Annual Report


A friend of mine with six kids and a foster claims that there are 'life surges' that simply happen, pushing everything off schedule and forcing us to scramble for sanity. 2014 was more like a 'life tsunami' in size, but in the end, everybody survived, and I am much the better for it. My mom is in assisted living, my youngest is happy at her new college. Eldest is thriving with her new home health aide, and Luke, my middle child, is pretty well situated in Seattle working for Facebook. Last year I focused on my own health. Nowadays I drink less, exercise more and am finally sleeping with an apap, which makes me look like an orc and is only slightly less sexy that sleeping with curlers and a face mask, but not by much. It does, however, allow me to breathe at night, which is nice. I also found an optician who fixed my double vision, and for a time had a hearing aid for my deaf ear, but that last broke, and the company went out of business. The kitchen has been gutted and upgraded, the totaled car replaced, the downstairs painted, the plumbing and heating repaired, and the bird feeders restored. Extended family drama is down, although I'm off to SD in a couple of weeks to help my niece with her new baby, since her own momma passed away.

In short, I am ready for a quiet year.

I've just returned from a week with my son who is well into his first six months at Facebook Seattle. He had an unfortunate experience with a deadbeat roommate. Once her stuff was finally removed, he invited one of his cousins and I to come to Seattle to help him get properly moved in. He is a computer whiz, but finding soap dishes, unpacking boxes and assembling furniture are low on his 'like' list. Theresa and I attacked with a vengeance in the mornings, and spent the afternoons walking around the downtown.

I feel like I should post this next to Luke's off to kindergarten picture.

Just for the record, people in Seattle wear a lot of black. They are almost all skinny, which I don't hold against them, but they are also very Nice, which takes some getting used to. There are some good street musicians, including a steel drum player who plays Vivaldi and Mozart, and some homeless people tucked quietly into the corners.

We had no rain during the day, but the mornings were always damp. The weather was warm enough to have smells, including a flower garden right near his apartment. I loved ferreting out the hidden shops and bakeries; tortillas from a family store where English was awkwardly spoken, bread from a small bakery. We walked into a restaurant where Luke goes for lunch on Saturdays. The hostess, clearly from China, welcomed him by name. "And this must be your family!" she exclaimed. "This is your mother? She has your eyes!" The food was phenomenal.

I think this is a place I'd like to visit again.
moonlit night

It only took two years and vicoden to tempt me to post

So, one big one for Doing Something Really Stupid.
We exceeded our out of pocket for insurance this year, which meant that any procedure we had done between Thanksgiving and Christmas would be free. So, I found out a week or so ago that my septum had a kink in it that needed repair. I flung myself into the situation, feeling all at once like I was doing a Good Thing, getting Quite a Deal and Doing Something for My Health. What could go wrong? The only opening they had was last Thursday, the same day that my DH was finishing 2 sixty hour weeks to get ready to fly to Europe for ten days to fetch youngest home. The same week that I had, count them, four contracts on the table, including he- who-cannot-write; the same week as interviewing home health aides for Sierra for the new year, working with Sierra’s finals week and getting Christmas boxes off, not to mention the usual four or five dr. appointments for Sierra, including an eight am in a new location (we got horribly lost, but that is another story.) Oh, and the piano tuner and furnace guy wanted to come by. So, anyways I looked online to see what the outpatient procedure entailed;, read all the “will recover in a day or two,” and totally ignored the “you’re an idiot if you don’t take a week off for this.” I am strong. I am invincible. This was going to be a Good Thing.

I am a total and complete fool.

Vicodin is my friend. Unfortunately, it also seems to diminish my reasonable and intentional decision making process. Since I’ve been homebound with narcotics in my system, I’ve done my Xmas shopping online, spending an obscene amount of money on virtually every relative, hoping that people won’t hold it against me if I buy them all mugs with things that disappear when the water is hot. . . and socks. Fuzzy socks. I must have nearly a dozen pairs of fuzzy socks in the gift bin right now. They make excellent gifts for the young teen set. Unfortunately, the only young teen left of the dozen cousins is fourteen and into Goth. I do hope my other niece will forgive me for buying her a new winter jacket. It was on Land’s End. A $150 coat marked down to $35. Well, so, it was a 3x bright flaming orange, but she likes color.. . ooh, my aching head!

I also fielded a visit from our local piano tuner, who I only call on when our pianist son is coming home. The tuner fiddled with the piano for an hour, then looked at me soberly over the rim of his glasses. “You know,” he said to me. “You’ve got some alignment issues here.” I thought at first he was talking about the car, but actually, he meant that I hadn’t been good about keeping the instrument in tune, and now we had some Problems. “I can do a quick fix for about thirty bucks or, “ and here he paused, as though to measure my stupidity, “We can wait and it will cost about $150.” For one eternal minute, I weighed the option. If he left right away I could get a nap and slip myself another Vicodin. If he stayed, it would be awhile. “Go ahead,” I murmured, trying to look appropriately Guilty for letting the piano get so badly out of tune.

On the bright side, Vicodin helps reduce my inhibitions. Any angst I had about finally getting a post up on LJ is gone. Here it is, guys. I’ll even leave the ‘comments’ section on, in case you’d like to flame me for writing insipid notes about my personal life for everybody to see.

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HACKER ALERT! Somebody hacked my account tonight at about 10:30. Worse yet, when I went to change my password, I got kicked out and couldn't get back in. Worse yet, after two hours of effort, even the 'tier two' guy at ATT said he couldn't get me back on my account.

Huge grumbles. This happened in conjunction with youngest needing to catch the train to college, and discovering a half hour before we left that her laptop is broken. The family vote was that I give her my laptop for eight weeks. Much grumbling, but since I have a desktop as well, I could hardly protest. Much tears and gnashing of teeth. (Her tears, my teeth). Not the best way to end Spring Break.

On the bright side.
On the bright side ...

I did get some writing done this weekend!
moonlit night

(no subject)

I am the night song rising,
The trembling drops of dew in the shadows before dawn,
I am the cloth of golden threads, buried deep and forgotten,
The dancer, slender feet, eyes bright, a single earring glistening in the firelight,
The willow flute, the mourning dove, crying, calling to touch the starry sky.
I am the heart pumping warm blood,
The latch opening,
The tide turning,

This is my first poem in a zillion years, inspired by Elfscribe's sharing of Amergin's Song.

Ah, Canada!

So, I am sitting in a quaint nook of a bed and breakfast, sipping tea and eating an amazingly delicious blueberry scone. Outside the snow is deep and the air is crisp. A new storm is coming this way, but few of my Canadian hosts seem to notice.
I'm here training for my "Mennonite Job," writing Sunday School curriculum for three denominations, the Mennonites, the Brethren, and the United Church of Christ. I'm not an ethnic Mennonite by any stretch of the imagination (they are, after all, one step removed from the Amish), but I've adopted the denomination and led a children's worship series in our church for 20 years. The Mennonites are intensely community focused, so it was no surprise that to begin this process, we met in a member's home for three days to work out design and writing issues. It has been a pleasant experience. Most of the women are a little older than I am, new to the role of grandma. The rest are new to the role of parenting. It was a new and nice experience being immersed in the company of women for an extended period.
Meanwhile, on the home front, the Job from Hell has finally shriveled up and gone away. They never did respond to my invitation to dialogue and in fact, cancelled the job, which was fine by me. I still find myself looking for emails from them. I am very glad that chapter is closed.
My own writing has faltered again. I know what I want to write, but I haven't gotten to it yet. Renewed commitment for that and riding my bike when I get home...
The Mandala pic is from India. They are made from rice flour, and the ants are welcome to come and feast on them. Another sign of the generous Indian spirit.
  • Current Mood
    calm calm


I had a hard time figuring out what to get you for your birthday. How's this for starters?

You are, without a doubt deserving of a ride on your own luxury jet, staffed by a half dozen handsome elves, set to fly to the opulent and well appointed domain of the most inspired Muses in the world. For your birthday, you may select one, or maybe two to take home with you. Guaranteed to clear the cobwebs and oil the fingers, unleash the imagination, tease on the tension, play with the personalities, ponder the sorrows, and dally with the delightful and so sensual elements of love, so that you are filled with stories that make your readers swoon with desire, cry with sorrow, laugh with wild abandon, and sit at your feet begging for more and ever more of your inspired writing. Performance guaranteed. No deposit, no return.

So far, so good?

Here is your host for the day:

He reminded me of Tigon.

Happy Birthday!
flowers table mtn

Happy Valentine's Day

We are enjoying a bit of a respite in the winter weather. The past few days have been sunny and above freezing. My writing corner overlooks the front garden and the trees that we planted more than a decade ago. The two white pines shield us from the row of houses across the street. They are an anomaly in our city neighborhood, towering dozens of feet into the air and spanning about a third of the yard. We did find room for two crab apples and a dogwood. They are smaller trees, and the crab apples have berries on them that draw the birds. We have squirrels, and more rabbits than cats. Right now, with so much sleeping, it is hard to see what the garden could be. I have to be satisfied with the evergreens and the rhododendrons nestled up against the house. The one outside my writing window covers the window just a little bit, and sometimes sparrows and house finches will come and perch right next to the window.

The job from hell is back again. After all else, the company wanted me to do a PowerPoint. They said it was a rush job, but failed to send me the materials needed to give me the background for the project. They also failed to fund the project. They offered me some guidelines that seemed contradictory. I got the PowerPoint done and sent it in, and they said that they would get back to me on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they sent me this. "This PowerPoint is not what we expected. It is not at all satisfactory." Since the job is not funded, I can cancel, but they have to agree to it. I keep thinking this is the end ... I wasn't so nice this time, although my response didn't include any naughty words.

And finally, a Valentine's Day picture. This picture of the Firebird from the English National Ballet production in 2012 makes me think of a story of intrigue, love and passion. I'm not sure how it works, it just feels that way to me.

And finally, a little bit of lovin' picture.

japanese archer

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Save for a day of pretty heavy rain, we've been spared the effects of the latest storm. We were in the path of the storm coming through the Midwest that would eventually combine with another storm to form Nemo. As a result of the rain, we lost all of our snow, and now our world is filled with the dreary browns and greys of a snowless landscape.

DaVaun Sanders has just posted his revision to "The Seedbearing Prince" on Amazon, and as his editor, I'm very pleased with the results. He's a young man who had a promising career in architecture, but when his business closed in 2008, he decided to become a full time writer. This is his first book.

Not as promising, but a lot of fun is a new book that I'll be ghostwriting for from a woman in Australia who has a brilliant imagination, but tends to write in a photographic style, rather than the flowing cinematic narrative needed for a good story. Lots of work to be done there, but I am looking forward to it.

Not as much fun is the job from hell. After they gave me a low rating for the dictionary, I just wanted to get away from them. Aside from the fact that it was a stellar job, going far beyond their requested requirements, ratings are everything on Elance, and it will take awhile for me to regain the lost ground. And the comments for my three month project? Just, "nice job."


Today's picture is of a man in China who makes his living painting tiny scenes on the insides of bottles. He learned the art as a young boy, and has been at it ever since. The brushes that he uses are extremely tiny - some of them are only a single hair.


This is the first layer of paint. He will go on to add color and more detail.

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The Firemaster is a WIP that has haunted me for over a year. Jerot's story, of a boy who sacrifices his identity to find out who he really is, was the first. Neru, the man whose desire for love was eclipsed only by his desire for power was the second. Jerot's father, Ascher, was next, born to a life that many would envy, he gave it up for a dying cause. And then there was Jentu, bastard child and reluctant lover. His soul belongs to one man, his heart to a married woman. Oh, and Lennan, who comes from a cursed line. She struggles to rise above it until she comes across a burnt stone buried deep in her family's crypt. The universe just keeps getting bigger, and I hold my breath, hesitant to put it to paper lest I miss some important piece.

But writers must write. I have to start somewhere. Most of my writing time is spent making notes. Pages of notes.

Ballet has become a good inspiration point, especially the male dancers. Jerot and Ascher are both Firedancers. Yesterday I got to see the Russian Ballet in Cinderella. It was a delightful romp with excellent costumes and clever choreography. They weren't as good as I had hoped they would be, but then no first rate company will come to South Bend, Indiana. We are just too small. Someday when I grow up, I want to see the Joffrey Ballet or the Canadian National Ballet.

flowers table mtn

(no subject)

Well it is done. 1800 definitions in three months, and my third, and most ambitious dictionary for children is complete. The other two, written for Oxford and Scholastic, were team  efforts. For this one, I was flying solo for a publishing house in Lebanon who didn't even have an editor assigned to the job. At 365 pages, I think I've done some good writing.

The job from hell is done, too. They were very nice, but the final message was, "You screwed up on this on pretty badly. We want some money back."
Well, I did screw up, but not more than they did. Still, I sent them some money, just to keep the monkey off my back.

Next up is to finish editing the YA fantasy that I'm taking through it's paces. It's funny, I never felt qualified to do much real editing of the material at the Lizard Council, folks there were so good I was kind of in shock and awe most of the time,  but I guess teaching literacy and writing to kids for fifteen years has its strengths. DaVaun's novel had 'Room for Improvement' written all over it.  I showed the title to youngest, "The Seedbearing Prince," and she snorted. She's seventeen and has her mind in the wrong places. "Mom, you can't let him publish it with THAT title." I wonder if she is right.

And writing. Thanks to the persistent and gentle admonition of friends,  I actually got a page written yesterday. Not much, but a little. Not good, but better than nothing. I'll try again today. I think the key is to get into a rhythm, something that has been sorely lacking in my life. All the kids will be back at college on Tuesday, so my life will be simple again. I may have a contract to write curriculum for the Mennonite Church, that would keep me happy for a couple of years.

IMG_0165 Snow is back today, more this week. I thought a bright picture from a market in Casablaca would be just the ticket to start thinking about the colors of spring.