Little hope.

"She'd written to her sister that every word was impossible.  She'd said she felt she had to invent the word before she could write it down, right down to the very shape of the letters.  Muscatine would envy her, sapped and tongue-tied.  He had written to me once of his desire to never write again.  If only he could look at a naked page and see nothing but the grain of the paper and its flecks of pulp, he'd told me.  Then, perhaps, he could begin to fathom the simplicities of existence--he could just do what everyone else did; he could fall in love, then out of love, then into love with someone else.  If he didn't write, he was certain, he could concentrate on his own well-being.  But when he looked at a sheet of paper, it was as if the words were already written there--he just had to slip his pen into the groove of the cursive."
~Timothy Schaffert, The Coffins of Little Hope


OK, I give up. Here is another quote...

I haven't posted in ages, because I just don't feel like writing all the dingdang time, so there.  I am, however, able to type. 
from Steve Hely's How I Became a Famous Novelist
1.  The essayist Dalton Tierguard was once asked by an interviewer what he hated most about being a writer.  Without a second's hesitation he answered, "Writing."
2.  The 19th-century French writer Jean Jacques Plachet so despaired of ever finishing his novel Les Femmes Laides that he loaded a hunting rifle and shot himself in the right foot.  Thus immobilized at his desk, he was able to finish his masterpiece.
3.  The stories for which Scottish writer Hamish Baird is known were all written during a 6-year period, after which Baird took a job cleaning the sewers of Glasgow.  He said his second career was a welcome relief from the misery of writing.

What I say to my husband when I wake up in the morning:

Call Dr. Kevorkian.
Groundhog Day!
Just nail my coffin shut.
Knock me out with a baseball bat.
Get a block and tackle and hoist me out of bed.
Will you hand me the bedpan?
Will you hand me my snowmobile suit?



"The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for 30 years she served the family nothing but leftovers.  The original meal has never been found." ~ Calvin Trillin
That certainly wouldn't apply to my mother, who was a very accomplished cook.  For example, nobody on earth made better gravy, and that was so stated by everyone who ever ate it.  Absolute truth.
I hope my kids wouldn't apply a Trillin to me, but it is possible.  Tonight I made turkey-oat hamburgers on the grill and had one left over which will magically re-debut as a meatloaf sandwich at some point this weekend. 



"There's no shortage of books on how to meditate, but none so far as I know mention hoe-leaning.  Here's how to do it.  While working in the garden, when your muscles become a bit tired or sore, you put the working end of the hoe on the soil, hold the handle near the top with both hands for a bit of a prop, rest it against your shoulder or cheek, and, while supporting some of your weight on the tool and leaning slightly forward, stare off into space or at some part of your garden and don't think.  Then, when you do resume thinking, don't try to force yourself to stop, which is what people who meditate do--just resume hoeing.  Don't let anyone call this laziness; hoe-leaning is a vital gardening chore, equally as important as hoe sharpening." ~ Steve Solomon, Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades
I like this very much.  I intend to incorporate more hoe-leaning into my gardening. And actually sharpen my hoe, for once.


Prompts and plots

(I was facilitator for our group Writer's Calling last month, and each week I sent out prompts to encourage folks to write.  One week I sent a list of prompts that included writing a piece from the point of view of a dog bed, or the point of view of the first plant to sprout from a seed blown onto a tiny new island.  None of which inspired much response.  When I sat down to respond myself, I had just read a chapter on developing plots.  Anyway, this is my explanation for the response I wrote, as shown below.)
I love this set of quotes that introduce Brigid Lowry's chapter "Plot" in her book, Juicy Writing:
  • The cat sat on the mat. No story. The cat sat on the dog's mat. Story. ~ Anon
  • The king died and then the queen died. Story. The king died and then the queen died of grief. Plot. ~ E.M. Forster
  •  Often I'll find clues to where the story might go by figuring where the characters would rather not go. ~ Doug Lawson
  •  Don't say the old lady screamed - bring her on and let her scream. ~ Mark Twain
Now I have never developed a plot in my whole life, but I do enjoy presenting ideas, situations, episodes. In light of that I present a little something:

The family is fond of mentioning, whenever another piece of stuffing falls out of me, that I was last the bed of a dachshund, that furiousdiggingforbadgers breed, so I suppose it scrabbled a hole in me. But, being a dog bed, I am not privy to my “previous lives” with other dogs. My first memory is of my current Mopsy flopping on me by the hearth here in the family room. Mopsy is an Old English Sheepdog; apparently she was rescued from a place without a dog bed, for she lays upon me whenever in the room, although the family is also fond of pointing out that she very mellow, unlike your typical goofball OES. I’ve learned a great deal about dog breeds from this family, with their voracious appetite for books of all sorts. I guess I’m just fine with being laid on all day, I’m a bed after all, and have no sense of…anything really although I must be able to hear. But I cannot see, or smell, or taste or touch, and I know what those are for I have heard the Child discussing these things.

Right now the Child is near me by the hearth, doing homework and telling Mopsy not to drool. On me. Well, I don’t care, for I will be thrust into the washing machine and hear the thrumming and then into the dryer and hear the other thrumming. It’s a nice change of pace.

The Child is working on a writing prompt; the teacher’s assignment being to write a piece “from the point of view of the first plant to sprout from a seed blown onto a tiny new island.” At first there was muttering about what a stupid prompt this was and why must I do them weekly, blah blah blah, but now there is only the scratching of the pencil and I know that soon Mopsy will be read a story and I will hear it. What a treasure to bestow on an old dog bed!

If you are a writer, my advice to you is, write it down and spread it around. It is much appreciated by someone or something.


You live in a garden. What will you be? A bluebird? A gnome? A hedgehog? A broken mosaic birdbath?

Dear You,
Rabbits, I can assure you, are nothing like Beatrix Potter’s interpretation. We DO enjoy entering your garden, though. I like yours so much that I have taken up residence here. I won’t tell you where my burrow is, but I do have some things I want to say about this sublime garden that you work so hard on and is so perfect as my home.
I know you have seen me sunning myself in the early evening, cleaning my face and nibbling on grasses and dandelions. I hope you are not plotting a coup to remove me. Rabbits seem to be universally reviled by gardeners, but give pause: I may do you some good. I am an elderly boy, not interested in the ladies, but still territorial, so I will keep other rabbits away, and won’t be littering your garden with kits. My favorite item is the dandelions that keep cropping up here and there, and I do so appreciate the organic approach you take. You are the only one in the area with comfrey, which, while I’m sure you planted it to attract bees, also is very soothing to delicate rabbit tummies. I couldn’t possibly put a dent in the comfrey, it is indestructible. As for the raspberry patch, all I want is a few leaves, and again couldn’t put a dent in your magnificent crop. Digging is enjoyable, but actually unearthing a carrot is a bit much for my old bones. Let’s declare a truce before the war, shall we? You in your sunhat and floral gloves, me with my adorable hippity-hop, we enjoy each other, don’t we? Let’s keep it that way.


Ol’Man Wabbit


Prompt: What is porridge to you?

Porridge is a literary object, turning up in many stories of old. I always had in mind it was sort of an oatmeal, but have never looked it up. Clean simple living, or a pauper’s meal, depending on the context. Wooden bowls and spoons, hand-carved. Giant kettles cooking over an open fire or in a huge walk-in fireplace. Women in long brown calico skirts. Gaunt London tots with enormous eyes and pale skin, shivering. I see a dirt floor and a broom with bristles made on twigs. There is always a long-handled ladle; sometimes the porridge is scooped into tin cups. Once I thought of porridge and there was a tidy, large country kitchen with steaming bowls of porridge on the table in front of a rosy buxom family, pots of jam and brown sugar and butter to pass. Rarely does Goldilocks come to mind, but when she sneaks in, the bowls are blue floral ceramics, and the spoons are very plain metal. That table has a gingham cloth on it.

I have never been offered actual porridge. Have you? Is it extinct?


Off the Field of Play - Alpine Last Line

We've been home since Friday evening.  I was cleaning out the lint trap in the dryer and the lint was brilliant sky blue.   Well, I didn't get a reminiscent lump in my throat, missing my volunteer role or uniform.  It was well worth the effort, but I won't try something like that again.  I can't stand around for 9 hours in my ski boots. I wasn't there long enough to get to know anyone, because the steward crew was quite numerous and I was paired with someone new every day; in fact, they had so many stewards there was very little to do.  I found out I cannot be firm with people.  And in that role one couldn't feel close to the action.  It was fun to sit in the break tent with a crowd of volunteers and watch the Women's Combined on the TV.  I didn't get that sense of contributing, I suppose because I wasn't there long enough.  There were no days on which I was in Whistler Creekside to soak up the Olympic atmospere there--I was always up-mountain, guarding some passageway, until all the events were long, long over with.  At Creekside, when there isn't an event going on, there is nobody there.  One has to take a bus to Whistler Village for apres.  But, I must do SOME field research, in my role as your intrepid gal reporter, even if that means standing by a ski run in the snow all day long, making sure no riffraff get onto the racecourse, even if only three people come by the whole day, and there is no toilet in sight, and I feel like I'm starring in an episode of My Life on the D-List.


On the Field of Play - Alpine Byline

7 a.m.: OK, today is my last day of volunteering. When they lower me into my coffin, I will have thighs of steel and feet the size of basketballs. A sunburned face and chapped lips. Bury me in my uniform, with my accreditation, lunch pass and lift ticket around my neck.


On the Field of Play - Alpine Byline

Today I guarded an entrance to the course above the start, only for the lady skiers and their coaches, for the downhill portion of the Combined.  I won't say who won in case you watch it tonight---But, as I got off my shift, I rode the gondola down over the finish area and was able to watch and hear the flower cermony!
I just got back from wandering around the Village with the rest of the family, and left Dan and Mara at the Skeleton event--they have tickets to watch that. Now I am back at the condo and watching it live on TV!
While we were in town we watched a band of street performers play-acting a curling match, using audience members as human "stones"!!! It was very funny!


Prompt: Use "desultorily"

OMG, more irony category: Can you believe that I was scheduled to steward for the ladies' alpine events at the Olympics, had to cancel the first few days of that to take another trip to someplace Euge, and the weather in Whistler has delayed those events such that I will arrive just in time to steward those very events? How cool is that?

Apropos of nothing, I am tonight thoroughly enjoying cutting out my idea of cute fashions from the various fashion mags laying around the house and glue-sticking them into an old spiral notebook. (Jeepers, some guy just fell during the pairs figure skating competition on TV...ok he's up and they are going again; they look lovely and the music is divine.) I just started doing this to keep track of what I like; I am always thinking about repurposing clothing and fabrics (from home, from the thrift shop, from freecycle) into something gorgeous......well, as many of you know, I like to plan projects but rarely complete them, so, don't be looking for me on Project Runway. (Now why for crying out loud are they only replaying the fall and none of the beauty?)

As a child, I was a daydreamer and wandered through life in a fog, and was, therefore, clumsy. No, nobody saw any Olympic potential in me at all. But I hope to medal in volunteering. Good grief, here's an Herm├ęs leather post-it note case, sort of a wrap with a snap---$240. “Sucker born every minute,” I trill. I’m not clipping that out. Paper dolls, entire towns built out of soap boxes, miniature furniture made from graph paper, scotch tape, and colored pencil, flowers made from Kleenex and a bit of wire, comic books, greeting cards; those were my crafty trends as a child.

Sometime during my 30s I hit upon a creative little craft I still enjoy very much—making my own gift tags from greeting cards. Sounds silly but for some reason I get a big kick out of cutting tiny pieces out of greeting cards to make teeny tiny gift tags, that fold such that there is a picture on the front and inside I can write in small letters the “to” and the “from”. Why this is so satisfying to me I don’t know, but it is.

I also have the habit of recycling past humiliations. One will pop into my head, give me that adrenaline rush of shame/fear/shame/disgust, and ruin my day. Does anyone else do this?

I have presented my evening musings as desultorily as possible, which seems to be the way I like to write. I didn’t even know what the word meant when I selected it for our writing prompt.


Puleeeeeeeze get a gold medal, Canada!

And they did! I know it was a while ago but I just saw it on ol' NBC's tape delay b.s.  I have truly and fiercely been rooting for Canadian athletes even over U.S. in every event. 
Go, Canada,
Our fa-ave neighborland,
Go, Canada,
We stand   aside    for   THEE!

Oh golly jeepers I can't wait to get up there.  Your intrepid gal reporter will go up to Whistler tomorrow.  I plan to chase away the rain and fog so that the alpine events that have been graciously waiting for me can go ON!!!!


The Future is Unwieldy!

Rick Mercer did a 'mercial on the new Apple iSlab.  "Because why use your fingertip when you can use your whole hand!  Fits neatly under a queen size bed."  He's so adorable. 

waaahhh interruption: last Jay Leno Show on right now.....

Ok it is now the next day and I never finished this post!  I got up early and went all the way to Seattle for an MRI of my knee, all the way back home, did some online banking, made three phone calls totalling 1/2 hour dealing with an incorrect bill and boy am I a bore!  This sounds like a tweet for heaven's sake!  Make me shut up! 

OK wait, I can't shut up, I thought of one more thing: blast...... it evaporated..........


Evening musings

     I gotta take a break here from picking apart the mats in the dog's fur; MiddleChild tells me I look like a chimp picking nits off another chimp.  So I will write. 
     Or maybe just pick other people's creativity off of them.  I checked into Dave Barry's blog....his posts about the TV show 24 (which I have never watched) are so perfect that in just a few words I get the whole gist of the show and everything that is right and wrong with it, such that I neither need to or want to watch the show but am immeasurably enriched anyway.........sigh............ see http://blogs.herald.com/dave_barrys_blog/2010/02/01/ followed by http://blogs.herald.com/dave_barrys_blog/2010/02/24-1.html and you too can be enriched and relieved forever that you aren't missing anything by not watching 24.
     I like this little quote from Philippe Janvier, a paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. "It may have been easier for some fish to come out of the water and eat their prey peacefully by the shore where they wouldn't get hassled."  Nice little image that I wouldn't have thought of, illustrating evolving to avoid competition, that basic tenet of evolutionary pressure. (an interruption:  Oh POOH, David Letterman's top ten list tonight is about the SuperBowl, not Sarah Palin's tea party crib notes!)   Anyway I came across the quote in an article at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/biology_evolution/article6978486.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=3392178  announcing that critters moved from sea to land much earlier than scientists had postulated, based on new evidence.  Apparently the sea of the Middle Devonian age housed fish, scorpions and crabs, and perhaps was getting crowded.  Meanwhile, the land was still sort of barren and maybe critters could have a more leisurely picnic there.  And begin obsessively picking nits off each other. 


A David Letterman-style Top Ten List

First, I need a warm-up act. Please visit http://www.cbs.com/late_night/late_show/top_ten/ and listen to or read some of Dave's lists.
And now, here are the:
Top Ten Things you May Not Want to Hear About My Trip to Eugene This Weekend:
10. It rained the whole way!
9. I went deaf from listening to my daughter's music in the car.
8. They have their own version of the Seattle Weekly! It's called Eugene Weekly! Ok, THIS part you might like: There is a column in it called Something Euge (cute, huh?).
7. The Motel 6 does not even supply a doll-size sliver of soap.
6. The "signature item" on the menu at Denny's is chili--"always available", plus it is the soup of the day for Saturday and Sunday. But they were out of it!
5. My 16 year-old daughter has had her license for 1 month and she can drive for 3 hours straight, which is longer than I can.
4. Traffic through Portland on a weekend is every bit as ghastly as it is through Seattle!
3. It was a great way to miss the SuperBowl.
2. I got back home in time to watch the PuppyBowl on Animal Planet!
    And, the number one thing you may not want to hear about my trip to Eugene this weekend is (drum roll): The movie she was sent to audition for was NOT a thriller about moody, Pacific Northwest teenage vampires! Yay!


On the Field of Play - Alpine Byline

Your intrepid gal reporter is gearing up to fulfill her volunteer role stewarding the Ladies' Alpine Skiing events in Whistler, B.C., February 12-19.  I have my uniform: an absolutely brilliant sky blue, overlaid with a very subtle shimmer pattern, makes the jacket the focal point of the ensemble. A matching fleece vest for warmer days if any, or, for under the jacket on extra cold days.  A matching and rather tiny toque will be bobby-pinned to my head to keep it from boing-ing off my grizzled grey locks whenever I move.  Black ski pants.  They even gave me adorable matching blue long underwear tops, two of them, so I don't have to do laundry quite so often.   "2010 Olympics" emblazoned on everything.  What collector's items!  I would never sell any of it, certainly not the ski pants, which wouldn't sell anyway, being in a men's size 3x I think---I wanted them big enough to go over many layers of longjohns, because I am a freeze-baby when I am standing around in the snow. 

I ran out today and bought the last pair of winter boots left at REI, having just discovered that the only pair of winter boots we have around here date back to the Pliocene (i.e., when we lived in Minnesota and actually wore winter boots) AND they are cracked/not waterproof/hubby's hand-me-downs/way too unsightly to be seen on moi. 

Now stewarding, from what I can gather without actually reading the four training manuals I have been sent, will involve being stationed at key points along the ladies' alpine courses to check credentials of folks trying to enter the "field of play," as it is known, to make sure they are officially allowed to be there, and sending them on or sending them away with Canadian-style aplomb, civility, and cultural sensitivity, which I am SURE I can handle, being a faithful watcher of Rick Mercer. 

And I LOVE Canada.  Especially beautiful, beautiful British Columbia.  Does B.C. have it's own provincial song, you know, like we have state songs?  I know Minnesota, Hail to Thee (actually I don't know if that is the state song or the U of MN's school song...).  There must be a Washington state song, but I do not know it.

These are the skiers I have a tiny bit of knowledge about and will be rooting for:  Lindsey Vonn, from Minnesota.  For the Canadians: Robbie Dixon, Michael Janyk and Britt Janyk from WHISTLER!!!! and Emily Brydon from Fernie, BC.  Go skiers!