Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Surfer Dudes

Windsurfing, huh? Nice. I especially liked the last line. And that she said it half-jokingly gives it a crazy twist that is, well, very intriguing and disquieting. Excellent, Barbara.

Bob

Windsurfing

What a glorious day yesterday was! The weather was perfect--bright and sunny--and, best of all, I got to have lunch with Abby and her mom, Holly, at the Paradise Palm cafe on Ridge Rd. where the Urban Frog used to be. The food was good and it was great to see Abby after so many months in California. Then I planted a few perennials (I love them!) and cut out most of the stuff killed by the last frost. More frost-killin's to come. Boo-hoo!

Here's some words (in no particular order):

Blue water racing past like a turquoise flood, she felt the rough fiberglass of the windsurf board tilt as the wind shifted the sail. The mast tugged at her arms, flexing her muscles, as she aimed the nose of the board into the two-foot waves that rounded the breakwater. He had dared her to take a lesson from the surfer dude who had a thatched hut on the edge of the resort's beach where he offered his services to the curious and shilled for the para-sailing boat jockeys who patrolled the edge of the lagoon in their red and white fiberglass speedboat. He said he wanted to parasail but she shook her head. "I want to be closer to the water when I fall," she said, only half joking.

See you tomorrow. Exercises night, right?
--Barbara

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Is This Sharon? I Don't Know.

I got The First Line story rewritten and submitted today. The hardest part of it seemed to be thinking up a title. I finally settled on Not So Merry. I don't think I want to know if any of you don't like it; it's too late to do anything about it now. Maybe this time's the charm.

Here's last night's writing:

She sat gingerly on the softest place she could find, a little patch of sand caught in a depression after the last storm. Today the sea was nearly calm, well, as calm as it gets on the windward side of this scrap of an island. After last night's argument she had slid out of bed, dressed in the bathroom, and driven away before the sun had sent more than the thinnest pink fingers of light to paint the clouds. Her headlong flight had carried her up the leeward coast to the petroleum depot and then down the hill in Rincon nestled in the angles where ancient waves carved a hollow. Only a few dogs were stirring as she silently cruised down the main street of the town. Once she passed the grammar school and the soccer field, she squinted into the sunrise and turned off at the barely visible sign for Boca Oliva, her favorite wild little bay. The waves that pounded this piece of shore were born off the west coast of Africa and met no other land in their journey to these unforgiving cliffs. She loved the days when they pounded into shore with a booming crash and flung their edges skyward to patter down in suicidal blasts.

Only after I've run out of pictures will I gather all these scraps of writing into something, something coherent. Perhaps. Time will tell.

--Barbara


Monday, October 29, 2007

Love in the Afternoon?

Oh no, wait, it was night in that little scene, wasn't it? I like how sensual it is--the firelight, the warmth, her twining their fingers. I like the humor that threads through what they say almost like they know they're parroting movie lines. "Stay there," she said. "I want to remember you just like that." That's a great exit line. It also makes me think she's the dominant one in the relationship, and never coming back, only he doesn't know it. Heartless b***h.

Nice.

More Adventures...

Welcome back, Barbara. The lighthouse post was excellent. I could sort of see it coming - not the burros, but the anticlimax - and when it arrived, it felt exactly right. Here's something that came out Saturday after work:

The heat coming off the fireplace made the room almost too warm. Miranda and Martin lay on his couch, watching the flames.
"Do you want another beer?"
"Thanks," she said, "But I'm driving."
"You could stay here the night. You're always welcome."
"I know." She worked her fingers between his, considered them.
"Mi casa, su casa."
She kissed his chest. Then, releasing his hand, she pushed up from the couch.
Martin, having pulled himself onto an elbow, watched her as she put on her blouse and buttoned it. "Too bad," he said. "I make an outstanding Eggs Benedict."
"When I'm finished with my oral exams," she said. "I promise." Still working the buttons, she leaned down. They kissed.
"I guess I'll have to wait."
"I guess you will."
"You're beautiful," he said.
Miranda smiled and tucked the blouse into the waistband of her skirt.
"See, I'm not a total washout," he said.
"No, " she said. "For that, you get extra points."
Martin began getting up from the couch, or perhaps just shifting his weight.
"Stay there," she said. "I want to remember you just like that." She slipped on her shoes, lifted her leather jacket from the back of a nearby chair.
"Call me when you get back to your place."
"Immediately," she said, sliding it on over her shoulders, "if not sooner."
"God, you're beautiful."
"Okay," she said, coming closer. "You've exceeded the possible number of extra points for one evening." They kissed.
"Goodnight," he said, his hand full on the curve of her jaw.
"'night."
Outside, in the cool night air, she heard a window going up.
"Miranda," Martin called.
She shifted her books and turned to look up at the building.
"Sweet dreams."
Upon which, she blew him a kiss in return.

Right now, I don't know what it needs. It just seems a little too sweet and Aaron Sorkin-ish. Anyway, talk to you later.

Bob

WIPs & FO(!)





Learned a lesson this weekend--spending time with non-yarny friends is not the time to work on complicated patterns like gloves. Not that there were any knitting tragedies, you understand, I just didn't have the available concentration to make progress on my second glove.

I did make great time on the scarf (it's simply row after row of garter) and passed the half-century mark in my star dishcloth total. Now the next step is to convince people to buy them at the craft fair in a coupl
e weeks so I'll have money to replace all that yarn, or money in my yarn bank, or... well, you know what I mean.


And I've been knitting along on my first sweater sleeve. Of course, I have found any number of other patterns I'd like to knit, and then there's the tote bag and needle case I want to sew from fabric and a table runner I got at Ikea and... Suffice to say there's not enough time in my days to do everything I want to. Pesky job.

Musing on Flamingos...

Last night was not the best writing night. I had a long drive home and started it just the teensiest bit lost which clenched my hands a little tighter on the wheel. Clenched a lot of me, but I stayed right behind Ad and he led me to the interstate on-ramp; I knew my way home from there. Whew. I probably seem brave to you, a risk-taker even, but inside I'm writhing with uncertainty and expect to be exposed as a fraud at any minute.

Chogogo the natives call them; we know them as flamingos, those pink birds that eat upside down and whose knees bend like elbows. Flamingos are not calm birds, they are easily flustered. Their nesting areas have to be off-limits to everyone because even a little disturbance will cause them to abandon their eggs. Silly birds. Maybe they're, um, the short bus riders of the bird world. But whatever their shortcomings are in the social sense they sure are pretty. Their color comes from the brine shrimp that populate the salt pans where the flamingos eat. Does that mean if we could make brine shrimp other colors then flamingos would be other colors? I think they might. Does it mean that I'd turn color if I ate all beets or carrots? Maybe, but I don't think it's a good idea.

Off to get ready for work. Later, dudes.
--Barbara

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Weekend's Words

I did manage to squeeze out a few minutes to write in between intense visiting with our old friend's Cindy & Ad from Goshen, IN. It was great to see them after a long time. But I didn't neglect my creative endeavors, so dishcloths were crocheted, more inches added to my knitted pastels scarf, a little writing was written. And here it is.

Oct. 26--The pink tipped tentacles of the giant anemone sway in the surge blindly groping for food. I don't even know what they eat. Fish? Plankton? They look like elongated breasts clustered together in a reef crevice, rather like a deformity one turns away from in embarrassment. They have a certain air of the penis about them too, as if a biology experiment had gone horribly awry. A bouquet of penis-breasts or breast-penises waving at passersby like the friendliest flasher pleased to see you and shock you at the same time. Some tentacles are long and thin, others are fat but all have that unavoidably pink tip worn proudly for all to see. (Pay no attention to the woman behind the pencil; she has no clue what she's doing.)

Oct. 27--He stood in the shade leaning against the old lighthouse recently tarted up for tourists. His trembling hands had made an inventory of his pockets, patting and groping, before he remembered he no longer smoked. Deliberate footsteps from around behind the lighthouse to his right brought his chin up and sent his eyes darting for a rock or a brick, something to use as a weapon, something for protection against further assaults. He tried to edge left, away from the sound, sliding his foot, trying to move silently. The footsteps came closer and now he thought it was more than one person. His stomach clenched as he looked at the feeble stone in his hand, maybe enough to stop one attacker but not much help with a gang of them. Now he heard their heavy breathing and muttering. He cocked his ear trying to hear their words. Were they splitting up to circle the lighthouse? To squeeze him between them, cutting off his escape? Nearer and nearer came the stealthy footsteps, his sweaty palm slid on the rough surface of the rock nestled in it. He shifted it, trying to grip it tighter, all the time pressing himself back into the brick base of the lighthouse as if he could melt into it and disappear. Close now, so close he saw a small stone dislodged by a foot roll into sight. The breathing of his stalkers was harsh and loud over the pounding of his heart. He slowly raised his hand and narrowed his eyes to steel himself for the fight when a fuzzy muzzle came into view, three of them actually, as the trio of wild donkeys paced by, their hooves crunching in the rubble and their dark questing eyes gazing at him as if to ask, food? His breath released in a short bark of laughter that caused the donkeys' ears to flicker and he ran a shaky hand over his face. He dropped the rock, consciously loosening his grip finger by finger, feeling the blood rush back. The lead donkey chuffed and shook himself, then turned and led his little herd on down the coast in search of who knows what, food or companionship or perhaps merely habit.

So there you have it, such as it is. See you Thursday.
--Barbara

Friday, October 26, 2007

Feeding Polyps

Jenny, I really enjoyed your lesson and the exercise last night. I will definitely be taking my notebook along this weekend so I can work on that little piece of craziness some more. For now, here's my prompt/picture writing from last night.

Looking for all the world like the eight-fingered hands of alien babies, the polyps of the soft coral reach out and grasp plankton as it cruises by on the night current. The unlucky little morsel is passed down the row of hands until it is unceremoniously dumped into the rudimentary mouth which makes up the center of the plant-like creature. I hover in the dark water, the feeble beam of my flashlight unable to compete with the blue-white of the full moon, which is the cause of all this gluttonous frenzy. A few nights ago all was peaceful on the reef, just the slow languorous movement of the rocking chair crowd on a country store porch. The pull of the moon ramped up the energy. Every creature within the glow of the lights is making every minute of moonshine count.

Remember I will not be posting for the next couple days, but I'll be sure and catch you up when I get home Sunday afternoon. Have a good weekend, and keep writing!

--Barbara

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Best Name!

I think I'm going to start a collection of character names. There was a spam email in my inbox this morning from (brace yourself)

Southwell Winkenwerder.

I didn't open the email (I'm not a complete moron), but isn't that a fabulous name? A little notebook, even a scrap of paper, with names on it would be handy when I can see a character but not his/her name. And Southwell Windenwerder will be at the top of the list. It's a classic.

No "Second Glove" Syndrome Here!


I was a bit intimidated to tackle the second glove without Ann sitting right next to me saving me when I screwed up, but then I realized I'd need another glove before she got home at Christmas. It's bound to get cold before then. So I took a deep breath and started. I'm proud to say I knit the cuff and all the cables are exactly as they should be, no Moroccan arches to interrupt the symmetry. Beautiful!

I cast on another bias scarf, too, in some pretty wool I got at
Jo-Ann's. This is easy to tuck in my bag and take to work or on errands--and I love the colors, so unlike me to like pastels but I do.

I'm two dishcloths from my goal of having 50 by November 9th. Think I'll make it? Yeah me too; although I have slacked off on the "one a day" thing, there's no danger of me quitting making them altogether.



And...I got my Ravelry invite! Woohoo! Now I have to take pictures of my stash and decide where in the queue to put my projects and upload a crapload of pictures to Flickr so I can put them on Ravelry. Did you know I'm on Ravelry now?

The Night Shift

What a crap day yesterday was! It seemed like one long rotten mood until I got off work, then things began to look up because--I think I found a knit-night group I fit into (which is good), I made up an awesome shrimp dish for supper for me & Don (also good), then I knitted a few rounds on glove # 2 (even better), and managed to write a page for blogging (the best). My roll on the upswing went to hell when I couldn't fall asleep until after 1 AM. (I wish someone would serve cheese with my whine.) Poor me.

Everything looks different on a night dive. The day shift have all gone into hiding, ne
stled in nooks and crannies of the reef, some even fade their colors at night so they are better camouflaged against the dull coral. Eels, lobsters, and octopi come out to hunt for unwary fish. Coral polyps extend into the current to catch microscopic plankton, looking like animated flower petals. Schools of red fish with big black eyes slide out of their daytime shelter to hang motionless, dorsal fins erect, waiting to snap up the little fish that are their favorite food. Logic tells you that red might be a poor choice as a color for a nocturnal hunter but logic is wrong. Red doesn't reflect light like the silver dollar bright scales of the tarpon, it absorbs the light, making the Blackbar Soldierfish well-adapted to its world.

Not even close to my best effort, but, look!, it's writing! That's the point, right? Keeping my pencil moving? At least a few minutes a day? There will be a pause for a couple days now; I'm off to Chicago early tomorrow morning to meet friends (not writing friends, just regular friends [surprised I have regular friends? me too]) I'll be back on the blog sometime Sunday and I promise to write every day while I'm gone and to post it when I get back. Cross my heart...

--Barbara

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Iguana

Yesterday was a frustrating day; a day I spent trying to shove life around and it shoved back. But I survived with a few of my wits intact, at least enough to drive.

It was a face out of prehistory, a scaly cold face with amber eyes set under bony brow ridges and ragged spikes trailing haphazardly down its back. He blinked and the iguana, for that is what it was, gulped at him as if contemplating a particularly juicy smear of roadkill. The steady gaze of the lizard and the pigeon-toed confidence of its pale blue stance got him moving out of his stupor and swaying onto his feet. The weakness he felt must have been evident even to an animal as primitive as the iguana because it didn't shy away, didn't even move a muscle as he grunted and shoved himself upright. He stood trying to keep his balance on the suddenly tilting planet and the lizard looked up at him as if to say, I could have eaten you if I had wanted to.

See you tomorrow night. I look forward to your story and spending some time writing together.
--Barbara

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Overrated

I am coming to believe that coherence, especially in early drafts, is deeply overrated. Coherence implies order and tidiness, and the more I write the more I value disorder and barely controlled chaos in my sh**ty first drafts. There's an appealing shot-from-the-hip-ness about what I've been writing at night that I want to preserve in more tightly edited drafts. So I'm hoping that the story you hand to us on Thursday is just barely hanging together by its fingernails.

;-) Barbara

Foggy Inside

Pretty juicy stuff, Barbara. All the ancient limestone thrusting, this and that. Yeah, pretty juicy stuff. As for Raitt and Lennie and the cardboard box, I haven't a clue. It may be a box, and it may turn out to be something else entirely. And what are they doing where they are? That, again, is a complete mess. Things are foggy in the narrative yet, and I don't know if they'll be at all coherent by Thursday. We'll see. Enjoy the beautiful, if cool, weather.

Bob

Cliffs & Swirling Waves

I want to know what's in the box Lennie's carrying, and why are he and Raitt (great name) out in the scary post-industrial boonies? I collected all my prompt writings into one file to see how much "novel" I've got--only 3,500 words. Meh, barely 2 Nano-days worth, interesting ideas though and I'm loving the characters as they emerge. I'm also liking only having small snips of what seems like a much bigger story, kind of like how Svar emerged in Jenny's paper people story, or the jagged tips of icebergs that thrust and plunge in a frigid sea.

The ancient limestone thrusts its jagged and tortured bones above the sea that swirls angrily at its base. The grinding waves shove broken pieces back and forth, polishing them into a semblance of smoothness. You can tell how long the pieces have been exposed. The dark just-revealed parts grasp the skin like Velcro, leaving hundreds of tiny cuts behind; the older pieces are smooth and bleached nearly white. Underwater when a Parrotfish takes a bite of coral for the juicy polyps it contains the scar left behind is white. But the cliffs that bare themselves to the pounding waves are nearly black. The dark color lends an air of menace to the already forbidding rocks that jut like rotten jagged teeth from the foaming salty saliva of the earth.

Have a day!
--Barbara

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm Trying Not to Think About It

I'm not sure who Diego is. Your idea sounds about right, "a name without a character." The picture in the calendar is of the tile fish on the bottom of a pool and I thought about a villa built by rich people who could afford to blast a pool next to the ocean and have it tiled so fancy. Then this couple rents the villa and he, Diego, goes off on some business, leaving her, Sharon, there to lay frying in the sun. The idea of her drinking fruit "punch" and ending up sprawled on the tiles talking to the pretty fishie at the bottom of the pool is where the idea wound up. I need to not think about where, or if, this story is going; just looking at the pictures as they come and gathering the words and images. Maybe once I've written about all 52 pictures the story will present itself in finished form. Yeah, and pigs'll fly, Diego's not in some dirty business he could die from, Manning didn't murder Jack, and there's a perfectly logical explanation as to why the matchbook showed up in that guy's shirt pocket. And who is that lighthouse guy anyway? Hey, maybe Diego is Emelia's "daddy man." I never know where stuff comes from or where I'm going with it. Life's a surprise.

--Barbara

No Idea

"She had made a pitcher of planter's punch after Maria left, and drunk nearly half of it when she realized she was lying on the tiles telling her troubles to the pretty blue and yellow fish made of tiles on the pool bottom." Excellent, Barbara. Really fine. Makes me think of Elmore Leonard. So, what Diego's story? Or is he a name without a character? That's sort of the situation with Raitt. I have no idea of her story except that she has a snake tattoo running the length of each arm. I'll see where that takes me. Someplace that raises the hair on the back of my neck, I hope.

;-) Bob

Where's Diego?

Upended streets? Rivering sky? Who's the synesthetic now? Nice images, Bob. You might be on to something, Bob. I do think Aunt Mame's bedtime is earlier than mine, so my writing's a bit freer when I write late at night. Ann's gone back to KY and Don's back where he belongs, so I wrote last night.

Sunlight sparkled through the clear water in the pool behind the villa. When they had arrived a few days ago Sharon had wondered why anyone would go to the trouble and expense of blasting out a pool when the ocean was right there, just down the stairs at the end of the deck. Now she loved the pool; it was cleaned every day by Henkel, the pool man, and there was a beautiful big angelfish made of tiles in the bottom. She idly trailed a finger in the blood-warm water. Lying on the baking tiles of the pool deck made her sympathize with how a sub sandwich must feel toasting on a grill. Diego had left her early this morning; he kissed her shoulder in the dim cool morning telling her he had a meeting. She vaguely remembered hearing the door close and the distant sound of the car driving away. That was hours ago. The maid, Maria, had come, cleaned and cooked, and gone. Maria had made her a bowl of ceviche from fresh-caught fish from the local fishermen, limes and tomatoes from La Portugesa, and big sweet onions from the Venezuelan fruit temple across from the town pier, and had even made johnny cakes to eat it with. Diego would have loved it. He should have been back for a late lunch, he said he would be back, but he hadn't returned. She had made a pitcher of planter's punch after Maria left, and drunk nearly half of it when she realized she was lying on the tiles telling her troubles to the pretty blue and yellow fish on the pool bottom. But where was Diego?


Check out the crocheting/knitting blog to see what Ann and I made last weekend. (There's a link on the left.) We're too cool. And speaking of cool, I notice it's autumn again. Pretty soon it'll stop swinging back and forth from summer to fall, summer to fall, and stick on fall. I could stand having a few more days like yesterday, yeah, a few hundred. What a perfect day!

--Barbara

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Off Base?

"Great mountains of it still glitter in the pounding sunlight..." In the pounding sunlight. I don't know, but it feels like there's some kind of synethesia going on here. I can hear what you're describing. I can feel it, too. Admittedly, I may be completely off base, Barbara, and please tell me if I am, but it seems that you do some of your best writing when you're tired. Maybe that's when your inner Aunt Whatever-Her-Name-Is has gone to sleep. Anyway, here's something I came up with:

They drove though upended streets, under a thick, gray sky. Raitt drove because she knew the way. Lennie held his own arms for comfort.
"How much longer?" he asked.
"It's right up here," Raitt said. "This place, here."
She pulled off the street onto a parking lot of sand and gravel, a big open space all around this brown, brick thing. Huge buildings stood up out of the distance, smaller ones clustered at their feet. She parked a little way from the brick building, an open sign glowing orange in a window, switched off the engine. They got out into the warm, moving air. Raitt went around back, opened the trunk and took out a cardboard box that was sealed with tape.
"Take this," she said to Lennie. He took the box into his arms.
They started walking toward the small building with all the gravel and sand around it. Together, they walked under the rivering sky. Skirling winds rifled their clothes and hair, scoured their skin. The moment hummed in their hands and lips, all the gray buildings in the distance, like monuments in an overgrown cemetary.

Still smiling.

Bob

Gloves!

Ann was home the last few days and it was absolutely fantastic to have another knitter in the house. We had a whirlwind 2 days trolling all the yarn shops in town and digging through my stash of yarn and patterns. Our Christmas gift stashes are now full to overflowing with ideas and nice wool yarn we'd never have bought if it hadn't been on clearance. We love clearance bins! I had gotten some Lion Brand Cashmere Blend when Ben Franklin went out of business but wasn't sure what I'd make with it. Then I bought One Skein with my Jo-Ann's coupon, paged through it and I knew.

Gloves.

Gloves with a cabled c
uff and real fingers. I had never used dpns before but Ann has made socks so I figured she could teach me. We will draw a veil over the awkward beginning of my adventure with dpns, and I'm still not at all sure I could start a project on my own, but suffice to say that Ann's patience is limitless. By the end of Friday's knitting we had a cuff, hand & thumb gusset. I have a few, let's just call them, freeform areas in my honeycomb cables, but as my grandpa used to say, a man running for his life will never notice. We spent Saturday, off and on, knitting tiny little tubes, one by one, and by bedtime on Saturday we each had one glove! Too cool. So much fun sitting knitting, talking, and laughing with my daughter. We did good.

Thoughts of the Past

I stole a moment before crashing into sleep to do a little writing.

I sit beside the white-painted plaster hut, a slave hut, and think about the men who once slept here, lived here. They must have been short, is my first thought. I'm barely five and a half feet and I'd have to scrunch a bit to lie down in one. There are a couple groups of slave huts down here on this end of the island where the land barely manages to stay dry at high tide. The slaves worked the salt pans where evaporation takes sea water and makes it a commodity. Sailing ships called here for salt to preserve meats and fish for their long journey home, so enterprising settlers tired of trying to eke a living out of the thin, acid soil of this coral outcrop turned their efforts toward salt. Great mountains of it still glitter in the pounding sunlight waiting for cargo ships to take it to melt road ice in the northern winter with a bit of the tropics. The slave huts stand abandoned but not neglected. Maintained as a tourist spot and perhaps a chilling reminder of man's intolerance, they cower on the shore still reeking of years of despondence and despair.

Curse you, Bob. *shaking a fist (but in a friendly way)* Now I stop and think what I can write about the picture I'm looking at and how it can connect to the cliff murder, Emelia, the kayaking woman, and the guy at the lighthouse. It is a novel, dammit. I was happy thinking I was just writing disconnected thoughts each night.

--Barbara

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sorry

I have to confess that I didn't write last night. Ann and I were knitting gloves and it got late and I was tired. I might not write again tonight, although I'll try. But I know for sure I'll write Sunday night, so there'll be something new and rough to read on Monday.

Keep smiling, Bob!

--Barbara

Friday, October 19, 2007

Soft Focus

"Their elongated shapes, so awkward when they wade in the salt pans.." Great line, Barbara. Nice, indirect sort of images, too. Happy knitting.

Bob

Flamingos Flying

Thanks for the excellent critiques last night, guys. You really helped me solidify some things in my mind so I can rewrite and get it submitted by Nov. 1--if I start right now. Just kidding, I won't have any trouble getting the story fixed up so The First Line can't help but accept my story this time. I got home to find Don and Ann still at dinner (turns out Don didn't leave work until 8) so I quickly pulled out my notebook and got to writing. I almost got to the end of the page before they got home, then I lost the oomph of the thought. Oh well.

Threads of black silhouettes cross the purple orange sky. The sight never fails to soothe me. I figure the world must still be on an even keel when I get the chance to watch the flamingos fly back to their roost in Venezuela at sunset. Their elongated shapes, so awkward when they wade in the salt pans seining out their brine shrimp meal, fly like arrows gracefully riding the fading light, they wings flapping slowly, their long legs trailing behind like a rudder. I love this time of day when the tourists are tucked in their resorts and the natives have gone home. I sit witching the sun's fiery orb sink into the sea, listening to the eternal push-pull of waves on shore.

See? Even though I kind of trailed off, okay, lost it, there's still some good stuff in there. Later, dudes. Gotta go knit some gloves.

--Barbara

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Turned Around

Surprise! We have sun, humidity, a balmy breeze. Reminds me of England in September. Crazy weather. Anyway, Barbara, while waking up, I remembered that I submit tonight. Well, that's not going to happen. Sorry. The schedule has been so turned around, that my submission date slipped this sieve of a mind that I currently have. I will have your critique of your story, though. I liked it a lot. The ending, though, seemed like it was something that you wanted to happen, rather than what the story wanted. But that's just me. I also like your post from this morning. "He shuffled into the narrow sliver of shade on the back side of the lighthouse and immediately felt better." Nice. See you later.

Bob

Something Fish-y

Nice, Bob. For this rainy, thundery morning we have some scorching sun.

He lay at the foot of the Willemstoren lighthouse steps, pieces of broken coral flung onshore by the last storm digging into his back. He wasn't at all sure how he got there and had no idea how he would get back to his bungalow. Before he had even opened his eyes he knew where he was. How? A groan escaped his sun-dried lips as he levered himself up into a sitting position with his elbows, the rubble tearing and scraping his skin. This is the reason they call this stuff ironshore, he thought, there's not a hint of comfort in it. The world swayed dizzyingly as he looked around, hoping to see his rental truck parked nearby. Unless it was behind the lighthouse or beyond the rubble berm a hundred yards down toward the slave huts, he was screwed. From the position of the sun, straight overhead, he guessed it was siesta time on the island. The only people out and about in this blazing sun were crazy scuba diving tourists and they were at least sane enough to be underwater where it was cooler, not frying their brains in the sun. While he sat there considering his transportation problem he was checking himself for injuries. His head was pounding but a quick feel of his skull didn't produce any bruised or squishy spots, thank God. He attributed his headache to having been lying broiling under the tropical sun for who knows how many hours. His arms and legs seemed to be working. So he braced a fist on the ground and slowly stood up. Not bad, he thought, swaying a bit. He looked around again hoping that from his lofty height of six feet he would spot his truck and, if not that, then someone who might drive him to town. No glass or chrome winked at him from any direction, except for the shards of broken auto glass mixed with coral gravel which was a common thing on this island of relatively well-to-do diving tourists and young native men who sought to balance things a bit. He shuffled into the narrow sliver of shade on the back side of the lighthouse and immediately felt better. His hands roamed through his pockets hoping for a clue to how he had ended up unconscious at the southern end of this desert island. No keys, no wallet, a clean folded handkerchief came out of his hip pocket, and there was a matchbook in his shirt pocket. He didn't smoke, hadn't for years. He turned it over in his hand. China Palace was imprinted in gold on the faded red cover. The restaurant had closed more than ten years ago. The building was now a moped rental place. Where had the matchbook come from? His head lifted at the sound of an approaching vehicle. He tucked the little cardboard folder back in his pocket, stepped out of the shade, and raised an arm to flag it down.

You cursed me, Bob, with your talk of novel threads. Now I can't help weaving these bits together ever so slightly.

See you tonight.
--Barbara

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What?

A bagless vacuum, Barbara? That sounds perfectly addictive. Like it'll suck you in and spit you out without a second glance. The devil's playthings, indeed. After sending this morning's post, I started to think about passion, and your post from last Thursday. This came out as I sat in Luna, sucking coffee:

He steps into the embrace of her arms. She has met him at the door, at the apartment where she lives above the dry-cleaning business. She has met him with half-closed eyes. The air coming from her apartment is warm with the smell of scrambled eggs, buttered toast, cinnamon. He feels her breath on the back of his neck, feels her breathing full against his chest, his belly. Heart pressed to heart, they clock in rhythm and the inner world begins, resumes, encompassing past and future. In due time, they step back to regard each other.

Thanks for the nudge, Barbara. See you tomorrow.

Bob

Thanks for the Compliments

But, Bob, a novel??? Aren't novels a lot of work? I'm too tired. I vacuumed last night with one of those new vortex bagless things. It was like having a tornado by the tail. I mean, I could see the carpet pulling up from the floor! Man, that thing sucks. And it made me want to vacuum again real soon. Beware of them; they're the devil's tools.

Maybe Some Sun Today

I liked the Queen Angelfish post, Barbara, as well as the one where your character is kayaking on the ocean. If you ask me, these, recast in third-person, along with the Emelia piece and the one where Jack is drown are all the threads you need for a novel. Yesterday's post was altogether weather-induced. Even the guy's self-involved statements about hash-browns. Nothing new from me today. Maybe later.

Bob

Royal Fish

Bob, I like your little vignette, especially that he keeps saying how good the hash browns are until anyone hearing wants to throttle him. Very human and real. Tiresome is a great word. Last night's writing is pure babble, I guess I wasn't tired enough to be eloquent, but I put it on here for your amusement.

Wearing her crown of gold and royal blue, robed from head to tail in variations of those colors, the Queen Angelfish makes her stately way across the reef. I always think of them as "her" when I see them, but there must be males too. Do they look the same, or is this most beautiful of reef fish giving virgin birth? Nah. They don't get pregnant, they release either eggs or sperm and hope for the best. The Queen Angelfish has pouty lips and is a bit of a flirt--not friendly, mind you, actually very shy, but you can sometimes tell she knows how beautiful she is just by the aloof way she swims past flicking her fins at you. She's hard to photograph too. I know she's thinking, damned paparazzo.

Ann's coming home today! Yippee! I'm so excited to see her and have someone to play with yarn with for a couple days. See you tomorrow evening.

--Barbara

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wanna Know How Warm It Has Been?


Last Friday when I was mowing the lawn I noticed something spring-like rather than fall-ish.

It's the forsythia; it's blooming; it's October. That's how warm it has been in WI. I heard on the radio that it's like the 7th warmest year on record. I keep putting on a jacket and then sweating. I'm kind of a slow learner or maybe a creature of habit, mid-October=jacket weather, not t-shirt. I like it warm, I do, I just can't seem to wrap my feeble mind around it right now.

The Monsoon Season

Another rainy day. Oh well. It prompted this little morning-write:

They've met for breakfast at this cavernous restaurant in the downtown: an old place with a high, tin ceiling; cast-iron poles, decorated and shaped; dark, narrow boards in the floor. They've walked through rain from the parking lot or from the street - where ever it is they've parked - so they come in, wet and shaking it off, or collapsing an umbrella by the door. They sit at one of the great, wide windows at the street, at a table covered with a white tablecloth. The silverware lies on a white napkin by a cup turned upside down on its saucer. They talk. She orders a crepe with lingonberry sauce. He, a couple of poached eggs with hash brown potatoes. The hash browns they serve here are the best, he says. He makes himself tiresome by constantly mentioning this. They talk over their breakfasts, entertaining each other and catching up on daily things - birthdays, funny stories from work, trips they've planned or thought about. Others come in the restaurant, take tables nearby. These people are not wet, carry umbrellas in their hands. The light coming in the window has a warmer tone. The windows are free of raindrops. She finishes her crepe, washes it down with coffee. He finishes his eggs and potatoes. More people are out on the sidewalks now. Pale shadows follow or precede them where they walk. He wants to pay the bill. She want to split it. He insists, perhaps too strenuously. They stand and push the dark, wood chairs under the table. She talks about some annoyance at work, laughs it off. They laugh.
They walk out into the bright morning, suggesting to each other that they get together for breakfast again sometime. A warm wind ruffles her hair.

A little sympathetic magic to turn the day bright and sunny. Have a good one.

Bob

FO, Dishcloths & a Sleeve!


I ran into the same chevron problem with ending the scarf as I had in starting it, but this time I figured it out myself--after knitting and frogging a couple of inches of scarf a few times. I didn't say I was fast, I just said I had eventually figured it out. Next time I'll make the scarf with more colors and shorter solid sections, maybe closer hues to get some blending too. I like the striped parts best. Doesn't the scarf look all casual & relaxed on the couch?


Dishcloth production has fallen off to a more reasonable rate--just over one per day. I'll still have more than 50 finished by the fair date Nov. 10. Hey, I should count. Maybe I have 50 now. Be right back...nope, not yet, only 42. But that's still pretty good output in 4 weeks.


So last night I didn't have the scarf to knit on after supper. What to do? What to do? I could cast on a sleeve since I stopped at the yarn shop and got some of those nice slick Crystal Palace bamboo needles on my way to work. So I did. It's a good idea I stole from the Yarn Harlot to star
t on a sleeve. Sleeves are narrower than the back (well, duh) so it's not like knitting a minivan cozy, plus the fun stuff, like stripes, starts early in this pattern. Well, patterns, since I'm taking the stripes from one pattern and the construction from another. I want to try raglan sleeves instead of drop shoulder sleeves. See the stripes? Cool, huh? Another 2 row black one comes next, then 2 rows of taupe, then 4 or 6 rows of cream. I geek out when stripes grow off the needles; I love watching them appear.

Water, But No Fish

It took lots of fortitude to write before I fell into bed last night. Here it is, such as it is:

It was like dreaming. The water was so clear it was invisible. I felt the bump of wavelets as they passed under the kayak. The splashes from my far-from-expert paddling cooled my face. But I couldn't really see it, especially if I looked down toward the bottom twenty feet below. Gazing toward the horizon, the water became turquoise then navy as it fell away to the abyss but right where I was, right over the bright white sand and patchy reefs, it was clear, invisible. For a moment vertigo gripped me before the voice in my head kicked in to remind me that there was water under my hull, nice dense sea water, warm and salty, just like my tears.

And it's raining as I type this. A good day to pile up on the couch with a notebook and cup of tea. Yeah, like that'll happen.

--Barbara

Monday, October 15, 2007

Beware the Red-Headed Woman!

I love her. Usually you perceive redheads as spicy and fun, she's the opposite. Great description of her--pendulous lip, freckles, glasses slung (great word) on her nose, and all. I got a little confused, did she take away his Free Speech card? Can't wait for more.

Jorge is the actual guy who took the pictures in my calendar. Cool name, huh?

Nice Mistake

A flamingo in silhouette? Jorge Provenza? The plot thickens.

Bob

Flamingo

I made the mistake of trying to see the picture before I put my glasses on. It looked like a watercolor.

Susan stood in the gallery staring at the framed and matted photos. She didn't go to the galleries on the island often. Most of the art for sale was patently made for sale to tourists. Tourists who most often left their good sense--and good taste too she thought--at home. What seemed to sell best were naive paintings of colorful flowers, palm trees, and romantic depictions of island life. Too many of them to count made their way onto cruise ships and airplanes to hang in middle-class living rooms as a reminder of a few days' holiday in the tropics. But these photos were different. Jorge Provenza, whoever he was, had used light like a paintrush and his camera lens as his canvas. What might have been a trite picture of a lone flamingo at sunset in less imaginative hands, had become through Jorge's eye an abstract shape emerging from flame-colored water. No sky, no trees, just barely ruffled water and that distinctive silhouette. Susan leaned closer. Damn. Not for sale.

Was it a mistake? Now I don't think so.
--Barbara

Another Monday

Here is the post that I promised for today. It is the beginning of the scene where Lennie has his appointment at the Federal Department of Free Speech.

The sign read: Trust Through Accountability.
"What?" Lennie thought. This was the first thing that came to him, and "Are you serious?" It hung on the wall behind the receptionist's station, next to a framed photo of the President. The woman sitting there raised her head of red hair parted in the middle, and studied him over narrow glasses slung halfway down her nose. She motioned him over and said, "Your name?"
"Lennie Lempert."
She studied a printed page in front of her, placing a yellow marker at the margin of each entry as she went. At last, she arrived at Lennie's name and made a wide line through it. Adjusting her glasses then with freckled fingers, she said, "Please review this page and sign at the bottom." She held out a clipboard, which Lennie took over to a black, contoured chair pushed up against the wall. He scanned the page, signed next to his other signatures and dated it. Lennie must have been talking to himself, because the woman had her eyes on him when he looked up. She wet her thumb on a pendulous lip and began going through a stack of papers. Over her right shoulder was that sign with its strange motto. By having been placed so close to the President's photo, it had the effect of a speech-balloon, like in the old comic pages. The funny thing, though, was that it didn't sound like anything someone would actually say. It sounded actuarial rather than presidential. Lennie didn't reflect on the sign for long, however, for a man soon appeared at the door next to the receptionist's station.
"Mr. Lempert," he said.
Lennie stood. "Yes."
"Please come with me," he said. "I'm Ernie. I'll be doing your review today."
As Lennie walked by the station, the red-haired woman put out her fleshy hand. In a tone as flat as all Nebraska, she said, "I'll take that."

And then the fun begins.

Bob

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Turk's Cap

What a beautiful day yesterday was! Just the kind of fall day I like--sunny and cool. Here's what last night's picture brought:

He stood facing the cliff, sweat already trickling down his spine even thought he had only walked from his rental pickup which was parked in the shade about fifty feet away. Manning was glad he had worn thick socks and hiking boots. The ground was pocked with holes and littered with ankle-twisting rocks that had evidently fallen from the cliff face. Tucked in unexpected places were the globe shaped Turk's Cap cacti, their vicious yellow thorns poised below the ridiculous-looking red and white pad on top that had earned it the name. Manning thought the possibility of impaling himself on those thorns would be worse than losing skin to the rough limestone itself. He also knew he would have to be exceptionally careful when he was climbing. The Turk's Cap had a nasty habit of growing babies in every cranny; the young thorns emerged thick and sharp, and would pierce leather gloves.

Eh. Maybe I'll like tonight's writing better.

--Barbara

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Right to the Heart of Things

Your Friday post is real, Barbara. A whole breathing world, it seems to me. Emelia's got a strange, tough future in store. Her mama, too, and the daddy man if he ever shows up. I'll have something to post on Monday.

Bob

Trupial

Last night was a late one--for various reasons. Writing was short.

Orange breast and black head with its yellow-ringed black eye peering at me, the trupial loosed its clear piercing note to remind me that I had forgotten to put out the daily banana. I never imagined what I was starting the second day of our stay in the orange bungalow when I had tipped the scant one-eighth cup of sugar into a saucer and set it on the top of the patio wall to try to attract the little yellow and black sugarbirds. Remembering Julia leaving fruit out and attracting bats, we tried that too, but our results were very different. The sugarbirds, chuchubis, and trupials were all over the bananas and the bats flew down at night dragging their tongues through the sugar.

The birdbath is iced over this morning and there's frost on the grass. Brrrr. Winter's on the way. I solemnly swear I will not complain about how hot it is--humidity I still get to complain about--but not hot. Although it can stay 70-ish until March-ish, with a few days of cold and snow around Christmas and I'd be perfectly happy. I don't want much.

--Barbara

Friday, October 12, 2007

Progress!


I was so excited yesterday when I realized that it was time to start changing over from off-white to black on the bias scarf. It's going faster than I imagined. And just in time too. Monday the high temp was 86, on Tuesday the high was a very cool & windy 51. Welcome to autumn in WI.

And I took a better picture of the capelet so that you can see the cable. I'm very proud of it, even though I'm still not sure I'd ever wear the thing.

This week I slacked off to "only" one dishcloth a day. See? I told you not to get too impressed with my output. I still like making them and revel in the way the colors stack up as I crochet around and around.

I haven't mentioned it in a while but it's been a week or two since I noticed that several days will go by and I won't think about smoking at all. I'll take Chantix for another week and then be done with that crutch. I'm confident.

After getting home last night...

I thought about pulling out a "spare" bit of writing and pretending I'd written it but then that felt dishonest so I dragged the notebook and calendar over and this is what I wrote.

Emilia sat on the steps painted lilac and turquoise ready to cry. She had been bathed and lotioned, combed and dressed to within an inch of her life. She was too young to understand why it was so important, but even someone not quite two years old got the message that today was special and she needed to hold still. Mama had put on her best dress too and sprayed herself with something that to Emilia smelled like bad things were happening. "This is your daddy's favorite perfume," Mama said, leaning down to spritz some on Emilia. Once Mama fixed her hair just right, the two of them walked downtown. "Daddy will love you," Mama kept saying as they walked up and down the three blocks of the town center. "He will be proud of how pretty you are," Mama said as they walked through the pink mall without stopping for ice cream. Four times they walked up and down, Mama keeping her eye on the big clock on the post in front of the jewelry store. The sun was hot, Mama's grip on her hand tightened with every passing minute, and Emilia's feet were sore in her new blue sandals. Emilia looked at every man, hoping the next one would be the daddy man, but Mama didn't smile at any of them. Finally Mama sat her down on the lilac step in the shade and went inside the shop to visit Auntie Vita. Maybe Auntie Vita knew where the daddy was. Maybe she would dry Mama's tears.

I enjoyed our writing together last night. Bethlehem, Sherman Warehouse, and Milo Clarkston all have a future, I think.

--Barbara

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Into the Cold Months

So, Barbara, this morning I reread the lame thing I wrote yesterday, and it wasn't half bad. Here it is (with some minor changes):

Winter. The house sits on a rise up from the sidewalk. Seven steps more or less (they are tumbled with chunks of snow, having recently been shoveled, so it hard to tell exactly) go up to the front door. Two narrow panels, each with glass insets rounded at the top, together make up this front entrance. One side is open and shows a white flare of light at the top inside corner. On either side are small, decorative light fixtures. Under the fixture on the right is the address plate which read 1554.
On the front of this house are six windows: one to the left of the doors, one above that one, yet another to the right of that and tucked in against the portion of the house that pushes out toward the street. On the right side of the front door are two narrow windows, side by side, and above these, another two. Each is dark except for these last. Bottles are arranged along the center rails. A woman stands at the right side, hand on her hip, looking out. What is she looking at, this woman? Is she waiting for a telephone call from someone close, that they are alright? Is she thinking about a fight she has had with someone, or possibly about someone she has recently met and would like to know better? The cold of the window radiates against her skin. Her breath clouds the glass.
The sky directly above the house is light gray; almost bright, as if lit from inside. Tree branches, heavy with white, show up over the roof and along the side. Across the front, bushes bend down heavily with the coating of snow. The night is still. The woman stays at the window, looking out. She will stay there until the phone rings.

What you wrote about passion? I agree. The world looks brighter, clearer. Passion should be cultivated, nurtured, made part of every day. I agree.

Bob

A Fish-free Mini-rant

You're welcome. And, Bob, if checking for new entries on the blog is pathetic, then I'm right there with you, only I check it several times a day. Sometimes just to read my own writing! Don't judge your prompt writing, just be glad that you did it. Here's last night's effort:

These days not too many people are said to have a "heart of flame." Passion is out of style. Only children are allowed to fling thmselves into their pursuits. The rest of us are supposed to be cool and blase. I say, the hell with what we're supposed to do. Keep fanning the spark in your heart, coddle that little flicker, and embrace it. Forget about being cool and dance with excitement, beam your pride when you paint something, wall or canvas, that pleases you, plant a garden, build a birdhouse or cradle. Celebrate your passions, chase them wholeheartedly, and dare to fail--or at least be a dork about it. Life is too short to worry about public opinion--unless you're running for office.

This is so totally off on a tangent from the picture I started with; I have no idea where it came from. Lame? Yeah, but I'm not too proud to be lame. Or a dork. I hope your tooth's okay. I hate dental problems. See you tonight.

--Barbara

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Almost

Thank you, Barbara. It sounds pathetic, I know, but I really do sit down at a computer first thing after work, or even sometimes in the morning before going in, so that I can read the new post. If there's nothing new, I'll read the old ones, which is almost as good. I don't have a prompt to share today - well, I do, but it's completely lame. You see, I wrote it just before a dentist's appointment to have a temporary crown put in. Just to distract myself. Thank you, though. Thank you for the fresh, new post today. The sunset, by the way, is breathtaking.

Bob

No mention of Fish...

I almost didn't write last night, but then I imagined your little faces when you're clicking on the blog address eager for your daily dose of new writing and finding only old writing. I couldn't disappoint you, so I wrote this:

The sun was finally setting. It had been an endless day. Susan couldn't figure out why the times when they had guests went so slowly and when it was just the two of them the days flew by. She supposed it was the constant go go go--grocery shopping at least once a day, trips to the beach for a swim or snorkel, visits to local museums and galleries to prove there was a bit of culture on the island, and the obligatory island tour to show off the miniature towns (villages really) filled with houses painted bright colors populated by nearly picturesque natives. Susan was almost relieved when a drunk reeled out of a bar in Antriol yesterday and staggered out into the path of their Rover. George had slammed on the brakes, cursing the man, but Susan was overtaken by a fit of the giggles at the thought that the drunk's presence proved once and for all that they weren't living in a tropical Disneyland.

You know, I was planting some mums yesterday afternoon out in the chilly wind and realized that only the day before it was nearly 90 degrees!! Three months from today Don and I will be basking in the Bonaire sun, and if she were still alive, today my mother-in-law would have been 99 years old. Happy birthday, Vi!

Enjoy your day.
--Barbara


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

So Cool...

Yes, Barbara, the image I described is in black and white. It's a photograph on the cover of "Before we Begin," the book I read from last Thursday. The fact that I communicated the black-and-whiteness of the image makes me want to write all night - though that's probably not the best idea I've had so far today. Talk with you later.

Bob

Cool, Bob!

Such a black & white image you paint. I love that the only color is the pile of quilts to one side in one of the rooms. I like how the light draws us through the rooms. Is this a painting? I can imagine it being one. Nice description. I'm glad my effort to keep myself writing, even a little bit, every day has inspired you. You know I'm a big believer in exercising your writing muscles to keep them supple.

Writing in the Morning...

Barbara, you've inspired me to write in the morning instead of listening to radio. So we go:

It's the upstairs of an old house. There's an open door, and through it, you can see another door. Across the room, yet another door. And in that third room is an old chair, silouetted aganst the window. You can see only the top rail of this chair. The rest is mainly lost in the darkness beneath the window. The floor of this room is bright, with straight shadows laid horizontally across it. Just inside the door of the middle room, the floor is dark, though it gradually brightens within a few feet. To the left of the door are a number of bulky quilts or comforters, folded and stacked on a low wood cabinet. Now between the middle and the nearest room, the one we are looking out from, is a dark, walk-through closet sort of space. A dark curtain hangs down in folds there on the right side. The wide, plank floor is bare. The first room is bright, with a small white writing desk and a chair to the right of the door. A mirror hangs over the desk, reflecting a window on the back wall. The wall next to the desk angles inward and meets the door at the corner. At the base of the door, next to the desk is a decorative waste basket. All the doors up here are painted white. All the doorknobs are dark and glossy.

I like your long-winded scene. The violence reads indirect and sort of abstract against the scenery-painting, which makes it, for me, all the more violent. Cool.

Bob

Only Peripherially About Fish

Thanks for your kind comments, Bob. It's the pictures; wonderful pictures make good words, I guess. Last night I got a bit wordy (I hope you don't mind), so here goes:

A few more steps across the blackened rock, careful not to get tangled in the grasping branches of the sea grape colonizing the edge, and Jack could look down into the sea. Water the color of liquid turquoise lapped at the base of the rock where it plunged underwater, hissing and foaming in the spaces. The cliff face, all of the rock on this tiny island, was ancient reef pushed into the air by forces deep within the planet. Jack used his hand to shade his eyes as he scanned the shallows for his quarry. The water was so clear and the sand so white beneath it that even the smallest movement was visible. He saw schools of fish going about their business. He watched groups of Bar Jacks hunting, darting to scatter smaller fish when they struck. He saw the silver blade of a solitary barracuda patrolling the reef edge, waiting for an opportunity to pounce on the unwary. All seemed normal. He turned to the cab driver standing nervously behind the open door of his van. "Are you sure this is where you heard Manning ask to go?" As the driver nodded, licking his lips to moisten them, his mouth suddenly dry from the thread of menace in Jack's voice, neither man noticed a hand reach up over the lip of the drop-off and slowly close around Jack's ankle. Pulled off-balance and flailing in the heartless air, Jack fell silently onto the tumbled boulders at the base of the cliff, then his unconscious form rolled into the cool water. Manning clung to the ironshore rocks and sea grape roots for a moment to watch Jack's body being sliced and shredded by the waves until he noticed the first predators vector in from the navy blue of deeper water. He pulled himself up onto the top of the cliff, rolled over the sea grape and stood up, dusting his hands on his shorts. "Not a bad acting job, Evert," he said, clapping the driver on the back. Evert gave him a mute look, went around the back of the van, and lost his breakfast in the thorny scrub, drawing an interested audience of lizards. Manning climbed into the driver's seat and turned the key. "Mount up; I'll drive. I think we could both use a Polar, maybe a whole six-pack." Evert emerged from the bush dragging a shaky hand over his mouth, got into the van and slammed the door. Manning jammed through the gears and drove south in a flurry of gravel, leaving only a small dust cloud to mark Jack's passing.

Not my usual kind of writing, but I like it. See you Thursday. Don't forget it's exercises night!

--Barbara

Monday, October 8, 2007

Like Poetry

Barbara, both your Saturday and Sunday posts are wonderful. You've got a fine essay going on there. Today's post is so cool and even and introspective. I hear your voice when I read it. "You can see it in her face." What angel dropped that line on you? It reads like poetry. You and Jenny. Something amazing is happening.

Bob

Not a Fish Pic

Only the thought that I'd have to admit to you that I hadn't written got me to the page last night.

You can see it in her face. The little girl dressed all in red with lovely long black braids and a bright white smile is the darling of her family. You don't wear a smile like that when you're eight years old unless you know you are special. It says below the photo that her name is Clarinda, a pretty name for a self-confident girl. I can see little Clarinda on her way to school decked out in her carefully ironed white blouse and navy and white plaid pleated uniform skirt. No room for the distraction of fashion when a child's education is at stake. Our little miss probably wears shiny buckle shoes instead of the more casual tennies, and I'd lay odds that her sock tops are even and never scootch down to puddle around her ankles like mine used to do. Reality comes as a bit of a shock to girls who have had such a carefree childhood as I imagine for our Miss Clarinda. It's not easy coming to the realization that not everyone cares to smooth the way for you forever. Maybe it's better to have a little heartache when you're young, to have to fight a bit to get what you desire, then reality won't be quite as much of a shock.

I need to buy another calendar with non-underwater pictures. Some days the sight of one drives me mad with longing. Besides, variety is good.

--Barbara

Sunday, October 7, 2007

It was another Fish picture

Since there's only one picture for every seven days in a week-at-a-glance calendar (well, duh) I've just been flipping my 2007 Bonaire planner open at night and writing about whatever picture I see. Last night's was a cool one of a fish hovering over a big sponge. Here's what appeared in my notebook:

The big Tiger Grouper hangs motionless over the Orange Barrel Sponge like a trophy on some avid fisherman's mantle. But it's my trophy. I have fine-tuned my diving so that I no longer thrash about scaring fish away. I glide through the water like an arrow slipping between the molecules, barely pushing a pressure wave before me. I learned the surge and sway of the liquid world and I stopped fighting it. Now I am aware of its push and pull, I feel the currents that flow through it like a breeze on a sultry summer day and I glide through the aqua density like a native. So still am I, so at home, that the most nervous of the fish, the Spotted Drums, barely pause when I appear. And that big Tiger Grouper? His eye swivels in appraisal, then he flexes his gills to invite the tiny cleaner fish to resume their work as I watch. I am not a threat. I am at home here.

And now for the farm report...

Here we are in Wisconsin at the end of the first week of October, it's 83 degrees and humid, and the garden's still going strong-- the okra's still blooming & making yummy pods, the cherry tomatoes are blooming again, and we harvested our first Brussels sprouts. Yum!

Dishcloth, dishcloth, dishcloth... fish

I got a new skein of variegated yarn a couple weeks ago (on clearance) and realized last night I hadn't knit a fish with it yet. Horrors! I was amazed at how quickly it went. Fish are (is?) what I learned to knit on so I think of them as something I have to work at, but evidently knitting 2 purses, 2 pairs of fingerless gloves, and half a scarf has ramped up my knitting skills. But not enough to knit a sweater. I have to keep telling myself that because I found a sweater pattern I like that uses big needles and big yarn, and I'm a sucker for those. But I am not going to set myself up for frustration by starting to knit a sweater. I'm not.

I discovered yesterday (when I put down my garter stitch scarf [seen here draped on the pineapple sage plant--isn't it pretty?] because my left arm was sore)










why I'm not frogging the capelet.

Aside from being inordinately proud that
I'm managing to knit a different color edging without going totally mad and making a single-cross cable, knitting on it doesn't make my left arm sore. I don't know if it's the size 11 needles, the fact that they're plastic, or that they're circular, but when I knit on the capelet my arm is fine, when I knit on the scarf it aches. Go figure. (I never pretended to be normal.)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Nice Set-up

I like what you've written, Bob; it's a good beginning that makes me anxious to know what comes next. I can see the churchyard and his hand on the wheel very clearly.

Yesterday was consumed with non-writing responsibilities but I have hopes for today. Here's last night's prompt writing:

You expect they'll make noise. There's a very distinctive sound on the Blue Planet videos when they're around but it took personal experience to show me how silent it is. Silent might not be the right word; it's never really silent underwater. For one thing there's your own Darth Vader breathing that you hope continues to accompany your every underwater move. And the identical whoosh-click of your buddy. I know, it seems like a childish word for a person into whose hands you place your life, but that's what your dive partner is called, your buddy. Shrimp make a sound like popping corn, you hear the water on the shore messing around the broken coral, and the roar of passing boats. Parrotfish crunch bites from coral heads. But big schools of little silver fish don't make a swishing sound when they change direction underwater. They don't--and eels don't hiss either. (No voice box.) TV lies.

Hmm, maybe if I post my prompt writing every day it'll goad me into doing it every day. What do you think? Shame as motivator? I think it might work.

--Barbara

Friday, October 5, 2007

All Things New...

Barbara, glad the talk last night got you thinking about Mom's Cafe. Scary fun... And your prompt scribble. "His dreadlocks dangle out and wave in the onshore wind..." Beautiful image, Barbara. Very assured and evocative.

So anyway, this is the beginning of the story I mentioned last night:

It was a country church, plain and self-absorbed, sitting off the country road. Stone monuments dotted the mowed lot next to it. The morning was, so far, cool and overcast, with a fine, irregular rain coming down. Thomas pulled off the road's patchwork asphalt and into the parking lot. A lot of cars, he thought, for a quarter to eight.
He parked his Cadillac, switched off the laboring motor, and sat for a moment in the penetrating silence. He ran his hand over the arc of the steering wheel, then got out and walked across the the pebbly, uneven lot toward the church. On his right, a slow moving couple made their own approach. Thomas nodded and said, "Good morning" in what he hoped was an optimistic tone. The old couple returned his greeting, pleasant, though tentative. Who is this stranger in our midst?

Bob

As Promised...

Here is my prompt writing that Don was so adamant I had gone the wrong way on. "I'd have gone a totally different direction," he said to one and all, but he was strangely deaf when I retorted, "Then you write it."

"Red trails drawn over yellow ocher tell the story of what early men saw in the crystal clear sea where they fished." In the baking hot midday on a desert island I stand, arms akimbo, listening to the tour guide dressed in khaki shorts, a Red Stripe t-shirt, mismatched flip flops, and a rasta hat. His dreadlocks dangle out and wave in the onshore winds that carry salty spray over us, bringing cool relief that people pay dearly for in the parched parts of the US. I have been on this tour before, I've heard the story of the Arawaks being overrun by the Caribs, a bloodthirsty tribe, of early Europeans coming ashore to harvest salt, and of the bad old slavery days. My attention wanders from the speech to the speaker. His eyes are red-rimmed and watery, sure evidence to this child of the seventies of a more than passing familiarity with ganja. I've seen those eyes in my mirror. Though it's been decades, I still recognize them.

That's it. I thought I had shown it to you at writer's but maybe not. Hope you enjoy my little prompt scribble

Bob, your observation that I might have been writing a series of Better Than Mom's Cafe novels has reignited something in my brain and heart. I plan to spend the day putting all those ideas I was sprouting last night down on paper to see if I really have enough for a few books. Yikes, scary! But a fun kind of scary.

WIPs


I got all excited by a bias knit scarf pattern I saw on Mason-Dixon Knitting's blog so I cast that on and knit like the wind to get to the first color change area. It's hard to see in the picture but it starts with cranberry, then goes to what Wool Ease calls natural heather which is kind of grayed out cream, then I'll add on black. I like it, now that a commenter on MDK noted that the stitches of first row after the angle were reversed, and it's not going off like some sort of chevron.

The other picture is the Bits and Bobs KAL capelet I've been working on for about
4 weeks. I'm busy crocheting dishcloths and knitting the scarf, plus I'm not sure I'll ever wear the capelet, but I can't seem to frog it and move on. You can't see but there's a single cross cable at either end of the off-white. I'm foolishly impressed with myself.

Felting Results



I spent all of Sunday going up and down the stairs checking the felting progress and resetting the washer for another cycle. It took forever! And the 2 colors of yarn didn't felt at the same rate or to the same degree. It was a really good idea to put the parts in a zippered pillow case--the washer's parts would have been totally choked with balls of fuzz without it. I'm not sure I'm happy with how it turned out, but the pieces really need a shave.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Time Flies

We must be having fun, then. Or something. I remember August being one crazy blur.

Yesterday, I picked up a book by Bret Lott. It's subtitled: 'a practical writer's memoir'. Excellent writing advice. Can't wait to share it Thursday. See you then.

Bob

Monday, October 1, 2007

Happy dreary Monday!

I managed to get in a little writing this weekend in between mowing and laundry. I wrote a lot faster when I remembered that it's my turn to submit a story on Thursday. Here's a little teaser:

Everyone’s nerves were shredded by the time Christmas Eve arrived (not dawned, there was no winter dawn at the North Pole). The elves squabbled as they loaded the sleigh and Arnold grumbled about the cold as he gave the reindeer their final brushing before tacking them up for their global flight.

See you Thursday! (Do you realize that today's October 1st? October!?! What happened to the rest of the year?)