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All of 2004
Monday, June 27, 2005
Topic #1: Wow! You folks are something else. Over 80 responses already! And a wonderful mixed bag of answers. Even better. Marketing analysis isn't much good if people just say what they think you want them to say. So far, we've gotten a bit of everything except "you money grubbing scum!" I'm getting more excited all the time.
To clarify some apparent confusions: even with HC, there would be a PB version eventually. The HC original gets it into libraries and onto review desks and the attention of book store buyers. Also, while I've already posted excerts from all my books elsewhere on the website, I will, after the contracts are signed and a pub date set, make a large section of the front end of the book available for download. I wouldn't want to try a new author HC sight unseen, and I don't expect readers to do so either.
I don't want to influence the survey, but in about a month, I will be posting a summary of the results.Thanks again, and keep those votes coming!
On a curious note, a sudden flood of the original GT books has come available at Amazon.com. I have no hard evidence for this, but I get this curious feeling that someone's been hoarding them, waiting for their market value to really go nuts and that the word is out that the series is going to be reissued, so they're shedding them while they can still call them "collectors items." (And no, they aren't my personal stash! I wish I had had them all these years! ) I do know they weren't there a couple of months ago. Oooo...how intrustin'!
However, if you've been looking for them and would like copies of the "original version", there were about 80 each of them available and at reasonable prices! (Same day footnote. Wow, you guys are fast! I checked these last night and there were, like 80 of each, they're now down to 50-60! Cool!) Some authors go nuts over the fact that they get no $$ from used books...I say get the books to those who'll appreciate 'em! If "those" like them enough, that should only help the sales on my next book...Go for it!
Movies: we went to see Madagascar this weekend. Just the penquins would make it worth watching, but it's also a charming "buddy" film with a delightfully sick twist. A curious note: the kids seemed a little confused until CJC and I began laughing out loud, at which time, they joined right in. I think sometimes they need an "it's OK" reality check, so if you go see it, and you feel like laughing, don't hold it in!
Oi, what a day I had today! All I wanted was to print a copy of GroundTies to send to DAW. So, at five, I'm finishing up the read-through (I'm thrilled to say, I was never tempted to change anything! I can't believe it! Cleanup only...YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!) Anyway, I finished that, went through and mutilated all my single quotes within prose, changing them to the double quotes DAW prefers and my greys to grays (does anyone else think grAy looks like a pink gray? It always has to me.) and then tried to send the file to the old desktop (we have two in the office.) But it wouldn't come up on the house net. Why? Durned if I can figure it out. I'll probably just hardwire it to the router and be done with it, since they're all in the same room now.
So, then I tried putting the files on the jumpdrive, but I haven't (I didn't realize) loaded the drivers for the jump onto that machine (a Win98 machine) and I couldn't find the install disk which is in a box somewhere. Now, I could have downloaded the drivers off the internet on another machine, but by this time, the jump was in the back of the machine, which I'd shoved back in its hole and I couldn't recall the particulars of it for the search. I didn't have any blank floppy disks (also in a box) so since I would have to burn a CD for a couple of drivers anyway, I just threw up my hands and put the files I wanted to print on a CD, transferred them to the other machine and . . . . ten pages in, the laser printer's cartridge died! ARGH!!!!!! So, I went in search of (a) a replacement cartridge or (b) the backup laser printer, which was in the far garage. Found the printer, but not the cartridge, but recalled at the last moment the laptop we'd used to run the Okie has an old version of Word Perfect that would (possibly) screw the formatting on the file, so, I threw up my hands (not wanting to get into a Problem), took a shower and decided to get a new cartridge for the HP when we went skating.
We picked up the cartridge and I'll print of the rest tomorrow morning, but...sheesh, what a production!
Why (you might logically ask) do we have this problem? It's dear Win XP, which simply does not play nice with older laser printers, (not to mention printers that don't like to share themselves on a network). Our old HP died about 18 months ago and we picked up a little OkieData laser for printing off manuscripts. We use a nice workhorse HP color inkjet for most of our daily printing. It's those 700 page monsters where the laser comes in handy...real handy. Well, turns out I couldn't get my machine (an XP machine) to communicate with the OkieData through the housenet (or directly, for that matter, never mind it was supposed to be XP compatible), so it was relegated to the back room connected to one of the old Win 98 laptops which was connected to the housenet. When we wanted to print a ms, we'd just send it over to that machine and print from there,, not really a bad setup at all.
Anyway, a few months later, we inherited a lovely HP3200 combo from my brother, who had it screw up his whole housenet when he upgraded the machine to which it was attached to XP. Not even Hewlett Packard could figure out what was going on with it, so he just got another, XP-friendly machine, and I inherited the 3200, which also scans and copies. I didn't even try sharing it with the housenet. I simply attached it to the old desktop in the library/craftroom of the old apartment (also on Win98), got a wireless Nic for that computer (which I'd wanted anyway) and retired the OkieData to emergency status, using the desktop as we'd been using the laptop.
This worked really well for about half a year.
Then, we moved. And then, today happened. I'm going to have to get serious and straighten out the office, I guess, and that includes getting Dancer to function properly as well as making sure we have the necessary pieces for the backup printing system.
Does anyone else find it impossible to give up equipment you can still convince to work?
Thursday, June 23, 2005
OK, so it's been another fun-filled month. What can I say? I carried boxes downstairs, then carried them upstairs. A lot. My knee is getting much better. By all the symptoms, I likely ruptured the bursa, which flooded the knee and tore the maniscus. Lots of ice, lots of elevation, lots of anti-inflammatory, and (finally) a few days without carrying boxes up and down stairs has it doing pretty well. In the disguised blessings, I've had to be so careful going up and down stairs that I've probably helped strengthen and balance the knee. But too much time off the ice has taken its toll. I'm having to backtrack quite a bit, though the backward edges continue to improve, bit by bit. Mostly it's a headgame.
Enough of the past. Let's get onto the present.
We're settled...well almost, in the new digs and loving it. Much brighter than the old place and more condusive to production. There are the requisite Where-is-its (usually in a box, usually down in a garage) and we've still got some moving to do, though mostly storage unit transfer. Still too much stuff! But hope to get some regular work done, to wit:
I talked with DAW books today regarding the 'NetWalkers project, and after a fifteen year battle, I think it's finally going to happen. This announcement really has been hanging since January. Remember the news flash CJC said she'd let me make? Well I'm making a qualified one now. In January, Betsy told me that Peter (her first reader) had loved it and that when she read it, if she agreed with him, they were buying it and taking it hardcover. I got a call from Peter shortly thereafter asking me about the subsequent books and I directed him to my agent.
The crazy months of travel, taxes and moving followed. As soon as we were settled in the new place, I began follow-up inquiries. Turns out Betsy was getting nervous again about "reissuing" the GroundTies books, books originally published by another publisher. Now mind, I don't blame her for this. I've known from the moment I fought for and received the rights back that it's asking a lot of any publisher even to consider the problem of the series as a whole. However, the simple fact is, if I'm going to write in this universe, these four books need to be available. They constitute the core of that universe the way DownBelow Station and Cyteen are the core of CJC's future history. It's that "reissuing" that's so totally misleading. Are these the same basic story? Yes. Are they the same books? No. For one thing, they're all at least 20% longer; not padding, but additional material necessary to the complete telling of the story, once 'NetWalkers had been written.
Anyway, once I clarified this point with Betsy, she was far more receptive to the notion, however finding an effective marketing plan is going to be a real problem. This is where all you wonderful folks who have supported me over the years can help. It's easy...just a quick note to us regarding your feelings on certain aspects of the publishing industry. We'll compile those results and send a report on to Betsy at DAW. She's very interested in your input.
Rather than go into details here, since the issue is not single day related, but rather an on-going issue, I've given the 'NetWalkers Project its own little page.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Sheeshkaboobalie! You should see Carolyn's bruise! She's made light of the fall, but today she's obviously been in significant pain. Thank goodness she had her crash pads on; hate to think what her leg would look like if she hadn't. Poor CJ.
My leg was doing better today so it was off to the rink. After some tentative work on the side, I did some forward edge work and the leg did pretty well, so I went to my friendly penalty box and worked on backward inside edges. I'm actually making a bit of progress. The best news is, skating didn't hurt the knee and really helped the back and hips that have suffered badly from my gimpy walk while packing and carrying.
Speaking of which, said packing is moving along nicely. Got the futon frames taken apart and my room's pretty much packed and ready to go. All books and most of the fragiles are packed, a lot of the light furniture is over already along with the big bookcases. Took a load over to the garage today and there was a carpet-layer's truck right outside our building, so looks like apartment prep is right on schedule, which should let us start moving things in on Friday. This weekend should see us transfered, except for the really heavy stuff, which we'll leave to the pros. Then, it's cleanup.
You never know how ingenious you'll have to become. we have several fancy oil lamps, everything from blown glass globe to three stemmed ones, the tallest of which is, like 14" tall. They're full of lamp oil and rather than drain them all, clean them up, and pack them only to take them out the other side, I put them in an open-topped box and poured some of our very limited packing peanuts over them to keep them steady, then to hold the peanuts in place I used a couple of plastic grocery sacks, taping them around the edge, then running them between the stems to tape to the other side. A small purple plastic bag slipped over the two tallest lamps completed the ensemble.
Looks very strange.
Ah, the challenges our human ingenuity faces.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Harrumph...three days now without skating. Did some more packing yesterday, but avoided stairs and overmuch walking. Was able to ice the knee periodically, and it does seem to be getting better. But I'm still walking funny, try as I do not to, and that's putting a strain on my back, which I managed to annoy a couple of weeks ago. (Wish I could say getting old sucked, but these are problems I've had periodically all my life. I think it has to do with imbalanced muscle development on top of some congenitally weak structural flaws. Skating should help, eventually...if I don't screw myself up doing something stupid.) Anyway, last night, when I went to bed, ,my dumb back seized up! Pain, oh, pain. I flat out couldn't move. Managed to roll out of bed and knelt beside the bed, letting the bed support my upper body until the muscle released. Then I went and took a hot bath, stretching the blamed leg and back. Got it loosened up, put a pain patch on, and got a pretty good night's rest. This morning, however, better part of valor and all, I begged off skating. If my back seized like that on the ice, I'd be in some serious doo-doo. So...I spent the morning lying in bed, a tennis ball pressed into the offending spot in my back and my knee on ice.
Such an attractive picture.
Have I said anything about the tennis balls? Got that one from Lynn Abbey, who got it from a physical therapist. Got a tight muscle? A chronic ache? Try leaning/lying/resting the spot on a tennis ball. It might hurt like hades at first, but eventually (anywhere from five to twenty minutes or more) the muscle begins to relax, easing the pain. It really works.
Anyway, it does seem to have helped, but it was really hard sending Carolyn off to the rink solo. Sigh. But sounds like she had a very productive lesson---even if she did fall down go boom. When she got home, we spent the rest of the afternoon sorting out the transition from DirecTV to Cable, getting a truck for this weekend, moving the large furniture and getting a special mover for the piano. It's all starting to come together; maybe I'll even get some work done tomorrow!
Now if my knee will just get well.
Saturday, May 7, 2005
You know, it helps if one actually posts these. Once again, I've been putting the wrong page up. ARGH! Don't ask. Just dumb and tired.
Had the truck and both Sharon and her mountain-climbing hubby, Steve, to help today. Wow...what troopers. Got an amazing lot done. Bookcases moved into the garage, several boxes of books transferred in (so we can take the boxes back and refill them.) Turns out the new storeroom has some serious leakage problems. They'll fix them, but have to get over there before 4:00 some time this week. One more round tuit. Grrrr.....
Knee is slowly improving, but CJC made my promise not to lift anything heavy or do stairs. Do you have any idea how hard that is when everyone around you is bustling and lifting and sweating? I'm traditionally the "muscle" and I feel so amazingly useless. Hopefully will be able to take some time this week to rehab it properly and will be more useful next weekend, which should see us relocated into the new place. Sigh...
Friday, May 6, 2005
Went skating. Polar cub is helping, but knee is really beginning to look impressive. Big squishy lump on the side. Don't want to know the origin. Have, however, come to the decision that walking is dangerous to my health. The only incapacitating injuries I've had, I've gotten walking. Go figure. Promised Joan no more walking. At least not distance stuff. Will set up a course at the new place, which has very folded space with lots of cool exterior stairwells, for some basic aerobic conditioning.
After skating, Sharon, dear, wonderful, Sharon, came home with us and helped us pack and haul books.
Thursday, May 5, 2005
More packing, this time mostly fragiles that we're keeping here in a closet, safe from being bounced around. Finally got my polar cub from storage and enough ice to make it functional. Should make icing the stupid knee easier.
Wednesday, May 4, 2005
Bye bye, Lynn. Sigh. Delivered her to the airport, then headed immediately to the store room for boxes. Got home and began packing. Took one load over the garage at the new place, arranged for a storage room nearer to the apartment, and for use of the storeroom's truck for that Saturday, then home to crash.
Tuesday, May 3, 2005
Dr Mike day. We worked in the morning, drove down to Pullman for our cruch appointment, Cougar-burgered, then headed home via the Idaho route. Lynn had never been in Idaho, so we had to rectify this deficiency. It's a beautiful drive, through louse similar to the Washington palouse (which is rolling wheat et. al. fields) but in Idaho the trees (mostly evergreen) intrude into the rolling hills making for gorgeous varieties in texture as well as color, and the time of day was perfect, late afternoon, spring shadows. Hope her pictures came out!
Stopped in Coeur d'Alene on the park beside the lake, then headed home for more vids and ice.
Monday, May 2, 2005
Glug. How dumb can one person be? Here I was, worried about CJC's blisters, and I'm hoping I'm not bound for surgery. Ice and advil are once again my best friends. We went skating today and surprisingly, the knee did pretty well. I didnt' push at all, but the fact that your knees stay bent helps. It only hurt when I tried to extend the left foot behind. We'll see.
Lynn did great. Finally admittled she was bored with marching up and down the penalty box, and I took her around for some bubbling, which was about my speed anyway. It was great fun and I hope she had as much fun as I did.
Home for Dvd's and ice on the knee. Sigh. Hope this gets better fast. We've got a move to do.
Sunday, May 1, 2005
Bloomsday! Oi, what a day we had today! Gorgeous weather. Caught the bus. It dropped us off WAY too far from the starting lines. We had to walk a good mile just to get to the place we'd agreed to meet Sharon. Had just enough time for a pit stop before heading out to the starting line for us greenies. In a way, that wait is the most fun part of the whole day. You have to be in line at least twenty minutes early, which means you spend a lot of time standing around getting sore before you even begin the "race." Sure, you try to stretch and stay/get loose, but (a) you can't very well sit to stretch in the middle of the street and (b) as the sardines begin to fill the tin, there's not enough room to lean over without bopping someone with your rump. So...you talk with your fellow bloomies, making new and very temporary friends, take each other's pictures, and (as the sun begins to heat through all those layers you put on trying to wake up) you begin to strip layers. These layers, by tradition, are flung into the trees (still bare of leaves) that line the streets. Easier said than done, most clothing being woefully short on ballast, and the trees being pruned high enough to avoid trucks. So...you stay warm (and throw your shoulders and elbows out of alighnment) endeavoring to fling spare bits of clothing (yours and everyone else's) into the trees. And when you run out of clothes, there are all the beachballs bouncing around between fingertips.
Okay...Greenies start at ten. We inch our way forward and finally cross the starting line some five minutes later. By that time, however, folks are beginng to sort themselves out. There are those who begin running (optimists) and who might actually finish the race, though rarely running (most who actually can run 7.5 miles start much before our group.) There are those who alternately (and deliberately) jog and walk. There are those who strike a walking pace they'll keep pretty much throughout the course, and there are the (mostly) kids who bounce aimlessly through the pack like balls in a pinball machine, pretty much oblivious to the little things like common courtesy, being blinded by the sweat already pouring into their eyes and too adrenalized to feel the insipient bruises they are incurring all over their bodies.
The rules say to pair up; they don't want large groups of people becoming log jams in the road, so Lynn and I, who have walked together a lot and have a pretty comfortable mutual rhythm, paired up, and Carolyn and Sharon did the jog/walk style. For the first couple of miles, we pretty much kept pace with each other, but then we lost sight of C&S. We didn't worry about it, all of us being cell-phoned. We had all put down a highly optimistic 1:29 minutes for our estimated time to ensure we all got in the same group and started well before the expletive deleted demolition crews (parents with strollers.) These walking tanks are supposed to start behind everyone else and are not supposed to run. HAH! Fat chance. Last year we were nearly crippled by the people "bonding with their children" by using their children as battering rams. Personally, I don't think they should be allowed on the course with such things. If they can't afford a baby sitter, maybe they shouldn't have gotten pregnant. Harrumph!
Climbing off my soapbox, our start group tuned out perfect. It got us through the bottleneck downhill on Riverside (the one that last time had us standing in the very cold shadows for a good half hour, if not more.) Even with the problems that slowed C&S up, they still got in ahead of most of the demolition teams. Lynn and I, who kept up a steady pace of about 17 min miles for the whole time, came in at just over two hours, which got us in well ahead of said battering rams.
The race itself was, for me, pretty uneventful. About half-way through, my left knee began to bother me, feeling like the hamstring had pulled a bit. In retrospect, I think a flexor tendon became highly insulted. I'm guessing, but I'd say I probably fling my legs forward when I walk and hyper-extend the knees a bit. The left leg is a bit weird anyway, with a tendency to fall inward. Basically, weak on the outside, which is one reason I'm fighting to get a sound left outside edge in skating. Well, guess what dummy here had been really working on for two weeks...that edge. An already compromised tendon decided to defect, and I was left with a gimpy knee for the last half of the race, which slowed our pace a bit, but not overmuch. Fortunately, the musicians were out in force, inspiring me to bebop as much as walk, which helped me keep from hyperextending that knee. We had drummers and rock, belly-dancers and squeeze-boxes. It's really quite charming how the entire community turns out to cheer the bloomies on.
Sometime around the four mile mark, I called C&S and discovered Carolyn was having some problems, but I never did quite figure out the extent of it. They were laughing and no on implied our help was needed, so we just kept on trucking. We got to the top of heartbreak (or doomsday) hill, waved to the ten-foot high vulture who perches there every year, (waiting for raspberry bloomies to drop---encouragement not to) and headed into the last mile. We finished relatively comfortably, though I felt a blister go in the last mile (my feet are too annoyingly weird to contemplate: blisters are absolutly unavoidable in a long walk) picked up our T-shirts, then stopped in the first shade patch beside the river to wait for C&S.
I pulled out my cellphone to find out how C&S were doing and discovered the annoyingly exterior button that switches it over to voice rather than ring activation had gotten pushed (I hate this particular feature---which can't be deactivated---of an otherwise nice phone) and that Sharon had tried to call me. I didn't hear because it didn't ring, just "spoke" into an environment already filled with lots of ambient vocalizations. (The conversations one catches during such things are really quite fascinating. Then there's the afore-mentioned music and laughter and the gasping wheezes of the person running up behind you to pass, only to fall into a staggering walk squarely ahead of you, forcing you to move around them. Sort of like freeway driving in the mountains in a pack containing underpowered four-bangers.)
Well, I called Sharon, and that's when I began to get the whole story on Carolyn's situation. I'm sure she's got an account up on her site, so I'll leave that to her. We sat and waiting, then Lynn came up with the bright idea of getting lunch at Anthony's. Knowing nothing motivates Carolyn better than the promise of a good meal, I called them again (what did people do on these events pre-cell phones?) and made the suggestion, which was (predictably) very positively received. Lynn and I went over, got a table with a view but out of the sun, and waited. And waited.
Finally, the walking wounded arrived. Carolyn, inching along with both shoes tied to her feet, and Sharon with a grin as wide as her mouth would stretch. Once again, CJ has redefined stubborn. She wanted her shirt, and by golly, she got it. Yay, Carolyn!
After a wonderful brunch during which I ate way too much huckleberry-crumble cake, Lynn and I walked across the park to the bus station and found the #40 waiting for us...thankfully. By this time, my knee was beginning to seriously freeze up on me. We got home, got the car, and went after Carolyn and Sharon. We took Sharon to her car (she'd parked well north of the city and taken the bus in), went home and crashed. I got ice on my knee, but I'm not sure I got it soon enough. Sure feels scummy.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Okay, so it's been (to put it mildly) a while. It isn't that I haven't tried to update . . . I've written---and deleted---several short stories from this file in the past months. The explanation is at once simple and difficult: I haven't known what to say.
I got blind-sided into this blog-thing. I'm not much of a (in my own terms) 'NetHead. I didn't even know what a blog was when Carolyn suggested I start this journal last year. It was easy enough at first, then the Real Life of a writer insinuated itself and I got my first legitimate case of serious writer's block. It's taken me a long time to realize why. I'm not certain I've got it settled, but your requests for an update have convinced me it's time to take some kind of Position on the Dilemma.
The problem boils down to what belongs in this blog. As far as I can tell, there are two basic styles of webpages/blogs: let-it-all-hang-out and just-the-facts,-ma'am. Oversimplification? Of course. Most pages/blogs lie somewhere between these extremes.
I'm not, as anyone who's read my books knows, a just-the-facts kinda writer. I think I realized, some time last spring, that if I continued this journal, I'd probably expose more of the reality of being me than was necessarily prudent. I was being, in a word, pissatious. I alternately felt sorry for myself and higher than a kite. I don't know how CJ's put up with me. I was afraid if I kept a daily journal, I'd come across as a whining, spoiled brat. I was frustrated about my writing, my eyes are going rapidly (I passed 50, and the warrantee is running out), I was in constant pain and terrified I was going to have to go in for surgery, which we can't afford, and wondering if I was being as stupid-stubborn as my father who rather notoriously put off rotator cuff surgery until way way too late. The one unqualifiedly positive element I had to journal about was the skating, but from the feedback I was getting from blog visitors, they were getting all they wanted about that from CJ's journal, so I felt, if I was to write anything, it shouldn't be about skating.
Carolyn began the whole journal thing as a glimpse into the life of a writer, and I was beginning to embrace that philosophy. But for me, the events of my life, my state of mind, and my writing (or lack thereof) are so totally interwoven, discussing one without discussing the other is virtually impossible. The question was, do those details have any place on the internet?
Well, prudence be hanged. The simple truth is, my books are what they are because I'm the kind of person I am: emotionally intense, frank, and sometimes distractingly aware of the possible ramifications of a given action. And maybe that's the insight I bring to this world, the . . . alien (to a lot of people) mindset onto which I can shed some light. Maybe my books truly are, as many readers have said, different from anything else out there. I don't really know. More importantly, I don't care to analyze that aspect of my creative muse any further. That muse is fragile enough without poking and prodding---or trying to force it into being something it's not.
Besides, time has given me some perspective on all the above and below. I'm not feeling sorry for myself, I'm quite disgustingly happy most of the time.
Iyam wot Iyam, as Popeye says.
So . . . all that said, let's take a look at the past year.
First: the good: Skating
I won't go into the details of the skating experience here. I'll be adding a special page to deal with my take on it, however, I would like to comment on how skating has affected my head this year. To comprehend this topic, all you need do is look at the age. 52. Yup. "That time of the month" has become "that time of my life." CJ started me on this blog at absolutely the most disastrous stage of life for any female's self image. Bad enough the body starts going seriously southward as the warrantee runs out, the brain frequently has the acuity of a block of swiss cheese! And at the rate things are not proceeding (biologically-speaking), I could be doomed to cheese-brain for years to come!
But . . . let's deal with that body-thing first, because that's the unqualifiedly positive part. We couldn't have chosen a better time to take up the low-carb lifestyle and figure skating---at least for me. What should have been a time of alienation from my body has been a time of embracing it. Instead of pieces falling off, they're tightening up. My toes have become useful, productive parts of my body rather than this floppy fringe at the southernmost end of my legs. (That might not sound like much to those of you whose toes have worked all your life, but I realize now how many fine points of balance . . . and even walking . . . have been compromized all my life, thanks to flat feet and a screwed up hip.)
At a time when most women are worried about hot flashes, I'm worried about how many pairs of tights I can pack on to keep my legs warm on the ice. Rather than osteoperosis, I'm thinking about extension . . . how high can I get my leg today?. . . and turnout. Instead of avoiding clothing stores, I haunt them . . . well, maybe that's not such a good thing for the pocketbook, but it's something I've never, ever done before. The idea of going to a rack and pulling something off that might not only go around me, but look not half bad is a first for me. I've been lighter in my adult life, and even a bit smaller, but always at times when clothing styles sucked pond water and I invariably rebounded right back up to flabsville before I had time to register, let alone enjoy, the change. I've been gradually (and overall painlessly) shrinking for over a year now . . . and see no reason for the trend to stop.
Am I thrilled? You bet!
However, (there had to be a catch, right?) it's been all too easy this year to bask in the joy of accomplishment at the rink and ignore that other problem . . . the cheese-brain.
The bad: Writing
Writing has been . . . frustrating. It's not that the muse has been altogether silent, but every trick I've tried to boot Rings of Change: Alizant into high gear has failed miserably, and it's been frustrating to the point of depressing. This book should have been finished a year ago, and it's still floundering at about 3/4's finished.
There's no getting around it: I'm a gut-level writer, especially where it comes to my first draft. The characters have to talk to me and fess up to their story. This is a very specific mindset to fall into. Back in 2002, after I finished 'NetWalkers, I got Rings of Change started...wrote the best beginning/setup section ever (well, my best, anyway). I'd just finished that first third, where setup ends and the developmental section of the book begins to make life complicated for the characters, when I had to set that project aside to do the rewrites on 'NetWalkers. Then, my mom passed away, and when I couldn't concentrate on new material, I was fortunate to have the rewrites of the original Groundties Series to absorb me for the next year. I finished the rewrites, and just before Christmas 2003 (will someone please explain to me why these resurrections of stalled project always occur right before the holiday season?) I tried to get Change back into motion. The problem was, I'd left it in a state of sweetness and light, everyone was just happy as ticks, no friction, no screwed up love-lives . . . nothing to spark those creative juices into action.
And what did I learn from this? Never let all your characters be happy at once!!!!
Okay. So, I butt-kicked the lot into action. I entered what CJ calls the "maturing" stage of writing, i.e. having to write past the closed-mouthed characters until you discover their secrets. (Then you go back in and fill in their thoughts and motivations so that you, the author, end up looking brilliant.)
It was going pretty well, if slowly, when I had to set it aside to write the article for Dr. Ed Carmien's book on CJC, The Cherryh Odyssey. I'd dodged the participation bullet throughout most of 2003, being pretty much creatively useless, (for reasons I've commented on elsewhere) . . . not, you must understand, because I didn't want to participate, but because academically-inclined things bring out all my worst feelings of inadequacy...particularly when the subject matter is my best friend and business partner. I just didn't want to get it wrong and the easiest way not to get it wrong was not to write it at all.
But the truth is, I really did want to contribute, felt something of an obligation to contribute, heck, the way I saw it, it could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was, without question, the most difficult piece of writing I've ever done. To put it in perspective, my first (and almost only) short story Upstart, which is about the same length as the article, took me less than a week, concept to completion. This article took me almost two months to get right. The problems were things like finding the right professional tone, the ordering of the information, . . . not to mention keeping it from becoming a book all on its own.
The piece, which I entitled (not very creatively) "the Cherryh Legacy", gave me an opportunity to discuss her work as it has affected me as a reader, an apprentice, and as a peer, using that personal influence as a springboard to discuss her affect on the SF writing field in general. I was glad to have the chance to do the piece, glad to have an excuse to solidify some of the patterns I've noted over the almost twenty years we've been working together, however, I must admit (since this whole blog thing began as an effort to give the interested an insight into the daily lives of writers) that writing since I finished "Legacy" has been spotty at best.
The problem was, there'd been no "good" time to write "Legacy". Non-fiction of that nature is a serious gear-change under the best of circumstances. The karma and emotional involvement associated with the particular piece only added to the difficulty. Maybe if I'd been able to finish Change/Alizant before starting it, it would have gone more smoothly. As it was, I tried to keep the threads of Alizant from totally unravelling while trying to write this very different piece. I finished it just before we left for the Monster trip to Dallas/Memphis/Chicago/Toronto, so I had no chance to settle into writing before we left. I did end up reading what I have so far, which helped, and I got some notes taken, and if I'd been able to settle right into writing when we returned, all might have been well, but . . .
The ugly: Computers and bum shoulders
Remember that shoulder I was having problems with? Well, in the last five minutes of our last skating session right before we left, I fell. It was the hardest fall by far that I've taken. I was trying to do a sustained one-footed glide . . . my goodness, that seems so long ago . . . I got my weight back on my heel and went flat, hitting my right shoulder. In retrospect, I suspect I actually dislocated it, though if I did, it popped (mostly) back before I got up, but it was . . . shall we say, sore. The bad part was, I did the vast majority of the driving on that trip, and I always do most of the packing, which on this trip included packing the top rack on the car. The shoulder only got worse. By the time we got home, I was getting very little sleep, there being absolutely no position in which I could sleep that the shoulder didn't ache like a rotten tooth, and it had stiffened up horribly. The day after we got home, I got down to our chiropracter, and he was able to manipulate it back into semi-working order, but I was doing therapy on it for the next six months. Classic rotator cuff problems. Thank goodness for the internet. I was able to get a lot of options to try before going under the knife.
I found an excellent elastic support sleeve that took the weight of the arm off the tendons and muscles and which could protect it while I skated. Off-ice, I was able to ice it constantly. I found a great little unit, breg's polar cub cold therapy unit that allows you to keep a joint constantly chill. (Straight ice should only be kept on living tissue for twenty minutes at a pop). This unit pumps cold water up through a cuff and can be maintained for long periods of time. Between PT exercises, the cold and heat therapy, advil and the elastic cuff, I slowly got the shoulder to the best shape it's been in in years, but between the icing cuff and the pain, it was very difficult to find a position to write in and so I had yet one more distraction from poor old Alizant.
Again, skating proved a blessing. While I've been very very cautious, taking great care not to push my learning curve and have taken only one fall (when I foolishly tried to rush my unsupported 3-turns) since, by its nature skating strengthens the very area of the shoulder I needed to rehab. A strong back and firm arms are vital. It's been slow, but it's coming. I think, had I not fallen and been forced into the extreme rehab, I might have limped (so to speak) along with my funky shoulder for years.
While my decision turned out well, I worried for months that I was, as I mentioned earlier, pulling the same stunt my dad did many years ago. He tried to stop a float-plane's forward progression into dock by grabbing a passing pole. Exactly how much damage he did to his shoulder at the time, I was too young to know, but I did know the fallout. For the rest of his life he fought pain and weakness in that shoulder. He avoided rotator cuff surgery until many years later, and by then it was much too late. I had this constant nagging doubt that I was headed down that same path. Doubts are gone, I'm doing quite well, but it was definitely a major state of mind factor for most of the past year.
Then there's my computer. This laptop has been problematic from the start. It's the first Toshiba I've had reservations about. There are times I wish it would just up and die so I could replace it.
A year ago, just before our marathon trip, it made this annoying popping sound and died. Just . . . died. I took it to the doctors at CompUSA. They sent it away to their black-hole hospital and it returned with a "problem reproduced and fixed" report, but would they tell me what was wrong? No. Did it work right? No. Months later, it pulled the same trick. Made a popping sound, then just died, right in the middle of work. I unplugged, let it cool a while, plugged it back in and it started back up and the phenomenon hasn't repeated, but I'm watching it carefully.
In October, its space bar broke off. I'd been having some ghosty problems with the keyboard in general, so I took it back to CompUSA. Their answer was to replace the space bar, then reformat the harddrive... installing that disgusting Windows Media Center version of XP! Bad enough trying to shed all the garbage these laptop manufacturers stream onto the laptops, bad enough to put up with XP at all...this Windows Media Center tries to be your TV, your TIVO and your Music center, and probably do the laundry as well. Slow, clunky, and a piece of garbage.
So, after all that and being without my working laptop for over a week, I did all the work myself anyway. I restored with my original disks, then I did an upgrade to XPPro, and have been relatively content with the machine since...until it popped off the other night. ARGH!!!!!! I should never have sold my original laptop, which is still alive and well and writing books for Lynn Abbey down in Florida. Anyway, all this happened right about the same time as Rustycon invited me and just before I came down with the sinus infection. I upgraded the desktop to XP at the same time and the installed version of Namo webeditor didn't like the change from 98 to XP. So, all my machines were offline, where it came to this jounal, hence giving me yet one more excuse to delay an update.
I'm such a confirmed procrastinator, it's disgusting.
The frustrating: Where are the new books?
Have you guessed yet? The longed-for word-flow has never happened. Sometimes ya just sit down at the computer and stare at the screen for hours. You can force words out, but you can't force the words to sing. The short answer was, important motivational/political pieces were still missing, and as this is the most plot-driven story I've ever attempted, there wasn't the inter-personal tension to carry the story forward to those key moments where the characters, thinking you aren't paying attention, finally reveal their true selves. Suffice to say, I floundered---or perhaps plodded is a more accurate description--- for months.
I thought I had a handle on it after our special reading road-trip last spring, but while it moved forward, it didn't finish. Finally, last fall, I realized the problem was once again trying to stuff too much into one novel. The time line, the number of changes occuring within the various Rhomandi family lives were too complex to fit into one book. Once again, I have a three book arc. The first focuses on Alizant and his encapsulator, the second on Ardiin (whom you haven't met yet), and the third is Jeremin's (whom you have, though you might not realize it) story. When I look at where the book was a year ago, I realize I've actually written quite a bit, learned more, and tempered that elusive muse, but at the time, I've never felt like so many spinning wheels, creatively-speaking.
But the bungee-dive to the ending still eludes me, and yet another disruption looms on the horizon. I'm trying yet one more trick and going through, scene by scene, taking notes...something of a "back outline" so that when the inevitable happens and I'm once again pulled away, I'll have a faster recovery time. More, with luck, that back outline will turn into a forward outline so I'll have a solid base to fill out.
That's the theory, anyway. I'll try to keep this journal up and let you know if it works.
Meantime...and probably the reason I'm finally getting at this journal again, after almost two years, DAW is finally reading 'NetWalkers. In case you don't remember, or haven't visited that part of the site, this is the prequel to the GroundTies series, a book I wrote on spec for a whole lot of convolute reasons. After the rewrite, I sent it to Betsy, my editor for the Ring books, and she really really wanted to read it herself. The problem is, she's had lots of books come through that were already in schedule and they had to take precedence. I understand that, however, having made some (I think) major progress in my writing, it's difficult to write forward on something new when you haven't had that personal conviction reinforced by your editor.
Just before Christmas, she finally had to give it to Peter, her husband and #1 reader. The current word is, he loves it and is, I believe, currently reading the new versions of the Groundties series. I really don't want to jinx the project, but if all goes well, I hope to have very good news on that front very soon.
Welcome to the world of writing!
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Ah, the truths that surface in these things. Yesterday, before I posted, I asked Carolyn to look this over, wanting to make sure it made sense, doncha know (as Alizant would say) and that I didn't sound all whiney. Well, turns out that to this day she hadn't realized just how bad my shoulder was for that whole trip last year. She thought my uncharacteristic lack of reaction to her audio rendition of Destroyer had to do with the story when the real problem was the constant ache in my right shoulder! I, on the other hand, thought the allergies were killing her. She'd read for a short while, then put the manuscript away, saying her voice was tired.
For my part, I never realized Carolyn had any doubts about it. I had no idea I was projecting disinterest. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. It is, in fact, possibly my favorite in the series. I adore that kid and look forward to the day when he's running the whole show. Humans and Atevi alike will never be the same. I was sure I'd said as much, but evidently not.
It's something to think that someone with such awesome talent and skill can still have doubts. Probably that's why she's so good.
I'm going to try and catch up on some of the details of the past year. They won't be in any order. Sorry. Just whatever I feel like writing about on a given day. Since I'm on the topic, thought I'd tell you about the night CJ got her Lifetime Achievement Award.
Some people really haven't the sense gawd gave a newt. When the award people asked CJC who she'd like to introduce her, dumbo here volunteered. I mean, it couldn't be that hard, right? Well, about fifteen drafts and several sleepless weeks later, I decided I'd better just punt. They wanted a five minute introduction; I'd already written a 10,000 word essay on just a couple of the reasons why she was deserving of such an award, and could easily have filled an hour. Carolyn kept downplaying the whole affair, hardly mentioning it to anyone, kept telling me not to worry about it, and I did try.
Everything was moving along nicely. We got into OKC Thursday, stopped for a skate in the Edmond, OK rink (and isn't that another story?), then headed down to our friends' house in Norman, just south of OKC. We were to spend the night there, then go up to OKC for the next couple of nights, leaving the fuzzy people at Xanadu (our friends' wonderful home) where they'd stayed several times and would be much happier than cooped up in a hotel room with their human's gone most of the time.
Next day we headed north again and found ourselves ensconced in a lovely hotel. We were pretty much free agents until dinner that night, so we hiked a couple of blocks to the Crystal Bridge (a marvelous desert to rainforest conservatory) where they were having a special topiary exhibit, then down to the riverwalk, where I found a great deal on a fabulous opal ring in a Native American shop. I'm an October baby, so opals are legitimately "my thing". The new trend of "manmade" opals, which are, as I understand it, opal chips from the cutting room floor embedded in some sort of bonding medium, is not only conservation at its best, it makes the beauty of opals more affordable and it's perfect for the kind of mosaic/inlaid style I've come to favor.
Then it was back to the hotel and hooking up with the other guests and the organizers for dinner. I found myself seated next to Arlo Guthrie, who was there to receive his father's (Woodie Guthrie's) posthumous lifetime award. We had a great time. He hadn't ever had an opportunity to sit and talk with a group of authors and we had a delightful time discussing the pros and cons of self-publishing a book as opposed to self-publishing music, (Arlo has done the latter very successfully with his Rising Son label.) This conversation ultimately led to a discussion of the Tolkien phenomenon in which Arlo became much more involved. I won't go into details here, but will be adding to my LotR journal in a day or two. Suffice to say, we had very different takes on the matter and I thoroughly enjoyed our rather spirited engagement, and came out of the weekend with a healthily expanded view of the topic. This discussion continued in the car as we returned to the hotel and Arlo, CJ and I headed for the bar (which had several lovely singlemalts to explore) and we sat and sipped scotch and discussed some very esoteric topics, all centering on the creative process, fairly well into the wee-smalls.
Hmmm...still haven't gotten to CJC's award night. Guess I'll hit that tomorrow. Time for bed.
Saturday, April 09, 2005
What happened to Friday? Hmmm....Well, today we began to "Clean Sweep" the craft room. I came to the decision that the real advantage of the Clean Sweep format is that all the stuff-collectors have to do is decide what to keep. Deciding how and where to store the end result, moving the stuff around, physically tossing the throw aways . . . that all takes a toll, physical and psychological. I wish we both felt better. Kinda ran out of steam hours before I wanted to. Still, we made pretty good progress. Missed the Mariners' game, though, darn it. Thought it was a night game; turns out it was afternoon. And they lost!!! Pookie. Our closer . . . didn't. Ah, well, Long season ahead.
Going to make an early night of it, I think. See if I can wake up with more go-juice and finish moving stuff around. Found a nice table fountain yesterday. It's very simple, basically simulates the sound of rain very well. That's something I miss here. Too dry. I'm a Seattle girl and need my rain to keep the webs between my toes and fingers healthy. Slept like a log last night. Not sure if it was the fountain, but it didn't hurt. Efanor seems to like it, too.
Okay, I'm outta here. Gotta touch base with the outline before bed.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Yipes! no wonder I was accused of not updating since Thursday. I've evidently been uploading my not-yet revised (except for the picture) index page! It's right above the journal on my upload list, and I must've punched the wrong button...twice! ARGH.
Not a whole lot happening today. Still battling the Respiratory Annoyance, but between TheraFlu and Robitussin, we're at least keeping the symptoms at bay. Making slow headway in the Craft Room organization. Tossing stuff right and left, though still not enough. Have a ton of records waiting to be converted to CD and even more pictures/art waiting to be scanned. I have real hopes that once I can sit calmly in that room, I'll begin to make headway there.
I'm so close to being able to do alternating three turns I can taste it. Still too chicken to really . . . hmmm....I was going to put this into a skating page, wasn't I? Guess I'll do the "retrospective" on a separate page. Anyway, I've come to the conclusion that I'm a confirmed coward. Don't wanna fall, uh-uh. I mean, eventually, when I start practicing jumps, sure, I'm goin' down, but at this stage, I firmly believe in slow and steady. Build up the muscles, get the feet and toes to doing the thinking . . . avoid fear and pain, that's my philosophy. Anyway, I was beginning to get frustrated on the three-turns. I couldn't get away from the wall. I'd tried doing "two-footed" turns in the past and felt they were instilling bad habits for three-turns. Well...Once we started the alternating threes across the ice, I had some pretty fast success, as long as I had my security blanket (Joan's or Lyndsey's hands) waiting to catch me. I was having trouble sorting out my hand and shoulder position, however, so decided to find a way to practice on my own. The method I've found seems to be working pretty well. I stroke off into the proper three-turn position (Free leg toe to skating leg heel) then just before I commit to the turn, I place my freeleg toe lightly on the ice. I complete the back edge with that "outrigger" as light as I can manage, then pause slightly at the line to adjust my feet to a proper stoke-off to a firm outside edge on the other foot.
There are two aspects of this pattern that make it so difficult. First, the three-turn, which is a forward outside to backward inside. It's all too easy to drop the inside hip too far and have to set the inside foot down or fall down. We haven't begun the alternating inside threes, but I suspect they will prove a bit simpler, since I find the back outside edge easier to hold, period. Then, there's the step-off to the next pattern, which is a back inside edge to a forward outside...kind of a 3/4 body shift. Theoretically, you can make a very quick rotation of the skating foot to the correct stroke T-position right at the transition point, but that's a whole lot easier said than done.
But I'll get it...eventually.
Hmmm...reading back over that, it probably makes no sense whatsoever...even to a skater! However, the end result of my practice, two-footed pattern is a fairly stable position at all times, but one which telegraphs to me when I'm doing something wrong...like my most recent problem of sucking in my gut (or rather failing to suck) right at the moment of the turn. That stable core is important to all skating but when you're making a change of direction, it's essential, to keep your body from pitching one way or the other. I've been working on it, but thought my weakness was more in my back than in my gut. Wrongo! Taking a breath and consciously tightening my gut stops the forward pitch. Go figure. All the commentators always talk about a "weak back" when a skater pitches forward after landing a jump. This makes me wonder . . . . Hmmmm....
Bottom line, however, it's all about balance. Yin/Yang, Back/Tummy . . . . How Zen....
Watched the "Super Volcano" show tonight. Was pretty disappointed. Not in the science, but in the representation of the experts. Even if I grant the notion of a scientist in such an important position bowing to the idiotic whims of the ignorant and shortsighted government officials, once he was in the middle of the volcanic fallout...why in heck didn't he cover his mouth? Taking his shirt off and wrapping it around his head wouldn't have looked great on camera, but it would keep dumbo alive! I mean, sheesh! We were smarter than than when St Helens blew and dumped ash on us in Pullman!
When will these TV writers learn that what most people carry out of a show like this are the visuals, and the only useful information you really have to give them are viable options in such a situation? Dust storms, ash from fires, volcanic fallout...protect your lungs first. Doesn't matter what you tell them about the concrete volcanic dust makes in your lungs, what you do is make certain your characters---especially an expert on volcanoes!---do the smart thing. If someone watching this finds themselves in a situation like that, they need to remember Our Hero wrapping something around his head, not his (reported) trek to freedom.
Oy...going to start a real rant if I'm not careful. Overall, it wasn't that bad, and anybody dumb enough to avoid going to Yellowstone because they're afraid it will blow while they're there, doesn't deserve the marvelous experience they're missing anyway.
Oy, again....I'm not certain that's actually a sentence. Ah, well, time for me to go to bed anyway. Oh...Making slow headway on the outline phase of Change. Try to do a bit every day.
Tomorrow, however, I do taxes.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Lesson day today...on the "big ice". They've started melting rink two---they'll use it for rollerblading during the summer. Rink one is very different, being a sand-base rink rather than concrete. This gives the ice a softer feel ... almost like the difference between a proper dance floor and a normal hardwood floor. Our dull blades really show on it. They don't bite in at all, just sort of skim across the surface. Very disconcerting. We'd been hoping our favorite sharpening-guy, fellow adult skater, Larry Muxlow, would show up so we could follow him home and get them sharpened, but he didn't, so we called him as soon as we got off the ice and left a desperate plea for help. Shortly after we got home, he called and we jumped right back into the car. Fortunately, Larry's "normal" job is a night job, so we just take the skates over and wait while he sharpens.
Well, today we didn't just stand around. CJC had a gazillion books to sign and package for shipping to various parts of the country, boxes that have been taking up the back of the car for several days, so Larry sharpened, CJC signed and I repackaged. Never waste time!
No skating tomorrow...it's Dr Mike (chiropractic) day, and there's no public ice session...but I'm looking forward to trying the three-turn pattern with the sharp blades. Hope I don't fall on my nose. Depends on how much the smooth turns are dull blades and how much was proper technique. Started back inside edges today. Weird.
We're watching disasters on TV tonight. Have done mega-tsunamis, mega-quakes and are into mega-tornadoes now. Fascinating stuff.
Got more outlining done, but no taxes. Hopefully tomorrow.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Ok, so I missed a day. Nothing happened. I worked, I got crunched, I had my burger and milkshake. I planned to take my computer and my "to do taxes" folder to the rink with me today. We have early public skate now (9-11) and were supposed to have a lesson with Lindsey this afternoon, so I figured to do my taxes then work in the nice meeting room, saving the between skating driving time. Well....I got up bright and early, pulled out my todo taxes folder and found (predictably) problems. My taxes require only a few pieces of information. Since the internet now provides all necessary forms, my tax-doing should be simple. Somehow, it never works out that way.
Now for the most part, I can pull all those numbers out of our computer, if necessary. There's only one form, my non-IRA investments (whose modest size don't affect taxes much!) and that was (naturally) missing. I found it in a pile of non-sorted mail, so that was cool, but . . . collecting my numbers turned up several potential problems. Nothing that would keep me from doing my taxes, but I suspect we'll be the next several days tracking down the various answers. ARGH!
Suffice to say, staying at the rink was out. We went for the public skate and poor Carolyn pulled out early. She's got a bone bruise on the outside of her small toe. In skating, that really creates a problem. She's been treating it and thinks she's got the problem solved after doing a bit of surgery on her boots, but the foot still hurts. So we had to call and cancel the afternoon lesson. Came home, got my numbers, did my taxes and got some more cleanup accomplished. Early to bed.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Well, interesting night last night. Sometime around one AM, Efanor and I were in a doze-state, listening to our lovely rainfall fountain, when suddenly, right outside our window, a squeal of tires, a crash, worthy of the best movie car crashes. I put on my coat and ran out to the first landing of the stairs, where a car had crashed through the wrought iron fence and into the back of one of the parked cars (a van). I spotted a female figure darting away, around our building. There were several people gathered around the car and a man was already on the phone, calling the police. Amazingly, no one was injured. They hit the stone-facade pillar and it shattered, absorbing the vast majority of the momentum. I don't think the car he rear-ended was particularly damaged. After he (the driver) called the police, he (stupidly) started the car up, pulled back away from the van (with a squeel of disengaging metal) and rattled his way around to a parking spot. Didn't leave, though. Waited for the police and took full blame. Amazingly, he didn't seem in the least intoxicated. No word yet regarding the female who ran off.
Suffice to say, I read for quite a while before falling back to sleep. Today, we got more tax-related stuff cleared up, and I came home after mailing my return, only to have my body temp plummet. I fell into bed and came back to the world a good two hours later. We ran a few more errands, caught some dinner, and came home to a call from our skating-buddy Sharon, who is at Adult Nationals this week, and she's bringing home a Gold! For adult ladies interpretive. She does a totally charming routine to Tiny Tim's "Tip toe through the tulips."
Right now, in addition to working on my outline, I'm reading CJC's Pretender, the next "ER" book. It's the one I heard on the last trip. She's input the changes she found reading and the small handful of things I noticed while listening, and I'm now reading it, knowing the story. Mostly, I'm looking for continuity (coming and going of individuals) and our favorite dish "word salad." She and I both have a tendency toward...er...complex sentences. It's very easy, especially in the editing stage, to drop, oh, a useful part of the sentence, like a verb. Maybe lose a bit of agreement. That's where the careful reading just before sending it out is useful. If possible, I'm enjoying it more the second time through than I did the first.
Well, time to quit. Gotta go get some quality time with my manuscript before bedtime. CJC's playing with a new XBox game...MLB 2005. Looks like a time-consumer to me!
Friday, April 15, 2005
Tax day...and I'm watching baseball. How nice....
Top of the ninth, 2-6 Chicago, bases loaded, one out, Bret Boone up...AND BOONIE HITS A CLEAN SINGLE!!!!! Yayaay!!!!!! 4-6 Chicago. Whew...what started as a perfect game through seven for the ChiSox pitcher (John Garland) has become a serious game in the last couple of innings. Great improvement over last year's team. Wheeeee....
Skating today was intrustin'. I'm TIRED of not being able to hold my backward glide. If I've got Linds or Joan there to provide two lousy fingers for balance, I can do my back outside edges quite respectably. Without them, I can't even get my free foot off the ice without Sheer Terror kicking in. So today I spent a fair amount of the time staring at the far end of the rink saying I CAN do it, d#*n it! pushing off with alternating feet and getting that free foot OFF the ice! Not for very long, not totally reliably, and with style points of -2, but by the end of the session, I was doing it across the width of the ice, totally off the wall. This is (hopefully) a HUGE stride forward. This is a physical sport, no doubt, but it's also hugely a head game. If I can just zap this silly fear, I'll have (a) my 3-turn, (b) my back edges (c) my mohawk. Worth conquering, I'd say.
Ah, well...they lost. Good game, though. Bases loaded, with a solid almost-hit that would have tied the game as the last out by a pinch hitter. Took a great play to end the game. The M's feel good this year. They have a vitality sadly lacking last year. Yayayayay.
Quitting now to get a couple more scenes outlined before bed.
Monday, April 18, 2005
Hmmm...Three days. I been baaaaad. Sorry. Thought the network was down and was too busy to bother resetting. Turns out I had my modem turned off. Don't ask.
Lessee...having made some headway in the craft room, herself and I decided our respective bedrooms were next. I'd been putting off this process (called spring cleaning, in normal households) because I needed to (once again) rearrange my furniture. The simple truth is, I have too much furniture for the room, but there are certain items I must accommodate ... books, setabouts, stuffed animals ... artwork ... not to mention a bed and clothes ... oh, and Efanor's cat-tree ... so I've been shifting stuff about for ...oh... years now, trying to find the optimal arrangement. I think what I've come up with this time is going to work pretty well. I even have some empty bookshelves. Hopefully that means the survivors of the final book purge that we're hoping to do later this spring (of the boxes still in storage) will actually have a home.
Part of the cleanup involved taking down the drapes and putting them in the dryer on air fluff to purge dust and Efanor-hair from them. (Nothing like black kitty-fuzz on light drapes.) Efanor was, naturally, disgustipated. He'd just gotten them to a pleasing shade of Cat, and here I went and ruined them. My nose, on the other hand, is much happier.
Had a lesson today, and think I've hit on one of my major problems for the elusive backward gear. Balance is everything in this sport ... well, not everything, but it is a major factor. I'm not talking just the ability to stand on one foot, but balance in opposing muscles and (in this case) balance in strength and flexibility, left side to right. When gliding on my left foot, my right free leg goes quite naturally straight back and fairly nicely turned-out. My right leg ... well, it goes somewhat east of south, if you get my drift. Joan kept telling me to lift it straight back. Now I knew I was stiff on the right side and needed to put a bit more effore into it, but I'd be gliding backward with what I thought was the same position as the left leg, but the edge was, well, rotten. Joan would tell me to get the leg farther back (while keeping the body upright....quite a trick, believe me!), I'd pull harder ... and I'd fall completely out of the glide. The upshot is, all these years I've worked on turnout and extention, I've been working the wrong muscles on that side. Trying to force that right leg back pulled the left hip forward, throwing me off-balance.
Hmmm...that doesn't really describe the feeling. Suffice to say, the effort (muscle pull) in my back and rump necessary to put that right leg in the right position was about 1000% greater than the effort to get the left leg into the same relative position. I knew I had to work harder, but until we took the problem to the side-boards and really analyzed it, I didn't realize how great the different was. Can you say, off-ice exercises to correct the imbalance are in order? I predict very sore muscles this week. If you don't hear from me, I'm in the tub, moaning.
Well, time to put this to bed and go read some more about Tesla. I think the answer to my question is, I'm still going to have to murfle my electrical/leythium science, but I'm having a great time researching the possibilities. Talk about a fascinating man. A true genius who, thanks to Edison's systematic character/PR assassination, will never get the recognition he deserves Even if the efforts of Edison's still-active legacy-protecting team can be overcome, even if the history books are somehow rectified, nothing can undo the reality of his lost research years and lonely death.
Glug...that's much too depressing a note to end on ... What else can I ... Yipes! Of course!
After skating, I sat with Rita (the LCFSC president) to scan some ads for the upcoming Ice Show program book. Dodo here agreed to put together the book. Shouldn't actually be too hard (famous last words, right?) but hoping to make that true. Anyway, while I was working with Rita, our new gold medalist (Sharon) called from her plane in Salt Lake City. Turns out she was flying stand-by and lo and behold, had gotten on much earlier flights than she'd anticipated. Hubby was working, so could we pick her up at the airport?
Naturally, the airport being only a short drive from our place, we said no problemo. (Actually, we would have, even had the airport not been a mere ten minutes from our house.) We ran home, threw the vacuum in high gear over the floors we'd first covered then excavated over the last week, stopped on the way to the airport for some chilled champagne, then brought the champ home with us and plied her with alcohol and checked out all her competition pix until hubby-Steve showed up to take her home. She needed it; the energy was still radiating from her when she left. Hopefully she'll get some sleep tonight! From the pix, it's not hard to see why she won. As I mentioned before, she was competing in Adult Ladies Interpretive---humorous, and even in the stills, she just bubbles and sparkles...rather like champagne. One of her judges, who had just judged the Worlds a couple of weeks ago, appologized to her afterwards for missing the end of her program ... he was laughing so hard, he couldn't see past the tears.
I can't wait to see her DVD of the actual skate. Such fun.
Now, I am for bed!
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Okay, so it's been a week. That's the problem...it's been a week. Tuesday, Wednesday, not much happened. Thursday, I sent CJC off to get the car's oil changed while I waited around the house waiting for our manager to come check the dryer for the parts necessary to fix it. (Did I mention that, while I was fluffing dust out of things, the dryer began clunking...parts of the drum had broken off. Now, this was an old machine when we moved here in 2000. It needed replacing then. We've babied it along for three years. This is the third piece to simply shatter with use in the last few months. And still they won't replace it? Grrr....) Well, I waited around, the manager showed up ... only it wasn't the manager, it was our very nice, part-time fixer-upper guy.
Somehow during his checking out the machine, it came to light that our managers were no longer with us. In fact, the owner had sold all his apartments to some guy back in New York who (or so rumor holds) plans to turn our beloved apartment into (very expensive) condos. Now, what he's going to do when he realizes there's a major fault running through the middle of this building, I don't know, but I certainly wouldn't buy it. Anyway, our managers had been gone for almost two weeks (without a word), and our fix-it guy thinks he will still have a job, at least for the time being, but doesn't really know what's going on or what's going to happen to the apartments, or how long we'll have to find another place, if, in fact, we have to.
When he left, I tried to call Carolyn, but she didn't answer. (Turns out she was already on the road on the way home, and no we DO NOT pick up the cell if we're alone in the car.) Got a return call from her about a half-hour later when she got off the road and had stopped at our local grocery store. Naturally, in the middle of trying to tell her, her cell phone died.
By this time, I admit it, I was a bit of a basket case. To this day, I don't know if I was sad at the notion of having to leave a spot we love, horrified at the thought of moving all our stuff, or furious at the way in which I'd found out. I do know I feel like I'm in a state of limbo, still not knowing what kind of time table we're on, and with our friend Lynn Abbey showing up day after tomorrow for a long-overdue visit. Just what you want to do ... go apartment hunting. Anyway, I finished explaining to Carolyn when she got home, and she, practical lady that she is, immediately got online and started looking for options, And that's what we've done ever since, look at possible options. Of which there are a few. None have the location this one does, but we'll find something and make it into a home.
Eventually, I'll convince myself the entire mess is just the perfect clean sweep moment. The ones I really feel sorry for are those elderly folk who've lived here for years and truly looked for it to be their last home.
Meantime, the Science Channel has a really cool new series on how the geology of the Meditteranean influenced Western civilization. It's called Hot Rocks, hosted by Iain Stewart. I highly recommend it. Hoping they'll string it so I can get record the lot.
Then yesterday, poor Carolyn came in (I'd had a rather sleepless night) and reluctantly woke me up. She was in some serious need of sympathy. Seems she popped a blood vessel or something in her eyeball. I'm sure she's got the proper details on her blog, but she looks like she's channelling some new alien life form. Her whole eyeball is a rather bloody red with just the blue iris. Very impressive. Fortunately, the pain seems to be more annoying than worrisome and the vision isn't affected. She contacted Sharon, our skating medical expert, and she came over for another of her patented house calls (I don't know what we did before we met her!) Anyway, Sharon checked her out, called her expert consultants, (who said not to worry, that it was God's way of getting sympathy, and that she'd just look scarey for the next week or so, but s/b fine) then we took Sharon to lunch and off to look at apartments.
I was very lazy this morning. Got a little work done, a little pick up done, then sat like a lump and watched the Jamie Moyer pitch the Mariners to a win, which makes him the winningest pitcher ever for the M's. That was pretty cool. He's fourty...two, I think, and didn't do much at all as a pitcher until he hit his thirties. He's the ultimate finesse pitcher. His fast ball is nowhere...in the mid-80's at best...but he's got magnificent control and a great changeup that makes the fast ball look like100mph. Puts me in mind of one of my favorite characters in the John R. Tunis books I devoured as a kid.
But that's another story. Later!
Monday, April 25, 2005
My name's Jane Fancher and I'm not, I repeat not, a bookaholic.
Whew. There. I said it. Do you have any idea what a hard admission that is to make in this business where everyone seems to think the be-all and end-all of the world is a house that is bookshelves floor to ceiling in every room filled with books that come with the answer: "of course I've read them all"?
Do I have lots of books? Yup. Have I read them all? Nope. When I was a kid, would I read anything, even the back of a cereal box? Nope. The fact is, I've weighed myself down for YEARS with books I felt I should read. Books that have been recommended by friends, books that are "standards" in the field, books I paid good money for that looked interesting... but, y'know...I think I'm going to dump most of them. Keep my "old friends" and find good homes for the "should have reads" that I'm never, ever going to actually get around to reading.
Whew! I feel lighter already.
Today's good news: we found a new home! Another three bedroom with a terrific view. We won't have Latah Creek, or even water out the window, but we've got a glorious huge pine shading our deck and mountains on both sides. We'd just about given up and were ready to settle on a "make do" when we looked at one last place. We turned into the complex, looked up at this glorious standalone building on a rocky bluff, like some castle, and both of us thought the same thing: wouldn't it be great to have the top-story of that one.
Well...guess what three-bedroom had just come available! Unless I've got a criminal record I created in my sleep, we should have a new home by this time next month. YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY.
Sleep sweet tonight!
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Okay, I missed another day. What else is new? :D
We cleaned house yesterday, and I managed to throw something out in my back. Truly annoying, with a seven mile walk on the horizon (not to mention an imminent apartment move) this is highly annoying. Typically, I performed this GnC move right after we'd decided to postpone our chiropractic appointment. (Because of the whole apartment search and Lynn Abbey's imminent arrival.) I hope I don't regret this decision. I treated with ice and advil and stretching, and I skated today, but took it pretty easy. Feeling a little better tonight. Probably thanks to our very welcome visitor.
Lynn Abbey flew in from Florida last night (late). We took her skating with us today. She did great. She pond skated some as a kid and has a good basic body sense. She's also highly self-protective, which is a good thing. Then we headed out to the New Place...yes, we passed our criminal background/credit check. We picked up the garage door opener so we can start moving boxes of stuff right away.
Ah, life's going to be interesting this month. We've got Lynn this week and darned if we're going to start moving while she's here. There's a Mariner's game we really want to get to (the Moose Caboose give away. We're building trains) right in the middle. And the last weekend is MisCon...the following weekend is the club's Ice Show. In between we have to work and get this move made in such as way that we don't take extraneous stuff over. We've got less square footage, so we have to shed.
Touched base with the book today, but not much more. Only got about three hours' sleep last night, so after we got home from skating and showing Lynn the apartment, I opened the file, took a few notes, then crashed for an hour before dinner. We ate at our favorite "guest" restaurant, Anthony's, which is right on the Spokane River, then took a walk across the bridges to the park and back. Then we just came home to digest and watch the game.
The Mariners lost...as badly as they won yesterday...and then we watched Girl with a Pearl Earring. Interesting movie with low-key, interesting (and scenic) characters, but most notable for its stunningly beautiful recreation of the sets based on the original paintings. Highly recommended. We'd Tivo'd it, but I want to see it on the high rez of DVD.
Well... got short sleep last night, so think I'll call it a night. Later!
Thursday, April 28, 2005
No lesson today. We're waiting for raspberry teacakes... or perhaps....A Motocah! Call it what you will, today was dedicated to CJC's new computer. Not knowing when it would arrive, knowing once it did CJ would be totally distracted, all of us needing to get some work in, (not to mention the fact that Lindsey has mono and shouldn't be exerting herself anyway) we cancelled our skating lesson. In the morning, while CJ worked (and waited eagerly for the UPS guy), Lynn and I went walkies down our lovely (and soon to be much missed) Latah Creek gorge. One of the attractions when we moved here was this beautiful trail, a stiff-grade switchback down to Latah Creek, down one side of the creek past the three high bridges, across the river on a small bridge, up the other side of the creek, through High Bridge Park to another low bridge, then back up the switchback. Two...two and a half miles, but with the switchback at either end, it makes a great and beautiful workout. Problem is, High Bridge Park is the local "wretched hive of scum and villainy" (remember the original Star Wars?). Drug dealers wander the trees and make it quite uncomfortable to walk solo there on a regular schedule. Since CJC really doesn't like to walk (to put it mildly) my use of this lovely route has been limited. It's always nice to have someone to share it. (The pic was taken from our balcony last winter...you see why we're going to miss this place?)
Anyway, we got back to the apartment and CJ and Lynn went off to the store room to look for boxes. I stayed in the apartment waiting for CJ's computer. Predictably, it arrived five minutes after she left. I was very good. I just put the box on her chair and went about my business. When they got home, there was a gleeful unpacking, the predictable hassle of trying to remember the current passwords for our network, and a settling in for an evening of DVDs and New Computer. We sat and watched DVDs, shared Lynn's screensaver pix (everything from family photos to artwork of all kinds to her own glorious needlework) while CJ made sure the new computer knew how to play solitaire.
In all honesty, it's a beautiful machine. I'm glad she got it.
Friday, April 29, 2005
Skating: Weird! I've discovered walking and skating don't mix. My feet were very confused! But we got it sorted out. Lynn did very well, once again, this time with better skates than rentals. Afterward, all the adult skaters and some of the rink folk headed down the road for another of our favorite restaurants, Tomato Street, for the "official" celebration of Sharon's Nationals coup. Had a great time. Unfortunately, they tried to poison Lynn! She has a tropical oil food sensitivity that doesn't manifest until an hour or so after eating, so she wasn't able to avoid...whatever it was...that got her. Poor Lynn! We're sorry. And we still don't know what did it. The restaurant was wonderful, searching all the things she had for lunch, looking for "tropical oils", but didn't find anything. We deduced it was probably something in their wonderful bread, which is the only thing they don't actually make on site. We're still looking into it.
After lunch, Sharon joined us to go downtown and pick up our Bloomie packets. We parked a few blocks from the convention center and walked, downtown traffic and parking being crazed right now. This was not the brightest idea we've had in recent memory. I didn't know the CJ had worn her glorified slippers. These are not good things for walking. By the time we got to the center, she was limping. This does not auger well for Sunday.
Well, we got the packets, everyone had the right color tag (green) except ME! Go figure. I go to contest the tag and they claim it's because when we did it three years ago, it took us three and a half hours (never mind a good percentage of that time was waiting for crowds to clear and because the Evil Parents with Battering Rams (children in carts of various descriptions) nearly crippled us), never mind CJ, who had the exact same time as I and who has several years on me had gotten her green start. It didn't make sense, but they did change it without much hassle. I did have to justify my belief that I could do it faster this year (brought up my regular skating, etc.)
Ah, well. Went to the trade show and immediately in the door found both my Bloomie pins and a great lavendar warmup jacket. After that, it was just cruising lesser booths.
Saturday, April 30, 2005
Getting ready for tomorrow. Worked. Light (flat) walk. In the evening, watched DVDs, looked and pix and talked. Hey...old friends together for the first time in a couple of years. Lots to share.
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