Oh baby baby it’s a wild world

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.

Chainsaw massacre

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.

My aim is true

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.

Sweet bird you are

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

Skee Ball Omen

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.)

Birthday Cousins

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!

No blood on the tracks

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

It’s a family affair

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.

basketball-1288961_640

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.

 

 

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#SeaLionSaturday

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:img068

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.

 

 

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29 degrees of Thankful Thursday

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:

weather-forecast

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 ….

 

 

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Live music is better bumper stickers should be issued

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.

20161126_002429-1

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.

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.

 

 

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Pigs on the wing

eurasiancollareddove

Taken November 17, 2016, during our first snowstorm.

This is an Eurasian Collared-Dove, an exotic bird species that has been making its way west since its release in the Bahamas during the 1970s. We’ve still got Mourning Doves in our neighborhood, but the most common dove sighting in our backyard is one of these.

It’s hard to be anti-bird because, well, they’re birds. On the other hand, these birds are pretty pushy and spend a lot of time camped out in the feeder tray. Pink Floyd’s song isn’t about gluttinous birds, but whenever one of these doves bombs in and scares everyone else from the feeder, I can’t help thinking “Pigs on the wing.”

 

 

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Freewheelin’ Bob nabs the Nobel

As has been documented here over the years, I’m a long-time Dylan fan, so wasn’t completely surprised when it was announced today that Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. (Although, as I said in an email to a friend, I do wonder whether Bob should’ve been disqualified from consideration due to his Victoria’s Secret commercial years ago.)

Bob Dylan in November 1963 (Unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Bob Dylan in November 1963 (Unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Nonetheless, this year the committee chose to honor Bob Dylan’s work which, on a personal note, feels very fitting because Zebu is studying in Sweden right now. The award also feels fitting because of one Dylan song in particular that tragically never, ever goes out of style. For “Masters of War” alone, I’m good with Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Masters of War
Written by Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
’Til I’m sure that you’re dead

Copyright
© 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music

Hey ho! Let’s Go!

Okay, this is a stretch.
Coco isn’t a Ramones fan
and she doesn’t sing Blitzkrieg Bop.

Still.

This expression, as she stands at the door waiting to be let inside for dinner, just screams HEY! HO! LET’S GO!Coco

Or maybe I’m projecting a punk attitude on her because I know how when that door opens she’ll run inside and her back legs will go out from under her as she negotiates the turn to her food dish. Pure mosh pit enthusiasm.

Hey! Ho!

 

 

 

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How can you keep on moving

I spent the morning packing and repacking duffel bags for Wildebeest who has moved to a faraway part of Colorado. He couldn’t take everything with him when he left so Zippy and I are heading his way to deliver the rest of his stuff. Wildebeest had it all packed up and ready for us, and our plan was to fit everything inside the truck we borrowed from my brother. HAHAHAHAHA. *wipes away tears of mirth*

We needed a Plan B. So we pondered and debated the position of the roof rack and the dimensionsn of our 20+ year-old XCargo carrier:

Like this, except with more dead insects and blood from where the effing top repeatedly dropped on our heads over the years.

Like this, except with more dead insects and blood from where the effing top has repeatedly dropped on and bloodied our heads over the years.

We weren’t confident we could securely attach the carrier so then I did some research on the intertubes. And just as you’d suspect, people are very clever when it comes to hauling stuff on top of vehicles. Alas, none of those DIY ideas suited our specifications.

Then I remembered our enormous duffel bags.

Last June, Zebu flew back from Bellingham, WA, where he’d attended school. We’d moved him out there via a rented Impala (biggest trunk EVER, yo!), but didn’t want to make that trip again. Which meant he had to fly back with lots of carry-on items. Enter much online research for the largest duffel bags available that did not exceed airline limitations.

So. All that backstory is my long-winded way of explaining how very very glad I am to be getting some use out of those ginormous bags again.
Duffel bags

We’re going to put them alongside Wildebeest’s snowboard on the truck’s roof and secure everything with ratcheting straps. Hopefully, there will be enough room in the interior for the rest of his worldly possessions.

I enjoy organizing stuff and figuring out how to pack things efficiently, so it’s been kind of fun. But all morning, in the back of my mind, was the knowledge that in just a few short weeks Zippy and I will truly be empty nesters. We’ve always had at least one son living in the vicinity, but now Wildebeest is a long ways away. And in a few more weeks, Zebu will be living a really, really long ways away as an exchange student in Sweden.

It’s easy being happy for them because they’re both very excited by the changes they’ve put in motion. I’m thrilled by their happiness and passionate outlooks, because it hasn’t always been this way. So right now I’m embracing the Ry Cooder song playing in my head:

How can you keep on moving unless you migrate too
They tell ya to keep on moving but migrate, you must not do
The only reason for moving and the reason why I roam
To move to a new location and find myself a home
~  (lyrics by Agnes “Sis” Cunningham)

 

 

Still no words

I posted the following (I Can’t Breathe) on December 4, 2014:

I’m a writer and I’m supposed to be able to express myself.

But for the past two days I’ve struggled to put down words about the stark contrast between my experience as a white female in this society and all the black women who can never, ever take for granted that any of the males in their lives–sons, husbands, fathers, brothers, nephews–will walk back through the door at the end of the day.

I’m heartbroken. For all of us.

Nineteen months and a whole bunch more dead black men later, and I still don’t know how to write about what’s happening in this country. It’s seriously fucked up what’s going on here. I’m sad and angry and exhausted by the seemingly never-ending supply of fear and ignorance behind all this police brutality. It must end.

My heart goes out to those who, every single day, worry whether their boys and men will make it home.

Public domain image.

Public domain image.

EQUAL RIGHTS by Peter Tosh

Everyone is crying out for peace, yes
None is crying out for justice
Everyone is crying out for peace, yes
None is crying out for justice

I don’t want no peace
I need equal rights and justice
I need equal rights and justice
I need equal rights and justice
Got to get it, equal rights and justice