Monthly Archives: June 2013

Of writing, household chores, study, horses, and summer heat

So I just did my word count metrics for June. I wrote approximately 16,000 words, all different short stories, some original, some revised. I did a rewrite to editorial request (still waiting on that), but most of the writing happened after school was out. About 4000 words were revisions, 12,000 words were on new works.

Not bad. It’s been a while. No wonder my brain started sulking on Friday and demanding some down time. That, plus…now I have to spend some quality time with notepads, easel pads, and probably other stuff to do some serious worldbuilding not just for the Netwalk Sequence but for the Kalosin Valley story. But before that can happen, I needed to spend time doing office sorting work. That’s a chore that is going to take most of the summer, but as of now, it’s a space that I can both write and study in. Good, because that’s what I’ll need.

As it is, Monday brings a need for serious self-discipline. Luckily, I’ve signed up for two distance classes so that will keep me centered. I’m also excited because both of these classes involve working with literacy and writing interventions, and they’re just the shot in the arm that I’ve needed to prepare for the fall. The pacing is such that if I plan to do a lot of the work while listening to music at various festivals, I should be able to do both writing and study while still having a life this summer. Not bad at all–especially considering that part of the plan is to get Netwalk: The Expanded Edition out by August at the latest, be ready to begin work on Netwalk’s Children in the fall, and meanwhile figure out just what the hell is supposed to happen with Bearing Witness (the Kalosin Valley story which I’ve been alluding to in various forms on Facebook writing summary days). I thought the Peter McLoughlin novel was going to come first in the Weird West procession, but um, no–more research and reading needs to happen. And maybe if I can find another excuse to sneak off to Paris…fat chance. Nonetheless, the Peter McLoughlin story is going to be not just alternate history Weird West, but it’s going to be taking a good hard look at race (god, I hatehatehate that word when talking about ethnic and cultural issues, it’s so stupidly 19th century, it’s not the human RACE, it’s the human SPECIES and if we could just think in those terms then skin color becomes more of a phenotype and cultural consideration that are just variants within a single species rather than OMG WE’RE SO DIFFERENT, especially in sf. If I read another contemporary SF writer who talks about the human race instead of the human species, I will scream. And throw things. And exercise the meltdown skills I’ve learned from middle school students. Ahem. I digress. That’s a rant.

TL:DR–I don’t like the word race. I prefer “species” when talking about people in contact with alien species, ‘kay? We’re all Homo sapiens here, let’s start acting like it.).

Anyway, Bearing Witness has transformed from a short story concept that popped into my head while thinking about the fate of the Kalapuya during the drive down the Willamette Valley for some event during the summer two years ago. Now it’s a freaking novel. Of course. Isn’t that the way it always works? I do think the story has merits, maybe not for a big novel but something on the smallish side. Then again, who knows what the heck the Russian and Chinese sorcerers are up to?  I still haven’t figured out if they’re working together or in opposition. Or what. I just know that I have 9000 words on the story so far and I’m just winding down the first act/arc and getting ready to launch the second act/arc. Conservative estimate–36,000 words for a novella, but that’s just a rough draft. There are enough subthreads so far that I could probably blow it up even more. However, it’s not an easy story and it’s exhibiting all the symptoms of a piece that may take a year or so to piece together. Could be fun–and I haven’t even brought Grandma Pruitt on stage yet. I think she’s going to be a real plot shaker. As it is, she’s got a rather tart voice. She probably will upstage her grandson Mad Jesse when she finally ambles in. She’s just that sort of nineteenth century Western settler.

And then there’s the classes. When I signed up, I thought it was a self-paced study like another online class I’d taken. Nope, staggered weekly responses. But I think I did recover and get on track (whew!). Both classes are looking at Regie Routman’s literacy program, one focused on reading, the other on writing. I read the first assignment for the reading class and I’m liking what I see so far.

A various combination of circumstances gave me more free time than anticipated this weekend, so I’ve been working on cleaning and sorting and organizing around the house. I pulled out all the horse blankets, washed Mocha’s current ones and figured out which ones I’m selling because they didn’t fit. We’ve had some good schooling time but not a lot because the farrier is overdue and she has a crack in the toe of her left fore.

And the heat–and heat pump. Our AC went out earlier this spring, during a previous hot spell, so we considered various replacement options. We ended up choosing a heat pump, simply because the resale value is higher than straight AC in PDX. This house is difficult to decide what to invest in because we just don’t know how long we’re staying in this particular spot…yet.

However, I’m liking it. It’s maintaining a 78 degree temperature in the house with much less effort than the AC did. We just had a day in the high 90s and the AC would have been running constantly and struggling to keep the temperature at 78. The heat pump hasn’t been struggling. I’m impressed.

Meanwhile, it’s getting late and time to crash. Early morning rising to work out, skim e-mail and take care of outdoor stuff, then hit the barn early before it gets too miserable. I gave Mocha a bath the other day and she was quite happy with it, to the point now that she tries to walk into the wash stall after every ride.

Summer. And the festival season is about to begin….

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My two cents on the recent sexism/ sf convention harassment controversy

Apologies in advance for all the rambling, but…it’s been a busy day and I’m tired, and I’m still pulling my thoughts together.

First of all, I want to give MAJOR props to the women who have spoken out on this issue, especially Elise Matthesen. Speaking out in the face of physical and psychological harassment is a huge thing, and she’s right. If we’re going to stop this sort of behavior at conventions, especially by people in positions of power, then we women damn well have to make formal reports when sexual harassment happens, no matter how powerful the person doing it is. Period. Full stop. No two ways about it.

I don’t have a lot of convention horror stories to share, for various reasons. Some of this may just be that I flick the verbal harassment back and ignore it. Another is that as a result of years spent around horses in various stages of training (as well as being a middle school teacher), I have a pretty firm set of boundaries/personal space and when they get violated, I’m vocal (and, if sufficiently threatened, well, I have heels, elbows and other stuff and I’m not afraid to use them). I do engage in horseplay occasionally with trusted friends (there’s one gentleman who likes to pick me up when we’re goofing around at parties, but–we’re both laughing and it never crosses my personal boundaries). And that’s the key. They’re trusted friends, with established relationships. If I don’t know someone who puts hands on me, um, well, y’know, I might decide you need to be treated like a recalcitrant stud colt who wants to put his lips and teeth on me. Doesn’t need to be big and dramatic, but I will make a correction. Don’t go there. You might not like the result. I have a Teacher Voice, and I work in middle school, so I’ve had lots of experience observing just how to stage a dramatic scene without worrying about how dignified I look. If you have any dignity, you won’t survive teaching in middle school. That’s just the way things roll.

But, in counterpoint–I have specific circles I run in and I don’t go to a lot of the big, popular cons. I don’t necessarily do a lot of parties because, hey, I have a day job with day job sleep habits so I tend to bug out of parties early. I’m older (55) and that probably puts me off limits. I also have a spouse who goes to conventions with me and I usually talk about him being in the hotel room waiting for me. Sometimes he even comes to panels. In any case, I cultivate the “very married” persona and privilege (which not everyone has as an option). Because I was a political activist in college and spent some time as a legislative intern, I’ve had experience in fending off creepy politicians and lobbyists cruising the cute interns (OMG, now there’s a snake pit for you–being a female legislative intern). As the same activist, I’ve also led more than a few meeting charges (my friends–male–used to feed me talking points, aim me, and have me lead point on some of our political meeting arguments, under the general principle that having the articulate, assertive woman who was young and attractive leading the charge would put our opponents off their arguments. It worked, for the most part.). So I am not afraid to speak out in my defense, even if it burns bridges (ouch!).

Because of the combination of these various elements, I’ve been very damn lucky at conventions. I know it, because that luck hasn’t always held in other settings. I’ve survived one rape (pre-writing, pre-convention era). I’ve been pursued by another rapist when going home from class. In the workplace, I’ve filed one formal complaint for sexism against a supervisor and informally complained about another supervisor (who was so awful that sexism and harassment were actually relatively minor parts of his utter awfulness). That’s recent history. Past history has not been so kind.

At my first job, at an isolated river resort in Southern Oregon (the owners have changed so there’s no need to call them out now), I was specifically directed by my boss (female) to let one of the boat pilots fondle me. In front of customers. Loudly and brazenly. This was in the mid-70s, BTW, so not a lot of recourse then. When I left at the end of my employment, the only pilot available was that one. Who fondled me all the way down the river.

I was young, powerless, and had no options, in an era where I had even less support than women who are the age I was then have now.

There were other incidents at other jobs but that was the worst. I had a stalker confront me at work and the boss took his side. I almost got fired over that.

So…yeah. Convention experiences have not been bad for me, but then again, that’s been a combination of circumstances that have skewed in my favor. Other women have not been as fortunate. And that is absolutely, totally, NOT RIGHT.

And that’s the bottom line. I don’t care how old, how powerful, or how privileged someone is. Age, power and privilege do not convey the right to violate other people’s personal boundaries and personal dignity. This should be social functioning 101.


We should have learned this lesson by now, damn it.

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Another day in the land of damp and cool-horse and writing and stuff

Classic Western Oregon June summer day–rain, partially cloudy, and 60s. Sooner or later we’ll get warm here, but this is a pattern I’m well familiar with. Still would like to see it go away before Blues Festival, though.

It was a busy day, but I got stuff done. House doesn’t look like it, but I actually was rather productive. Got a car to the garage, wrote about 1300 words, rode horse, made taco salad, cooked asparagus and prepped strawberries and blueberries. After this post I’ll probably work on mucking out the office and getting ready for my Friday-Saturday class, as well as getting ready to start on my online classes. Busy summer.

Actually, this morning, after dropping the car off to the garage, I hiked through part of the old neighborhood and settled in at the local Starbucks to sip some tea and write. I had to wrestle with my phone, but I now have a lovely transit app which lets me check when buses are due. Go me! It took some fussing because the TriMet page on my phone’s browser kept wanting to do something with Facebook, but I finally beat everything into shape. And now I can haz transit tracker (very useful in the land of PDX and for the rest of the summer!).

After writing for about thirty minutes, I packed up, caught the bus, and headed home. Futzed around doing stuff for a half-hour, then headed to the barn whereupon Miss Mocha felt very put-upon to get ridden TWO DAYS IN A ROW, OH NOES. Then she realized we were doing the bareback pad, which perked her right up. This summer I’m riding her in bareback pad and snaffle instead of the sidepull. Darn sidepull is molded up and desperately needs cleaning before it gets used again. Plus then I have to pull the reins off of the Pelham to make it work. Meh.

We had a nice little walk-trot work, with bending and flexing and circles and loops and patterns and all sorts of stuff. I also worked on extending and shortening in the trot. She does it reasonably well in walk and canter, but trot is where she can get really stubborn and bullish. So we’re spending summer schooling working on that bit. No particular reason for her to do it bareback, that part is mostly for me. This time around I didn’t notice as much of a tendency to slump, and we did a lot more trot work, even working on extensions with me sitting instead of posting.

At the end, Mocha lined out in her huge walk, swinging through her shoulders and back. That’s a really fun walk to ride. She prefers to do it on a long rein with a low head, and man, can she power walk with a low head. Ain’t no peanut roller with this girl and a low head–that’s her moving out gear at the walk, and she shows it well.

She’s also much shinier than she was last year. I don’t know, her coat seemed not quite right most of the year last year, at least until I shaved her for the winter. This year she’s sleek and shiny. Of course, I’ve spent a lot of time at the barn the past two weeks and brushing her. I’m trying to get out there at least four times a week, if not five. The added attention shows, and I feel good about it.

Then after coming home and doing the food preparation stuff, I set up a chair on the front porch, pulled on a sweater, and took the laptop out front to write. I started this story, “Bearing Witness,” back in January, then broke off to write “Beer Goes to War,” another story that didn’t sell, and the Uprising edits. Then I got into writing the Netwalk: Foundations giveaways and that’s been a wee bit of a time suck (especially with a story that’s blowing into novelette size). Then there’s been more edits and stuff, so I’ve not gotten back to “Witness” until now.

As always, the added time seems to have helped. But the damn thing seems to want to become a novel, or at least a novella. Ah well, it’s steampunkish or Weird Westish or something. There’s probably a market for it somewhere. I think it’s my summer noodling-about-I-need-a-break-from-Netwalk project.

I think I’m going to spend more time writing outside on the front porch. I did some work on our friend’s porch last Sunday and that was just right. I worked outside today until I came to a stopping place and my fingers got cold.

And now it’s on to doing some housework. I’d like to get some parts of the place in order before I start taking classes!


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Clams again!

This morning we drug ourselves out of bed very early, sped around the house, then got on the road quickly to meet our friend at his coastal place. Once we switched everything over to his truck, then we headed for the beach and yet more adventures in razor clam digging near the mouth of the Columbia River. DH commented that this is the most often he’s gone by the wreck of the Peter Iredale ever…same for me as well.

After navigating a rather rutted out soft sand passage to the firm pack sand, we drove several miles north on the beach, past the Peter Iredale, almost all the way to the jetty. This was an excellent but not necessarily great low tide, but still rather nice to try to hit around 7:30 am:






At first the digging was slow. After initially getting a smaller clam, I hit quite a few dry holes. Then I followed our friend over to a spot on the beach which was just packed with big clams. DH joined us and we managed to get a limit for all three of us–45 clams–in less than an hour. It was nothing-nothing-nothing–then hey, look at that! and we were digging hard and fast, twisting the clam guns into the sand quickly yet delicately.

Oh, and I found two whole sand dollars. I’ve never found whole sand dollars on the beach before, so that was really cool–and they’re nicely marked.


There were a lot of tiny little crabs on the beach this time. I saw a couple of things that might have been tsunami debris, but they might not have been, either. Spotted a big freighter working its way across the Columbia River Bar and another one headed out. There did seem to be a bit of traffic on the river for certain.

A fascinating thing happened when I was rinsing my clams for the last time. As I pulled them out of my bag, one of the clams extended heshe’s foot. While a clam’s foot is webbed, the edges are a bit stiffer and can dig. Well, this clam waved its foot aggressively, grabbing at the sand for three attempts to dig in, then pulled it back in.

We stopped at the Pig-n-Pancake in Astoria for breakfast. They have heavenly gluten-free pancakes, so I pigged out on blueberry pancakes, bacon, and a half-slice of ham. Hey, after doing all that clam digging, girl’s gotta carbo load, y’know. Wet sand is pretty dang heavy.

Then we headed for our friend’s house to finish off letting the clams clean themselves, rinse them, then clean them. Three limits is 45 clams, so here’s what 45 good-sized razor clams looks like:

IMG_0259There were a lot of big clams this time around, many more than from the past two times we’ve gone out this clam season. And we’re starting to get the hang of how to dig razors without breaking the shell. That said, it’s easy enough to break the shell even if you back off with the clam gun and go in by hand–the process of pulling the clam out can take a bit of work to get them without breaking the shell.

Nonetheless, we got a lot of nice clams today. It’s our last expedition of the season, because it closes in mid-July and there aren’t any good tides that match our schedule between now and then.

It’s been a good first year digging these razor clams. I think I like it better than digging for the big blue or quahog clams. It’s easier digging clams in sand than in bay mud.

We put our share of the clams away in the freezer, for a taste of early summer sometime this fall and winter. That batch will be enough for clam fritters and clam chowder. November or December…mmm. A chance to remember a perfect clam day.

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First day of summer

Typical Portland June summer morning started with overcast sky, followed by sun eventually as the clouds burned off. I’ve been pushing pretty hard on the conditioning and am now feeling somewhat sore and tired–too early to see much in the way of results weight-wise, but definitely starting to feel a difference in how I move and how the body holds itself.

Not so good news on the job front–got a call from the last interview place that the position had been put on hold, so no job there. Then got a letter from another place that I hadn’t been picked for an interview. Sigh. Figures. Still, I got some writing words in today–just some tweaking of the next Netwalk: Foundations posting, nothing big, but OTOH, I needed a break today.

So I picked up and went to the barn to ride my bad mood away. Fourth ride this week, and Miss Mocha chuckled at me when I came in the door. She’d managed to give herself an owie, probably playing with her grain bucket. Or something. Near as we can figure, she must have been the one that put her big salt block in the grain bucket–apparently she’s been playing with her bucket and knocking it off of the wall, and before G threw the salt block into her hay feeder, she’d been countering all efforts to put it to the side and had planted it in the middle of her stall. It’s a 50 lb salt block and she likes to roll it around her stall. It’s not too far of a stretch to imagine her somehow getting the block into the bucket, then rolling block and bucket around the stall. Silly horse. Smart horse.

Unlike some horses, Miss M doesn’t exactly cater to my moods. If she’s in a witchy mood herself, well, the fireworks can be entertaining. Not bucking but just a bit of “Oh? You want sensitive? I’LL SHOW YOU SENSITIVE!” and then responding to every weight shift. But if I’m in a down mood, there’s no guarantee that she’ll be cooperative. Sometimes she is, sometimes she isn’t. Today, she was, and we had a nice schooling. At one point when doing counter-canter figure 8s, she missed a cue and swapped to be on the lead, but she swapped back readily and I made sure my seatbone was better weighted the next go-round and she held it.

In any case, nice schooling, and then I came home to Do Stuff. Showered after a late lunch, and was combing my hair outside on the back deck, when the neighbor kicked up the bird who’s been making a very odd chirping call around the neighborhood for the past couple of months. I’d been thinking it might have been some variety of parrot, but what I saw fly up in the tree looked like a dove. She called over to ask me what it was, and we couldn’t see it. Then I thought I saw it fly down into the dusty area their hens had scratched up next to their house, so I went to check it out.

This is what I saw:






Juvenile female ruffed grouse. I didn’t ID her right away because, of course, bird books don’t have juvenile female pix. But I had to wonder as she was pretty tame, as long as I spoke to her in a calm voice, though the call threw me off. I’m used to adult ruffies scolding me as I scramble around the brush trying to shoot them, not juvenile flocking calls. Still, I’ve been able to kick up a ruffie in the brush while carrying my rifle on a short stalk looking for deer, gone back to the rig, grabbed the shotgun, and found the same ruffie on the same log squawking at my invasion of his space. Boom. I had to wonder–was she a domesticated chick or a ruffie? The quail I see around the barn are much more skittish, as are blue grouse. Ruffies, though…they’re fools. Fortunately, they also reproduce pretty readily.

Anyway, when DH got home, we went back to look, and found the male on our side of the fence. Recognized his little crest for certain, positive ID as ruffed grouse, from size and plumage, both were half-grown juveniles. I was still hearing their occasional calls until about half an hour ago, along with other, adult grouse talk. Still not sure if they’re escapees (it is possible to buy ruffie chicks) or else migrated over from the Springwater Corridor. I know I’ve occasionally seen Chinese ring-necked pheasants in this neighborhood (nothing wakes you up quite like looking the window and going “Huh? WhAAAAT? Pheasant? HERE?”), but it’s really interesting now to see ruffies.

After taking grouse pix, I staked the Blue Lake beans, as they’re now trying to climb sunflowers, weeds, the lawn….brought out the old cross-country skis that you can’t get boots for any more and set them up. The nasturtiums are exploding, we have more Gravensteins than I thought we did, and one blueberry bush is loaded. One tomato has set on and the others are blooming.

Guess it’s summer. And this summer, I plan to ride, and write, and study.

Sounds like a plan to me.

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That weight thang

Note: could be triggery, so if you have weight issues, you might not want to read this. This is more a musing on my weight gain-loss process, as I think it over and plan how to deal with it. I know what I have to do, and I’m working on it. So….


I’m having to watch my weight again. I’m up about seven pounds from where I should be and it’s showing because it’s starting to get in my way. Keep in mind that I’m a small woman, narrow-shouldered and short-waisted, about 5’3″. My seven pounds is a taller, bigger-framed woman’s fifteen-to-twenty. So when I took off sixty pounds, that was a third of my weight. Someone who is taller with broader shoulders and longer waist would to lose more weight to have that significant of a weight change for them. Doesn’t sound like much of a problem? Well, the dilemma I’m facing is that for me, it’s becoming clear that little shifts in weight can make a HUGE difference in health, comfort and ability to be active. That plus given that I was a fat baby, those little fat cells are just primed to take off and grow given the slightest option. My optimum calorie consumption is about 1300 per day…and it’s only going to get worse as I age. Sigh.

To give you a visual perspective–here I am near my heaviest, around 2006-7:






Contrast with this weight from last fall, which is about five pounds above my lightest weight and actually is just about optimum for me health and activity-wise:






The thing is, I know how my weight gain sneaks up on me. If I don’t watch what I’m eating during the last weeks of school, or if I don’t immediately get strict with myself at the beginning of summer and lose the dang weight already, it stays around. I tend to have wide weight swings across the span of 6-10 years, and if I don’t watch it–before I know it, I’m back up big again. Which is so not going to work as I’m getting older, because it interferes with what I want to do, and the wide swings in weight (sixty is just the biggest, I’ve been known to swing forty-to fifty pounds in a gain-loss cycle) are not good for my long-term health.

I’m usually pretty fit at any weight–aerobically fit, that is. But the weight does get in my way. And as I age, the weight becomes the enemy of the joints and ligaments. Not only that, but it’s putting itself on differently.

Menopause has definitely affected my weight/body shape. I dumped a lot of weight at the beginning of menopause because I went off of hormones and BAM! there went a lot of the weight. I was exercising well until about after the time of the picture from this fall because my hips really started tightening down on me, and then I strained one in early season skiing, and it’s taken until now to get that fixed. I didn’t get bothered at first because besides the weight scale, I use a measuring tape to track my changes, and things looked good.

Except…my waist started creeping upward. I didn’t think much of it at first, because my usual pattern is that I gain first in my bust and lose it last there, while my waist follows the lead of my hips, which usually are the first to lose and the last to gain. Not this time. Bust and hips have remained relatively stable, but the waist? Urm, guess what grew.

Post-menopausal gain pattern, clearly. Annoying as all get-out. Luckily, I think some of that flab is simply loss of muscle tone, and resuming regular workouts as I get more active again will change that. Nonetheless, it’s an bothersome sign of aging.

What’s even more concerning is that this last little gain is making it clear that these days, a five pound range can make a significant difference for me. Couple small frame with reduced calorie need even for an active person (albeit an active writer person) and I foresee some real challenges ahead. I have arthritic tendencies and I just can’t afford to get heavy.

The post-menopausal waist gain is also a huge problem. Before, the weight pretty much evenly distributed itself, with a tendency to concentrate in the bust. Now it all wants to go to the waist. That quickly impacts my flexibility and movement. Yuck.

So…I’m easing back into the process of monitoring food, because what’s happening is that I’m nibbling more and that’s where the calories come from. I’m also in fitness boot camp, which isn’t going to be too bad because I’m including Mocha in the process. But I have to watch out that I don’t overdo (which is why today is a relatively mild day). It looks like I’m going to need to figure out just what does and doesn’t affect that waist weight gain for me.

Arrgh. Just when I got it figured out, things change. The curse of way-too-efficient metabolisms, I guess. And bye-bye, sweet carbs. T’was nice while I could nibble on you.

At least I know I can do it. But it’s annoying to deal with. Sigh.

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Not much in words, more in pictures. Okay, I lied. There’ll be words. I also plan to put up more pix in Facebook to spare folks on my friends lists.

It was a bittersweet party simply because we don’t know what will happen next year. While that could be true for any of us, in Jay’s case we know there’s a shortening of the time we have this lovely and brilliant person left with us. I’ve been through this experience of walking down the days with family and friends before, so any more for me it is about seizing the time as best as one can while the person unwinding the threads of their life is still able. Doesn’t make the process any easier and simpler while it occurs. It does make me angry that once again, I’m going through this with someone far too soon. It happened with my parents and in-laws (all four dead by the time I was 40), it’s happened with another friend just last year. Sure brings one’s own mortality home hard.

Enough morbid, more par-TAY!

The star of the show with the Princess balloon:






Other assorted folks:












For mercy of various linkages, that’s it for pix. More words!

Amongst the raffle giveaway items were foam-backed posters of Jay’s Green trilogy covers and his Mainspring trilogy covers. I wasn’t particularly interested in the Mainspring covers because while they’re gorgeous, they’re not my thing. The Green series, though? I liked the first cover, kinda liked the second cover, but really, really liked the third cover (Kalimpura). Bob Brown gave me some tickets for the raffle but I never win stuff so while I was hoping, I didn’t figure I’d get anything, right?

Mike Moscoe got the Green cover, and said he was interested in Kalimpura and would trade. I just kept hoping. And then…I got the Endurance cover. Not my first choice, but hey, still good. I figured, no way would lightning strike twice and I never, ever win this stuff, right? Right?


The next ticket number was the number RIGHT AFTER the ticket that won me Endurance. I couldn’t believe it. Such things NEVER happen to me. Mike asked for a Green/Kalimpura trade and I turned him down, offering Endurance instead. He didn’t want it.

So. Two posters. I knew I could find room for one, but two? I gave Endurance to Bob because, hey, after all, those were the tickets he gave me. I think it was the poster he really wanted, anyway.

So now Kalimpura leans against the wall behind me. It will go up this afternoon, where I can look up from my computer screen and see it when I’m contemplating what to write next. It sums up so much of an underlying theme that resonates with me that I can’t begin to explain it, except to say that this aspect of Green could well reflect the perspective of several of my heroines.

Anyway, after noshing down at Flying Pie on dairy-free, gluten-free pizza (royal pig girl, OMG it’s been a while), I joined the procession to the Barley Mill for more nibbles and time with Jay and a host of other wonderful folk. Then I wended on home.

Bittersweet, but still good. That’s my hope for more days with Jay.

I can walk this walk. I’ve done it before with family and friends.

I just hate having to do it so soon.

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Busy days, busy days

There’s been a lot of blog silence of late, mostly because I’ve been treading water trying to keep from overdoing and getting sick during the last weeks over school and like, well, writing, y’know? Committing to the twice-monthly Foundations series has proven to be huge, especially since I find myself wanting to write regular stories instead of the drabbles I’d first envisioned. I have at least one that I’m going to offer as a sales short (too long IMO to give away), and another set of three where I am consciously playing point-of-view-games-while-progressing-the-story games. Those are going to be fun, and help me grow as a writer, and, hey, no consequences since I don’t plan to sell them but give them away. OTOH, it’s all good backstory preparation for the big transition in the Netwalk Sequence, from Melanie to Bess.

But! Other things are going on. The last day of school with students was on Wednesday of last week (the 12th), where I met the kids at the swimming pool, watched MUCH CUTENESS (yes, middle schoolers can STILL be cute), went to the park with them for lunch, then herded cats while we watched Epic. Visually nice but I started out collecting plot coupons and the story pretty much unfolded the way I thought it would. But hey, Very Nice Visuals. Sweet story but very predictable. Phyl, you’d like the depiction of the faery world.

Next day, had my eval, talked planning for the fall, loaded up what I’m bringing home for the summer (mostly files to sort and reorganize), and landed a job interview. After a leisurely lunch at the Rendezvous, I headed for home only to find a worried phone call on my cell once I got my messages. The Mysterious Overfeeder had struck again, feeding horses before the person who was supposed to be feeding. Only happens when the owner/trainer is gone. Always alfalfa. NOT a good thing. Luckily, this is the second time in about four years, and we think we’ve identified the culprit. No horses took harm, as it happened just before the feeder showed up so she knew it had happened and didn’t double feed them. Most worrisome, though, was the feeding and quantity of the stuff to horses and ponies who don’t get that rich a feed usually. Fortunately for MO, no horses colicked or foundered. And Mocha was fine. This is a Very Good Thing, as my Mama Bear mode gets unfurled big time by stupid stuff like this.

Friday, I participated in an administration/union leadership golf game which was entertaining and not at all what I usually do (more what I would expect to be doing as corporate wife than as teacher). Gorgeous day for it with 70 degree temps, partially cloudy skies that opened up to full sun toward the end of the afternoon, and BIRDS. Adolescent robins dodging golf balls while squawking for food (um, only a few of us had any experience, and some didn’t even bring clubs. I rocked my Eastmoreland Garage Sale $3 Tournament Queen golf set from the 50s/60s). A young osprey or red-tail screaming to be fed in one of the Doug firs. A hummingbird who hovered threateningly over one hole, but never swooped on us, just hovered there Letting Us Know that we were intruding.

We played best ball golf, which was a good thing, as otherwise I think some of us would still be whacking our way around the course. It was my first time playing something besides a par 3 course so I got very friendly with my woods and drivers. But it was all in good fun, relaxing, and a nice end to the school year.

Saturday was Jaycon, which gets its own post because hey! pictures!

Sunday was the ballet, plus various Seckrit Project-related writing things.

Monday was writing, horse, and some other fiddley-foo stuff which sucked up my time.

Yesterday was a job interview, massage, and Fireside Writer day.

Today I need to meet someone and sign union-related paperwork, then do barn, then come home and do house stuff and work. And write. Of course I’m going to be writing!

Whew. It’s been a soft landing as far as finishing off school years is concerned. But if the past week is any indication, I’m going to be making up for the exhausted paralysis of previous years big-time. I have many things to be doing. Can I do them all (oh yeah, throw in three college classes this summer. Two of them will be self-paced, but even so…)


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Foundations Monday! Sins of the Father

IIt’s another Netwalk Foundations Monday–which means free content about the world of NETWALK! This Foundations piece is worldbuilding for NETWALK’S CHILDREN, and it’s starting to lay the foundation for the novel. It happens shortly before CHILDREN opens.


Go here to download this story in Kindle, Nook/ePub devices, and PDF formats.

And did I say it was FREE? To quote the old Portlandia sage Tom Petersen,
“Free–is a VERY good price!”

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Let the rantage begin–feminist stuff


So you’ve been warned.

This particular piece has been going around my Facebook and now my LJ. I’m putting up the full link so if you’ve seen it before, you don’t have to Go There.

Read it already?  Want to read it?  Here’s a hint: if you’re a mother and a writer, you’ve already heard this BS. I can just about guarantee it. Somehow your motherhood either condemns you to writing glowing tributes to Super!Mommy!Life! (oh god, does anyone remember the early days of Joyce Maynard’s columns? or the subsequent implosion which would have made more sense having known more About Her Past Literary Connections?) or you become Supermom With The Single Child who goes everywhere and does everything and Achieves In Spite Of Parenthood.

Yeah. The early years of my mothering life got spent in the late 80s, when Greed Was Good (oh hell yes, I was a complex securities litigation paralegal during that era and I Have Stories) and if you had a child, the mandatory rule was a.) You write many opinion pieces talking about How Wonderful Parenthood Is and How Awful Feminism Is or b.) You Were Total Careerist Yuppie And Nannies Ruled Your Life. And you wrote opinion pieces about that life as well. I started frothing pretty damn fast when reading that BS, because though I was a mother and staying at home with the kid, I was sure as hell writing and still saw myself as a feminist (and was Not Supermommy. Really. I tried. So not me).

I ended up staying at home and taking care of the kid because I’d managed to get myself compromised by working on some of the biggest local securities cases for a couple of litigation support companies which meant I had major conflicts of interests at the time with most of the local law firms–and one of the biggest litigation support companies was on the blacklist for many of the local law firms because they’d been such jerks. Plus, computerization was getting a toehold into the particular specialty I was working. In the course of five years litigation support went from needing many trained bodies to eyeball documents to code and enter into a mainframe to doing the same function on a 386. And that was before search engine optimization happened. So yeah–that profession kinda sorta went down the dumpster, but I had figured that out by observing that desperate law students trying to pay off their law school loans would take paralegal jobs. I had to review resumes for a paralegal job in one position, and realized that–um, well, the future in this profession ain’t what I was told it was going to be, given the number of desperate law students looking for work. Pay scales were dropping from what they had been just a couple of years before, so…

Realistically, at the time, any job I could pull down at the time with my experience level would not have paid for the daycare. I certainly couldn’t earn enough to justify my spouse staying at home, and I really didn’t see where it would gain us anything in that particular career option for me to stay in work and try to advance in the field. As it was, I managed to eke out time between preschool and different daycare options to scratch out enough time to write. Because I’m one of those slowly developing writers (I got bogged down pretty quickly at the almost-good-enough level, still working my way through that), and because I have the ADHD impatience trait in spades, I ended up going back to work off and on once kid went to school. Writing came and went, but that was as much a function of my own frustrations at not being able to break through with the stories I wanted to tell as it was parenthood. I tried writing nonfiction for a while, but it didn’t serve the same jones that fiction did, plus I’d get bored with it as a regular gig.

I find it to be an element of highest irony that the first paid piece I ever sold was “I Am A Feminist Housewife” to a local feminist monthly that went out of business. I think I’m one of the few who got a check from that lovely little tabloid (they paid for the first two issues). I also think I sold that piece two or three more times, with one more reprint. At the time, I was rebelling against the assumption that because I was a stay-at-home mom, I wasn’t a feminist.

And now. Good freaking heavens. You can’t be a writer and manage more than one kid? Um, I suspect that if you look at the numbers of women published during the Fifties, fercrissake, you’d find women without staffs and nannies juggling kids and writing. Good God, Fanny Trollope was far from the only nineteenth century woman who took up writing to support family–and that wasn’t a one-kid setup, either.

What this does mean is that you manage more than one kid but you don’t elevate Motherhood to High Art. After all, that’s what the subtext really is about. With one kid, or so the subtext goes, you can have A Real Life. With more than one–you’re screwed.

To which I reply–baloney. What gets screwed is the delusion that you can work and still be Perfect! 50s! Mommy! The Atlantic piece whimpers about how more than one child would have diffused the focus of the women Lauren Kessler chooses to hold up as the epitome of writing women.

Um. Yeah. Really? Look, when it comes to multiple kid families and anything other than upper class incomes, juggling happens, whether Mom works outside the house or not. I hate to break it to people like Kessler, but these dilemmas happen to anyone who needs to juggle work, family, and an intense passion that isn’t completely funded. The ability to sit and think about something intensely for hours at a time is a luxury that many people–male and female alike–simply don’t possess. So if you want to tell stories, but you don’t have that time because you lack the resources and you have a young family–you either find ways to make it work for you (because everyone’s solution is different), or you stop doing it until your time is clear. Period.

The issue that all of these debates dances around and does not face on square is that time is a commodity, and the cost of time varies depending on its perceived value to the person it’s being applied to. It’s not the issue of parenting plus job plus writing, or parenting plus writing, or parenting one child vs more and writing–it’s about the management of time as a commodity. Time of women is not universally valued at the same cost as time of men. Time of parenting is not valued at the same cost as work outside the home. Creative time is not valued at the same cost as so-called “real work” at an outside employer. Our time value priorities are screwed up, and that’s the real problem.

(And that, my friends, is a longer post than what I probably should continue on, seeing how long this post has gotten).

So yeah. I’m annoyed by this latest piece of baloney about women and feminism and writing, but I’ve seen it before. And, for the record, I am the parent of only one child–but the reason for that has nothing to do with the writing, and everything to do with the reality that I had a horrific time of pregnancy, starting with conceiving while my mother was dying, suffering through nasty morning sickness for most of the pregnancy, then going through a really tough labor while incubating a nasty case of staph and afterwards showing up with an abnormal Pap smear that had me fearing I’d leave my baby motherless.

“You’ll forget all that,” people told me.

They were wrong. I flinch at recalling those details even now. I walked away from my only pregnancy knowing that there was no way I was ever, ever going to put myself through that experience again. I love my son and I’m glad I had him–but one was enough.

And thus endeth the rantage for tonight. Hope it was at least semi-coherent.

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