Doing the baby goat dance

After weeks of angst and confusion over my latest middle grade project, I just hit SEND on an email to my critique group. I am so relieved! The email has multiple attachments including an unfinished first draft + a Word document with my revisions ideas and a whole lot of questions for them + an alternative chapter written in 3rd person (rather than 1st person). Basically, I sent them a big, fat mess, the likes of which I’ve never done before. I didn’t want to inflict that on them or embarrass myself, but I had no choice. I need help.

Now, I’m going to try my best to stop thinking about the project until January 13th, when the collective genius of the Writing Roosters comes to my rescue.

This calls for a happy, hoppy goat dance!

Robotic HOORAY!

I just hit SEND on my work-for-hire project! Not only that, but I turned it in ahead of schedule. The manuscript and bibliography weren’t due until tomorrow, people. Am I awesome or what?!

And in case you’re wondering about the significance of this happy little robot, the book is about Artificial Intelligence. Not exactly in my wheelhouse.*

Okay, I’m off to celebrate with some Robot Dance moves . . .

*understatement of the year

Imagine a just future via a #GreenNewDeal

I admit to being panicked and overwhelmed by climate change. But, I also feel energized and hopeful at the prospect of a Green New Deal. Here is a new 7+ -minute video (narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and beautifully illustrated by Molly Crabapple). In the words of the Sunrise Movement, this is a story from the future. AOC tells the story of the world we won by fighting for a #GreenNewDeal.

Sunrise Movement has organized Green New Deal town hall meetings around the country. Please check  out this link to find one near you:

“We can be whatever we have the courage to see.”

Hot fun in the summertime

Today is gonna be hot.
Red Hot Poker hot.

These beauties grow next to my driveway after former neighbors committed one of their "drive by plantings."

These beauties grow next to my driveway after former neighbors committed one of their “drive by plantings.”

While I do admire the Red Hot Pokers’ fiery colors,
I find these Purple Coneflowers more soothing:
Purple Coneflowers

After taking those photos, I spent a fair amount of time
chasing bumblebees around the lavender with my camera.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get anything worth sharing.
The good news is that I always, always have bees in my yard
so I’ll have plenty of chances to capture one of those bumbly bees.

In the meanwhile, I’ll kick back to a little Sly & the Family Stone:

Stay cool, people.




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)



Bras for Dummies

I’ll be brief.

  1. Are you a female runner? Yes? Invest in a good sports bra.
  2. Make sure it fits correctly. (There’s lots of good info on the intertubes re proper fit)
  3. Replace said bra more regularly than, say, every 12 years or so.
  4. Own a bra, any bra, that’s too snug? Save yourself $10 bucks and make your own extender using hooks from an old bra.
  5. Watch this video for instructions:

    6. You’re welcome.



David Bowie: Kook Extraordinaire


I just listened to HUNKY DORY while lifting weights.
That might seem an odd choice for pumping iron,
but I’ve lifted to that album many times.
As I posted back in 2007,
HUNKY DORY is one of my desert island picks.
I’ve loved it ever since high school when I’d close myself
off in my room and play both sides.

Today might be the first time I cried while listening.
Kooks got to me first.

And if you ever have to go to school
Remember how they messed up this old fool
Don’t pick fights with the bullies or the cads
‘Cause I’m not much cop at punching
Other people’s Dads
And if the homework brings you down
Then we’ll throw it on the fire
And take the car downtown

Will you stay in our Lovers’ Story
If you stay you won’t be sorry
‘Cause we believe in you
Soon you’ll grow so take a chance
With a couple of Kooks
Hung up on romancing

And then Quicksand really brought the tears.

I’m not a prophet or a stone age man
Just a mortal with potential of a superman
I’m living on
I’m tethered to the logic of Homo Sapien
Can’t take my eyes from the great salvation
Of bullshit faith
If I don’t explain what you ought to know
You can tell me all about it
Or, the next Bardot
I’m sinking in the quicksand of my thought
And I ain’t got the power anymore.

Don’t believe in yourself
Don’t deceive with belief
Knowledge comes with death’s release

However, as Wildebeest said this morning:
“I never met him, but I don’t think he’d want us to be all mopey.”
Wildebeest listened to lots of Let’s Dance today.

Put on your red shoes and dance the blues

And finally, here’s my favorite tribute I came across today:

RIP Mr. Bowie.

Major Regret OR I Told Me So

Even though I saw it coming, Obama’s recent budget proposal to cut Social Security benefits via a Chained CPI makes me want to puke.


Cutting benefits for society’s most vulnerable is a callous act. It’s cruel and unnecessary, and I’m deeply ashamed I voted for Obama in November. I knew this was coming and yet I caved at the final hour and cast my vote for someone who is clearly not a Democrat because of my disgust for the Republicans’ voter suppression campaign.

I wish there was a time machine that would give me a redo so that I could cast my vote for someone who doesn’t help the rich get richer at the poor’s expense. Alas, no such device exists and I must live with my vote. And if I’m ever again tempted to vote for someone who clearly doesn’t care about the powerless, I need only remember this sick feeling in my gut. In the meanwhile, I’m making sure my “representatives” know where I stand on a Chained CPI.

George Carlin – The American Dream


I had a crazy day yesterday in which I unloaded lumber in a driving rain storm,
was temporarily trapped in the mountains because of a flooded-out road,
and then while driving home received a call from the neighbors saying our dogs had escaped and were roaming free.
After the final hour and a half drive in a constant downpour, we got home at about 11:30 last night.

That was the end of the day’s bad news, right?

Obama wants cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

I’ve been paying attention and knew that’s what he wanted, but hoped cooler/kinder heads would prevail.
Here’s George Carlin from 2005, explaining in his uniquely profane way (warning!) why this is happening:

If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.

Have a good weekend, everyone.
Don’t forget to laugh.

America is NOT Broke by Michael Moore


Micheal Moore went to Madison, Wisconsin, to speak to the courageous
people who refuse to budge in the face of greed and lies.

Here is the transcript. If you read nothing else today, please read this.

Here’s an excerpt:
"Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer "bailout" of 2008, now have more loot, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can’t bring yourself to call that a financial coup d’état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true."
The powers-that-be pit us against each other, relying on cultural and social issues (gays, guns, and god)
to fracture what should be a united front against the nauseating greed of the upper class.

So, while moneyed people around the country bemoan the "greed" of public employees
fighting for their right to collective bargaining, these courageous people in Wisconsin stand strong.
We ALL owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

As Michael Moore says:
"Never forget, as long as that Constitution of ours still stands, it’s one person, one vote, and it’s the thing the rich hate most about America — because even though they seem to hold all the money and all the cards, they begrudgingly know this one unshakeable basic fact: There are more of us than there are of them!"

Here’s a YouTube video of him in Wisconsin on March 5.
The opening is especially inspiring because of the emotions expressed by Moore and the protesters,
but also because he reveals this powerful, spot-on piece was written in a couple hours at the end of a very long day:

We need heroes now more than ever, and I salute Wisconsin workers for drawing the line in the sand!

Mash-Up of Scary and Funny


Yesterday I worked on a scene that was hard to face:
I put a 12-year-old girl in a dangerous and scary situation.
When I reached the point at which someone steps in to help her,
I stopped writing and took a nap.

I often take 15 minute power naps.
But this nap was a deep, all-the-way-asleep kind of nap.
I think writing that scene took it out of me.

So that’s the scary (and tiring) portion of this post.

The funny portion?

Earlier this week, Melodye ( ) asked that we share belly laughs with each other.
Since I can’t find Garrison Keillor’s hysterical booger excerpt from LAKE WOBEGONE DAYS
and Youtube doesn’t have the Stuart Smalley Halloween clip,
I offer this mockumentary about the first men’s synchronized swimming team:

Are you laughing yet?

New kind of bravery

This morning I came across  ‘s post about trying new things.
Then I read  ‘s post in which she invited us to be brave in our lives.

And the wheels in my brain started to turn,
which, in turn, caused my heart to pound.
Because I knew what new thing I’d like to try.
It’s something that would require a great amount of bravery.
In fact, my heart’s pounding again as I write this.

I want to take hooping lessons.
There, I said it!

But just the thought of demonstrating
my clunky, flow-less hooping to a pro
causes me great panic.

I mean, look at her:

This woman lives in my area and offers private lessons.
(Group lessons would totally overwhelm me, I think).

On the one hand, my new year’s resolutions included
learning to Beam Me Up (a cool hooping trick) and improving my flow.

She is so very good and I’m so very, um, what’s the word I’m looking for?


Obama’s Big Sellout by Matt Taibbi

No, I’m not talking escalation in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Or health care reform.

I’m talking about how "the president has packed his economic team with Wall Street insiders intent on turning the bailout into an all-out giveaway."

Here’s the link that takes you to Matt Taibbi’s article, "Obama’s Big Sellout," in the current issue of Rolling Stone.
I forced myself to read the article.
I hope you’ll read it, too.

Obama and all those rich Wall Street bastards are counting on us not paying attention.
Knowledge is power
and until we understand the breadth
of greed and selfishness coming from the top,
we don’t stand a chance of stopping this.

For those more visually-inclined,
here’s a video of Matt Taibbi summarizing his article: Obama’s Big Sellout.

I absolutely recommend Mr. Taibbi’s work.
He’s smart and funny and cuts to the quick with his assesments.
He makes Rolling Stone absolutely relevant in this era.
I’m so glad Wildebeest has a subscription.

Bring Back the Draft?


Obama is reportedly ready to send more troops into Afghanistan.
People who quibble over the costs of health care reform have no qualms
about the billions spent each and every month to send our soldiers
over to occupy other countries and kill their citizens.
October was the deadliest month ever in Afghanistan for U.S. troops.

When and how will this madness end?  Bill Moyers has a suggestion.

Bill Moyers Essay: Restoring Accountability for Washington’s Wars
(transcript follows but I recommend watching this video to see the animated graphics
mainstream media use to depict war)

BILL MOYERS: Watching the CBS Evening News on Afghanistan this week I thought for a moment that I might be watching my grandson playing one of those video war games that are so popular these days.

REPORTER: An American military convoy traveling northwest–

BILL MOYERS: Reporting on the attacks that killed eight Americans, CBS turned to animation to depict what no journalists were around to witness. This is about as close to real war as most of us ever get, safely removed from the blood, the mangled bodies, the screams and shouts.

October, as you know, was the bloodiest month for our troops in all eight years of the war. And beyond the human loss, the United States has spent more than 223 billion dollars there. In 2010 we will be spending roughly 65 billion dollars every year. 65 billion dollars a year.

The President is just about ready to send more troops. Maybe 44 thousand, that’s the number General McChrystal wants, bringing the total to over 100 thousand. When I read speculation last weekend that the actual number needed might be 600 thousand, I winced.

I can still see President Lyndon Johnson’s face when he asked his generals how many years and how many troops it would take to win in Vietnam. One of them answered, "Ten years and one million." He was right on the time and wrong on the number– two and a half million American soldiers would serve in Vietnam, and we still lost.

Whatever the total for Afghanistan, every additional thousand troops will cost us about a billion dollars a year. At a time when foreclosures are rising, benefits for the unemployed are running out, cities are firing teachers, closing libraries and cutting essential maintenance and services. That sound you hear is the ripping of our social fabric.

Which makes even more perplexing an editorial in THE WASHINGTON POST last week. You’ll remember the "Post" was a cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq, often sounding like a megaphone for the Bush-Cheney propaganda machine. Now it’s calling for escalating the war in Afghanistan. In a time of historic budget deficits, the paper said, Afghanistan has to take priority over universal health care for Americans. Fixing Afghanistan, it seems, is "a ‘necessity’"; fixing America’s social contract is not.

But listen to what an Afghan villager recently told a correspondent for the "Economist:" "We need security. But the Americans are just making trouble for us. They cannot bring peace, not if they stay for 50 years."

Listen, too, to Andrew Bacevich, the long-time professional soldier, graduate of West Point, veteran of Vietnam, and now a respected scholar of military and foreign affairs, who was on this program a year ago. He recently told "The Christian Science Monitor," "The notion that fixing Afghanistan will somehow drive a stake through the heart of jihadism is wrong. …If we give General McChrystal everything he wants, the jihadist threat will still exist."

This from a warrior who lost his own soldier son in Iraq, and who doesn’t need animated graphics to know what the rest of us never see.

So here’s a suggestion. In a week or so, when the president announces he is escalating the war, let’s not hide the reality behind eloquence or animation. No more soaring rhetoric, please. No more video games. If our governing class wants more war, let’s not allow them to fight it with young men and women who sign up because they don’t have jobs here at home, or can’t afford college or health care for their families.

Let’s share the sacrifice. Spread the suffering. Let’s bring back the draft.

Yes, bring back the draft — for as long as it takes our politicians and pundits to "fix" Afghanistan to their satisfaction.

Bring back the draft, and then watch them dive for cover on Capitol Hill, in the watering holes and think tanks of the Beltway, and in the quiet little offices where editorial writers spin clever phrases justifying other people’s sacrifice. Let’s insist our governing class show the courage to make this long and dirty war our war, or the guts to end it.


Hoop or Treat


It’s been one of those months (a whole year of those months,
actually) and I decided to have some fun with the frustration
via Ryan Adams’ "Halloweenhead."  Antics ensue.

Warning: "mature" language.


Plotting Pinball Head-itis

Maybe you’ve already seen this.
I just saw it on the blueboards.
It made me laugh and laugh
not because I’ve experienced this sort of “editorial direction”
but because it reminds me of being inside my head on this project.

What if, say, the main character dies at the end of chapter one.
I mean, not that but I mean something like that.
I mean, not like that but, yeah.
. . . . .

Yeah, so what if it’s not that but it’s JAWS?


Give Up the Funk

It’s been one of those weeks.
A week-long funk.
Yesterday I felt crushed under the weight of it all.
But I forced myself to spin my hoop
while Zippy did his treadmill workout.
As we twirled and walked, we listened to an album that came out 25 years ago.

And I thought about where I was 25 years ago.
I remembered listening to that album (tape) in my car during lunch hour
when I worked for Giant Turd Enterprise (GTE).
I’d eat my fish sandwich from McDonald’s
and think about, well, I don’t remember what I thought about.
Probably not much.
Maybe I thought about the sweltering parking lot and
how my boss was the world’s biggest asshat.
Or that maybe the next day I should pack a lunch.

Fast forward to this week
in which I’ve had feelings of being that gerbil in a wheel,
always running and moving,
but never getting ahead.

It’s no fun feeling that way.
It crushes your spirit.

So I say to myself:
Tracy, you have made progress.
For one, you’re no longer spending time in a paint-peeling ’64 Ford Falcon Sprint,
sweating and ingesting questionable food.
And you don’t have to answer to that horrible boss-man ever again.


Give up the funk, Tracy.



I hesitate to write this because torture is ugly and scary.
It turns our stomachs.
Torture is something we’d like to pretend doesn’t exist.

Unfortunately, torture does exist.
Last week we learned the CIA waterboarded two detainees a total of 266 times.
In one month.
Waterboarded 266 times.

President Obama did the right thing by releasing the secret torture memos.
But then he said there would be no prosecution of those involved.

I understand the political risks Obama took in releasing those memos.
He faced huge opposition from the CIA and others in the "intelligence community,"
and acted courageously.
In this instance.

But now we need to help him be courageous again.
We need to give him political cover.
We must create a public outcry demanding prosecution
of those who sanctioned and performed torture.

Please, take one minute of your time to sign this petition to Attorney General Eric Holder
asking him to appoint a special prosecutor.

One minute of your time.

If you need a more eloquent argument for accountability, please watch this (h/t  ):

Thank you.