Monday, December 31, 2007

Out With the Old...

No time to write a longer post today. The library closes at noon. I thought for sure they'd stay open until 5:00. Oh well. I don't work today, so I'm thinking about heading over to Kavarna to drink coffee and read all afternoon. Whoo hoo! Happy New Year, to you and Don. If you see Jenny, wish her Happy New Year from me.

Bob;-)

Plumeria

Hmm, interesting quote you posted yesterday, Bob. It's difficult to quantify an artistic life. I got an email from the Nano folks last week. They've set up a Big, Fun, Scary Adventure Challenge for the year to encourage people to keep challenging themselves. I've signed on (you know I'm a sucker for that kind of team stuff) and my goals are to start and complete the final edit of Horizon and to knit a sweater, not knit on a sweater but to actually knit one that I can wear by Sept. 1. I already have the pattern, just need to afford the yarn; that'll be after Bonaire.

Have a Happy New Year! We're planning to make ourselves a nice supper and celebrate quietly.

The sun was high when Mona finally awoke and squinted her way out to the patio. Maria was in the kitchen clattering pots around but she took a moment to carry a mug of fresh-made coffee out and set it silently on a palm fiber mat on the glass-topped table. Her fingers rested ever so fleetingly on Mona's shoulder as she turned to go back to her work. Tears sprang to Mona's eyes at the simple gesture. The news of Jack's death must be all over the island, she thought. In the center of the table sat a clear glass bowl half filled with water; three flowers floated on the surface, their yellow centers looking like a pinwheel of yolk in a fried egg. The petals were so waxy she had to touch them to see if they were real. She had the feeling that nothing would seem real for a time until she was allowed to leave the island and begin building a new life on the shreds of the old one that had died with Jack.

Let's make 2008 a real writing year!
--Barbara

Sunday, December 30, 2007

To Normality

While driving back from Luna Cafe yesterday, I heard the following quote on the radio. It is a kind of statement of faith about the nature and purpose of art. The artist is Mary Frank, someone I'd never heard of before. I remember what you wrote about conducting one's life with passion, and I thought you would appreciate this.

"To comfort the dead, to know the migration seasons of birds and fish, to know the human migrations of the past and right now. To be able to use experiences and transform them...to make the eyes of children widen, to give courage, and never be afraid of tenderness or the absurd and to gather joy."

Not just once, but twice I read the passage about the English toffee and the rum balls. What a masochist I am. Thank you very much for sharing, Barbara. The chocolate and the party-mix was a rare treat.

Bob

Thanks a Lot, Ann

I've just spent the last half hour going back over my last few posts linking the he** out of things. It was fun. Lastly I linked the "training sock" pattern you used to yesterday's post. *sigh* Can you guess what knitting I'm planning to pack? Hint--it's small enough to put in your carry-on and I'll have to buy some yarn. In fact, I'll probably cast one on when Dad's at work. (I'll wait until he leaves so he doesn't tease me too much.) *sigh* Oh, you're such an enabler.

I'm so glad you were here.


Heart Urchin

Slowly, slowly life is going back to normal. Just after 8 AM this morning Ann left for Lexington and Don goes to work at 3 PM; tomorrow I work. I'll probably take down the tree on Tuesday and gather up all the stray tubes of Christmas wrap and boxes that slid under side tables and put them away for another year. There is a bit of English toffee left, the last of the party mix will be eaten today, and the rum balls, oh, the rum balls are still lurking in the fridge in their chocolaty, coconutty goodness. Mmmm, I think I'll have one right now. There will be enough Christmas soup for me to take some as work lunches this coming week and I'll think about having my family around me as I sip their warming goodness in the dive shop. It has been a good holiday, but I'm happy that it's over and life will soon go back to what passes for normal at our house. Well, except for the fact that in about 10 days Don and I will fly off to spend a month in Bonaire, which is normal here, I guess.

The stars hang closer in the tropics. Santiago steered the Santa Marta out of the little bay on the north coast of Venezuela he called home. The stink of the aging diesel was pulled out of the cabin when he reached the open ocean and pushed the throttles to their stops. He took one last glance over his shoulder to bid farewell to the orange spot that was the fire his wife Marta always lit on the beach when he left, but he had waited too long to turn, he couldn't see it. A bolt of panic shot through his guts, the superstition of bad luck at the change in routine churned his stomach and made his knees feel loose. "Stupid peasant," he said, running his fingers over the religious medal he wore around his neck and making a little bow to the statue of the Virgin duct taped to the console. He pictured the warm orange light of Marta's fire as he looked out at the waves painted pale blue and white by the cold light of the stars. Manning would be waiting and he, Santiago, would soon be rich enough to buy a new engine for his boat, with a bit left over for a few sparkly things for his Marta.

I'm hoping that there's one last fly-over at kickoff today. I need a nice big loud airplane to rumble over. I love airplanes.
--Barbara

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Look!


Ann showed me how to sock! It's very tiny, made on big needles with worsted yarn but it's a sock. I'm so proud. Maybe someday I'll make a real sock. It's so cute. Coochie coochie, little sock.

More, Please...

Barbara, I'm glad and gratified that I had even a passive part in getting your creative juices flowing. I like your stack-of-pancakes image in describing the island, and the way you work through the stack cake by cake. Keep writing. It will only get better. And now, maybe I can get some of my own writing done. Luna Cafe on a Saturday afternoon is usually a pretty good place to put down a few words.

The toffee-nut candy was really excellent, Barbara, and the party-mix was even better. Brian said, "Tell that Barbara Malcolm she makes an awesome party-mix." And so I have.

Bob;-)

Abby's Mittens & A Cupcake


Abby was so tickled by the mittens that Ann and I made last Saturday that I said I'd make her some so I did. I had the fuzzy/hairy yarn, in fact I had a variety to choose from, and I bought the thick & quick from Patti's. Purple, mmmm.


I saw the cupcake pattern in One Skein and decided to make one out of what I had on hand. Well, I did have to buy the fluffy white stuff, but I had the bottom stuff and the fiberfill "in stock." It's bigger than I thought it would be and somehow disappointing. Cute, though, but useless. I did put a little rice (in a sandwich bag) in the bottom to make it stand up a bit better.

Look! I linked! Thanks, Ann, for teaching me how.

Queen Angelfish

Well, it snowed again, didn't it. Now I have to shovel, or rather snowblow, again. Uck. At least Ann wasn't driving back to Kentucky in it. Look, Bob, more writing!

Deep under the water the treasure lay waiting. Waiting for hands to take it up, to pull it into the light and air after centuries spent on the bottom under a pile of timbers. The sea had done its best to claim the treasure for its own. Queen angelfish hovered over it, delicately nibbling on the algae-filled coral polyps that obscured the outline through the years. In a very short time the human taint was diluted in the sea. All that remained was the cold metallic tang and the sharp sap of the planks crushed by being driven onto the reef by a long-forgotten storm. Silver blackened and welded together by the salt water held the shape of containers long dissolved or rotted away but the gold lay as yellow and gleaming as the day it was smuggled aboard.

Today I'm resolved (once I get the snow cleared) to not do much. To sit on the sofa and veg, maybe knit or crochet, but mostly do nothing. We'll see if I manage. I'm usually not so good at that.
--Barbara

Friday, December 28, 2007

Ahhhhhh, Writing

Oh man, am I glad you were running late last night, Bob. That 20 minutes with my pencil and notebook got my creative juices going a bit and I managed a little scribble before bed. Whew. And thanks for your lovely comments about Tropical Obsession; I promise to keep plugging away at it until I know what it is.

From the sea, the land looked almost flat. No gentle hills or rises marred the symmetry of the island. It looked like a stack of very thin pancakes. The dark gray, greenish black of the ironshore rocks were the bottom layer, battered and scored by the relentless waves. Then came the pale bleached coral rubble, tossed with abandon into drifts imitating snow. On top of the island pancake were the stunted trees and the tall candle cactus that played host to the fruit bats and the little lorikeets that flew in green, squawking pairs ahead of any cars driving down the lonely straight blacktop road that traversed that end of the island. Not the most inviting island view but a nice change from the unrelenting blue of the sea.

Have a nice weekend off.
--Barbara




Thursday, December 27, 2007

Too Much

Sorry, but the Bernie story will not be finished by tonight (a combination of really bad timing and procrastination). I will, however, have the critique of "Tropical Obsession" ready.

Bob

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Nothing Much New Here Either

To entertain myself, I've been trying to rough out treatments for some new stories. Also, I've been reading like crazy, trying to recharge the writing batteries. That's helped somewhat. I've been rewriting bits of the Bernie story, trying to get it into a reasonably coherent form for tomorrow night. No promises though. See you then.

Bob;-)

Elfin Magic



When I picked up my crochet hook last winter to help quit smoking my daughter told me about a Free Crochet Pattern a day website and I used to check it when I remembered. Then when I started this blog I linked to it so it was easier to check every day. Most of the time the pattern is for something I'm not that interested in, but every once in a while it sparks my interest. You have to print it out, or save it, because they don't have an archive. Last week, or the week before, the pattern was for a trio of little shelf-sitters: a gingerbread man, a snowman, and an elf. The gingerbread man and the snowman? Eh. But the elf I couldn't get out of my mind. I picked up some Caron Soft Shadows yarn on sale at Michael's and coerced DD into helping me make one on Christmas Eve. I crocheted the body, head, and hat; she made the limbs and collar. We finished him Christmas morning--and fell in love. Then we had to make another one for her so we reversed the colors so we didn't have to buy more yarn. Here they are: Elmer and Abercrombie. Aren't they the cutest?

Time Sure Flies!

It's Wednesday already! Wasn't it just Saturday? Hope you had a good Christmas, Bob. David & Abby's flight was only a little delayed so we got to spend a few hours with them Christmas day, then they left, taking my minivan with them, for Shawano to spend time with her family. David will be back tonight to spend the night while Abby stays with her folks, then they fly away back to California tomorrow early evening. I'll be at writer's, Jenny may not be there, she thought her immediate family Christmas would be the 27th. She said she'd call but I don't think we should depend on her being there. I haven't written one word in about a week. I stare at the paper and nothing happens. I'm sure my brain will start working again once all kids go back where they belong and my life settles back into its rut.

See you tomorrow night.
--Barbara

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Whew!



Time is flying too fast these days. I have too much I want to do and not enough time to do it. DD and I took a quick mitten class yesterday at my LYS (v. 2), Loops & Links--and we both burst out giggling whenever we look at what we made. Here are mine; DD isn't quite finished with mitten #2 so that debut will be a bit delayed. All gift knitting for opening on the actual Christmas day is done and wrapped. (I'd pat myself on the back but my arms are sore.) I finished the Selfish Fetchings yesterday morning, but forgot to decrease one stitch on each needle so one top is a little ruffley. I might have to pick it out and redo it. Maybe, maybe not. Depends on how much it bugs me, but it may be a while until I wear them again. It was nearly 50 degrees and rainy yesterday. Today it looks like this. You can't see the blowing snow but let me assure you it's blowing a gale. Gusts to 50 mph. Gak.

DH, DD, and I decorated the tree this morning--finally. We played Nat King Cole's Christmas cd and sang along. I've got Chex mix in the oven, our traditional holiday snack, and the buzzer's ringing. Gotta go stir!

If I get busy(er) and don't get back to the blog for a few days, have a Merry Christmas!

Beware of Hussies

Bad girl showing her ta-tas and inviting you to chase her, bad. Unless, of course, that sort of thing lights your fire, in which case--you go, Bob. I"m sorry I don't have any writing for you. I'm barely hanging onto sanity and the ability to perform regular daily functions. I stare at the picture at night before turning in and no words come to mind, not one. I sigh, close my notebook, and hope for better things the next day. I'm looking forward to the relative sanity of writing group on Thursday. I'll bring treats. I'm baking.

--Barbara

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thump thump...

I think everyone's undermotivated these days. Except for the blond girl in the Birch Creek kitchen. Wears these low cut deals - I don't know how she gets away with it - and flirts shamelessly. Last night, while we were cleaning up the dining area, she said (and I swear I am not making this up) "Chase me, Bob, chase me." It was all very cute and unassuming, but does she ever have my number. Merry Christmas, Barbara, to you and yours.

Bob;-)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Boca Oliva, Windward Coast

Ann's home, my boss has the flu so I'm washing my hands every thirty seconds, Don's off work too and baking will ensue tomorrow as soon as mitten class concludes. Mmmm, cookie baking and party mix making. Sorry, yarn, it's kitchen time.

Manning sat with his back against a boulder, black binoculars held to his eyes. His elbows rested on his bent knees. He was motionless, his gaze focused on the horizon. With his hair bleached pale blond by sun and salt water, his khaki shirt and shorts, and his tropical tan he looked like a part of the landscape. He had arrived in the cool pre-dawn picking a sentinel spot that would give him a little protection from the midday sun. As the sun rose, so did the wind, swirling the sea into a white blur on the shoreline rocks and sending a cooling spray over him that sparkled in the light. As the day aged toward noon, the surface of the ocean, flat at dawn, wrinkled and crumpled into chop and then whitecaps. Five-foot waves exploded in geysers as they met the coast, finally convincing him that no rendezvous would happen that day.

A few more days and all will be back to normal--except for the trees in our living rooms.
--Barbara


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Not Really Surprised

I've always thought the Mayor was a bit of a bully and that he looks like a little tin-pot dictator, like he's compensating for his small stature by having a big personality. So him snapping at a reporter that he's running the city doesn't surprise me at all. I suspect he's gotten an inflated view of his importance through his dealings with the little martinets he's currying the favor of in the downtown redevelopment. I've never seen a developer who didn't have a Napoleon complex. Some men are born to greatness, some have greatness thrust upon them, and the rest keep trying to put it on and it doesn't fit.

Do your best with my manuscript. It's Christmas and I'm undermotivated. I want to sit in a cave (with good lighting) and play with sticks and string.
--Barbara

Can You Believe It?

Spent this morning sweeping and mopping the place where I'm living. According the guy who looks after the building, Our Illustious Mayor has screwed himself for any possiblity of re-election. In a televised thing - which I did not see, so I'm trusting his version of things - a reporter made a comment or asked some kind of leading question about the City Hall deal, and he answered, "I run this city." I'm wondering if this is enough of a blunder to scare away voters - or party backing? Who knows, maybe he really didn't want another term in office.

I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to say for your critique. It should be interesting in any case. Merry Christmas, Barbara.

Bob;-)

Flock of Flamingos

I had a feeling that the Mayor allowing the Alderman to have his Nativity scene put up on City Hall would spark a conflagration of opinion. Put it in a park, for heaven's sake, not on the government's front porch! You know that he knew what would happen when he "donated" the darned thing to the city. Oh, let's make Green Bay a center of controversy during the holiday season. It's like he thinks there's not enough stress and depression floating around, he has to shove his religious beliefs down a few throats. Bah. On the good news front, Ann got home last night around 5:30. I'm always relieved when she pulls in; that 600 mile drive across country makes me a little nervous.

I'm glad you like my little donkey story. They do have a certain creepiness about them as they tiptoe on the margins of civilization. Today we have pretty pink birdies...

The scene had the air on an animated short. The flock of pink flamingos all facing the same direction and, necks stretched, wading away from the splashing of the school of bait fish on the surface behind them. Mona sat in the broiling sun staring at the birds, an imaginary soundtrack running through her head. "Why are we running? You know why we're running? What are we running from?" The nasal honks, in no way synchronized, and the rigidity of their slender dark pink necks gave an air of panic to their movements. She was struck by the realization that the birds' knees bent backwards, that they worked more like elbows and she frowned trying to figure out why. It was easier to put all her energy into discovering the evolutionary reason behind the flamingos than to think about Jack and the dangerous game he and Manning were playing.

As I said last week, I'm going to skip writer's tonight. There's just too much that needs doing and not enough time to do it. I'll see you next Thursday. I'm looking forward to hearing your critique of my story bits. Merry Christmas! And I mean that in the most non-secular way possible.
--Barbara



Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Scary

Once again, Barbara, you've found something that really connects emotionally with your story and its characters. The wild donkeys, up until now, have been a sort of wry running joke. What you've come up with could grow into a full-blown flashback that illuminates one of Jack's personal connundrums. For me, it isn't the socialogic commentary that carries the day, but the plain terror and hysteria inherent in the recollection. That's where the real energy is. You mentioned that Jenny's imagination is a scary place. As I see it, you're mining some pretty scary stuff here. Good for you! That's where the real stuff is.

Bob

News Flash...

Listening to the news, I heard that the Wiccan wreath was taken down, removed and otherwise confiscated from its location at City Hall. It was a nice try - worthy of Appleton in its way - but it seems that Green Bay is not ready for religious tolerance. On the other hand, those Wiccans are a wacky bunch. Obnoxious as the day is long. Serves them right, I guess. I wonder if they'd have fared any better at the Appleton City Hall.

Bob;-)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fetching & Dashing


Sounds like something you'd do when Christmas shopping, doesn't it? Actually those are the names of two more fingerless mitts patterns. Hey, I'm weaning myself away from Forbidden Love but I can't quit cold turkey. I gotta knit mitts! But I think there's something wrong with this picture. Fetching was the original pattern. And it is beautiful with its three rows of little cables making the cuff and the k4p1 rib up the body making it look like some sort of Greek column then the final row of cables on the top. Then came Dashing, intended to be the masculine counterpart. It has the same k4p1 rib but one big cable in the center--and it's twice as long. It comes almost to my elbow and when I realized it was going to be so long, I cut back on the number of rows. I'm too stubborn to rip it out so I have to make a mate for it, but it's so long!

Wild Donkeys

What a good person you are! My kids call periodically to curse us (in a loving way) for instilling them with a Protestant Work Ethic--and we're not Protestant. How can you not go in and work when they need you? Although a reliable car is an important thing to find, Bob, which I know you know. Good luck with that.

I had paying customers yesterday! Two of them--one even had actual cash money. Whew, what a day!

They stood looking at him as he drove off the paved road onto the barely visible track that wound through the cactus barren to end at the caves at Onima. Jack had come to hate the wild donkeys that roamed the island, their wise dark eyes that stared down the brown furry muzzles seemed to be judging him. The rigid posture as they stood motionless radiated disapproval. Foolish women tourists cooed as if the beasts were cartoons come to life but Jack had rounded a curve in the coast road late one night and his headlights illuminated a pair of stallions fighting in the center of the road. The little mare had stood coyly on the verge fluttering her long lashes as the males reared and whinnied, gnashing their yellow teeth at each others' neck. Jack had sat in his rental car watching the primeval battle unfold in his headlights, shaken by the raw power of the fighting males caught in his lights. These were no petting zoo residents content to nibble donkey chow from an outstretched palm.

Bah humbug.
--Barbara

Monday, December 17, 2007

Surprise...

This was supposed to be a day off from work - not that I had anything planned except to look for another car and drink steaming cups of coffee over at Kavarna. Then I get a call from work. One of the Dietary Aides is sick and could I come in. Of course, I said that I would. The car can wait. I figure it's good for another week or two. (Knock wood) And I can drink coffee at Luna. Yeah Protestant-Work-Ethic! Who needs a day off? Cheers.

Bob;-)

Giant Anemone

Oh, your Saturday sounds wonderful. I'm glad you had a good time and ate so well. I knitted and avoided housework. I'm a pro at that.

Manning folded his arms across his middle and made himself as streamlined as possible. Periodically he checked his compass to make sure he was swimming in the correct direction and he glanced at his depth gauge so he didn't miss Santiago's landmark. Bubbles spiraled up as he laughed at himself. Landmark, ha. He wondered if something could be called a landmark if it was underwater. His blue eyes darted from the reef passing on his left looking for the "you can't miss it" stand of staghorn coral tangled with lush yellow tube sponges that, according to Santiago, marked the edge of the shipwreck, and the deep dark blue of the open ocean on his right. He had dived these waters many times without incident but there was always the chance of something coming out of the abyss.

One more week and the insanity should be behind us.
--Barbara


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow Expected

Travelled to Oshkosh yesterday for the Christmas get together. The thing is that my car is neither warm nor dependable these days - and Brian hasn't gotten this year's license-plate sticker, so he didn't want to take his car out on 41. We rode down with my dad and his girlfriend, which was not bad at all, though the return trip was a bit of a chore. Got to hug sisters and brothers and the wives thereof - I've become a serious advocate of hugging, if you haven't noticed. Ate lots of turkey (which was surprisingly moist and flavorful) with all the trimmings. Also, drank goodly quantities of beer and strong coffee. And so, the afternoon was quite painless. May your Christmas also be painless, Barbara. Oh, and stay away from Oneida street if at all possible. See you Thursday.

Bob

Kayak

God, I'm coming to hate this time of year. I was down on Oneida St. yesterday (along with nearly everyone else on earth) and it was insane. Cars and wild-eyed people on cellphones and cars and SUVs and people and... well, you get the picture. No way was I going to park and go into a store. I snuck into Copps, got my spaghetti pie ingredients and a loaf of French bread, and hurried home to hide away from the Christmas crazy people. My beloved family will be getting fewer gifts but I will be safe from catching the fever that makes you go shopping and buy things no one needs with money you don't have. Here's my gift to you--sanity--and I'm hanging on by a thread.

It isn't at all the way it should be. In a kayak you're just too close to the water. It is a form of boating, I suppose, but to me boating implies a bit more boat and maybe someplace to sit that doesn't do double duty as the bottom of the boat. And the paddle or oar or whatever it's called? It seems too long or bent at the wrong angle, awkward to maneuver and increasingly heavy. And this water, this salty water. It's pretty alright, a nice shade of turquoise, but it leaves a sticky residue on your skin and it tastes awful. Whose idea was this anyway?

Merry 9-days-until-Christmas! I'm going to go knit more mitts.
--Barbara

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Boga

Do you realize that it'll be Christmas in 10 days? Are you done shopping? I think I might be. I've been following with interest the placement of a Nativity scene at City Hall. I'm not sure it's an appropriate place for one, a Christmas tree, yes, a creche, I don't think so. But today there's a new holiday symbol, a Wiccan wreath and pentacle! I hope there's a menorah, a Kwaanza symbol, some Muslim something, one of everything tomorrow. It'd be great to turn that entry overhang into a revolving display of symbols of every religion throughout the year, let people know the diversity of our citizens and not favor one religion over any other. If we allow religious symbols on public property at all, that is. But enough of that.

It was a school of boga. From the shore it looked like a large cloud shadow shifting over the sandy sea bed, but once he was underwater and swimming out toward the drop off he could see the fish. A school of silver fish, each about six inches long, flashing like falling coins in the tropical sun. The colors shifted from white to green to blue with the angle of the school and they moved with a frantic energy like predators were nearby. He hung there nearly hypnotized by the flickering fish, startled when a barracuda nearly as long as he was came knifing through the blur of boga, trailing scales like glitter in its wake.

Not a very holiday festive image to end with, but there you go! Gotta house clean today. Ugh.
--Barbara

Friday, December 14, 2007

FOs & WIP




I think I have all the gift-knitting done. I think.

Now I'm onto selfish knitting. Or as Ann would say, the Selfish Fetchings. I'm using them to wean myself off the Forbidden Love Wrist Warmers, especially since I gave the
pattern copy from my knitting bag to a woman at The Attic last night before writer's. I see her there every once in a while working on an afghan or scarf and admire it. She liked my mitts so I gave her the pattern since I'd changed it a bit from the original so they don't go halfway up your arms getting caught on sleeves.



And just so you understand that I'm more
than just a knitter, here's the cover of the Fall 2007 issue of The Sheepshead Review. One of my stories, Soup for Marco, is in it. Yay, me!

Gorgonian

Sorry I left so quickly last night. It had been a rather unsettled day and was just too much to concentrate on making up a story. Thanks for the hug. It helped.

Glint of gold. It caught his eye as he swam down the reef that night. He stopped and finned nearer, only to find it was a broken bottle glittering in his light. The pale glow of the moon lent its cold light to the warm beam in his hand as he swept it over the reef. Looking for the clues, the markers Santiago claimed were there made Manning's heart rate slow. He knew that even without the treasure the Venezuelan swore was there for the taking that he had all he needed to keep Jack on the string long enough to part him from a good bit of his money. Many fools like Swallow who imagined they were smarter than Manning had died regretting it.

Warm thoughts on a cold day.
--Barbara

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Blackbar Soldierfish

Where do ideas come from? Words just appear and I have no clue where they are until they show up on the paper--and how come sometimes a picture generates certain words but the next time I look at it altogether different words come? To quote Yul Brynner, 'tis a puzzlement.

It's quiet down here, peaceful. Not silent, not by a long shot, but different sounds from the regular everyday ones. There's no traffic, no ringing buzzing tootling phones, no voices of any kind. It's restful to ears jangled by the escalating buzz of modern life to wade into a blood-warm sea and submerge to spend an hour neutrally buoyant, unemcumbered by gravity's demanding pull. The Darth Vader whoosh-click of your breathing fades as your vision soars, strains to pull in every color, movement, and shape. It's peaceful spending time in a place where the rocks are alive, the plants are animals, and the only soldiers are six-inch-long red fish that roam the reef at night.

See you tonight with Jenny's critique in one hand and my submission in the other.
--Barbara

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Don't Wanna Go There

I'd be afraid to visit Jenny's imagination. There's a lot of scary stuff coming out of there. I did my critique yesterday. It took me a few read-throughs to get into it but I ended up loving the whole thing. I especially like the last sentence. So arch.

Couldn't make the pencil go last night. I think it's a Christmas problem; the whole "season" thing has begun to make me want to shout, stop the insanity. Whatever happened to tasteful celebration of holidays? Makes me want to live in a cave and worship shrubbery.

Bah humbug.
--Barbara

Sheep

If I remember correctly, the person cutting the cake was placing all the little critters into a kind of sheep corral off to the side. You're right, though, it was a preposterous and surreal experience. And speaking of surreal, I begin critiquing Jenny's story today. I read it again this morning, and it made me laugh. The outrageousness of it all just tickled me to the core. Jenny makes me laugh.

Bob;-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Really?

Hmm, maybe you got a different part of the cake than I did. I had an edge but no sheep. Did anyone get a sheep? All I felt by that time was tired. It was a bit of a surreal experience so silly would be a valid response. Now that I think on it, you did seem a little wacky. Fun, though, but wacky.

Cake

There was something in the cake last night, don't you think? I mean besides sugar and flour and the sort of ingredients you typically find in cakes. As soon as I had that second bite, I started coming out with all this obnoxious silliness. Where did it come from? And even more, what set it off? I could put it on the temperature of the room, or on the circus atmosphere. In any case I'll blame it on the cake.

Bob

Tiger Grouper

It was nice to hear the stories and poems last night, wasn't it? And the issue is very good looking. Cate should be proud. Sorry you missed my reading but I was okay, I guess.

Like a centurion guarding a Roman temple, the Tiger Grouper hovered over the orange barrel sponge. Many years had passed since the big fish had been afraid of anything. It hung there motionless barely sparing a glance for lesser fish as they passed. It fixed Santiago with a cold eye when he swam down from the surface, speargun cocked and ready. The man hovered for a moment looking back and then, acknowledging the seniority of the large grouper, flicked a ragged fin and swam off looking for smaller prey.

Not much writing last night, but I was tired. See you Thursday.
--Barbara

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sweet

Ah, Mona is a good name. Also good is making chicken soup. Hot, savory soup with a thick slice of bread on the side. If you ask me, cooking has a wonderfully fertile effect on your writing. I like that you've made Clarinda so curious about her world and the people in it. It is a fine detail that Bunny pulls out a fatty, and then sings Bob Marley songs to keep up his nerve. I like that Edward makes slightly disparaging remarks about the name of a bar, and that Louise tells him not to be superior. Especially, Barbara, I love that you've named the mystery lady Mona.

See you tonight. Save me some cake.

Bob

Sea Grape

It was a cooking weekend; I made soup, cupcakes, and chicken casserole. Comfort food for cold windy days. And I knit. I can't seem to stop making them. I discovered (to my horror) that it's my turn to submit on Thursday and all I've been writing are these little scribbles, so that's what you're getting, make of it what you will.

How does the sea grape grow, she wondered. You find it in the most unlikely places. Here on top of the cliff overlooking the ocean, for example. There was precious little soil anywhere on the island for plants to grow in and none at all she could see up here. The thick fleshy gray roots lay curled on top of the rock like long growths, not the white threads she saw when she planted begonias with her grandma when she was a kid. Those hours spent with Grandma were the only normal parts of her life so far. Her parents had been aging hippies holding on with a death grip to the carefree days of their youth. They lived in a cluster of yurts outside Des Moines, for God's sake, where her dad taught philosophy and Eastern religions to the sons and daughters of corn farmers and her mother scraped a living as an intuitive potter. That meant her pieces were attractive in an organic way but seldom actually useful. The fact was that her life was one of capitalism and its many excesses, paid for by a man who represented all that Lucas and Beth despised. Their daughter, Moonlight, had changed her name to Mona as soon as she left home and set about getting as far from her roots as possible.

Ah, so her name is Mona. Makes me feel better knowing her name.
--Barbara

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Clarinda II

The soup turned out very well and all the veggies are enjoying swimming around together with the penne pasta which is what was available for noodling. Ooh, the sun just came out. That means I'll be able to see the airplane flyover just before kick-off. (Flyovers are the only part of football I like.)

Children are curious, too curious for their own good at times. Clarinda was the darling of her family and therefore had never had anyone curb her curiosity, had anyone deny her an answer to a question. Clarinda had recently celebrated her eleventh birthday and she had an elevated view of her own maturity. And she had a fascination with a young man who lived in the bright blue house at the end of her street just before the curve leading to the cemetery. She rode her bicycle past the blue house whenever he was out in the yard tinkering on his rattletrap truck or she walked that way, the long way, when her mama sent her to the store. Clarinda was determined that Bunny would notice her, would take her for a ride. She burned to know everything about him so she asked a lot of questions.

Enjoy your day!
--Barbara

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Carnations and Obsession





First, you have to see the beautiful red carnations DH gave me for our 31st anniversary. Aren't they georgeous? And he grilled steaks and made fresh asparagus and homemade twice-baked potatoes for supper. What a catch!



I've been steadily working my way up (out?) on the Short & Sassy Shawl. Please remind me to check shawl patterns before I cast on in the future and only choose the ones that grow narrower rather than wider. This one gets bigger by 2 stitches each row. Thank heavens it's a one-skein pattern as I'm slowly going mad with the snail's pace.





I've become obsessed with making fingerless mitts. I finished the last (I thought) gift pair yesterday and heaved a sigh ready to move on to another project. I cast on (and frogged) a Pixie hat with Himalayan silk because the yarn's so rigid it was nearly impossible to make the stitches especially on circs. Boo-hoo, I wanted that hat. (Maybe I can crochet one. Hmmm.) Then I cast on a slipper, but, after 3 rows, it wasn't what I wanted after all, so I frogged that. I looked at patterns and at my stash--then cast on 2 more pairs of mitts, one fuzzy and one worsted. (Good thing I picked up a second pair of #8 dpns at Hancock last weekend because I liked the color, huh?) Help! I've fallen into the Forbidden Love Mitts pattern and I can't get up.

Footprints

Brr. That's all I've got to say, brrrr.

"When was the last time it rained?" Manning crouched, hands on his knees, bending to look at the cracked sand they walked on. "I don't know, mon, but it's been months." Bunny shook his head, his dreadlocks lashing his shoulders. "Why you care?" Manning straightened, took off his boonie hat, and wiped his forehead. "I want to know what made those prints and when." He kept walking along the trail of tiny bird footprints, glancing over his shoulder to frown at his own prints stretching back to the crumbling asphalt road. Bunny stood and stared after him, confusion rising in his red-rimmed eyes. "It was just a bird, mon. Birds don't tell no tales." He lurched forward as if Manning had tugged on an invisible lead. They walked down the deserted stretch of sand toward the mangroves. When they reached the dark edge where the spidery roots began their tangled quest for space, the two men argued, Manning angry, flinging his arms and leaning forward for emphasis. Bunny was not swayed. His face remained impassive as he shook his head. Finally giving up, Manning plunged into the mangrove thicket and soon disappeared. Bunny crouched in the shade to wait, pulled a fattie from his dirty cargo shorts, lit up, and launched into a medley of his favorite Bob Marley songs to keep his nerve strong.

Today's a soup day. The chicken gets it and I'm sending every veggie I can get my hands on to keep the bird company. It's just too cold for lunchmeat sandwiches.

--Barbara

Friday, December 7, 2007

Rincon Bar

Bob, I really appreciate being able to bounce story ideas off you last night. Thanks for all your input; you helped me get a grip on all these characters.

"Where do they buy their paint?" Edward shaded his eyes with his hand as he stood gazing at the Amstel Bar in Rincon. "Creative name too," he said to Louise as she walked up beside him after parking the car down the street. "I suppose it's safe to leave it there while we're inside," she said, squinting up and down the street as if expecting to see roving bands of car thieves. She turned to him. "What did you say, dear?" Edward patted the tin Amstel Beer sign nailed firmly to the wall beside the open door. "Someone thought long and hard to name this joint." Louise elbowed him. "Don't be superior. You're not known for your creativity, remember you've got a Dalmatian named Spot." "Well," he said with an injured sniff, "you wouldn't let me name him Sparky."

I'm back to picture one and hoping for more developments as I work my way through the second time. See you Monday at the launch!
--Barbara

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Boca Karuna

Okay, it's officially freezing today. -7 degrees! Are there enough clothes to keep a person warm in this kind of temperature? Brrr.

Trying to walk in the sandy places in the shallows he moved out of the cleft in the ironshore rocks and shone his flashlight at the white fiberglass boat purring on the horizon. Ready with a story in case the dawn light was playing tricks and instead of Santiago in the Santa Marta the boat carried the Coast Guard or worse yet the fish police, Manning thought about how he had gotten into this mess. His whole life he had attracted a, let's say, more interesting class of people. His mother, his social climbing, money loving mother hated his friends, force him to live his life in the shadows to avoid her disapproval. A sly smile lifted the corners of his mouth when he saw the flash of Santiago's smile when the Santa Marta reached the edge of the drop-off. Manning waded out, swimming the last few yards. He slipped over the gunwale like an eel, pulled the zippered plastic pouch out from under his shirt and counted out the pile of guilders. "I said dollars," Santiago said, his smile draining away from his eyes and lips. "You want me to explain to the bank manager why guilders aren't good enough? 'Dollars are what smugglers want, sir.' Yeah, that'd be great." The hard light in Manning's icy blue eyes stopped Santiago's complaint.

Well, there you have it. I still don't know what IT is but I'm getting closer. See you tonight.
--Barbara

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Painted Turtle

More snow! Ugh. I hate slick roads and driveways and shoveling snow. Double ugh.

It looked as though the artist had been dizzy when he painted the turtle. Concentric rings of colors form the shell like the brightly colored layers of candy in a jawbreaker, the head and feet look almost real, and the background is a cloudy tan that looks like muddy water swirling down a drain. She wasn't a very knowledgeable art connoisseur but Jack had dragged her to enough of these gallery things that she knew the kind of noises to make so that she appeared to have an opinion or care about art. She didn't. As far as she could tell Winfred Dania, tonight's featured artist, should have kept his job as an accountant or a phone installer or whatever he had been because she thought his artistic career was dead in the water.

--Barbara

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Not Bad at All

I like the first two sentences a lot, Barbara. Good, clean crisp sentences that set up a lot of tension and expectation for me. Who is it that's diving there at Red Slave? (Someone's got to be diving, otherwise why are we there at all?) And why? What is he up to? Is it Manning? (It could be Manning, setting up some deal or other.) Or maybe it's Jack, out on that crazy treasure hunt. You know, Barbara, you've really got me hooked into this story. All you have to do now is reel me in.

Bob;-)

Stuff to See Here


Just to prove that I have been knitting, here are a couple things.

First, the felted crocheted tote made from Sensations Marvel and Cascade 220
. I have to say that it smelled like I was laundering moldy sheep when I felted it. Not the most appealing scent to run into in the basement. But it felted well, now all I have to do is sew that handle on and it'll be finis.

I found the pattern for the mitts on someone's blog and couldn't resist them just because of their name--Forbidden Love Wrist W
armers. Isn't that the most tempting pattern name? The yarn's the forbidden love part; the designer made them from Yarn Bee Soft Delight Extremes (it's acrylic *gasp*). She said she was embarrassed to have fallen for a non-organic yarn but loved the colors. Me too. If you Google "Forbidden Love Wrist Warmers" you'll find them and, if you forget to type in the wrist warmers part, well, a few more interesting sites, but just go to the mitts one, k? Anyhoo, I made them shorter so they'd fit better when wearing a sweater. And look at the cool bee needle holders! My daughter made them. She's brilliant.

And remember, Ann, on Sunday I said I had decided not to make a Rib Warmer for Dad? Well, not an hour after we hung up, I cast on. I know it kind of looks like Franken-foot but it's really going to be a knitted vest thing. Anyway, I have all that yarn that's not going to be a sweater now and I really wanted to try the pattern since it's kind of like yarn origami and, well, I wanted to. It's not like I think I have to have it done for Christmas or anything, I mean, I can quit whenever I want.

Red Slave

I paged through my snippets and found the few pictures I had skipped so I had something to look at to write about last night. Yippee!

You have to dive Red Slave at dawn if you don't have a boat. And even if you do have a boat, dawn is still the best time because that's when currents run slowest. Red Slave is a collection of huts at the extreme southern end of the island and currents run strong, so strong that what anywhere else is a gray vase-shaped sponge grows in a flat fan-shape offshore of the Red Slave huts. There's a lot of detritus around there, mute evidence of just how challenging it is to dive there. Broken fins lay where they were flung onshore by desperate divers anxious to lighten their burden as they stagger and struggle through the building waves to the safety of shore. If I wanted to dispose of something, this is where I'd do it.

Not my best, but way better than nothing.
--Barbara

Monday, December 3, 2007

8 Random Thing About Me

I have to agree with David and Abby, I don't know any other people with blogs so I'm just going to put my list on here and hope for the best.

1. I love doing Origami. I have a stash of papers and instruction books in the basement and periodically I get them out and make all sorts of stuff that I admire and then recycle. It's the best when David and Ann are home and all three of us fold and laugh.

2. I talk to myself--a lot. Most of the time it's in my head but sometimes, like when I'm mowing the lawn, it sneaks out and I'm talking out loud.

3. I hate being lost. I am almost terrified of not knowing where I am. I admire people who just hop in the car or on an airplane and go somewhere with no definite plans. I could never do that.

4. My grandma taught me how to make a Jacob's Ladder with string, like Cat's Cradle, and I know how to make a few other figures and wish I knew how to make more. I have a book about that too.

5. I'm better at learning something new, especially something physical, if I have time to think how it will feel to do it before I have to make my attempt. That's why you'll find me at the back of the line.

6. I rarely suffer stage fright. I'm not shy at all about getting in front of a microphone or standing up to speak or read something I've written, even if I think it's crap. My mom takes credit for this since she entered me in a blue million dance contests when I was a little ballerina and dragged me, along with Deenie Hobbs and her two kids, all over southern Indiana to county fairs and school gyms. My most vivid memory is one county fair where the record player was on the edge of the supported-only-at-the-ends stage and every time I moved the record skipped. It was like dancing on a trampoline. I was crying but I kept on dancing.

7. I am inordinately proud of the fact that I can scuba dive since I can barely swim. And I think I'm pretty darned good at it too.

8. I hate crowds and meeting strangers, but I'm good at mustering up my guts, pasting a smile on my face, and introducing myself. People think I'm an extrovert. I'm not.

Ain't It The Truth?

Oh, me too, I'm always brilliant when the words are nice and safe and private in my head. They leap and covort, colorful and juicy in there, and then when I put them on paper something about the journey down my arm sucks all the life out of them and the words lay flat and dessicated on the paper or they just sag there like unsalted oatmeal. Ugh. I'm determined to claw my way out of the blah hole I seem to be in these days. Maybe one of the exercises Thursday will light a spark. We can only hope.

Sometimes...

So, Barbara, you are a Picture Person. Sometimes I'm a Picture Person, and sometimes it's the Words that get me going. It all depends. The phase of the moon? The weather? It's a mystery. What I've been writing is all over the place - stuff from three or four different stories. When it's still in my head the writing is great, maybe even inspired. When it get to paper, though, it's lost all vitality. Or a lot of it. When I read it later on, it may not be so bad. Other times, it really is as bad as my first impression had it. I think it might have to do with the fact that sometimes I'm just not a very good judge of my writing. Anyway, Barbara, have a great Monday. Later.

Bob

Red Orange Amstel

Man oh man, my writing well is dry. Dusty, echoing emptiness. I glare at the exercise page and that crabby little voice in the back of my head starts raving about how stupid it is and how I'll never think of anything to write about that and, by God, I don't. This morning I dated all the printed out Bonaire picture prompt writings and checked the pages in the calendar to find the ones I'd missed. I found a few I knew I had written about but hadn't posted, so you're getting one of them today.

Red orange walls flashed past as the truck sped through the sleepy village. "Stop," Edward said, "stop. That was a bar. I need a drink." But Louise didn't stop. She gave no sign that she even heard Edward's plea. "Louie," he whined, "I'm parched beyond reason. You kidnap me at the crack of dawn and drive me around this God-forsaken island covered with cactus that looks like it has been radiated, stark white rocks like moon rocks, and wild donkeys that..." His rant was cut short by Louise stamping on the brakes of the rental pickup to avoid running into one of the wild donkeys that had ambled out of a thicket onto the narrow road in front of them. Edward caught himself just before his head slammed into the windshield. "Maybe I should drive."

Maybe I should just go back to the beginning of the calendar and start writing again. I seem to be more inspired by pictures than words these days.

Stay warm!
--Barbara

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Well's Dry

I stare at the paper and nothing happens. No words flop out of my pencil and relieve the unending white. Maybe later.

I bet it looked cool to see fireworks during the snowstorm. I was hoping for thunder snow, one of the weather guessers said we might have it, but no luck. Thank god for snowblowers! That stuff was nice and wet and heavy, too heavy for me to shovel. We'd have been stuck here until the thaw without the little red snowblower. Yeah, not really, but it'd be nice sometimes.

Nice images there, Bob. I like the woman's smile and the man putting his arm across the chair back to connect them.

--Barbara

Snow

Went out for a smoke and to watch the snow coming down last night. At the far side of Whitney Park, someone was firing off bottle rockets. Blue and red. Firecrackers, too. It made for a very wierd impression.

There is an empty chair between them where their daughter had been sitting. The woman has longish brown hair that curls in at the ends; a compact face with a pointed nose. The husband reaches across the chasm, flicks her shoulder with his fingers. She sweeps him briefly with her eyes, then tosses her hair. He places his arm across the back of the chair between them. The sleeves of his flannel shirt are rolled almost to the elbows. A large golden watch is banded to his thick wrist. The woman holds her left hand at eye-level. On her ring finger is a sizeable diamond in a gold setting. She gives out with a brilliantly devious smile before turning her hand in a kind of pirouette and setting it back on her lap. The daughter returns shortly. She is thirteen, with her daddy's blond hair, only much longer than his. The mother draws herself up in her chair. The daughter settles herself between them, then leans into the join between her daddy's broad chest and arm.

I have no idea where this is going, or if it's going anywhere at all. Later.

Bob;-)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

You're Right...

"Sails" has some excellent possibilities, and not just because Max caresses the old boat as if it were his beloved's breasts - though that particular phrase certainly doesn't hurt. I like your choice of Jamie as the child's name. The thing that got in your way, as I see it, was your choice of telling it in first person. Stay in the third, Barbara. It has served you marvelously well thus far. Oh, and I'll always respect you.

Bob;-)

Stealth Knitting

I have been knitting. I have. But nothing I can show off. Oh, I knitted a few rows on my red shawl and I knitted a couple more fish, but you don't really need to see either of those, do you? Look at the post before the last one and imagine the shawl a bit longer and a few more fish in the school, also variegated.

The best news is that my neighbor/renter/writing friend, Jenny, told me Tuesday when she came over to write together that one of her co-workers is teaching her how to knit. On Tuesday she was the proud owner of half a knitted washcloth square, not bias, square. We spent part of our writing time that afternoon looking at knitting books and patterns, needles and yarn. DH laughed at us. As if I needed more proof that yarn fumes are dangerous, Jenny said she was planning to knit a hat, scarf, and doggie sweater for her brother and sister-in-law and their dog-to-be for Christmas. This Christmas. In 25 days. Hope springs eternal. Or more probably, yarn fumes cause delusions. I must confess I spent part of Wednesday at work
online finding easy, big needle free patterns for scarves and doggie sweaters. I already have the perfect hat pattern. So, shoot me, I'm an enabler. Wednesday evening there was a knock at my door and Jenny burst in saying, "Can you help me? I forgot how to cast on!" She had gone to Walmart and fallen prey to a lone skein of Lion Brand Moonlight Mohair on sale, all fuzzy and shiny and tempting. I helped her alright--I showed her how to cast on, I lent her bamboo needles because she had purchased metal ones which were too slippery, and I gave her a skein of chunky yarn to play with. And then I gave her the patterns I had found. Turns out she stayed up half the night knitting that mohair scarf even though she had to be at work at 6 AM. Yep, she's got it bad. Tee-hee.

Sails

Every night as I'm heading toward bed I think, I'm too tired to write, and every night as I pull back the covers I think, but if I don't write Bob won't respect me in the morning. So I write. As you can probably tell, I haven't been particularly inspired by what I'm asked to do in the writing prompts, but I'm doing it. Sometimes I'm not liking it, but I'm doing it.

The ship's sail hung from the mast like dirty laundry. The canvas was once white I'm sure but years of salt water and rough weather and casual handling showed. It was gray and stained, patched and frayed. The whole thing--ship and sail--looked like it was less than a week away from being sold for scrap. Max, on the other hand, disagreed. I could tell. Not that he said anything, no. In fact I could see he was determined not to say much in front of the old pirate trying to sell the Martha H. to us. "So, where was her keel laid?" I asked, more to distract Salvador than out of any real interest. I saw the tremble in Max's fingers as he caressed the peeling varnish on the teak decking and cradled the chipped and splintered wheel as if it were his beloved's breasts.

Might have possibilities.
--Barbara

Friday, November 30, 2007

Crib

Good writing group last night! And a great conversation with cheese after. Bob, you're keeping my interest focused on the Bonaire calendar writings, you devil. With your pushing, um, encouragement I might just make something of it.

Here I am stuck in my crib. Bedtime, bah. I don't feel sleepy. "Time to go night-night," they say. Then they put me in my jammies, read me a story and turn out the light. They're not going night-night. I can hear them. I can hear Jake and Jenny arguing and laughing, hear them run up and down the hall, hear Mama hush them, saying, "Jamie's asleep. Be quiet." Wrong. Jamie's not asleep. She's right here with Mr. Bear and Rags and the blue blanket not the green blanket, and my good old thumb that's alway right there when I need it. Maybe I'll just lay down with Mr. Bear, the blanket and my thumb. Just for a minute. Maybe if I'm quiet someone will come.

Eh. See you next week.
--Barbara

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Peregrinations...

Sounds as though some of Lou's fifty-dollar vocabulary has rubbed off on you. I'm still in the middle of putting his critique together. You're right. It's an interesting story. And funny, too, in a dry, wry sort of way. Wish that I could find a way to get more interested in it, though. Oh well, back to the critique. Later.

Bob;-)

Postcard From...In-Transit

Whew! I finally got Lou's critique done. It was a killer just to read that old dot matrix print. Interesting story, though.

The postcard arrived from Siberia. The front of it was all white with a bit of gray like it was a photo of a whiteout or was just unprinted plain card stock that had gotten smudged in transit. In transit. I like the implication, the sense of rootless motion in those words. I've spent some time in the transit areas of airports, slumped in the uncomfortable molded plastic chairs, reduced to eating the tasteless plastic food-like things that are sold for ten times what they would be in the real world if it even appeared there. I am fascinated by the strangeness of in-transit shopping too. Jewelry and bizarre decorative items made from seashells embedded in clear resin, trays and teapots and clocks transfer-decorated with garish maps of wherever you are, even though all in-transit areas look the same. The clothes are odd too. No one out in the real world would wear the t-shirts and sweatshirts, aloha shirts and goofy hats. This must be the origination of the inventory of every thrift shop and rummage sale in North America, I think. In-transit is the earthbound equivalent of Limbo, where unlucky travelers serve varying sentences, on their journey to a vacation destination for a respite karmically paid for by time in In-transit, or back home to do laundry and gift more hideous merchandise to their temporarily grateful family.

Just some late-night mental peregrinations; sorry for taking up your time. See you tonight.
--Barbara

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's Colder Than...

No, you're right, Barbara. I doesn't feel very Christmas-y. Not yet, anyway. Though I did see something while walking over to Kavarna this morning for coffee. A woman was shepherding maybe five or six children (clearly not her own) along the sidewalk, making encouraging noises as they went. She had stopped and was looking into an office window. The kids were all clustered around her, and bumping into each other like ducklings. For some reason, it really got me, this perfectly unremarkable scene. See you tomorrow.

Bob

I Think it's the Pre-Christmas Crazies

That's what I think is making everyone so cranky, that and the fact that we're not having much winter. I mean, I'm glad we had such a warm autumn and that I don't have to drive around on icy roads dodging snowplows and trying to see over snow drifts at corners. But it's not very Christmas-y feeling, is it? The weather these days seems more Scrooge-ish than Santa-like. Where's the jolly elf ringing the bell at his kettle? I passed a kettle the other day that was just hanging on its stand, an apron draped over one side, and ringing all by itself. I didn't feed it a dollar. Too impersonal. I like to see some shiny face there looking a little cross-eyed from the hours of jangling that freakin' bell when I stuff my dollar in. I want to hear that spiritless, "Thanks, Happy Holidays." from someone really regretting that moment of selfless charity that made them sign up to be a bell-ringer.

Ho! Ho! Ho! (Did you hear someone wants Santas to say Ha-ha-ha! since "ho" has taken on an alternate meaning in today's vernacular? Warms my heart.)
--Barbara

I Hear You, Barbara

Woke up to a bad mood, this morning. It's a good thing I don't drink to excess, or I'd be sunk. Things at work have gotten wierd and touchy, like there's an arguement brewing just under the surface of things. It seems like most everyone is dealing with some low-level depression or other. I just hope things work themselves out before too long, before it starts affecting the residents. After writing this, I'm heading over to Kavarna for coffee and for a chat with Brian. Stay warm. Later.

Bob

It's Definitely Winter Today

Cold and windy. Ugh. Now we need snow to blow in on that wind and it would be perfect. Not! Five weeks from today Don and I will be awaking on our first Bonaire morning. Ahhh.

New Year's resolutions make me rebel. I make resolutions but only ones I know I'd keep anyway. And I always forgive myself if I fail. I mean, who else is going to be so understanding? I imagine other people's resolutions made in solemn compact in a sincere effort for betterment. Bullcrap. Better than ninety percent of New Year's resolutions are made by slobbering drunks, half crying, in a maudlin display of sentimental intoxication. Or by dried up spinsters sitting alone in their apartments drinking a helf-bottle of Asti they got on sale at the liquor store after polishing off a Swanson's Chicken Pot Pie (microwave version) and a one pound bag of Dove Dark Chocolate Promises, the wrappers of said candy scattered around their solitary room like red foil confetti while Dick Clark counts down in Times Square for the eighty-seventh consecutive year. Pitiful.

Not in a very good mood these days. Can you tell?
--Barbara

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It Was A Peculiar Day All Around

I printed all the picture prompt writings out yesterday and there are 16 pages, 51 entries. Should be 53, one for each week plus the cover, so I evidently missed two. I'll have to page through and see if I can pick them out. I won't forget Emilia and the daddy man, never fear. I decided to tackle the Write Brain Workbook as a daily prompt since it has a page for every day of the year. Don't think these writings have any chance of hanging together like the Bonaire pictures, but it should be fun. Here goes!

Sometimes I feel just like a gerbil, running around and around on his wheel. Around and around, chasing the metalic squeak of life, that annoying carousel of duty that was somehow ingrained in me by my upbringing. Or maybe not. Maybe all the "should" nonsense rattling in my harried mind is my own invention. Maybe my childish brain interpreted casual comments as commandments, maybe I built my own tightrope that stretches in front of me into infinity. At times I feel my feet slip on the swaying rope, feel the pull of the yawning abyss before me and I grasp for any handhold to steady me. So I can line up "should"s and "ought to"s and "has to be"s close enough together in a line so I can move along the tightrope never too far from safety. But what would happen if I let go?

Should be an interesting 365 days!
--Barbara

What it Is...

Wish I felt better this evening. Work today was peculiar; mind-bending, in a way. Way too many odd and mysterious things happening. Of course, I know it's all in the way I'm looking at things. Patiently waiting to read tomorrow's blog.

Bob;-)

Oh,

And don't forget the little girl (what was her name?) you had walking around with her mom, looking for the daddy man. You found something bitter-sweet in that entry, as I remember, and hugely vulnerable. I liked that one a lot. How many pages did you come up with once you put all the posts together? Fifteen pages? Twenty? There were fifty-two entries in all, so I'm guessing twenty pages, give or take. Can't wait to see it. Stay warm. Later.

Bob

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bits

Your memory's not bad, Bob, there is a lot more story to be written. The only things that have been written out are the sea grape cliff murder and the lighthouse scene. When I wasn't sure who was seeing things or how it would link to something else, I purposely didn't name names. I printed it all out yesterday and discovered when flipping through all the little posts that originally Sharon was with Diego (maybe the daddy man) not the late Jack. Oops. Shows what happens when I don't keep a cast list! My task tomorrow will be to hack all the bits apart and rearrange them in some semblance of order, or maybe not, and clean up who's who, who's with who, who does what to whom, so I can have it story-ish in a couple of weeks when it's my turn again to submit. I sort of see this melding with the retired spies from my January Nanowrimo, but maybe not. Maybe there are just some characters who carry over into the new story. Parts of the story are very clear in my mind and others are pretty murky, but that'll be the fun figuring it out.

So Many Questions...

I like Sunday's post a lot, Barbara. I like where you write about the sky being so blue that it should be classified as a separate color. Also, the way you evoke Sharon's feelings of isolation; they are real. Were you planning to write through where Detective Inspector Rooibos finishes his investigation? Does Sharon go to Manning's burial? And what about Jack? He seems to have slipped through the cracks - unless, of course, you did write him out and my memory is bad. Also, I've been thinking about your post where you wrote about Sunday mornings on the island. Who is witnessing the scene where the locals are going into the church? Is it Sharon? One of the other characters? As for me, I'm casting my vote for Sharon.

You're right. I am leader on Thursday. Thanks.

Bob;-)

Write about the fault line.

So I fell back on my old stand-by, A Writer's Book of Days, for a prompt last night because I was too lazy to sit and go through my other zillion writing prompt books to find something new to write about.

Some comedian had spent the night painting a wavering dotted line down the main drag through town with the words "fault line" painted along it. Most of the townspeople thought it was funny. "Kind of like a cosmic 'tear here,'" laughed Ed Grainger as he shouldered open the cafe door just after sun-up. Others viewed it as tempting fate. I could tell by the pinched and white-lipped frown on Mrs. Frances Fortner's face that she was solidly on the tempting fate (leaning heavily toward the vandalism) side. I pitied Sheriff Parsons who would get an earful from both sides no matter how fast he got Norman and Elmer out there to clean it off. "High school hijinks," said Tillie Sue Meeker with a knowing nod. "It's a reaction to all the media attention being paid to the latest seismology report from that crackpot out at the college," said Luther from his post behind the griddle. Several heads bobbed their agreement just as the ground started to roll and the coffee began to dance in the mugs. Every eye in the cafe turned to stare at that dotted line on the pavement waiting to see what would happen.

See you Thursday with Lou's critique. Who's leader? Is it you, Bob?
--Barbara

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Magic Teapot



DH's favorite store, Cook's Corner, reopened less than two miles from our house. He and I made a field trip there last Tuesday (he's not allowed to go alone). We found his Christmas gift there (he promises to be surprised when he opens it) and I bought a red pottery teapot. It looks like a normal teapot (see photo) but I thought I should fill it with water and measure how much it holds so I'd know how much tea to put in. I got out the 4-cup measuring cup, filled the teapot and poured. I filled the measuring cup with plenty of water left in the pot. Pulled out the 8-cup measuring cup. Almost filled it. This little red teapot holds seven cups of water. SEVEN! The only thing I can figure is that the teapot has a hidden basement.

A Fishy Week



I know, I know, this was Thanksgiving week, but in my world of yarn it was fishy. I've been trying not to knit too much in hopes that my left hand will come back to life. It's been numb for a while so I'm working real hard to give it a rest. The problem is that everything I like to do--knit/crochet, read, write, type on the computer (I use both hands)--somehow involves my left elbow. That means my poor ulnar nerve never gets a break so my ring finger and middle finger are tingly. Not good, I think. So I've only been knitting one row of my shawl at a time, or maybe two. I hauled out the variegated acrylic and the size 10 needles to go back to knitting afghan fish since they're small, quick, and easy. And I treated myself to a pair of size 17 Crystal Palace needles at Loops & Links so knitting Twisted Rib Hats for charity would be easier. Wasn't that nice of me?

Oh yeah, another way it was a fishy week? DH brought home a pair of whole live lobsters for our Thanksgiving dinner since it was just the two of us. I figure the pilgrims might have had lobster, they were in Massachusetts, right?

Zebra Nerite

Sad to say, but this is the last post in this series. I got to the last picture in the week-at-a-glance calendar last night. Now I get to print it all out, chop it up into little pieces, and try to make a whole story out of it. Should be an adventure. The question is, what do I use as a writing prompt tonight?

Looking like a handful of zebra seeds, the Zebra Nerite shells cluster in the shallows at Pink Beach. Each one different from the others, like fingerprints or snowflakes, they appear to be small modern sculptures arranged in a gallery of black rock, turquoise water and a dome of sky so blue it should be classified as a separate color. Feeling like the whore at a church picnic, Sharon carried her woven beach mat and tote bag holding her bottle of water and paperback novel as far down the beach as she could go from the happy families and napping tourists. Sharon was overdressed. She had packed for one for the more cosmopolitan islands where her six-hundred dollar swimsuit and cover up worn with gold leather thing sandals and two-hundred dollar sunglasses would put her squarely in the middle of the female pack. Instead she found herself alone on an island where the best dressed wore khaki cargo shorts, Polo shirts, and Teva sandals. She couldn't have stuck out more if she'd worn a sign. She would go home except Detective Inspector Rooibos had asked her not to leave the island until he finished his investigation. That, and the unpleasant realization that she had no home. She had spent the last seven years with Jack in a series of apartments and hotels. All she had was the contents of her three suitcases--and a little emergency money stashed in a safe deposit box in Chicago. She was stuck.

The plot thickens. *sustained pipe organ chord*

The sun's out! Enjoy your day.
--Barbara

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Yes, Of Course...

I had not thought of the Coen brothers. Yes, a film with Jeff Daniels, Robbie Coltrane, and Holly Hunter. Something about deer hunting, overeating and unrequited high school love. You're not happy with tody's post? I think that you catch a really rich moment. There's a line where you describe the girls going into church "...with the hair captured into braids to lie close to their heads..." Nice.

Bob
Actually I thought Leftovers in Pulaski sounded like a Coen brothers film, but if you want it to be a Chuck Barris game show, that's what it'll be. You're the one out there in the boonies eating yesterday's food. Dust off the gong! I was thinking of me and Don but I never ran up those steps not even when I wasn't wearing gear. I'm all the characters when I write, aren't you?

Sunday morning and people are on the move. It's easy to tell who is a local, who is an expat, and who is a tourist. The tourists are easiest; they're the sunburnt ones in tank tops and flip flops, but nice flip flops, on their way to a dive site or standing frowning in front of Cultimara grocery trying to figure out why it isn't open. The sight of the string of locals entering the church down the street finally clues them in--the dignified women in their dresses, white shoes and hats, the men in dark slacks, pressed white shirts worn with a subdued tie, and the children starched and pressed in their Sunday clothes. The boys and girls are easy to tell apart; the boys look like miniature men in their dark slacks and white shirts, the girls look like flowers in pastel or bright dresses, their long coltish legs all knobby knees and tendons, their hair captured into braids to lie close to their heads with a handful of plastic clips or beads on the ends. All of them wearing Sunday faces filing into the cool dimness to say a prayer or sing a hymn or even, judging from the look on a few of the older women's faces, set God straight about a few things.

I'm not happy with this at all, but it's what showed up at 11 last night and who am I to argue?
--Barbara

Friday, November 23, 2007

Leftovers in Pulaski

Sounds like a game-show from the seventies, doesn't it? One that was maybe hosted by Chuck Barris. I like today's post, especially were the wife runs up the stairs as though she weren't wearing fifty pounds of gear. Are you and Don the divers from Wisconsin? I don't have anything for you today - too full of turkey and sweet potatoes. I should have something tomorrow, though. Later.

Bob

Thousand Steps

Hope your day of eating leftovers in Pulaski is all you hoped. I did errands today that somehow ate up all the daylight. Where did the time go and why don't I have anything to show for my day?

She stumbled down the irregular cement steps to stand clutching the obviously handmade wall with gaps carved in it. Her knuckles grew white and tight with the strength of her grip. One of her nails, her red-painted acrylic nails, broke with a sharp crack and it flew out to fall into the sea like a drop of frozen blood. This is where they found him, the Detective Inspector told her. This is where the couple of divers, a man from Wisconsin and his wife, were making the climb down, burdened by their scuba gear to dive at the site they call Thousand Steps, stopping to rest in this very spot. From here she saw Jack's body floating face down in the clear blue water and said to her husband how odd it was for the man to be snorkeling in a shirt, shorts and sandals when he realized that Jack was not snorkeling. That Jack was not lucky to be seeing barracuda so close. The wife had started shaking and ran up the steps as if she weren't wearing fifty pounds of gear. They drove to the petroleum tank farm at the top of the island to call the police, neither one of them willing to stand in the stillness of Thousand Steps to keep what was left of Jack company.

Not many pictures left to write about.

--Barbara

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving, Bob! Or should I say, Happy Lobster Day? Don came home last night with our dinner and I can't wait to gobble them up. There's three times more ads than newspaper today. Let the insanity begin!

What a lovely poem, so perfect for today's thoughts of how our life gives us people to be thankful for. I'm thankful to have you for a writing friend, to read my ramblings and to share yours. I look forward to your comments and hope for a little peek into what you're working on each day. Thanks, Bob. Not much writing happened last night, but I like it:


The wind drives the waves onto the rough and jagged rocks where they tear themselves to shreds and slide back down to batter back again and again. He came here to escape, to find solitude and solace but the explosive pounding denies him peace. The pitiful wail of the wind through the rocks and the gurgling sigh of the water stretches his already stressed nerves. Here in the land of wind and water there is no peace, no rest, only a gritty turbulence and a sense of urgency that is impossible to ignore.


I don't know for sure who this guy is, but he's not exactly having a good day, is he? I have a feeling that there's redemption or at least solace coming for Sharon. She's too loyal to Jack, too much a victim of her own making to stay downtrodden for long. I see Susan lifting her up perhaps; Susan's a very strong opinionated woman who might be just what Sharon needs. (And I just noticed--I've got two women I plan to put in proximity in my story and both their names start with an "S"--rats)

Have a great day! I know you're working today, Bob, but I'm sure you'll brighten a few of the residents' day by being there and you can gorge on leftovers tomorrow.
--Barbara

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Who She Needs

All day at work I was thinking about Sharon and about the rough turn in her life, about having to face up to all the stuff in her own past. I think she needs a break, Barbara, or at least the hint that a break is coming along. She needs somebody who is worthy of her.

Here's a poem I wrote a while back. The working title is "Psalm".

Your embrace is my amazement
Waking me, restoring me
Like water to the thirsty,
Like sleep to the tired,
Like wide-eyed wonder to the
One who has forgotten sanctity.

You throw yourself altogether,
Teaching me to catch you -
To receive you as myself.

Your embrace is full and empty,
A passage and a song of praise
Whose words are these:
Catch me now.
I trust that you will catch me.
Trust us now to teach you this.
Trust yourself that you at last
Will learn to sing this song of praise.

Bob;-)

Lobsters for Thanksgiving?

Astonishing. Simply amazing. You know, I'll just bet the pilgrims had lobster along with their turkey on that first Thanksgiving. I wouldn't be surprised... What did surprise me, though, was finding out about Sharon, that she had been a kept woman. Now that, Barbara, was heartbreaking. And then the way you ended it, with her listening to the palm fronds and the Brown Pelicans.... You really got me. Beautiful and sad. She is a survivor.

You like Claudia! I wasn't so sure about her. You really did get Oliver exactly right, though. The woman with silvery curls would have been able to see right through him in a glance.

So, Barbara, you and your husband have a wonderful Lobster Day. I get to work tomorrow. Whoo hoo! But then I'll be eating leftovers out in Pulaski on Friday.

Bob;-)

Brown Pelican

Twenty-four hours until the Turkey Day craziness. Forty-eight until Black Friday, the day shoppers go wild. We decided not to "do" Thanksgiving this year, we're buying lobsters from Walmart (how decadent!) to have with baked potatoes and salad. And there is no desire that would get me out of bed in the chilly early morning dark to do battle with sweatshirt-clad crazy women in a discount department store aisle. I love me a crowded airport, but the shopping riots? Not so much.

When she got back from the police station it was nearly dark but Sharon didn't turn on any lights as she walked through the villa. She, or someone, had turned off the lamps when the Detective Inspector courteously escorted her out to his police car. He had held her arm as if she were an invalid or as if he thought she might collapse with emotion. He had lost some of his sympathetic tone once they were settled in his brightly lit office downtown, and it had taken what seemed like hours to convince him (if she had) that Jack hadn't told her where he was going or who he planned to meet. It had been necessary for Sharon to baldly admit that she had been kept by Jack for years. That she was his arm candy, his sexual plaything, his brainless admiring mirror who reflected back his egotistical preening, cleaned up and polished as flattery. The naked truth of the situation she found herself in sickened Sharon. She sat long into the night outside on the patio with the clattering of the palm fronds overhead sounding like gossip and the dives of the Ganshi, the Brown Pelicans, feeding on a school of grunts coming regularly like the rhythmic shelling of enemy artillery.

Enjoy your day! I have to work.
--Barbara

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hats!


It just occurred to me that Christmas is rolling around again, and I'm making hats again, this time with knitting needles instead of a crochet hook. Once again I used my big percent off coupon at JoAnn's and Michaels last weekend to buy books, one with 100 hats and the other a knitting how-to with lots of stitches listed and detailed in it. That's where I got the Twisted Rib Hat pattern. I frogged the girl hat ribbing which wasn't turning out the way I had hoped and used the yarn for the new hat. It's my kind of pattern--thick yarn and big needles (US 17s) and quick. In fact I made one this afternoon and I'm a slow knitter. I used doubled yarn for both hats. I'm such a slave to variegated. *sigh* Someday I'll make something all in solid colors. Nah, probably not.