So much more to a book

This photo hangs on the wall at my brother’s house. Here he is with the smiling Wildebeest and Zebu, many years ago. I’m not sure any of them remember the exact moment the picture was taken, but love and happiness are written all over this image. It’s no coincidence that a book’s involved.

There’s so much more to a book than just the reading.
~  Maurice Sendak

Happy birthday to my sister

On this Sunday, I’d like to thank you for a gift you gave me thirty-five years ago.

(Peace Sunday was a concert to support nuclear disarmament,
and it included an impressive lineup.)

I wanted to attend this amazing live music event, but didn’t have a ticket. You, despite not liking crowds or concerts, said we should go. Right then! So you drove us in your “Blue Goose” from West LA to Pasadena, where 85,000 people had converged on the Rose Bowl. It took us a while to find a parking space and then we walked and walked and walked. Well, meandered was more like it seeing as you had your camera and were being meticulous about noting f-stops and shutter speed for each photo you took along the way.

When we finally reached the Rose Bowl, the concert had started and, of course, there were no tickets available. We needed a hand-stamp to get in. There was a chain-link fence near the entrance and some guys standing nearby had our answer: they licked the stamps on the back of their hands and then pressed them against the backs of our hands. It worked! We had our own hand-stamps and were officially part of Peace Sunday!

Many details of that day are hazy (cough, cough), but I believe our seats were to the side and slightly behind the stage. Wherever we were, we couldn’t see the stage. And the sound was pretty crappy right there. But we’d made it! We were part of the Peace Sunday experience.

I do remember when Joan Baez brought out Bob Dylan. It gave me chills, knowing two of my very favorite singer-songwriters were so close. It was rather surreal, hearing them sing from a stage we couldn’t see.

Joan and Bob’s performances weren’t great, but because of you, I was there! Because of you, I was able to join a swath of humanity that’d come together for an incredible day of music and to say NO NUKES! It was an unforgettable gift. I hope you also have fond memories of Peace Sunday. Thank you again for being my generous and funny big sister who gave me a very special day.

Happy birthday to you.

Sidetracked by aquatic mannequins

I’m drafting a new scene for my middle-grade novel, a scene that takes place on a lake. There’s a raft and it’s a hot summer day, and the protagonist is learning how to do a back flip off the diving board. Anyway, I wanted to document where I’m at with this book and so went to Pixabay in search of a lake-raft-swimmer image to use.

I found this:

The photo has absolutely no connection to my scene (okay, this lake is comprised of water, as is the lake in my book), but upon discovering this image, I quit my search. I mean, this piece of photographic genius deserves its own documentation.

There’s so much weird going on here. You could focus on the fact that these women are playing cards / gambling in swim caps and goggles or that the mannequins are wearing robotic assassin expressions, but all I can think about is how it’d feel to stand in lake muck while slimy lily pad stems wrap around my legs.

Eww.

So. Many. Words.

Only 26 letters in the alphabet, yet so many words to choose from as I write this book. I’m not talking “damp” vs “moist.” ** I’m talking about the pressure of potentially stringing together words that inadvertently take my novel in a whole new direction. Words wield so much power.

But words are also a writer’s playground, and it can be very cool to play with them. Sometimes, though, writing a first draft reminds me what it was like to get off one of these old merry-go-rounds.

I’d be disoriented and slightly fearful about what I was about to crash into. I’m having that same feeling today.

** (Sorry, moist-haters, couldn’t resist)

Shout-out to my nephew

Today, my nephew left for his stint in the Peace Corps. For the next 27 months, Jamie will be working in Ecuador. I’m so proud of his generous and adventurous spirit.

This photo of Jamie was taken in 2004 when we visited my sister’s family in NYC and PA.

Buen viaje, sobrino!

 

Sunday Confessional: I just want a couple nice rugs

We moved into our home twenty years ago this weekend. We bought the house from the original owners and, in addition to the roof and walls, we also purchased a few furnishings from them. We still have one of the large braided rugs (the other three rugs have gone to the big loom in the sky), and it is way past due for retirement.

Over the years, six dogs, five cats, and four humans have walked on this rug (and that’s not counting the orginal owners’ years of use). I don’t even want to imagine what’s trapped between the braids. I very much want a new rug and have spent a huge amount of time searching stores and online for something decent that we can afford. I’ve already returned two (we also need to replace a tired wool rug in the living room) after the dye came off on our hands.

I realize that my rug search qualifies as a small-potatoes-problem, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing I could summon a Rug Fairy.

 

Tulips interruptus

Despite already feeling overwhelmed by my gardening responsibilities, I brought 10 tulip bulbs back from Amsterdam. I wanted to have a yearly floral reminder of our trip. Today, I went outside and figured out where I could wedge them in. I prepared the soil and used my handy-dandy tulip-bulb-digger-thingy to make a hole. I set one bulb in the hole and then thought, “It’s been a while since you planted a tulip bulb, maybe you should check for any special instructions.”

Good thing I checked with the interwebs. Tulip bulbs are only supposed to be planted in the fall. Doh!

Amsterdam tulips nearing the end of their bloom.

My bulbs are now tucked away in a paper bag in a basement cabinet. They’ll stay there until September when my phone calendar alert reminds me that it’s really and truly tulip planting time.

On the 14th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, G.W. Bush is still a war criminal

In March of 2003, my family took the train from Denver to San Francisco during our sons’ spring break. Wildebeest was 9-years-old and Zebu was 7. As had millions of people around the world, we’d marched and demonstrated and written letters and called our representatives to say NO TO WAR ON IRAQ.

Didn’t matter. Bush said he wouldn’t shape his policy according to public opinion, even when it was the whole freaking planet screaming NO.

We were in a hotel when it was announced that the U.S. had begun dropping bombs. We were outraged and heartbroken. So were many, many people in San Francisco. The police were out in full riot gear, looking very nervous.

Over the next days, people chained themselves to manhole covers and blocked streets.

Protesters were everywhere. So were the cops.

That Bush-Cheney invasion, powered by lies and fear-mongering, made the oil companies and mercenaries much richer, while destroying the lives of millions of Iraqis.

Now it’s March of 2017, and people are saying they miss George W. Bush. Unbelievable. George W. Bush is a war criminal, plain and simple, and the repercussions of his crimes continue fourteen years after he wrongly invaded another country.

 

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