Friday, November 30, 2007
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.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
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.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
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.)
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?
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
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!
Monday, November 26, 2007
You're right. I am leader on Thursday. Thanks.
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?
Sunday, November 25, 2007
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.
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?
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.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
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?
Friday, November 23, 2007
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.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
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.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
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.
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.
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.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
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.
Sorry about the rejection from First Line. If you ask me, it was the implied sex scene that did it for them. Sex between Kris Kringle and his wife? Might as well imagine sex between ones own parents... No, on second thought, not a good idea. You mentioned that First line received a lot of entries for this upcoming issue, but did they take the time to give you any encouragement in their reply?
The pair of laughing gulls stood side by side on the sand facing the tradewinds and watched the couple walking toward them. The gulls, dressed in black with white bellies, looked to her like a pair of prim butlers standing with their hands behind their backs watching the antics of their employers with a superior air. "Look at those birds," she said to him as they neared the birds. "Don't they look like they're judging us?" He glanced up and nodded, the smoke from his cigarette riding the breeze to twine around his face before streaming away. "They're just gulls," he said, aiming a listless kick at them. The little puff of sand he scuffed in their direction sent the birds running up the beach a bit, making her laugh. Frustrated that they hadn't flown away, he stooped, picked up a fist-sized chunk of coral, and tossed it at the birds. They squawked and flew up to circle out over the waves, filling the air with their laughing call. The couple moved on, the man oddly cheered by his act of harassment, the woman wrapping her arms across her midriff as if she were cold.
And that's it for last night. I'm coming into the home stretch, picture wise, so soon I'll be looking at all these disparate pieces and putting them together into a cohesive story. Maybe.
I got a rejection from The First Line--again. They said they got a truckload of Santa stories. So much for being original. Oh well, I'll try again. I'm determined that some day they'll accept one; I'll wear 'em down if I have to.
Monday, November 19, 2007
It was for her flan as much as her company that Oliver proposed marriage. No one made a flan like Claudia, which he felt at the time more than made up for any shortcomings that she may have exhibited. Really, though, Claudia's actions were more on the order of eccentricities than shortcomings, things to be overlooked in the spirit of simple generosity. To Oliver, Claudia's flans and her easygoing ways were ample compensation.
Claudia, too, was generous in her way, given what she knew and what she believed. The thing was that she could never keep something straight in her mind. A given fact was always snowballing, always gathering stray and spurious facts to it in an accelerating downhill course. Her opinions were colorful, to say the least. For this reason, among others, Claudia was often the highlight at dinner parties, pronouncing, as she would, opinions of the most unusual and varied sort.
Just why Oliver felt himself attracted to the woman with the silvery curls was beyond him, something he could not put his finger on. If he had to describe her in one word, that word would have been 'smokey'. It seemed completely matter-of-fact, that she could immediately detect falseness, tuned as a seismometer is tuned to the shudderings of the earth. She is committed to her own heart, Oliver thought. He had seen the woman before at the cafe. Not the second time or the third, even, but that one with Kim the first in which the scent of smokiness reached out to him. Claudia, by contrast, was sweet and safe as dime store perfume.
Climatologists swarmed to the island for their annual convention. Not that there was anything special about the data to be gathered from the exposed coral terraces on the north end of the island. It was the reputation of the island's reefs as prime dive sites and the agreeable resort accommodations that brought them in droves to stalk like bespectacled storks atop the exposed ancient reefs in Bise Morto collecting samples for their labs or bob greenly in small boats at the base of the short cliffs while identifying and classifying sea life preserved in the limestone. Major George Clemment and his wife Susan hosted a cocktail party for the most notable of the visiting scientists and the members of the local diving group. Jack Swallow was also invited as a major financial supporter of the island's reef preservation movement but he never appeared and didn't even call to make an excuse. "I don't care how much money he has poured into the coffers of the organization," Susan said to George as she refilled the punch bowl, "the man is plain rude." George just grunted, as have wise husbands from the beginning of time.
Yesterday was a hard to not smoke day. Don't know why, but I'm happy it's over.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
They were meeting for lunch, Kim and Oliver, a late breafast, actually, after morning meetings. Both found it necessary to give elaborate accounts of the morning's events: recalcitrant distributors, balky clients, less than reassuring news out of Wall Street. By the end of the first coffee, they had begun to relax into the familiar rhythms of speech and company. They had chosen a cafe less for the food (though it was generally good, the soup specially) but for the atmosphere. The talk veered toward kids and spouses, plans for the long Thanksgiving weekend, birthdays and books. The bowls of savory soup and the half-sandwiches drew them in even closer. The morning had become a dim aggravation, fading fast.
Even before he had washed down the last of the sandwich with cool coffee, Oliver became aware of the woman. The first thing he noticed about her was her hair. Silvery gray and pushed out from her head and onto her shoulders in a brilliant mass of curls. It seemed like a physical approximation of an aura. Oliver didn't believe in auras, though he did believe in the woman. Kim had another meeting a two. Oliver had the afternoon free except for a staff meeting at three-thirty. He thanked Kim for a wonderful lunch. Kim suggested that they should have lunch like this more often. They embraced and promised to get together once the craziness of the holdays was over.
After Kim had gone, Oliver went up and bought a second cup of coffee. The woman with the silver curls was there yet, and he was facinated. She dressed not like a teenager or a twenty-something, but with the same go-for-broke urgency. She wore no make up. Except maybe a little lip gloss. He couldn't be sure. He estimated that she was in her late forties, or early thirties. Oliver read an old Barrons magazine, sipped his coffee, and watched the woman from the corner of his eye. Several times, she took calls on her cell-phone, ducking outside into the bright, cool afternoon. A busy woman, Oliver thought. She was answering a call when Oliver got up to leave. He put on his coat and walked to the door. And there she was, in the corner, by the front windows, looking out from behind a small decorative tree with clear, uncompromising eyes.
Sharon glared at the buildings on either side of the street as she followed the honey-voiced policeman into the island's government center. Like nothing she had ever seen at home, even on TV and not that she had all that much experience in police stations, but even in her extreme distraction trying not to believe Detective Inspector Rooibos that Jack was drowned, some part of her recognized the comic opera aspect to her surroundings. There were wide yellow lines painted or taped three feet back from every reception window, there were signs admonishing people to have their forms notarized in triplicate, and there were posters with lists of safety suggestions and silly scenarios about how to avoid being a victim of crime. Sharon thought that the elaborate colonial architecture and bright tropical colors of paint used both inside and out where the perfect setting for the surreal situation she found herself in.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
The Blue Front was Bernie's home away from home. But tonight, he just didn't feel it. With all his heart and will, he worked at imagining Tina walking in. He felt precious little comfort in this act, however. Just a flutter of wonder at the fact that such feelings could even exist. The pain of loss and bone-jarring annoyance aside, it seemed to him a miracle that someone could ever soften another's heart. A heart that's been conditioned to toughness in the face of the world's endless disappointment and failure. Such a meeting, such a personal connection, was something of a gift, if you believed in gifts that way.
I suddenly realized when it started to get darned cold the other day that the holidays are fast approaching. (So that's why all the stores have those lighted trees!) Which means if anyone's getting a yarn-ish gift, I need to get moving. Fortunately, I'm not foolish enough to think that a rank amateur knitter has any chance of being able to make something knitted for everyone, but there might be a few wooly items under the tree.
Here's a line-up of projects that floated to the top of the heap this week:
1) I spent some time at Patti's Yarn Shop yesterday looking for help to figure out how to make the decrease section match the increase one. No similar pattern was found but Patti said, "You just have to do the opposite of the increases" and that made sense, so after knitting and frogging the same one inch of scarf about a dozen times, I finally got it and finished the 2nd bias scarf last night. Yay, me!
2) I finished crocheting the tote bag for my second felting project. I'll get that into hot water later today or tomorrow.
3) and I've been slowly working on those girl and boy hats. Twenty five rows of 4x4 ribbing takes a while to knit, but I'm past halfway and determined to get to the stockinette stitch part soon.
I'm on my way out to try and get the last of the leaves to stay piled up at the curb for the leaf guys to pick up before the real winter comes. Wish me luck!
Friday, November 16, 2007
It was a movie, an independent production, with a couple big names in it, but the rest being complete unknowns. "The Last of the Dream People" had a strong reception at Telluride and few chi-chi film festivals on the coasts, winning prestigious awards along the way. The director was a Polish emigre, steeped in the unmistakable lore of Eastern Europe. The story was a retelling of a Medieval legend, of Kublai Khan at that, with the roots of it going far back to the wind-swept plateaus of Mongolia.
The story, as it had been adapted for the film, was about a manufacturer of breakfast cereal, a colorful type, who habitually wore a disguise when visiting the factory. Of course, everyone knew that it was him, even though the disguises changed radically from visit to visit. This was the central joke of the film, with some others revolving around bureaucratic red tape and a government inspector who burps uncontrollably when too excited. The mixture of high satire and low humor disturbed a few writers commenting on the film. When asked about this apparent disparity, the director, with typical elfin glee, would reply, "Maybe you would like it better if he - how do you say - passed gas all the time?"
Okay, okay. So I missed the whole setting this time. Otherwise, not so bad. Later.
They sat there, the trio of Beaded Periwinkles, what the natives call Kokolishi, huddled together in the middle of the weathered bench by the shore. Three white and lavender shells looking so symentrical, almost manufactured, that Jack doubted they had arranged themselves that way. They were too perfect, too similar, and all pointing their tips in the same direction like they were giving directions. Manning had stood back and looked at them. How could he be certain they wouldn't be disturbed by a passing gull? He had been careful to select empty shells. It would ruin the effect if one of his clues crawled away before its message was delivered.
There you have it, Jack and Manning together again, obviously before the sea grape cliff murder. But why? Haven't got a clue.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Blood flowers. Susan smiled as she deadheaded in her garden during the cooler hours just after sun up. Flor di Sanger the natives called the vivid red and yellow lantana that thrust its spear of florets out of the corona of emerald green leaves. She had always planted lantana in her garden at home to attract hummingbirds so she was glad to find them in Alwaysgreen, the only nursery on the island. Here, however, the plant felt more at home. That was obvious because she had never before enjoyed the growth and multiple blossoms she had now. And she was pleased to find that there were hummingbirds here too, tiny iridescent ones that shimmered black and green and red in the strong tropical sun.
See you tonight. I'm bringing a lesson (as soon as I figure out one).
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
It looks innocent, the mound of broken coral pieces shoved up by the waves, but try to walk across it and you find out different. The stuff rolls and slides, never firm, never stable. Jack clambered up toward the blue Caribbean sky arcing cloudless overhead. He felt undignified and awkward which made him angry that Manning was forcing him into this island-wide scavenger hunt. He got to the top, flushing a pelican as he did, and stood up staggering a bit on the shifting coral rubble and looked around. Nothing. No Manning, no merchandise, no further instructions. Oh wait, something was fluttering stuck to a piece of driftwood. Jack slipped and stumbled over to grab the paper before the ever-present tradewinds blew it to kingdom come. Not just yet, was written on it. "Damn him." Jack crumpled the paper and threw it--into the wind, so it blew back in his face. He caught it and shoved it into his pocket, looking around sure that Manning was somewhere nearby, laughing.
You see her out on these windy, sun-shot mornings, walking under the trees gone yellow. You see her on the sidewalks in her dark pink coat and her red knit cap, the white cane with its red tip in her hand. She walks with a kind of shuffle among the yellow leaves that blow across her path. And if you meet her on the sidewalk, though she does this less often than before, she will ask, "Do I know you? Sure, I know you from somewhere."
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Like a ball of molten glass, the sun sank into the west behind the ocean-hugging silhouette of Klein Bonaire, the small uninhabited island a half-mile offshore. All up and down the leeward shore of the main island ice cubes tinkled against glass as resort guests, snowbirds, and permanent residents alike settled into patio chairs to celebrate the survival of another day. Rum paired with pineapple and guava juices swirled in sweaty glasses and rinsed the persistent taste of salt from the parched tongues. One hand trembled as it lifted crystal to lips, the glass chattered against perfect teeth, the villa behind her reproachful in its silence. She stood bathed in the reddened rays of the dying sun wondering where Jack had gone and when he would return. The sound of tires on the crushed coral drive erased the minute wrinkle that had begun to grow between her brows. She set her glass down on a palm leaf coaster and smoothed a hand over her hair before levering a smile up from the depths of her emergency bag of tricks and turning to walk through the darkening rooms. She left light in her wake, one lamp in each room, as she made her way to the front door.
I'm getting anxious to have written about each picture in my Bonaire calendar so I can assemble all the little pieces and make them into a whole. Should be interesting.
Monday, November 12, 2007
The local fishermen went out just after sunset five nights a week. They putted out of the anchorages to their favorite fishing grounds navigating by the stars. No fancy GPS to keep dry or out of the bilge water in the bottom of the shallow boats. All they needed was a view of the stars to lead them out and home. Not that they needed to go all that far offshore, the waters around the island had been declared a marine preserve over thirty years before so there were plenty of fish to catch. The rules said they could only fish with hand lines, not nets, but Santiago figured what the fish police didn't know wouldn't hurt him. He always trailed a net behind the Santa Marta on his way from his little bay on the coast of Venezuela to the Town Pier. He made sure to haul the net in, put the fish in the well, and stow the net before getting too far into Bonairean waters. If anyone asked he had plenty of fishing line scars to brandish to prove how he caught the fish. The nets were good for covering the other cargo Santiago carried, the things the gringo Manning waited on the beach for every Tuesday night.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Sorry to ruin your plans, Ann, but I saw this purple striped table runner and place mat at Ikea last month and instantly thought "needle holder." Well, maybe not instantly but I hadn't walked far past when I turned back and tossed them in the cart. I ended up frogging back to the place where I had all my stitches (before I somehow lost a couple--where do they go?) on the pastel scarf. I decided it was too obviously narrower so I risked angering the yarn gods and undid what I did yesterday at the craft fair, striving for perfection. *sigh* So no pictures of knitting progress.
The rental car rounded the curve where the road swung nearest the shore and the setting sun almost blinded the driver. Barely able to see, he eased the car into one of the wider places carved through the scrubby brush and parked. Once the engine was off, the only sound was the shush of the waves as they ran up on shore rearranging the broken coral pieces in the shallows with a sound like wind chimes. The rays of the sun quickly heated up the car's interior once the air conditioner was off, so he cranked down the window to try and catch a breeze. Wishing he had a camera he admired the way the clouds turned from white to pink to gold to iron gray as he watched. The silhouettes of the cactus on the horizon reminded him of hands reaching, clawing up from a fiery pit into the cool night air. A sudden step beside the car made him jump, but it was only a nanny goat and her twin kids crossing the road to feed on the leaves of the thorn bushes that had unfurled after that morning's rain.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Today was the dreaded craft fair with Mom and Helen, her neighbor. I picked Mom up before 7 AM (it's not really light out at 7 AM) to haul her, her doll clothes and Christmas ornaments, and my tote of 57 crocheted dishcloths out to St. John the Baptist school in Howard for what we hoped would be a long day of selling stuff to hordes of eager shoppers. Turns out hundreds, nay, thousands of shoppers stayed away in droves. Mom, Helen, and I sat on our little folding chairs in the echoing and chilly gym watching about thirty other vendors not sell anything. The highlight of the day was the pair of ten-year-old girls sent out from the lunch area to take orders from and deliver succulent hot dog or sloppy joe plates to the sellers. I chose the hot dog plate and I must say I think I made the right choice; the dog was excellent, spicy and juicy (and pre-ketchuped), the bun was soft and squishy, the chips crisp and salty, and the cup of orange pop was a festival of artificial orange flavor with plenty of ice. Worth every penny of the $3.00 it cost. I sold 13 dishcloths.
Here's last night's words:
Like parti-colored Easter eggs, the kokolishi shells were piled in crevices and depressions in the shoreline rocks, winking in the sun. Waves pushed at them, tugged them back like dice rattling in a cup, rearranged them like rune stones readying for a reading. Diego sat hunched on the wet rock not caring when the waves slurped at his legs and hips, not giving in to the cool promise of the water but glaring at the small colorful shells tumbling in their rocky captivity. The shells gave the impression that their colors were fake. They glowed pink, yellow, navy, and white in the frame of black rock like art glass in a display. The blaring sun overhead did duty as spotlight as with each passing wave the shells tumbled and preened. Diego had come to this isolated beach to escape prying eyes, to avoid the meeting he knew must happen, to postpone the moment when past indiscretions collided with present entanglement.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Barbara, you paint a really vivid picture with those few words. I see Manning with white pants and shirt, no socks, wearing locally made sandals. He's got a three day growth, maybe four, and blond hair. I like it a lot. And I mentioned dusting off "Slow Dancing" for a rewrite. Here's a little bit that may be going in. (She's talking with Bernie here)
Angie pursed her lips together, and pulled down the corners.
"What were you thinking," she said. "You bring a colored around like that. First you take up with one, and then you bring her around." She said all this with her eyes down on her plate, but then brought her hard, pitying, uncomprehending gaze to meet his eyes. "What'd you think'd happen?"
Bernie set his fork on the plate. "Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, can't help lovin' that gal o' mine."
"Well, ain't that special," she said.
"Maybe it was mistake."
"I'll say it was."
"But it was the best mistake I've made in twenty years."
I agree that last night's group was outstanding. Even being so tired, I put on some music and stayed up until 12:15 comparing and contrasting critique notes. I felt completely overwhelmed - but in a good way. The thing I appreciated most was the encouragement. Barbara, you mentioned that I had hit my stride in the second part; that the writing seemed more at ease. I knew some of it was pretty good, but most of it seemed pale in comparison with the opening. I feel better now about continuing on. A little more confident.
Driving on the narrow road that traces the southern end of the island, there isn't much to see. The Solar Salt works is just about the biggest thing on the horizon with its long conveyor to load the white salt into cargo ships. Beyond the salt mountains there are no more houses, only what look like fisherman's shacks made of old boat planks and billboard parts, and the slave huts. At each cluster of huts, red and white, is also an obelisk. The red and white obelisks aren't the only ones on the island, there are half a dozen of them ranged on the extreme southern shore. Mariners used to use them, line them up in certain order to sail into the correct patch of shoreline to pick up or drop cargo. Manning sat in the arrow of shade cast by the obelisk at Red Slave, a small pile of cigarette butts at his side. His eyes were slits as he squinted offshore straining to get a glimpse of the Santa Marta, one of the boats that came over every week from South America laden with fruits and vegetables for the island's tables. He had met Santiago at what some called the Venezuelan Fruit Temple, a twenty by thirty foot area with a peaked cement roof supported by Doric columns at the pier in the center of town.
That's it. Don't know why Manning's waiting for Santiago, don't know what mischief they're up to. Stay tuned!
I found a hat pattern that I liked and thought I'd knit one to donate somewhere. I mean, it's Wisconsin and it's getting cold and it's gonna get colder. Somebody's gonna need a hat. I found this nice yarn at JoAnn's, on sale, and bought the blue and burnt orange thinking I'd make a boy hat. I cast it on and got this much done when DH asked if it was a hat for me. I said, no, it's for charity and anyway it's a boy hat. See? Blue yarn. He shook his head. Not boy yarn? Nope, girl yarn; it's fuzzy. Evidently boy yarn isn't fuzzy. So I'm knitting a girl hat with my fuzzy sale yarn, but I still want to make a boy hat so I bought this Galway wool. It's tweedy not fuzzy--boy yarn. It got the DH seal of approval this morning. Whew.
I'm finding I'm addicted to the Slightly Clerical Scarf I printed off Mason-Dixon Knitting's blog a few weeks ago. I made one for me and then I found this lovely wool on sale in these pretty colors so I'm making another one. It's small enough to carry to work and to errands and appointments, and being garter stitch, not very mentally taxing when I've only got a few moments to knit.
What do you do with a single skein of Moda Dea's Sassy Stripes that you couldn't resist on sale because it's red? You knit a couple squares for Oliver's blanket, that's what you do. I don't know how to link things, but if you check out Mason-Dixon Knitting's blog Kay has info about it. Oliver's a young man in England confined to a wheelchair. He needs a new one, and they're pricey. A friend of his mom's got the idea to ask people to knit 4" squares of sock, fingering or 4-ply yarn that she'll make into a blanket and raffle off to help fund Oliver's new wheels. I was intrigued by the project but reluctant because of overseas mailing costs. Then I find that Kay has jumped on the bandwagon and is making an American blanket so we can help out without incurring high postage costs. Thanks, Kay! So fire up your size 3s and knit a little square or two for Oliver. Oh (this is another good part), for every square you send, they put your name in for a chance to win. Cool, huh? You can also follow the links in Kay's blog entry to purchase raffle tickets without making squares. Squares need to be sent to Kay by the end of November; email her for the address. All the info is in her blog entry. (I have got to learn how to link things.)
Thursday, November 8, 2007
The low-ceilinged space was filled with the irritated squeaks of fruit bats jostling for space. He glared up at them to make sure he wasn't in line for any falling guano to stain his pristine khaki shirt. He had arrived at Spelonk cave an hour before sunrise, nestling in a small niche off to the side of the main cave chamber. The rising sun had revealed yellow and red ochre prehistoric paintings of sea creatures on the walls and ceiling and had also heralded the swirling arrival of more bats than he had anticipated. Their little dog snouts and translucent ears that constantly swiveled like small radar dishes, combined with their unexpectedly intelligent eyes, made him think that if he hadn't been there to disturb their roosting that they just might have talked to each other.
Critique's finished; see you tonight.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
The bright red of the boat bottom seemed hotter than the white hull. For one irrational minute I was reluctant to put my feet in the boat. The primitive part of my brain was sending the message "red equals hot" just like it did when I was little, but the lure of the chance to be out floating atop the blue-green water was too strong to resist. I double checked that there was plenty of water in the cooler and that everyone had a sun hat and that there was sunscreen to go around and then I stepped in and settled onto a plank seat far away from the oars or rudder. I picked a spot in the pointy end where I knew none of the rowing or steering was done. I planned to lounge gracefully, trailing my fingers in the cool water and enjoy the view.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
At first, the closeup of a seashell stumped me, but then I thought about how it feels and, look, writing!
She ran her thumb over the surface of the shell in her pocket. The tiny ridges and whorls like a fingerprint, each little bump and dip were the only things that felt real to her. Events had spiraled so out of control, out of her control that if it weren’t for the little scrap of shell nestled in a teaspoon of sand in the pocket of her shorts she would run screaming into the night. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, her life was meant to be calm, serene even. She had played by all the rules, upheld her end of the cosmic bargain--kept herself trim, informed, well groomed. She cultivated an interest in art and finance, even though at first the numbers and their antics had seemed like a foreign language. But she had persevered, had spent time with her nose in books, magazines like Barron’s, even subscribed to the Wall Street Journal for a while which she considered a kind of grad course in companionship. “His companion” that’s what he called her. At first there had been a warm intimate caress in his voice when he said it that made her happy to hear it, but lately there was a sharp, almost disgusted, note to his voice that made her want to take a shower. It had been hours since he left in the minivan taxi on some unspecified mission. He didn’t tell her where he was going or why. It had been nearly one hour since the island policeman had come to the door to tell her that they had fished a body out of the sea on the northern end of the island, a body with Jack’s ID in its pocket. Where was Jack? the policeman asked her fifteen different ways in his low honeyed island voice. If it weren’t for the little scrap of seashell in her pocket she would be screaming.
See you Thursday, critique in hand. And, Bob, sometimes (okay, all the time), you have to write the "weepy crap" to get to the good stuff. Keep scribbling.
Monday, November 5, 2007
In the shallows of Goto Meer, the flamingo chicks stand like awkward teenagers outside a new school. Not yet sleek and pink like their parents, the chicks hang their heads in embarrassment. What will eventually be smooth pink is now gray and black with just the merest hint of the shrimp pink that will distinguish them as adults. Now as adolescents it just makes them look scruffier. The couple stood on the shore their necks draped with an assortment of cameras and binoculars, but neither of them spared the slightest glance for the increasingly restless little flock. Many opportunities for distinctive and prize-winning photos was missed as they leaned closer and closer until their noses nearly touched and they sprayed each other's cheeks with angry spittle. Body language alone told other tourists in passing rental cars to keep moving. Not one of them wanted a picture of the quintet of flamingo chicks badly enough to risk having the rest of their precious holiday infected by the negative vibes fairly radiating from the pair,
Are you writing anything in your non-inspired state? I think it's the weather. At least that's my excuse this week. :-p
Sunday, November 4, 2007
It was such a beautiful sunny day it was difficult to focus on yarn-y things, especially since DH filled the house with the wonderful smells of Roasted Butternut Squash soup and Chocolate layer cake. Mmm. And he even washed all the pots and pans. He is truly a treasure. I did manage to get a little done between stirring his soup and licking the beaters. Hey, since the kids are all grown and gone somebody's got to do it! I'm anxious to see how the crocheted tote felts. I intended to use only the Sensations Marvel from JoAnn's but the thick & thin texture of it didn't work up the way I had hoped, so I picked up a skein of Cascade 220 in Black and am carrying them together. Makes a world of difference and it kind of looks like stained glass. Can't wait to see the result. The bias scarf's a nice relaxing project I can work on while sitting in Patti's Yarn Shop's kitchen listening to Dorothy (76) and Iris (91) debate the merits of various yarns, patterns and needles. An afternoon there is a real education!
Palm fronds clattered overhead as I waited for Raul to come out of the house. I knew he was on the phone with his father who owned most of the island. A faint scratching behind me caught my breath in my throat and I whirled to see if someone was creeping up on me. I imagined one of the silent "minders" that were constantly seen in the shadows wherever we went. They weren't obtrusive, no, they were more noticeable by their very efforts at self-effacement. Their laser-like focus on Raul and the menace that emanated from them made everyone, even children, give them a wide berth. No one was behind me. What had I heard? My eyes caught slight movement on the trunk of the nearest palm. A green and rust lizard slid up it, looking for supper, an opponent, or a mate.
Eh. Not feeling very inspired today.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Nov. 1--Rows of white spots trace the five arm-like rays on the underside of the urchin. Turned over with its charcoal gray exoskeleton exposed and its rudimentary mouth gasping for sea water to siphon for both food and breath, it is a pitiful sight. The diver pauses, his light pinning the inverted urchin in its beam, he drifts to the bottom and rights the creature so its dark red dome is up. Grains of sand cling to the short spines of the urchin, sifting off like confetti as it turns in place and then begins to sink into the sand, under it, its short disheveled spines working together to swim the fist-sized creature back under the sandy bottom where it will spend the hours until it re-emerges after sunset to seek food or a mate.
Nov. 2--The bride dipped her chin and shyly peeked under her eyelashes at the groom. He stood stiff and sweating in his black pants and long-sleeved white shirt. Where she looked flushed and loose-limbed, almost languid, his eyes were so wide there was white visible all around the pupil and he was so tense the minister imagined that his bones just might rattle apart if something startled him. The merest hint of a bulge in her belly told of the reason for the haste of this ceremony. The parents of the bride sat in their pew, the mother shedding silent tears, the father glowering dark glances at his son-in-law to be. Once or twice one of the groom's friends tried to joke him into relaxing but one look from her father wiped all smiles away, at least until his daughter's fate was sealed.
I plan to spend some of the weekend with Lennie. See you Thursday!
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Sitting in the kayak feeling the bump as waves pass under it on their way to batter themselves on the jagged black rocks, I realize I can't hear anyone's voice anymore. I look around and see I am much closer in than the rest; I wave, they wave, but we don't race to join up. The hot tropical sun beats on me making me glad I wore a wide-brimmed hat and long-sleeved shirt. The shallow perspective I have of the island gives a false impression of lush green. I know that what looks like soft green leaves from here are cactus and succulents that have armed themselves with nasty thorns trying to fend off creatures looking to dine. From my cozy bobbing seat I have an unimpeded view of the beach sculptures this island is famous for. For as long as I can remember, passers-by with artistic eyes gather up the driftwood and other jetsam like tangled nets and lines, broken oars, plastic bottles and boxes, even toilet seats and single sandals that wash ashore on this desolate stretch of jagged rocks and sand, and make sculpture. Never the same, never static, the faded whitish gray colors and severe angles make art out of litter.
See you tonight, eventually.