Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween shivers

Omigod it's Halloween. And this means November is tomorrow.
And that means I'm starting NaNoWriMo tomorrow.
Yeah, like I"m ready to devote at least and hour and a half a day to writing.

And then the election is November 8. And I have nothing whatsoever to do before then. Nothing like call everyone I know to get them to vote, volunteer in Phone Banks, replace stolen lawn signs, attend yet another community candidate's forum. Bleh bleh bleh.

Kate invented a Meme. So I already answered it there, but here's my shot at it.

The game is to take a group of titles and arrange them into a coherent sentence.

My titles:

The Fall of a Sparrow by Robert Hellenga
Letter from America by Alistair Cooke
The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day
Postcards from the Brain Museum by Brian Burrell
Daughter of the Queen of Sheba by Jackie Lydon

The Daughter of the Queen of Sheba, after visiting The Circus in WInter, decided to write a Letter from America, yet The Fall of a Sparrow onto her complicated headdress caused her to pen Postcards from the Brain Museum.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Harriet Miers stepped down and talks about it eloquently in her fantastic blog.

Thank You Note.

And I am waiting to see what else the Bushes will toss our way. Please let it be someone I can support. Please?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Joy meme

The extremely long version of the instructions for this meme (courtesy of The Smart Bitches)


Search your blog for the word "joy" used in the context of happiness. If you cannot find the word in your weblog, you may use any of the select list of synonyms below.

joy : amusement, bliss, cheer, comfort, delectation, delight, ecstasy, elation, exaltation, exultation, exulting, felicity, gaiety, gladness, glee, good humor, gratification, happiness, hilarity, humor, jubilance, liveliness, merriment, mirth, pleasure, rapture, regalement, rejoicing, revelry, satisfaction, wonder

If your weblog does not include a built-in search engine, then you can use Google to search it only for the word you wish to find.

If you've found the word and it was not used facetiously or sarcastically, good for you. All you need to do is link to your earlier entry, and write a few words about that joyous moment. If, however, you have no joy (whole words only) in your weblog, you must dig deep in your soul and find something wonderful in your life right now. One little thing that fills you with warmth, that bubbles you over with quiet happiness, or tickles you with its good-hearted hilarity, or makes you glad you just took a breath, and are getting ready to take another. It doesnÂ’t have to be anything big. A smile someone gave you; your cat on your shoulder; the way the light angles through your window and casts rainbows on your floor. All it has to be is something genuine, something real, something that matters to you.

Because we all need joy in our lives, and need to take the time - from time to time - to recognize it. And sometimes, we need to pass it on. Even if we're a big pain in the ass when we do.

So I search for Joy and found the delaying tactic entry form this morning "Wait I'm supposed to write about Joy." Dumb Suisan.

I searched for glee and found this post about cleaning fish:
He got a call from a guy last week who said that he had a deer in the back of his truck. He asked if Butcher could portion the deer for him.

Husband says, "Yeah. Bring it over. I'll give you the saddle and make venison sausage for you out the rest." Hunter exclaims with glee. There aren't that many non-corporate butcher shops anymore--they all tend to be part of some supermarket or another--so it's been hard for this guy to find someone to help him with his deer.

Except that technically this doesn't count because I wasn't gleeful, some guy who shot a deer was.

So what makes me super happy, joyous, gleeful, and comforted?

The end of the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird" which I saw last night where Scout says (Quoting from memory here), "In Death neighbors bring food, in Sickness flowers, and little things inbetween. Boo was our neighbor....He gave us two soap dolls, a broken pocket watch, a knife, and our lives." Makes me tear up every single time. God, what a good movie. What a good book.

Laying my hand on the neck of a well-muscled horse. There's a plane about halfway down the neck which usually just fits the curve of my palm. If you slide your hand down from the poll towards the chest and stop about halfway, the coat has slicked under your skin, so your palm is smooth, and you can just feel strength. It's not blood pulsing, or muscles rippling, just the tension of the horse filling your palm.(And in antidote to that feeling is the horrifying sensation of putting a beloved aged stallion down, patting him gently as he drifts away, and tripping over the spot to feel not strength, but only dead meat under your hand. I experienced that as a junior in high school and I still get nightmares.)

Watching my dog run as fast as he can just because he can. He's part grey hound, so his back curls and flattens as he flings his legs to the end of their arcs. His mouth gapes, his ears fly, his tail pumps. I wish I could be that excited by simply being outside in the sun (or in the rain, or in the mist).

Singing old-fashioned Methodist hymns in a group of people, feeling their voices in my chest. The palpable sense of singing. Must be group singing for the sympathetic vibrations to hum.(It doesn't have to be hymns, but now that I've outgrown high school choral society, hymn singing is what I've got left. Haydn's Creation was great for this too.)

Shaker Apple Pie made with apples which dissolve into chunky applesauce, thickened with heavy cream, flavored with rose water and cinnamon. Yummmmm.

I tag, eh, who do I tag? First thoughts were Cindy (well, can't do that, she tagged me), Megan Frampton (She likes me, she likes me, she really likes me. She even comes to comment here. But she already "joy"-ed.), and Doug (and who already "joy"-ed). Ooo! Ooo! Ooo! Kate Rothwell. Come On! Join the Joy! (And I still owe you an order for socks--whining--I'm sorry. I wanna buy socks!)

So, erm, I also tag Ms. Harriet Miers: Harriet Miers

Tagged about Joy

So what does it mean that right after I post about how I want an Apathy, Despair, and Nihilism wristband I discover that I had already been tagged for a meme on joy? That sound you hear is God laughing.

Must take kids to school and then will fulfill my blogging obligations.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Sick Puppy

Damien Donck for Newsweek

I have a sick sense of humor.

I should be ashamed. But now I really want one.

Bad girl.

Writing a check to Goodwill and to Habitat for Humanity as contrition.....

Tall, Dark, Silent, and Handsome

And when I'm not reading, writing, phoning voters, or walking precincts, I'm reveling in the fact that I'm actually Aragorn.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Putting your appointed path ahead of any inner conflicts, you make your own rules for the benefit of all.

If my life or death I can protect you, I will.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Circuses--getting it wrong

OK, time to fess up here boys and girls. I once lived and worked in a circus.

And no, there were no freaks (not in the mid-eighties--certainly there's a long sideshow history).

And no, the clowns do not walk around in white face.

And no, the elephants are not all horribly abused. There are schmucks everywhere, but most trainers love and take excellent care of their animals.

And no, your heart does not fill with wonder and your eyes fill with unshed tears everytime the music plays.

And no, not everyone who has stayed at the circus for more than a year is a falling down drunk.

So why do I insist on torturing myself by reading books set at the circus? What the *&^#%ing hell is wrong with me? Well, at least I can begin my "getting it wrong" list now.

People who live and work at the circus wear street clothes. Deal with it.

True Story:

In 1989 ABC wanted a live feed from the circus on Thanksgiving to use as part of a montage showing how different people were celebrating the holiday. Our circus dinner was held buffet style in the tent with the food set up in the ring. But the producers wanted the performers to come in costume and asked each clown to come in makeup. Yeah, people want to relax in costume. And the wardrobe mistress would be ever so happy with gravy stains on sequins. Apparently the fact we were partying inside a frickin' big top was not visual enough for the producers.

People who live and work at the circus actually LIVE there.

This one makes me nuts. Joan Wolf's characters in White Horses were owners of a circus in post-Napoleonic France and owners of a string of horses used as performers. And every night they drove some distance away from the horses and the tent to stay in a local inn. Sometimes the other performers would stay at another inn. Why? There is no way on earth that a troupe of traveling performers is going to waste what little money they have to put up in a hotel. That's why you have Gypsy wagons, you idiot. You eat, you sleep, you live with the animals. (OK, certainly workers and performers alike enjoy getting wasted at a local biker bar, but they're not leaving the security of their animals or props at the mercy of the townies.) Well, OK, I guess Joan needed to have her people staying in inns because at one point one of the circus wagons is stolen. Oh, but right, I forgot, she didn't even use the theft of the wagon as a plot device. Sigh. Joan, Joan, Joan.

Circuses have their own logic.

Please don't expect me to read a military novel wherein guys are calling each other, "Hey You!" Last names, rank, it all makes sense in a military book. Guess what? Circuses have vocabulary too. People work really hard to get that show up and running every day. Roustabouts (workers) really don't have that much time to hang around practicing their juggling. And No, they are not going to be incorporated into next year's act, no matter how much they are liked. The jugglers and dancers in larger circuses are usually the junior members of a family troupes brought in for their specialty. No room for roustabouts there. Sorry to burst your bubble. (In other words, if there's a trapeze act with six or seven people in it, there may only be two or three main performers. Their relatives or junior performers are usually mixed with other performers to create that season's "juggling brothers" act. This way the troupes get partial compensation for the secondary act.)

Most acts are regenerations and remixes of classic acts--like vaudeville. (Another Joan Wolf gaffe in White Horses: She tells the reader that a performer is doing the "Courier of St. Petersburg" act without ever telling the reader what that may be. She mentions that it involves Roman riding and flags. I give her props for knowing the title of a famous equestrian act, but perhaps an explanation of what that is would help? Or maybe just don't bother with the name at all?)

How come people can write about the magic and mystery of the theatre and actually get parts of it right? Why are we so attracted to circuses and how come we keep getting it wrong?

But then I realize that actually a lot of writers get a lot of stuff wrong--I just happen to know about circuses. I bet there are some fairly bizarre books about lobster fishing that are making men in Maine just retch, and I wouldn't have trouble with them at all. But if you're going to go out of your way to write about an opera, would you not research the life of an opera singer rather than an actor? Do you know there's difference? In circuses authors get into the "Greatest Show on Earth" trap and think everyone's the same character and we're all hanging out with each other.

Well, except for Burt Lancaster with the hat. He's aloof.

Have I told you that the lot boss (or was he performance director?) at the circus I worked for always wore a large brimmed hat? Can you spell "Affectation?"

I don't think I have a point here. Sigh. Thought I did.

Maybe my brain will come home soon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Keeping up

Haven't had a chance to check the wonderful blogs which are posted along the left hand side recently.

I visit my blog and think, awww, no comments, but then realize about a half hour later that I haven't even read anybody else's.

Abject apology.....

Have a great Columbus Day and take some time to surf. {Edited to add: OK this is how far behind I am, I wrote this on Monday and I'm posting it Wednesday.}

And speaking of Columbus--when I lived in Berkeley, CA, I discovered that the City Fathers had renamed it Indigenous People's Day. My daughter's elementary school was called Columbus Elementary School, and it was picketed by protesters every Columbus Day.

So they got some state modernization funds to upgrade the building. They rotated the site ninety degrees so that the school had a new address and renamed it Rosa Parks elementary school. My daughter's preschool teacher was a terrific "woman of color," Simone. When I told her where my daughter was heading, at first she didn't recognize the name of the school. The she laughed, put one hand on her hip, cocked her head to the side, snapped her fingers and said, "Those kids say, 'Mmm Hmmm! We don't ride at the back of no bus at Rosa Parks!' Good luck getting them to school!"

Unintended consequences I suppose.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


Oh good lord.

What have I done?

Well, I've signed up to be part of the National Novel Writing Month.

50,000 words? Yeah, like, no problem. Eh. Sure.

Can you feel the confidence just pouring out of me? Well, good. That must mean that I can write a whole lot better than I think I can. Because I think I may have set myself up.

"Now, now," says the other side of me. "Can't jump in the pool until you decide to walk to the edge of the pool and look in, now can you? It's not even November. Pull yourself together and decide to try it."

In other news: I turned the heel on my Madame DeFarge sock and am now working down the foot to the toe.

Friday, October 07, 2005

And then, you know, we went here and then this happened and then....

I have had enough of run-on sentences.

I hate them.

Now I must admit to enjoying a fully descriptive sentences, not unlike this one, with commas delineating clauses or phrases; the addition of the semicolon is often a nice touch in a complex sentence as well.

But then there's the run on. Enough.

Where do I get my abhorrence for the run on sentence? From public comments at public meetings. The worst offenders are not the nervous public, or the impassioned public, who have come to fling their complaints and their weeping children at you. No, I actually like and admire them. (Although sometimes they do make me uncomfortable, I admit. But hey, I raised money and walked precincts to be sitting up here, I might as well take my blows with a sympathetic nod and tip of the chin.)
What makes me go over the moon is when a fellow board member, feeling defensive, decides to outline his or her position without thinking about what that might be beforehand.

"And when I was about to make that vote I had to think about what it might mean to the community, and I had to look at all sides but still make a decision which I knew many people wouldn't like, but I looked to my heart and voted, and I hope the people who may or may not still be upset with me really understand how hard this job is, and how I try to keep the best interests of the children in my heart whenever I take a vote."

"Surfeit of cherries," indeed. Can people die from a surfeit of conjunctions? If so, I know a person, right in my own little town who may soon be rushed to the hospital complaining of an odd medieval ailment.

OK, personal and obscure rant over. Sorry.

In other news, I REALLY want a red IBM Selectric. No, like, I'm dreaming about it. I could find one, I'm sure. But does anyone know if there are people around who still service those warhorses?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Meljean posted about debauchery which reminded me of when I was a kid and my grandmother took me to England. We visited the National Portrait Gallery, where I saw a portrait of a woman. What has remained in my mind since 4th grade is that the woman is described as having died from a "surfeit of cherries."

So because of Meljean, I went looking on Google for "National Portrait Gallery cherries." Look what I found: Catherine Douglas

"The Duchess's beauty, coupled with her eccentricity, made her notorious in fashionable society and she is said to have died from a surfeit of cherries." Before she died in 1777 she was patron to Swift, Pope, and Gay (The Beggar's Opera)

OK, so I wasn't making this up. Kewl. But then I got to thinking about the phrase, "surfeit of cherries." That certainly sounds more familiar than simply a phrase pulled from the National Portrait Gallery--maybe it's in a poem? Maybe one of her grateful writer-friends made the phrase famous?

I can't find my Bartlett's, which is unfortunate, so instead I started searching for the phrase in Google. And this is where our little story gets weird. Apparently a number of people have died from A Surfeit of Cherries. Who knew this was such a problem? Why not a surfeit of peaches? Or apples?

This link takes you to a PDF file wherein the author highlights some of the more intriguing entries from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. On page 4, under Colorful Lives and Deaths, I read "Thomas Lockley, Bodley's librarian from 1660, died in 1679 of a surfeit of cherries."

From this list of the Descendants of George Clark, Revolutionary Soldier, I read:
In his first visit to American William Penn appointed William Clark as Justice of the Peace of all the counties. He served as justice at Lewes, and in 1690 was appointed by the Pennsylvania Assembly as provincial judge of the Lower Counties (now Delaware). At various times from 1683 to 1705 he served on the Provincial Council, being President of the body in 1686. Because of the time he was required to spend in Philadelphia he built one of the "grandest mansions" there at that period. He died of a "surfeit of cherries" in 1704/05 after attending the first Assembly of the new province of Delaware.

OK, so it's not an epidemic, but there's a death in 1679, 1704, and another in 1777 from "a surfeit of cherries." A death which is so bizarre that writers feel compelled to put it in quotes. Enquiring minds want to know--how DOES one die from a surfeit of cherries? Cyanide Poison? (You would have to eat A LOT of cherry pits whole--and then your body would need to digest the cyanide out of the pit.) Massive indigestion? Turning cherry-red like Violet Beauregard and becoming a giant cherry?

I now have a totally useless research project, one that is sure to waste much time.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

What I've read recently

OK, thought I should start keeeping track of what books I was planning on writing about. Oh dear, this is a project that got away from me.

White Horses by Joan Wolf
Regency Romance set at circus. How many facts wrong? Well, not tooooo many, but oy vey.

Keeper of my Heart by Penelope Neri
Don't really need to write about it--fluff and enjoyable. But must quote silliest line from back blurb here to complete my obligation to write about this book:
"From his thick locks of midnight silk to his well-muscled chest rippling with unchecked power, Miranda realized at once that this man was no ordinary lighthouse keeper."
Gee. Ya Think? Perhaps the only time I've ever read a romance about the ardor and terror associated with lighthouse keeping. The gardening hero may be next.

No Man's Mistress by Mary Balogh
Did I write about this? Or only More Than a Mistress? Think I liked More Than more than No Man.

The Indiscretion by Judith Ivory
Meh. Texan. Couldn't deal with the "I'm a brawny Southerner" thing. Never finished.

Only With Your Love by Lisa Kleypas
Pirates, French heiress, New Orleans, cool twist where the hero is the prodigal son, nay, identical twin, of the fiance to the French heroine. Includes nursing of the feverish hero lingering towards death. Yep, that works.

All Through the Night by Connie Brockway
Good. But Ms. Giggles gave it a 100--maybe my expectations were too high? But good nonetheless.

Dark Secret by Christine Feehan
Hard to read w/o channelling Candy's observations about Carpathian romances all being the same. Don't quite get what all the fuss is about, but at least I have read a vampire, OK, a "Carpathian" romance.

Rules of Attraction and Rules of Seduction by Christina Dodd
Books 1 and 3 of the Governess Bride series. Liked Book 2 the best, then Book 3, then Book 1. I think I always like the first book I read in a series, and since I have never read the first in a series, I wonder if that means I will never like the first in a series. Hmmm.

The Proposition by Judith Ivory
Mick the ratcatcher tries to get all fahncy by learning how to say Rahther--learning elocution from a sheltered linguistics professor. Liked that she was not breathtakingly gorgeous.

Circus in Winter by Cathy Day
Not a Romance. Interesting weaving of stories about circus people who winter over in a small midwestern town and build their lives there.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Still reading--but surprised at how easily this flows--thought it would be more intertwined.

And I'm missing another literary fiction book that I just finished, but I can neither find it nor remember the title. Ooops.