Coming Soon!

Jiang Li, Warrior Woman of Yueh is the companion novella to My Adventures As Brother Rat. Jiang Li is now available; for a signed copy, please contact me via my website Contact Me button. Price is $7.00 plus s/h of $2.20 for envelope and postage, or $4.90 for Priority Mail (6 copies will fit in a Priority Mail envelope).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This is a Warming Trend?

 Yesterday (Saturday) it got up to 34 degrees at my house, so I thought I'd better get a couple more shots before all the ice blades melted. I opened my kitchen door, leaned out, and took these three pictures.

This one is off the corner of my home, where the master bath is. Now, when the remodel of last spring was done, we finished it off with an additional 7" of insulation in the attic. Why am I having ice blades? And why is this one curving out, away from the house?
 These are over my daughter's bedroom window (next to and 90degrees from the master bath, seen in background). I was getting very concerned until she mentioned that at night she closes her bedroom door, shuts the heating vent in her room, and opens the window about a half inch. Well, no wonder there's melt above her room.
Why so many? A veritable harvest awaits the picking. These are hanging from the arbor, over my big kitchen windows. Never have I seen such a harvest. Why? Well, I wondered so I wandered out into the 9 or so inches of snow, looked up at my roof, and discovered the reason. Remember that remodel last spring? And my new, beautiful red stove? And the new, beautiful red fan that came with it that has the motor on the roof? The one that sounds like a jet engine even with the attic betwixt it and me? Well, that sucker sucks! It sucks all the heat and steam from the stove right up a pipe and blows it outside. And down the roof to melt the snow and form all these ice daggers.

My Gratefuls:
* That I live where we have 4 seasons - even if one of them is Winter;-)
* That some Monk (Priest?) from years gone by smuggled coffee beans out of Arabia
* That I have friends willing to share their knowledge and expertise with me when I'm trying to learn something new.
* That there is a store within walking distance of where I live.
* That I have warm socks and boots

What I'm Working On:
* I'm still working on Jibutu. The last couple of days I was on a tear, making changes to the story left and right, then, last night, as I waited for sleep, I realized my changes were wrong, unsustainable, and I didn't like them. I'm not quite back to square one, but close enough, that's for sure. Having friends and family of choice willing to listen to me ramble, and play devils advocate, is truly a blessing!
* Why do I write? I often ask myself this, especially as I receive more and more rejections and fewer and fewer acceptances. Some days I think I'll quit all together and just quilt and read. Then I remember, I basically write because I want to, and I write stories I like, and if the publishers don't like 'em, well, that's not my problem. Is it?

What I'm Reading:
* Mostly the book on Magellan. I'll read the last essay of Writing A Woman's Life any day now, as well as more poetry by Darwish. I'm finding it interesting in how little we've learned in the last few hundred years juxtaposed to how much we have learned. How little we've learned in human relations and how much we've learned in 'book stuff'. Several years ago, I read a series of books by Louise Cooper on Chaos v. Order. I don't remember a great deal from them but do remember one of the ideas I came away with was that we will not recognize Order if we do not have Chaos to compare it to. Humans have known that, at some level, since forever I think. We want our choice of politician to win so we make the other choice look bad. Ours is better by comparison. I liked Cooper's books better than today's politicians ;-)

Quote for this Post:

But suppose God is black? What if we go to Heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response? -- Robert Kennedy

Friday, November 26, 2010

Save the Words!

Happy Day After Thanksgiving!

I can't help but wonder how many of you are actually out and about at the malls and shops helping to make today Black for the stores? We still have waaaaayyy too much snow and ice for me to even consider shopping.

Besides I have most of my presents made - not wrapped, mind you, but made. Just a couple small ones to go.... once the roads are clear enough to get to the fabric store ;-)

The little guy in this picture doesn't seem to mind the cold too much. He's getting a hot lunch!

I took these Wednesday before Thanksgiving when we had about 15 minutes of sun and it warmed up to 13 degrees F outside. Needless to say, when the sun went back behind a cloud, I thought it a good excuse to go back home. These pictures were taken within 3 blocks of my home.

A friend sent me the most delightful site a bit ago. Please, do check it out, Save the Words at:  Please, adopt a word, no money involved! These are precious words that are homeless and dying and we need to preserve them. It may take a few moments to download, but well worth the wait. (I have adopted 'vacivity', n. emptiness.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving yesterday, and had too many Thankfuls to be counted!

My Thankfuls:
* A daughter (Soni Sue) who makes marvelous breakfast burritos!
* Kids (Aaron, Soni Sue, and Grandson Luke) who bought and baked two pizzas for dinner!
* A Sister of Choice (Marjorie) who helped me figure out what kind of conflict I need for my novel. (I hate conflict and have a hard time writing it. Now I have to get busy!;-)
* Google for the blogsite
* Warm clothes and a working furnace!

What I'm Reading:

* One essay to go in Writing A Woman's Life. I face reading that last essay with mixed emotions - I am really enjoying the book and don't want it to end, and yet, I want to read the last essay.

* The Butterly's Burden A collection of poems by Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Fady Joudah. I picked this book up a few years ago and thought I'd better get into reading some of the poems. Not light poetry, but beautiful. On the left page is the poem in Arabic, on the right (facing) page is the translation. If you read poetry at all, I strongly suggest you pick up some by Darwish. As the blurb on the back says, "Poetry in translation offers a passport to places we might never visit, borders we might never cross...."

Quote for this Post:

"War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector
enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does
--John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We All Are One

 As many of you know, I am working on a fantasy novel, Jibutu. Jibutu lives on another planet, with different cultures. I just assumed (silly me!) she was a dark skinned human.

Well, while at the Oregon Coast, a good friend wanted me to go into the Hawthorne Gallery to see the art. It was wonderful--until I went around a corner and saw this ceramic bust, titled We All Are One. I stopped. It was Jibutu. No doubt about it. It ceased to be wonderful and became, Wonderful. Transcendental. I saw little else, just this bust. Jibutu. My Jibutu. My Daughter of Jib. Eventually I awakened from my trance.

I went to the young man working there (curator?) (future son-in-law, actually) and apologized if I was about to ask a question of insult, but could I please, pretty please, be allowed to photograph the bust?

He was thrilled. He told me to bring my tripod in and shoot away. In fact, I could shoot anything in the gallery. Alas, my tripod remained in Kennewick where I set it down while packing the car. Sigh. So I just took pictures. Lots of pictures.
 When I returned home, I contacted the young man, Jeff and requested permission to post the pictures on this blog. He forwarded my request to the artist, Julie Hawthorne, and she graciously gave me permission to post them.

We All Are One, a ceramic by Julie Hawthorne

Hawthorne Gallery
P. O. Box 700
517 Jefferson
Port Orford, OR 97465

Phone: 541.366.2266

Price: $1,700 (and worth every cent!)

Port Orford is a wonderful town on the Southern Oregon Coast. Seriously consider making it a destination of choice for your next vacation. Great storms in the winter ;-)

I, of course, would love nothing more than to have Jibutu in my house, but, alas, I don't have that kind of money -- or space to properly show her off! Of course, if you my dear reader, would like to buy her for me, I'll make the space! Honest! Trust me!!!

My Gratefuls:
* Generous artists like Julie Hawthorne
* Generous writers like my Monday Night Writer's Group
* 8.5 inches of snow outside (and not inside;-)
* Living within walking distance of the store
* Friends who take me to such neat galleries

What I'm Reading:
* Sixty Odd -- by Ursula LeGuin. I'm almost through. I admit, I will miss some of the poems when I'm finished. That's a nice thing about books - you can keep them, and reopen them whenever you want.
* Writing A Woman's Life -- by Carolyn Heilbrun. I think I have two, maybe three, essays to go and then I will be finished with this book.  Then snow or no snow I MUST go to the book store! Must, I say!!!

Quote for this Post:
"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." -- Aristotle

Have a Marvelous Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Got Snow?

Snow Falling on Maple.
Woke yesterday to a few inches of snow in my yard. Some of it stayed on the maple tree in my entry.

 Unburied Blooming Idiot!
My daughter unburied the little rose bush yesterday, and I took this picture. We had more snow fall last night, and this morning I couldn't even see the poor little thing.
My Garden Gnome.
Yes, somewhere under all that white stuff is my little Garden Gnome happily sitting on the toadstool.

My Gratefuls:
* Novelists who spin a good yarn. Good writing is important, but secondary to a good yarn, in my library at least.
* Barbara Kingsolver, Margaret Atwood, Diana Gabaldon - good spinners and good writers all
*A warm house - especially when it's 18 degrees outside as it is now (high today expected to be "near" 22 degrees.
* Campbell & Company - the nice people who keep my furnace working, and my fireplace flaming!
* Friends who send me warmth from places like Florida, the Texas coast, and Southern California.

What I'm Reading:
* The Lacuna -- by Barbara Kingsolver. I managed to stay awake last night until I finished it. A marvelous book. A great insight into the times, and the lives of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, major supporting characters, and Leon Trotsky. Every novel I read by Ms Kingsolver I state upon completion that that one is my favorite! She spent several years working on it, and her research was well done (she's a trained scientist, she knows how to research!). She's a wonderful writer and spins a very fine yarn!
* Sixty Odd -- Ursula Le Guin
*Writing a Woman's Life --by Carolyn Heilbrun

Quotes for this Post:
Where does the white go when the snow melts?  ~Author Unknown

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.  ~George Santayana

Have a marvelous rest of the week! Be Thankful all week - why limit it to just one day?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yet One More Oregon Coast Post...

 In the bottom of the picture, you can see the bank of the creek - deep enough, wide enough, and fast enough I wasn't interest in crossing! So, I zoomed in on the herd of gulls busily flocculating on the beach, and just as I took the picture, a sneaker wave came in and as it progressed, the gulls took to flight. I have a series of about 5 photos, of which I will not bore you this morning, of them taking off and landing - looked like the gull version of the Wave seen at sporting events.
The wave had retreated, and i noticed the wind blowing clumps of sea foam down the beach. They proceeded at different speeds due to size, and it looked like a pretty good race, until the foam dissipated.
Outside our hotel room was a wooden bench, which makes a nice place for people to sit to watch the ocean when the wind allows. Or a nice place for seagulls to watch the humans. This gull spent quite a bit of time pacing up and down the bench, scolding us for not coming out to feed it. When it got really exasperated it would hop down and come to the sliding glass door and knock with it's beak. "Please," it kept saying, "pass the hors de oeuvres!" We were not willing to share, but it tried for fifteen minutes, at least.

My Gratefuls:
* Funny seagulls who provide much enjoyment
* An ever changing ocean
* Friends and family with which to share life's funny moments
* Really good licorice!
* Warm rooms from which to watch the churning ocean

What I'm Reading:
* Sixty Odd -by Ursula Le Guin. I was having a hard time enjoying this book, so only read one or two poems a night. Last night, I got to the last section and am glad I persevered. These poems I can relate to, and am thoroughly enjoying.
* The Lacuna - by Barbara Kingsolver. I'm about two-thirds of the way through it, and having a hard time putting it down. It's a grand novel of the Mexico of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and WWII Asheville, NC. And, it makes me want to do more reading about the artists, and Lev Trotsky!
* Writing A Woman's Life -by Carolyn G. Heilbrun. I'm afraid I've been too involved in The Lacuna to read much of this little book, but it waits patiently. That's the nice thing about books - they are infinitely patient, unlike many readers and some writers I know;-)

Quote for This Post:

"Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight – how to get from shore to food and back again. For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating." -- Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Back from the Oregon Coast

The Umpqua River at High Tide. 
The road through the Coast Range was windy enough I wasn't comfortable pulling over to the shoulder for photo ops; however, there was a little park area and when I pulled over, we got some great fog and reflection shots.
Layers of Port Orford.
While in Port Orford, the wind fairly knocked us over, but I managed to get a couple of nice shots from the little park overlooking Battle Rock.
The Schoolmarm and Reflection.
I have no idea what the name of this rock at Bandon Beach is called, but it just looked like an overly pompous schoolmarm to me.

Needless to say, I had a great time at the Coast. Only got to visit 3 quilt shops (Bandon, Port Orford, and Coos Bay) but it was good to meet again with friends - and spend more money than I had counted on spending!

We were going to stay one more day, but the weather began to turn really sour, and the forecast was not looking good for driving, so we left early Friday morning with my cousin Barb, and her friend Claudia, driving over the Siskyou Mountains in what turned out to be rain, and not the predicted snow. I went the other way, through the Columbia Gorge - lots of rain, but no heavy winds or snow. We have snow showers predicted in the near future here, at home, though, so I'm glad I'm home.

Barb and Claudia are also avid quilters, and Barb thought some of my photos might translate to art quilts. A new challenge for me ;-)

My Gratefuls:
* Weather Forecasters who know how to read the runes.
* Quilt Stores that are different from one to the other
* The Bandon Candy Store that sells the world's bestest ever licorice - YUMMMM!
* The friendly folks who operate the hotel we stayed at (Windermere on the Beach)
* The opportunity to get to know my cousin, and meet her friend!

What I'm Reading:
* Sixty Odd, poetry by Ursula LeGuin
* Writing a Woman's Life by Carolyn G. Heilbrun
* The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. Yes, I actually bought and am reading a novel!

Quote for this Post:
"May your joys be as deep as the ocean, your sorrows as light as its foam." - Unknown

And for your Thanksgiving week (speakers on):

Friday, November 12, 2010

Go West, Young Woman, Go West!!

In keeping with the title of this post, I am heading West, and somewhat South, for a few days. I am meeting up with friends and family at Bandon by the Sea, Oregon for a week of quilting, gossiping, and just all around fun!

We will be staying at a little hotel Kay and I found a couple years ago, Windermere by the Beach. It is just past Face Rock, which is the photo you see above. This hotel is slightly above the beach, all the rooms have views, and it's an easy walk to and from the beach. (Many hotels are on top of the cliff, and only if you like stairs - lots and lots of stair - is the beach accessible.)

The photo at the right is sunset through dune grass. One of my favorite places on the beach is the lighthouse at the mouth of the Coquille River, where this photo was taken.
Harvest moon rising over the Bastendorf Beach campgrounds. (Not positive I have that name right, but it's the campgrounds on the beach on the north side of the Coquille River ;-)

I am not taking my computer, so there will be no updates while I'm gone, there should be an update prior to the National Day of Gluttony;-)

My Gratefuls:
*A good camera
*A good car
*Good health and ability to drive
*Good friends and neat family
*Hotels on the beach!

What I'm Reading:
*Still reading LeGuin's poetry, Sixty Odd and the Essays on Writing a Woman's Life. It's such a thin little book, I didn't think it would take long to read, but it's chock full of good stuff, and makes for a slower read so as not to miss anything.

Quote for this post:
"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year." by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fall has, indeed, fallen here in the desert of SE Washington State.  The fence between my back neighbor and my property has Virginia Creeper growing along it - no matter what we do, we can't seem to kill it! - and the other day the leaves were a bright red.  Not sure the blog will show the red, but we'll try.
After taking the above picture, I went to the front of the house, and in the ground cover I spied this huge mushroom. I have NO idea what it is, and though I found it intriguing, I didn't find it intriguing enough to cut it. The top was orange and white, and looked slick with slime. The edges were black, frilly, and curled. I went back a bit later to take a better photo, and it was gone! The stem remained, but not the cap.

The last week has been rather hectic at this house, but things are quieting down, now, for a bit anyhow. I will be leaving next Friday for a week at the Oregon Coast and a few days either side to visit with friends. I will not take the computer, so no email - I will be on vacation.

I'm in a new writer's group - we're all working on novels - and they have given me great input on a novel I thought was finished and just needed polishing. Oops! After a couple of critiques of the first chapters, I realize I'm going to have to change directions, drastically. Oh, well, I've got more time than common sense.

Have been busy sewing quilt tops from twin bed size down to place mat size. Photos eventually (some are Winter Gifts;-)

My Gratefuls:
*Monday Writer's group and their honest and helpful input on my novel
*The group of gals who get together the First Thursday for potluck and fellowship
*The bunch of friends who gather on First Tuesday for 'whine and cheese'
*Tuesday Writer's group and their critiques of my short stories
*The typing teachers who patiently taught me to type!

What I'm Reading:
* I finished Destiny Denied --by Tamim Ansary. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who desires a truer understanding of the Muslim culture. It was an eye-opener for me. I realized, as I read it, much of the popular understanding of the culture (it is more than a religion) is not complete, or is wrong.

*Writing A Woman's Life --by Carolyn G. Heilbrun. This is a small book of essays by a feminist author. I've just started it, and it is engaging. From the back of the book: "...a wide-ranging study...asserts that patriarchal culture has not only defined the limits of women's lives, it has determined what stories about women will be told...." Ought to be an interesting read!

* Sixty Odd, new poems --by Ursula K. Le Guin.  It has been a long time since I've read Le Guin's books, and never her poetry. She is a marvelous writer, and I'm enjoying the first few poems I've read.

Quote for This Post:
"November always seemed to me the Norway of the year." -- Emily Dickinson