Saturday, December 31, 2005

Thanked my mom


For sending me some bits and pieces of writing I did when I was a little kid. Kind of confirms that this writing thing is going to be a part of my life no matter whether I sell much or not.

I wrote a little newspaper called “Weekend Report” once that chronicled the goings on around our house on a particularly eventful weekend when I was nine. What should have been the top story, but was about half way down, was about my big brother J coming back from “Nom,” but being in a “housepital” for an eye infection.

This is an illustration from the back page.

Geranium in Bloom Friday 12/30/2005


I’ve lived in Southern California for almost half my life now, and I’m still amazed that flowers continue to bloom through December. We had a couple of cold weeks earlier this year, down below freezing, but this guy by by front door kept on growing anyway.

This plant is from a cutting I took from a geranium down in Laguna Beach on the day of L’s memorial. Plants from cuttings are probably my favorites.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Fixing the Toilet Thursday 12/29/2005

Truly, many things happened other than toilet-fixing on this day. I took a photo of a row of shiney palm trees that I thought was going to be my photo of the day. But it ended up feeling like this was what it was all about.

The tank in the guest bathroom has been running for something like a week. We’d just turned off the water tap behind it and ignored it for a while. But friends are coming to stay the night for New Year’s Eve, so we thought we’d better get to it. So glad we didn’t wait for Saturday morning to start this.

This is an essential difference between the much-heralded D and I. He likes to wait until the minute before the last minute. I like to get my chores done first so they don’t bother me. Outstanding chores seem to have no emotional or psychological effect on D whatsoever. I might like to try this philosophy out sometime, but the mere thought of the consequences makes me shiver.

He did most of the work on this because it had lots of complicated little parts, and it’s a somewhat confined space, and I’m really really lousey at sitting around waiting to be asked to hand some one the pliers. So I tidied the rest of the house and stayed in earshot so I could help when I was really needed. To double check the assembly, to hold them steady while he tightened the bolts that secure the tank to the base. We replaced all the working parts instead of just trying to figure out which little gizmo was messing up. The works are probably as old as the house, which was built in 1989. Not so long ago in terms of houses, but pretty long for little plastic and metal parts that are constantly emmersed in water.

He got the whole thing back together and was hooking up the tap to the tank, when the worn out metal tube sprung a leak. Long story short, we had to turn off the water to the whole house. And drive 10 miles into town for a replacement part. Which the nice man told D didn’t need a washer. Just teflon tape.

My new plan is that we always buy a washer whether we need it or not. The twenty-seven cents is much cheaper than the gas to drive into town and back for the washer the nice man said we didn’t need.

I have a nice place to store unused washers, in baby food jars neatly arranged inside an old library cardfile. (Gee that sounds obsessively neat, and you’d be amazed at the mess that the house gets into. But I digress.)

D drove back to town to get the washer (another 20 miles round-trip) while I tried to keep being productive, but then I found the Medicine Cards (a divination set) that I’d thought I’d lost maybe forever, and did a centering spread and found out that… Well, anyway, I was very helpful when he got back, running in and out of the house repeatedly to turn on and off the water from the main supply. The washer did the trick, but then there were little leaks from other places.

Every half hour or so he’d go in and tighten something a little more. You have to be careful because you can crack the porcelain tank. The instructions say that you should only hand-tighten the various washered connections from the bottom of the tank, but there’s no way that this is effective in creating the kind of seal you need. I think you have to use wrenches, but they won’t tell you that because they don’t want you to call them when you bust the tank into seventeen pieces because you got a little over-zealous.

When in town in the midst of this, we took ourselves out for a very nice sushi lunch, congratulating ourselves that we’d saved a lot more than the cost of lunch by not calling a plumber. True. Lunch and the parts were probably half what a plumber would have charged. Of course, we could have saved the price of the lunch, but what kind of incentive is that, I ask you?

Oh good grief. Did I just write 707 words on fixing the toilet? Yes, I did. I checked it on Word.

Well, anyway, here’s a nice picture of the rejuvenated tank, which I added sunset hues and a poster effect to with Photoshop. Isn’t that romantic?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The three tenets of folding

1. You need a clean, clear space big enough to spread out whatever you’re folding. The top of the washer or dryer should work, given that you’ve actually put away the stuff you folded last week.

2. The item you are working with will tell you how it wants to be folded. T-shirts don’t like to have their sleeves crumpled. Washcloths like to show off their woven-in stripes. Napkins will sit prouder on the shelf if they get to show their patterns on the neatly folded edge.

2a. Sometimes, no matter what the folded item tells you, you have to listen to the drawer or shelf instead. Kind of like rock, paper, scissors: the drawer beats the cloth. It has to fit the space you have for it. Don’t feel bad. This will be a learning experience for both you and the item.

3. Patience, Little Grasshopper. Always patience. There is a zen moment waiting inside each item to be folded. Your mind will rest quieter knowing that everything is happy in its proper place. Or, if not exactly happy, at least experiencing spritual growth within adaptation.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Syriana at the Cineplex - Wed. 12/28/2005

We went to see Syriana this morning, first show of the day at 10:25. I always feel that I’ve gotten away with something wonderful when I see a movie in the morning. I still have the rest of the day to be productive, and to think about what the movie has to say, if it’s that sort of film. Which this one is.

Wow. If you’d have told me 5 years ago that George Clooney would one day be one of my heroes, I would have said he had a looong way to go. Seemed like just another playboy back then. But the man is using his money and clout to put out amazing films like this one and Good Night and Good Luck, and I am on his side, you betcha.

Syriana manages to make you see things from many different perspectives without becoming didactic. It’s very complex and that may seem a bit overwhelming at the outset. But I realized that there were many very Shakesperian-style themes at work in it, and that I needed to just trust that it would all come together and make sense in the same way a newcomer to Shakespeare has to let the language flow over her. Sure enough, the characters were distinct and the stories all followed through in interesting and engaging progressions.

An intellectually exciting film!

I didn’t plan this ahead, but there I was in the theater with my camera in my bag, and I can prove it…

I Squat for Freedom - Tuesday 12/27/2005

Stayed home all day. Cleaned my studio, which I tore up looking for a couple of things recently: framed photographs and a certain old journal with writings about Iceland for an essay I’m working on. D and I also cleaned up the house, which got a bit out of hand with all the unwrapping of gifties on Christmas Day, and playing with them the day after.

We went out for a hike around four o’clock. D has a digital camera too, now. His first in years and years. He took some amazing shots of light on the mountains yesterday. Our hike took a while since we both kept stopping for pix.

I had walked ahead and was squatting on the trail when I took this. He reciprocated by taking my photo. Squatting… It’s something one probably shouldn’t allow oneself to be photographed doing. It comes off as vaguely scatalogical at best.

But you know, maybe I should be proud of my ability and opportunity to squat when I want to. Could my grandmother have squatted with impunity?

I squat for women around the world who are not allowed to squat for reasons of oppressive propriety!

Or, um, for reasons of personal dignity.

The photo D shot:

Monday, December 26, 2005

D Checks Out the Sky 12/26/2005

We had reservations to camp at Carpinteria Beach State Park this week, but it was rainy and windy today. I think both of us were kind of holding back on saying that we didn’t really want to go, but once we talked about it, I felt truly excited about staying home.

It was a beautiful day off and on, with the clouds playing around the mountain tops across the valley.

Lucas Loves Scratches 12/25/2005

What a sweetheart. I love my birds. But I miss dogs. This is D’s cousin’s dog, Lucas. He watched us forlornly from outside the sliding glass doors while we feasted on Cornish game hens with papaya salsa.

He deserved a good long scratch, and I gave it to him.

Christmas Day 2005

Starts at home with a cup of tea.

I broke the lovely bone china poinsettia tea cup that I recieved from a White Elephant style gift exchange with the women of the acoustic music club last year. It was so thin you could see light through it. Of course it couldn’t survive my clumsy one-handed attempt to put the cap on the spray olive oil can. Sigh.

So this is my nice fall-back tea cup, with the sweet porcelain spoon my mother sent me for Christmas. These were meant for each other, no?

We open gifts from others before we drive down to spend the day with D’s family. Then open gifts from each other when we get home. A whole day of giftage.

D gave me a Waterman pen, with notes about it being a magic pen that will help me get the words out of my heart and onto the paper. This gesture of support and faith is particularly potent after this year’s struggles and self-doubt. I cried a little. The good tears. I’m a very lucky person.

The Tree Saturday 12/24/2005


I love having a tree in the house. We were very lucky with this one. We’ve had it since the week after Thanksgiving, and it’s still drinking water and not all dried out.

My family heritage includes Irish, English, and a tiny bit of Native American, but my maiden name was German and there is German ancestry on both sides of my family tree. My great-grandfather came here at the end of the 19th century.

I have a pickle ornament on my tannenbaum. As I understand it, it harkens back to pre-Christian days when pre-Germans worshiped nature and gave thanks by carrying food and candles to evergreens growing in the forests. (It’s widely credited to Martin Luther, but it’s true that Christianity has always been good at incorporating the symbols of the religions it replaces.)

Anyway, I perhaps romantically like to believe that my deep reverence for the natural world and appreciation of its beauty are rooted in my background. In Germany there are paths through fields and woods where visitors are welcome to partcipate in volksmarches (hikes).

We’ll contribute the trunk to a campfire this spring when we go camping with our friends.

Afternoon at the Bookstore Friday 12/23/2005

We spent a couple of hours at Barnes and Noble. Most people were shopping a bit frantically, so there were plenty of chairs to be had.

I’ve been reading Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment kitchen, which my friend G sent me…because of this blog. Pretty good return on my investment of time here, I’d say. It’s about a woman named Julie who set out to cook all the recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. I enjoy cooking when I have a little time, and this piqued my interest in trying some new dishes. Luckily, I came to my senses and didn’t get a Julia Child book. Just too difficult.

But I did have a lovely afternoon of sipping a pumpkin spice latte and looking through books. I took the foreground home, found another book to give as a gift, and D found one on various guitar styles that he brought home. We decided these were gifts for each other.

I highly recommend this sort of gift giving. Spending time hanging out and shopping together and stumbling onto something special you didn’t know about is fun, and we also have the gift of the memory of the day spent together. It might be a nice thing to give a friend or relative you don’t spend enough time with. A gift card and a shopping date.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Boy on the Plane Thursday 12/22/2005

There was a lot of bright light coming through the windows on the plane from Indy to Las Vegas.

The little boy in the seat in front of mine pushed the shade up a little and was studying the way his hand glowed red as the light passed through it.

He was a good little boy, maybe four years old. I’d watched his older brother cry and cry at the airport while we waited for our flight. His brother was about six or seven. He seemed to be deeply sad and frightened. He cried quietly.

“What if we don’t get a seat?” he asked.

His mother told him that they would be sure to get seats. They’d be allowed to pre-board because the little brother was so little. The older one seemed to be afraid that he wasn’t going to get on with them, that the little brother and mother would go on without him. Even though she’d just said they’d all board together, she saw this too, and reassured him that he’d get to go on at the same time. She was really good with him, but also betrayed a moment of looking near to tears as he tucked his head under her chin and cried silently.

How sad for him. How puzzling for his little brother who, afer all, probably won’t find it puzzling at all. It will just be the only way he’s ever known his brother to be.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Chickens at Tractor Supply Thursday 12/22/2005


Mom went to Tractor Supply for something and was thrilled with the toy display there. We stopped by on our way to the airport. They had all kinds of John Deere stuff, from toddler-mobiles to farmer hats. Wonderful stuffed animals, and little plastic farm animals, a great toy wooden barn and a plastic Pony Wash, complete with ponies.

It reminded me of reading a children’s picture book written by a friend from a writing retreat. I exclaimed that it was great to see a book about urban kids, because I didn’t remember seeing those as a kid. She looked at me kind of funny, and gently commented that there have always been urban children’s books, it’s just that my school would have ordered the rural ones because we’d relate to them.

Oh yeah. Duh. Get a little perspective, will you?

View from B's Front Door Wednesday 12/21/2005


Beautiful. Up until a couple of days before this, though, B and her husband, J, were parking their cars at the bottom of the lane and walking up. Too much snow. A neighbor came over with his CAT and plowed it out for them in anticipation of their boys coming home from college for the holidays.

It was hard choosing a photo to post. Took several nice shots around their 3 acres. They have an 80-foot barn, a couple of sheds, a pond.

B&J stood up with us at our wedding. Although we live a couple of thousand miles apart, they are still part of the family we chose.

I love visiting home, but I could do without the revival of my recurring homesickness.

Downtown Columbia City Tuesday 12/20/2005


Mom and I walked around downtown CC before meeting up with my sister for dinner. We found 3 or 4 little shops open and poked around in them.

Each of Indiana’s county seats has a wonderful courthouse. This one really anchors the town of about 8,000 people. My sister’s house is just a few blocks away.The building on the right used to house Flox’s Department Store. I remember going in there to shop for school clothes and shoes. You walked down a sloped hallway to get to the area where the shoes were sold. Now it’s an office building.

I can’t help but find it sad that most real commerce has moved to the outskirts of town. I used to come here with Mom on Saturdays when I was a kid and we’d split up for an hour or two before meeting at the ice cream fountain at the back of the hardware store, or for Coney dogs at The Nook. The Nook and Murphey’s jewelry store are the only two businesses that are still there from when I was little, I think. I liked to hang out at Garden Gifts and pick out a magazine to buy.

I know things are meant to change. This little downtown has actually survived the arrival of Walmart as well as can be expected. I wish the downtown well. I hope that the influx of people ends up meaning that they will one day want to walk the courthouse and have a couple more restaurant choices, and it will revive a bit as a gathering place.

Monday, December 19, 2005

It's so cold! Monday 12/19/2005


Mom and I walked down to the creek and back today. Stopped to take photos of the barn and fields until our fingers were painfully cold.

Love the color of these cornstalks in the snow.

It was 6 degrees when we got up this morning, 19 when we came back into the house after the walk, but Mom pointed out that the thermostat is in the sun. The wind was not strong, but added to the chilling effect.

My cheeks! Now I know what Jefferson feels like at Mount Rushmore.

Barn in Decay Monday 12/19/2005


This barn. I remember being in here as a kid. The neighbor girl’s dad nailed the tails of squirrels he’d shot to on of the beams. There were old horse stalls along one side and some abandoned equipment in the main area… Things I couldn’t quite identify that probably had to do with separating the wheat from the chaff or something similar.

I went in here a few years ago, before the roof gave way and walked around on the decaying floor boards. In the summer, vines climb in and out of the gaps in the walls.

My mom’s been photographing and drawing and painting this place for years. I want to see all her work on this place gathered together. It seems a very artful and fascinating project that she’s done because of the beauty in the old wood.

Clementines Sunday 12/18/2005


On Mom’s table, before everyone else arrived. I took lots of shots today, but I like these colors.

The family got together for a Christmas lunch. We do a little talent show. Very informal, sitting around the living room taking turns singing, playing an instrument, reading a poem, doing a cat’s cradle, telling a story. My sis and I did a jazzy version of Sentimental Journey that we probably should have practiced, but hey, it’s not Carnegie Hall!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Green Gables Saturday 12/17/2005


On the way home, we stopped at the country store at Big Lake. This is the cottage my mom’s family rented at the lake for summer vacations. She met my dad, a local boy, when she was staying here. It turned out to be the first place they lived when they got married.

I could have sworn it was a quarter mile walk from the store to the water, but it’s hardly any distance at all. The old store has been replaced, but I remember my wet footprints soaking into the worn grey wooden floorboards inside, and dipping into the cold water of an old fashioned cooler for an Orange Crush.

I’m loving all the pale pastels of winter.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Train platform Friday 12/16/2005

Thought I’d better get to this early since I’m going to be in transit most of today!

This was taken at the train station near my house (four miles.) It’s a little pool of light in a dark rural area. We can hear the train whistle from our house, and the coyotes usually answer back.

D dropped me off at 5:10 this morning and I waited in the 32 degree dark. The train came on time at 5:30. Not so bad when you’re bundled up and there’s no wind. It’s 31 in Indianapolis, where I’ll be landing around 11:40 pm local time. It’ll be colder there by then.

Nice gentle ride in, which I take as a good omen for today. I have a four hour layover here at work. Thank goodness my in-box was empty this morning. I guess yesterday was the last-minute panic.

I decided not to bring my laptop with me in spite of the 8+ hours of travel time when I could use it. Just too heavy. I secured a table on the train and wrote notes about my fellow passengers and just had a good time. I do have writing materials and my USB drive with me, but taking a sanctioned break is going to feel good.

My mom & sister will already be in a hotel in Indy when I get there. We’ll stay the night and drive back early in the morning. I’m looking forward to this SO MUCH!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

In the Spirit Thursday 12/15/2005


Even the gas station is in the spirit. They decorated the weird little topiary-esque plants. Sweet.

Gassing up for D, because he’ll use the car while I’m gone. Off to snowy Indiana tomorrow afternoon. If I don’t have the patience to upload photos from there, I’ll save ‘em up for my return.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

On Pass Avenue Wed. 12/14/2005

It was a beautiful day yesterday when we walked down to the Smoke House restaurant for our Christmas lunch at work. Food and company were very good. It’s an old-Hollywood feeling place with big red booths and lots of dark wood. Decorated for Christmas within an inch of its life.

On the walk back… I dunno, I just wanted a couple of shots. My coworkers were nice enough to wait while I took them. This is outside Warner Brothers Studios.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

D's Guitar Tuesday 12/13/2005


The beautiful Martin D45. D’s pride and joy. Sitting on a stand in the living room.

There’s something about the sound of a guitar. Flattens out my brainwaves and heartbeats in a most pleasant way.

When I first met him, he didn’t have a TV. Just a guitar and an aquarium. I was very impressed. His music has brought us a whole world of friends and helped us get into camping with them.

I love to sing, but can’t play. Maybe one day.

M's Tree Enjoys the Videorocker Mon 12/12/2005


You really can’t tell from the photo, but this little Christmas tree my coworker brought in is really cute. We tried putting it against various backgrounds, and this showed the decorations the best…while not showing off our tacky office.

I could have cropped it down, but I think the tree looks expectant and comfortable on this chair.

Excuse me while I anthropomorphize everything in my life.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Materialistic much? Sunday 12/11/2005


Yeah, these are the new boots I bought. Silly, fun, comfy. I think I’ll be comfy in them on my flight to the frozen Midwest later this week.

Also, I was fooling around in this shot with my new camera’s self portrait mode. Portrait of the artist as a consumer.

Shopping - Saturday 12/10/2005


Okay, I admit it. I spent a lot of the day Saturday Christmas shopping. Thought I’d better grab a shot before I forgot. This is in a dressing room. I bought the berry-colored hoodie for myself!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Moving again


Physically and mentally. D gets off at 2:30 and I worked at home this afternoon, so we were able to go out for a hike in daylight. I ran some ideas about the novel past him, and we kept hammering at the idea of finding a better reason for my central character to stay in Indiana for the summer. We came up with something that feels much better than any of my previous solutions to this question. AND it seems to mean that I have to throw away a whole lot less of what I’ve already done than I thought.

I came back inside and wrote out my ideas longhand and they expanded and I could see how to weave them into existing scenes. I’ll need to do some more research, but I think I’ve found a very good source or two.

Photo: My novel isn’t really about these people; it’s about the land they farmed. But I hope it honors their determination and hard work. This is my great-grandfather Matthew, his wife Sarah and my great-aunts and uncles. Matthew came from Germany in the late 1800s. We think Sarah was pregnant with my grandpa David when this was taken, which would make it something like 1897. (See the mule in the background on the left? I love that.)

Woofer and Tweeter Friday 12/9/2005


Ha ha. I crack myself up sometimes.

I may be laughing alone, but I’m laughing loud.

First Snow Friday 12/9/2005


Admittedly, this is a few miles north and a few thousand feet up from where I live, but I was thrilled to see snow on the ridge on my drive home tonight. I think this is Mount Emma, but I need to check this for sure.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

See what I have to put up with? Thursday, 12/8/2005


All I want to do is hang my towel on the hook, but some one has taken it over and is playing monkey. "Ooh ooh ooh."

Lights at Night Wednesday 12/7/2005


Worked late last night. It was dark when I arrived home. So nice to see the lights D put up on the house and garage. It was cozy and warm inside, and there was carry-out soup waiting for me.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The View from Papoo's Tuesday 12/6/2005


Met with my friend Megs for writing and catching up. We went to this little diner, which has been there since 1949. It’s quieter in the afternoon and early evening than the nearby coffee house, and they serve amazing french fries.

We were writing when Megs said, “Look at the mountains.” That’s Mount Wilson back there, all bathed in pink. Somedays in L.A. you feel like they’ve dropped a big backdrop down about three blocks away with great scenary painted on it.

Megs spent weeks this summer bringing in the hay on her great uncle’s farm back east, then went to a writer’s retreat for several more weeks. The break from L.A. has done her good. She’s grounded in her work and making good progress, in spite of last night’s struggle.

We both had a hard time with the words last night. After reading to each other, we both expressed amazement that the other wasn’t satisfied with the work. The puzzle is to figure out why the pretty words don’t add up to what we want them to.

I like writing dates. It’s good to have friends to pace you every so often.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Crows Across the Street Monday 12/5/2005

Every so often dozens of crows gather in the trees across the street from where I work. This morning they were out in force, cawing and honking and flying back and forth.

Crows and ravens may just haunt the sacred places of the earth, even if those places have been overtaken by humans.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sunday Morning Fire 12/4/2005

I love building a fire in the fireplace on a chilly Sunday morning. It's conducive to reading...the newspaper, a book of poetry, a novel.

Burnt some of the wood that we cut from our own trees earlier this fall. It gives me great pleasure to use things we grow in our yard. We harvest a few apricots, peaches and apples, as well as a variety of herbs. It makes me feel connected to the earth and to other people who do this same thing.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Doors Friday 12/2/2005

These doors lead nowhere, except the parking lot behind the Elegant E's building.

Gia commented that this would be a good way to get rid of a lover.

Is all the life that took place on the disappeared balcony still hovering there, or was it swept away with the rotted boards?

Bird in the Feeder Saturday 12/2/2005


This feeder is on the side of my garage, right outside the kitchen window. My camera doesn’t seem to move fast enough to get the shots I’m trying to take. I love watching the birds in the back yard and at the various feeders around the house.

Friday Evening at Anthropologie 12/2/2005

Four of my writer friends and I went out to celebrate E's birthday last night. It was a very fun evening. I love hanging out with these intelligent, funny, beautiful women.

We had dinner at a French restaurant at the Farmer's Market--mmm!--then went to see "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" at The Grove.

Afterward, we enjoyed the lights and bustle of the shopping area and browsed a bit at Anthropologie. Everything but the sale plates and the stuffed toys was way too expensive for me, but the colors in the displays... well, I have those for free.

I felt a little like a spy taking these!

The only thing I regret about the evening is that I didn't ask E what she thought about the movie before she asked me. I wish I had listened to her excitement about it before admitting to not getting into it. (I haven't seen or read any of the Harry Potters.) I remind myself of the the line from the Paul Simon song that goes "There's no tenderness beneath your honesty." I really could have been honest later. I think we know each other well enough that she wouldn't have felt I let her go on and then ambushed her with a different opinion.

The special effects were great. I liked Hermoine a lot. And Alan Rickman, and Ralph Fiennes, in spite of what they did to his beautious profile.

I felt bad for the dragons who were probably just going about their business when some one captured them and chained them up and set these little wizards upon them. Big dumb animal lover, me.

The bargain bin at Anthropologie:
still nothing I can afford.

Friday, December 02, 2005

How I Open My Mail 12/2/2005

This was an assignment from a group of online photographers: photograph ways that you open your mail.

I'd assembled the implements in the foreground, when I remembered the accidental method.

Dodger was very good about posing for this action shot. I actually coaxed him into dropping a cookie he'd just prized from a hinged tin, and enticed him to take hold of the mail. He truly loves chewing up letters, business cards and coupons.

I gave him back the cookie shortly after his modeling gig. What a good boy!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Advent Calendar Thu 12/1/2005


I love working with geeks. We were all drawn to this place because we get to exploit the pop-culture lint-catching functions of our brains, which are over developed. Here we are loved for knowing who was in what movie when, the approximate date that Silly Putty came on the market, or the birth and death dates of William Shakespeare. Here, we share in each other’s cultural rituals and explorations.

Today we opened the first door on the advent calendar I brought in. At least two of us grew up with these. We taught the others to try and guess what Christmas- or gift-related item might be pictured behind the little paper door. Guesses were good: a doll, a top, a Teddy Bear, Santa Claus, and a duck. (I suspect that L’s been here before. I, too, have seen inexplicable items like ducks show up on advent calendars.)

It turned out to be a candle, so we gave the chocolate to C, whose guess of Santa Claus miraculously seemed the closest to all of us. See how we all get along? Whether competition will become more fierce as the days wind down remains to be seen.

Hmm, 24 days to Christmas and already two chocolate themed photos in a row. When does desire become fetish?

I also included in the girl reading in the shot because she’s part of that room, and I’d like to be her right now.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Chocolate lobster! 11/30/2005


The fabulous MM just returned from visiting family in Maine and brought back chocolates, including this chocolate lobster with candy rocks. This is so much cooler than the saltwater taffy I brought back from South Carolina. Leave it to Maine to do this up right.

She also brought a box of their regular chocolates, each of which has an individual design.

Here’s Haven’s Candies site:

My only question: If people from Spain are called Spaniards, are people from Maine called Mainards?

Wild West McDonald's Tuesday 11/29/2005


I don’t know… I pulled into the parking lot in front of Don Cuco’s to pick up the salads D and I ordered for supper, and this photo just suggested itself. The light was right, eh?

Our little town (pop. around 2000) has a bit of a wild west theme going. This is the McDonald’s out by the freeway. They recently remodeled inside and removed the stuffed cowboy who used to sling a golden neon lariat. Wonder where that is now…

The block-long downtown of Acton has a wooden sidewalk and old-fashioned facades. But I don’t think it comes off as too touristy because we actually use the businesses there: a market, post office, beauty shop, gym, real estate office and Chinese restaurant.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Restorative Powers of Firelight Mon. 11/28/2005

I was feeling low about progress on my novel rewrite. I lit this circle of friends candle last night. When the room is dark, it throws the shadows of the figures against the wall.

I realize that even a simple candle can feel like a companion sometimes. I’ve written a lot by candlelight, especially when working on the 1820s diary that makes up about 1/2 of my novel. I image that those little flames meant an awful lot to people in the vast darkness at the center of this country in the 19th century.

Monday, November 28, 2005

How I Met Harley & Sadie Sunday 11/27/2005

Extra photos for Sunday. D and I went out for a walk after dark last night. As we neared our house, these two dogs came out onto the street. Hey… These are the same dogs that some one called us about on Thursday, wondering if we’d seen them.

They’d been out wandering all this time and were ready to be friendly. Harley, the piggy pug, was the first to come up to us. Sadie felt that she had to be shy enough for both of them, but D coaxed both of them into the garage and shut the door behind them. The turkey scraps helped get them in, but they were still hungry and thirsty. I heated up a big container of very meaty turkey stew we were going to have for supper and poured it into a couple of plastic containers. They just grunted and slurped and gobbled it all down. They were also very happy about the bowl of cool water I put down for them.

They were both very sweet. Harley even left his bowl mid-feast to come grunt-and-snuggle me with thanks! They were clearly clean and well-treated, and not used to roaming. Lucky the coyotes have plenty of bunnies and quail in the hills this year!

We called the number on their collars and there was no answer. The house is just 5 up from ours, so we walked by, but there was clearly no one home. I drove to our little downtown market and bought a couple of cans of Pedigree, and an alternate supper for us (ribs!). D put down an old blanket for them, and we left the light on in the garage.

They were on the blanket this morning, and were happy to get their dog food. It got down to 35 degrees last night, so they were probably glad for the protection of the garage. Couldn’t bring them in because of the birds. We did that once before with a stray and it just terrorized Dodger, even though he was in his cage.

D just called to say that the dogs’ people called! A friend was supposed to be watching them. They’ll pick up the dogs this afternoon. Whew! We were hoping they weren’t gone for a week or something!