Wednesday, March 28, 2007

today in the land of fairies and elves...'s Sarcastic Wednesday! (AKA "the day when the boss brings us all the money and throws it at our feet.")

Monday, March 26, 2007

wherein I get the tiniest glimpse of what Simon Cowell’s mother must have experienced

Yesterday a cool thing happened at church: My son let his voice be heard loud and clear among all the other voices during singing. This may not sound like a big deal, but we attend a very small church (record attendance is 61 if memory serves – there were about 20 of us yesterday), and the songs are always sung without piano or other accompaniment. In a group that small every voice stands out, so I thought it was pretty brave of him. In fact, not only did our boy sing, but he followed right along with the words and music in the hymnal, even mastering most of the tricky pauses in songs like “How Great Thou Art” and “I am Resolved.”
So, naturally, on the drive home, I told him that I thought his singing was fantabulous.
There was a pause. Then, from the back seat, I heard, “Really? You think so? I thought it was sort of pitchy and all over the place.”

This may be a stretch, but I think there exists the slightest possibility that I’ve been letting him watch too much American Idol.

In other news, THIS IS IT. The final week of my writerly blitzkrieg with which I hope to accomplish the completion of my latest manuscript (or at least a half-decent draft) by the time I turn 37. So, please, ESP those thoughts, prayers and vibes of endurance. I need all the edge I can get.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

critter-filled spring break

I suppose it's a given that when you live in the country you're going to see your share of animal behavior (and I'm not just referring to my children). My son's been on spring break from school this week, which essentially means that the house has been a wreck, I haven't gotten as much writing done as I meant to, and...we've had lots of fun. This was especially true today when we woke up to this on the prairie just outside the kitchen window at dawn:

My husband counted 16 in the elk herd - a bunch of cows and some adolescent males.

Later in the day we headed into town and paid a visit to the local pound. Both kids have missed having kitties around (my mom's ancient Himalayan died while we were living in California). So, Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you (drum roll, please...) Angel!

And Milo!

Honestly, it was an absolutely emotionally exhausting experience visiting the Humane Association, especially since we had to walk through the dog kennel to get to the cat room. Not to bring everyone down, but you'd have to be super-human (or maybe sub-human) not to feel your heart break at the sorrow-filled eyes of the old dogs and the hope-filled eyes of the puppies. This kind of suffering is one of the things I plan to bring up with the Big Guy when I hear the roll called up yonder someday. Until then, it feels good to know we could spring two of the inmates.

Monday, March 19, 2007

can't talk. writing.

Okay, maybe I can talk for just a minute. I've morphed into a composing machine, still intent on finishing this draft of the new novel by my birthday. I have two weeks. I like to think this means I'm "borin' with a big auger," as the cowboys say, but it may mean that I'm just delusional.

And speaking of things completely unrelated, please tell me that Barbie doesn't have a new dog named Tanner that poops little Barbie pet-sized loaves. Please tell me I was hallucinating when I walked by the television and saw the ad this morning. I mean, just don't even get me started here. First of all...Tanner?? Who would name a dog something that makes you think of taxidermy?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

tough flowers

As Mr. Groundhog predicted last month, spring has sprung early here on the prairie. I planted these crocus bulbs several years ago, in a little patch of hard, rocky soil next to our pump house. But they're tough little blooms ready to herald the arrival of the Vernal Equinox next week, and each year they prove that they won't be deterred from doing their job, despite lack of pampering. I like that in a flower.

And speaking of things resilient and beautiful, yesterday I got to see some old playgroup friends I haven't seen since before we moved to the Bay Area for our year-long sabbatical. For the first few minutes of our brief reunion everyone just stood around marveling at how much all the kids had grown. One of these families has been a part of our life since our son was just a year old, the other since our daughter was younger than that. And there's something about forming friendships as a new parent that must provide extra glue; although I haven't seen these women in well over a year, it felt like we just picked up where we'd left off. It's nice to know those bonds transcend the temporary convenience of early childhood play dates because Lord knows we moms have all been to H-E-double-toothpicks and back in various ways since playgroup unofficially disbanded a couple of years ago. I may not live in a mansion, and I may not drive a Rolls, but these women remind me that I am rich with friends-for-life friends.

In other news, I'm still laboring daily at a draft the new book, which is finally deciding to cut me some slack. In this respect it's a far cry from my last novel, which seemed to spring to life almost fully formed, like Athena from the forehead of her daddy, Zeus. I was on fire with that last one, writing more often than not in what felt like a state of near-effortless inspiration. Little did I know how cushy I had it. But I'm excited by this new book, and it seems somehow fitting, given the gritty storyline and characters, that I should have to sweat over it a little. My dad commented the other day that I must be as busy as a one-armed paper-hanger, which is a figure of speech I like (and may use).

That's all from the Western Front for now. Time for me to don the helmet and flak jacket (i.e. sit at my keyboard and open up the draft file) again, 'cause "I'm goin' in."

Friday, March 09, 2007

bad mare day

Uh oh.

It looks like Sparkle Wedding Pony and all her My Little Pony friends partied a little too hardy at Sparkle's bachelorette party:

The groom is NOT amused:

But wait! All Sparkle and her friends need is an aspirin or two, and some Cowboy Magic mane and tail detangler (not just for real horses anymore!)...

Hooray! The wedding's back on. The groom forgives Sparkle, and all the pony friends look fabulous once again!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I try not to swear

in front of the children. I don't try hard enough, though, because they hear more language than they should, and I'm not proud of this. So, here's my attempt at weaseling out of full culpability: Swearing, for me, is usually a reflexive thing. I bang my head on the open door of a hanging cabinet (because I'm so nearsighted that I'm *this close* to being legally blind, and when I'm wearing my glasses instead of my contacts my peripheral vision is a great Gaussian blur surrounding two little windows of clarity). Or I slice my finger instead of the tomato. That sort of thing.

I remember well my first taste of willful cussing. I must have been about seven or eight, and we kids were hanging out on the front lawn - my brother, myself, the neighbor kids. And I don't know what got into me. Maybe it was frustration at reaching the age where I realized it was no longer appropriate to take my shirt off (like the neighbor boy did) and play in the big, fresh pile of landscaping dirt in front of his house. But I don't remember being frustrated.

I do remember wanting to show off. Looking back now, I think of Ralphie from the movie A Christmas Carol, whose father "wove a tapestry of profanity which to this day is still hovering somewhere over Lake Michigan." I doubt that my own swearing binge was very artful that day, but I do know that it was effective. As soon as I was done with my little teeny-bopper Tourette's rampage I noticed my brother, who was staring at me across the lawn like my hair had just turned into a nest of snakes. He tried to tell me too cut it out NOW, but that, of course, was only an excellent incentive to figure out more bad words to shout into the early spring air.

And that was all she wrote. Some people who have to cart oxygen tanks on wheels everywhere they go remember their first smoke back in the fifties (pompadour, poodle skirt, Frankie Valli playing on a jukebox somewhere, etc.). I remember my first cuss. I remember the heady cocktail of liberation and shame, the shock and awe those words coming out of my mouth seemed to cause in the other kids running around on our lawn that day. I don't remember liking the taste of that cocktail exactly, but it didn't matter. Like the first pinch of Copenhagen to a snuff queen, those words were an addictive substance that I now hope won't hook my own kids. Which is why I try not to swear in front of them.

Which brings us to this morning, and my report of half-victory. I didn't exactly swear in FRONT of my daughter, who was busy playing at the coffee table while I collapsed into the recliner and cracked open Billy Collins' "The Trouble with Poetry (and Other Poems)." Collins is the former Poet Laureate of the United States (2001-2003), and he's one of the featured authors at the Northern Arizona Book Festival this year. And it was his poem,"Statues in the Park," which caught me so off guard (so soon after taking that first sip of my addictive morning coffee) that I just barely managed to keep my mouth shut as the words "Holy sh*t" popped into my brain.

Do yourselves a favor and pick up a copy of this book.

Monday, March 05, 2007

talk about a triple salchow

Got to go to an ice-skating birthday party this weekend for the sole girl in my son's class of ten. I know: That poor teacher. Our boy took skating lessons a couple of years ago, so he was basically Evil Knievel on ice. However, it was our girl's first time skating. And she was such a trouper. Every time she fell down (and there were many, many falls), she'd sit there for a second, splayed across the ice like a starfish in her purple snowsuit, before scrambling back up and saying, "It's no big deal."

Anyhoo, while the Flagstaff rink was extremely crowded, and the male half of the species was well-represented, I certainly don't recall seeing anything like this. And I really think I would have noticed. (Thanks, Dad, for the link. I also liked the accompanying email note, which read, "I'm forwarding this only to illustrate the kind of SHOCKING!! display that should surely be BANNED before it corrupts the morals of our women folk.")

Okay, okay. Gold lame' - I'm not so much into that. However, Evengi wears it well, and I do dig the fact that he looks a lot like a young, healthy, non-smoking Joe Elliott - my first rock star crush of the early 80's.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

beware the ides

This is a picture of our son's gelding yesterday - the last day of February - when I went out to feed the horses their dinner. Note the black, snowthunder sky before sundown.

While March didn't come roaring in as fiercely as it could have, I'm banking on that "out like a lamb" thing at the end of the month. 'Cause, Baby, it's COLD outside.

I probably won't be blogging as much as I'd like for the next few weeks, primarily because I've committed myself to finishing a working draft of the new novel before my early April birthday. I'm also swamped by my work-from-home work, which is a good thing.

Today I picked up some Luci Tapahonso books, both for research and enjoyment. She's a Navajo poet and fiction writer, more well-known now than she was over a decade ago when I first heard of her via my NAU office mate, who was basing her doctoral thesis on Ms. Tapahanso. So far, what I've read is lovely, and I wish I'd looked into her books sooner.

One thing that's keeping me plugging away at this draft is the carrot-on-a-stick thought that I'll be able to get back to reading for pure enjoyment when I'm done (as opposed to reading for enjoyment while simultaneously feeling guilty for not reading for research).

Another think keeping me going is the fact that, by the time April arrives, the geldings will have shed the majority of their woolly mammoth haircoats, and the days will be getting long enough to canter off across the prairie after my husband gets home from work to watch the kids.

Until then, though, I need to focus on wining and dining my muse as much as possible. Wish me luck in keeping that finicky gal happy until the the draft's wrapped up.