent human being.
In today’s climate that’s worth a lot.
♫ Welcome to the working week
Oh, I know it don’t thrill you, I hope it don’t kill you
Welcome to the working week ♬
You gotta do it till you’re through it, so you better get to it
Today I wander the wilderness of my manuscript, hoping I’m (finally) headed in the right direction with these revisions. Remembering to acknowledge the process and enjoy the journey as best I can.
This could’ve been a truly awesome photo. Imagine a large white cat stretched out on the backside of the hanging shirts, staring through the multi-colored plastic hangers with yellow-green eyes. Imagine a self-satisfied expression on that white cat’s face as you struggled to understand how he got there. Imagine being frozen in place as he stared you down.
By the time I snapped out of my Marcel-induced reverie and returned with my camera, this was all I got. In fact, this subpar photo was staged. Marcel had already extricated himself from the hangers and jumped down before I could get a shot so Zippy picked him up and put him back on the dresser. (Confession: I was hoping he’d jam Marcel back through the hangers, but apparently my mate and I have different cat-wrangling sensibilities.)
Loki, true to form, remained chill throughout the activities.
Every time I pass by my dresser and see Marcel in his new favorite place,
the cat-aquarium, a Beatles song comes to mind:
I’m looking through you,
where did you go
I thought I knew you,
what did I know
Yeah we all shine on,
like the moon,
and the stars,
and the sun.
~ John Lennon
Marcel is the four-legged member of the family voted Most Likely to Open a Closet, Drawer, or Food Canister. Which is why it was particularly dumb for me to leave only a sliding screen door between him and the great outdoors before I left today for a lunch date. To make matters worse, it wasn’t until a couple hours after my return that I noticed the screen door open about six inches.
Zippy and I began dashing about in a panic, calling Marcel’s name. Zippy checked under furniture and in closets as I ran around the front and back yards looking under bushes. I ran across the street (which hosts a fair amount of traffic) to ask the neighbors if they’d seen him. They hadn’t, but promised they’d let me know if they did. I started to wonder how I’d ever break it to Zebu that Marcel was gone.
I was making another round of the back yard when I heard something. I stopped and listened. I heard it again and followed the sound. There was Marcel, curled up in a corner of the neighbor’s yard, crying and frozen in fear. Zippy climbed over the fence and brought him home.
The good news is that Marcel’s already gotten over the trauma from his big adventure. Just a few moments ago, he was messing with the latch on the food canister.
Update: And right after I posted this, he opened the closet in my writing room and climbed into a box filled with bubble wrap.
Yesterday I (finally) came to the realization that a couple two or three much-loved scenes in my manuscript serve no real purpose. Try as I might, I couldn’t justify them. And after attempting to salvage little bits here and there, I (finally) came to another realization: pruning shears weren’t the tool for the job.
The first cut is the deepest, baby, I know.
Today as I work on my novel, I am thinking ahead, hoping ahead, to the day when a reader reaches for my story. Last May, I photographed this man perusing a “Book Exchange” in Stockholm and am posting it as a motivator. I aim to create the most compelling, reader-enticing story I can write, dammit.
Yesterday, I wrote about my gratitude for the snowstorm.
Today, after trying to walk Emma who seemed so determined to make me fall on the ice that I was forced to abort the effort after only three minutes, I’m over it.
Right now, the view out my window looks like Fifty Shades of Dead. Everywhere I look, it’s nothing but dry-drab-brown. So I’m going to indulge in a little fantasy . .
Take that, reality!
Bunny, blooms, and throbbing green to the rescue.
It’s been dry and windy, and this morning I noticed finches hopping around in the nearly-empty bird bath. As I filled the watering can I use to replenish the bath, I noticed other finches perched on the dogs’ water bowl that sits on the deck.
The birds were thirsty.
Soon after I went back inside, birds arrived. These finches (House and Gold), juncos, chickadees, doves, flickers, and magpies all came to drink at the community pool. In fact, so many birds came to visit throughout the day that I just cleaned and refilled the bath again.
Lucky me. And I mean that.
When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all.
~ E. O. Wilson
Last night while on my birthday adventure in Manitou Springs, Zippy and I discovered an old arcade with Skee Ball machines. I love me some Skee Ball. We each played two games (25 cents per game!), and rolled the nine balls. My first game, I only scored 130 points out of a possible 450. But the second game . . .
330 points, yo.
She’s a Skee Ball wizard
There has got to be a twist
A Skee Ball wizard
She’s got such a supple wrist.
How do you think she does it? I don’t know!
What makes her so good?
I’ve decided that my perfectly-respectable-but-not-at-all-astounding score is a sign of good things to come. It’s a Skee Ball Omen.
(Note: That ball on top of the net is from another, less-wizardly Skee Baller.)
Yes, I own it on vinyl. (And yes, I forgot that selfies flip the images).
Remember, if you want to end war and stuff, you got to sing loud.
Born on the same day, five years apart.
♫ May you smile into the camera
And squint against the sun
May you stay forever fun
Forever fun, forever fun ♫
May you stay forever fun.
Happy happy birthday to two of my favorite people on the planet!
Get ready to dance,
and take a cha-cha-cha-chance . . .
Someone left the chair out in the rain
I don’t think that they wanted it
’cause now it’s sad and quite rusty
and no one will sit in that old chair again
And I’m especially fond of this honey bee. I first tried photographing the bees and lavender plants in the backyard, but couldn’t get any good shots. Then I came out in the front and found this bee. He didn’t seem quite so busy as the dudes in back.
This guy takes time to savor the nectar.
Over the past two days, I’ve felt stalled and demoralized about the middle-grade novel I’m writing. When I woke this morning, I was determined to face the pages and write myself out of that morale-sucking place. No matter what it took.
Well, I’m pleased to say that (1) there was no bloodshed involved in the writing of those pages and that (2), I’ve officially regained my momentum and am back on track.
However, I can’t be complacent about my efforts. Tomorrow I must plant my butt in the chair and face the pages again. And so on, day after day, until this draft is finished.
Even if you’re on the right track,
you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
~ Will Rogers
This one’s for Nancy:
These shoes are made for running,
that’s just what they did.
Poor little old Prius with its scratches and dents, and dirty silver coat. And now this indignity.
Yesterday morning, Wildebeest woke up early to drive the six hours back home. At the same time, Zebu was on a flight out of London to Denver. Wildebeest got here an hour before Zebu landed at the airport.
Zippy and I haven’t seen either of them since mid-August and we all have lots of catching up to do. In the last 24 hours, there have been many overlapping conversations and bursts of laughter. Both sons are introducing new topics to the discussions, touching on the lives they’re now living, but we also keep to our usual “script” which includes Arrested Development references and cat jokes. And basketball. Always basketball in the script.
This morning it was a spirited debate re Michael Jordan vs LeBron James as Best Player of All Time. We’ve also discussed the way college player Grayson Allen trips other players as compared to Golden State Warrior Draymond Green’s kicking players in the crotch, and who deserves to be suspended. Right now, one of Zebu’s high school basketball teammates is here and they’re talking about basketball intramural games at their respective colleges.
Basketball. Basketball. Basketball.
A familiar song I’m happy to hear.
Zippy has started the task of scanning photo negatives from long ago. Right now he’s revisiting July of 1992 when we lived in Alaska and one of his sisters was visiting. We did a boat tour in Kenai Fjords National Park where we saw this handsome sea lion:
Because we have approximately one metric shit-ton of negatives we haven’t looked at in years, I’m guessing we’ll unearth more sea lion photos from our time in Alaska. That means there’s a very good chance I could begin posting one every Saturday, and #SeaLionSaturday could become a real thing. (Especially if 50 people started joining me in posting sea lion photos each Saturday. Friends, they might think it’s a movement!)
All I’m saying is that #Caturday isn’t the only catchy hashtag.
Yesterday and today have been frigid in these parts. The kind of cold that makes my teeth ache and my nostril hairs stick together as soon as I step outside. I’ve toted my space heater from room to room while waging an internal debate on the pros and cons of life in Florida or Arizona or Texas. (Okay, that’s melodramatic hyperbole.) However, the stuff about my nostril hairs is true.
But at this moment, I’m thankful for the promise of better things:
That’s a 29 degree swing in the right direction, and I’ll take it!
As that Little Orphan Annie with the freakishly blank eyes is fond of saying:
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow ….
Last night Zippy and I celebrated my birthday by going to a dive bar to hear local bands. My logic was that I’d feel less old and obsolete if I hung around the younger generation and heard new-to-me music.
The first band was a punk trio that played song after song in what felt like 45 second bursts of sonic-boom fury. People avoided standing in front of the stage because it was SO loud, and if I hadn’t feared for my long-term hearing, I would’ve been out there pogo-sticking. There’s something invigorating about music you can feel in your spleen.
Back at home where I’m modeling my wrist band that proved I was old enough to consume alcohol. I had to show ID for that sucker!
We stayed for two more bands and had a good time. Earlier in the week when I’d told my brother and his girlfriend our plans, she’d approved of my pre-emptive logic but also warned we’d be the oldest ones there. Well, I’m happy to say that Zippy and I spotted five people in the crowd who were clearly older than us. We high-fived after each sighting.
My plan was a success.
Today was another blue-sky-and-sunshine day, so I invited Zippy for a hike up in the open space. It was blissfully quiet out on the trails.
Another good call on my part.
Me meandering ahead of Zippy. We’d just scared up a Red-tailed Hawk, some magpies, and a flicker that’d been hanging out in a tree together.
So now I’m moving beyond another year and another birthday, and looking forward to any-and-all good stuff up ahead.