Thursday, March 31, 2005

Terri Schiavo 1964 - 2005

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

From Holy Sonnets by John Donne

Click Here for an audio file of the poem.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The line

      Where is the line? You know, that line you can step over and become an AUTHOR, one whose pronouncements must be listened to. I'm curious about this because I recently got firmly put in my place.
      A writing acquaintance and I were chatting online in a group of other writers. He asked a fairly basic question about grammar. I answered it. Then a Published Author chimed in with the wrong answer. Completely wrong. And the curious thing is that because the author was published, the chat room immediately decided the PA was right. A couple of them even made jokes at my expense as to perhaps my grammar skills were the reason I hadn't sold a book. (Later the questioner emailed me and said I was correct. Imagine that.)
      I've had many poems and many articles published. I have credits in Freestar, Byline Magazine, Nautilus Magazine, OKMagazine, In-Tune Country Music Magazine, etc. Contemporary Drama Service published two one-act plays that I co-wrote with Crystal. I've had two full-length plays produced, one of which I also co-wrote with Crystal. But no book sales.
      I've written three books and am currently at work on the fourth. But those first three – despite many encouraging rejections and even one cancelled contract for which I got a $500 kill fee – haven't made the grade yet. Or haven't got the lucky break. I don’t know for sure. I think they're good, but what do I know?
      Admittedly, most of the chat room participants have no idea of my publishing credits. But I don't think it would have mattered if they did. Because the book's the thing. I've certainly been guilty of book worship myself. You want to touch the published author because maybe the magic will rub off on you. Or maybe the author will introduce you to his/her agent, thus launching your best-selling career. Or maybe he/she will give you that secret that only published authors know, the Masonic handshake that will open all the closed doors.
      I try to avoid learning about and/or meeting my favorite authors because I don't want to end up disliking them. The late Jack Chalker was once so rude to me and several other people that I gave his books to the library and never read him again. I got to see an interview with Orson Scott Card, a writer whose work I had admired for years, and discovered he was a jerk of the first order. I haven't read him since. On the other hand, Carolyn Hart is truly charming, one of the nicest authors I've ever chatted with. The same goes for Marcia Preston and Laura Kinsale. I've read Holly Lisle's blog for a while now and still enjoy her work. (Note: I don't mind authors believing differently than me. But being rude or mean or cruel is unacceptable behavior, no matter how much they might think their genius excuses them.) But I think we're taking our chances when we meet any author -- they might not live up to our expectations. Is that fair? Probably not. But it happens anyway.
      (Sidenote: Fans can be jerks, too. They often make authors miserable with their demands. At the far end of that, Mercedes Lackey had to have the protection of the FBI because some dangerous dimwit who took her books way too seriously threatened her. Chalker and Card might have been having bad days. It happens, but with all those authors out there, readers have plenty of choices.)
      A friend of mine, when he found out that I had exchanged some emails with Carolyn Hart, said that I should show her my mystery novels. He didn't understand why I wouldn't consider it. It's just not something I could do. Maybe it's pride. I want to succeed on my own. And maybe that attitude will keep me from succeeding, but listen, when you're papering your house in rejection slips, you need pride and belief in yourself to keep going. It ain't easy, and don't ever think it is.
      Those chat room participants worship book publication, and until I have a book published, I shouldn't expect any of them to nod at my altar. But still I was right. There's probably some moral in this, but I can't see what it is.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Blogger tips, misc

      Having Blogger problems? I know I am. Here are a three tips that seem to work ... usually.
      First, when at your Dashboard, choose New or Change Settings. Avoid the Edit Posts page as much as you can. Edit Posts seems to take forever to appear.
      Second, set your Edit Posts page to only show 10 posts. Any more than that seems to slow down the page.
      Third, when Comments won't open, right-click on Post A Comment and choose Open In A New Window.
      I remain hopeful that Blogger can pull itself together over the next few days.
      Not much to tell you about today. I had a frustrating day at work. It only served to remind me that not only are the customers not always right, sometimes they're downright mean and completely crazy.
      I'm having to rework my book some. The new Chapter 9 and 10 are worse than the old Chapter 9 and 10, and the old ones didn't work at all. Do you think I could just leave blank pages and let the reader pen in what he/she thinks happened to get our little circus from 8 to 11? I guess not.
      I know I keep posting flower pictures, and you're probably getting a little tired of them. I'm just trying to encourage spring. It needs our help. Winter is refusing to let go. I want green grass, blue skies, leaves on the trees ... Actually I'm hunger for summer. I crave the heat.
      My heat lust always seems to surprise people. I think they look at my ... ahem ... ample size and assume that I'm so well-insulated that I'd catch fire in the summer. But I have an odd quirk. My normal body temperature is about 96.3, a couple of degrees cooler than most folk. I always thought I was unique, but a couple of years ago, when talking to my doctor, I discovered that most people aren't 98.6. We're all either a degree or two over or under, but most usually over. And our temperature fluctuates during the day. Anyway, I don't really know if that's the reason I'm comfortable in warm weather or not, but the doctor thought it made sense.
      I'm behind in several writing projects. Sigh. It's that pesky job of mine. Or really it's all the other stuff that we have to do live. It seems my whole life has been a struggle between my writing and my life. ... I'm ToRn BeTwEeN tWo LoVeRs, FeElInG lIkE a FoOl ... I was singing that in case you couldn't guess.
      I hope things are going okay in your world. Have a great tomorrow! You deserve it.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Updates

      I made some changes to the blog that I wanted to point out. I added Soul Patches to the Blogs of Interest. Michelle has great writing on it. I find many of her entries to be insightful, wry and funny. It's one of my regular reads. Check it out.
      I also added a Financial section of links. I'll add more as I find useful ones. My five-year debt reduction plan is still on track despite my recent illness.
      I also updated the link for Rantings & Ravings of An Insane Writer. Jean moved her blog to a new address (and also changed the name slightly) and I don't want to miss reading her. I went through all the other links on my page and made sure they still work. I removed one that didn't. I try to check all the links at least once a month.
      And in the Change the World section, I added Doctors Without Borders, another worthy charity. A friend asked me if I donate to all these charities. Unfortunately I can't afford to give to all of them all the time, but I do try to give to at least one of them each month. My five and ten dollar donations might not do a lot, but think if we all gave that much. I know that there is probably waste and dishonesty in each of these charities -- after all, they're ran by people, and people are flawed -- but they all have excellent records and are out there on the front lines trying to make this world a better place. Please give what you can.
      I had a good Easter. I called my sibs and talked to the ones I could reach. Otherwise I didn't do too much.
      Tonight my friend Crystal and I discussed a shared world book that I've been mulling over for a while. If you're not familiar with the term "shared world," basically a group of writers get together and tell several different stories that take place in the same location and share many of the same characters. Thieves World is one of the most famous of the shared world anthologies. Crystal and I talked over a few ideas and made some notes. We'll see what we can do with it, but I think it's a good idea.
      And that's the updates for tonight.

More flowers


More flowers.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

He Is Risen

He Is Risen, Alleluia!
He Is Risen, Alleluia!
He Is Risen, Alleluia!
He is Risen, Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Beautiful blooms


Beautiful flowers.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Easter flowers


Easter flowers.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Beware the curse of the gypsies

      This is how I imagine it happened. A group of gypsy women wandered by as I, a newborn babe but already showing the promise of genius, lay in my mother's arms. (Yes, I know we were in a hospital, but trust me, in any hospital today, much stranger things happen than gypsies wandering by.)
      Sprinkling some magic dust on me, the first gypsy said, "What a lovely child. He will be handsome, brilliant, charming, witty and extremely modest."
      And the second gypsy said, "Now that you have blessed him, I must curse him."
      "Why must you curse him when I have blessed him?" the first gypsy asked.
      "Because I am Republican," the second gypsy says, throwing some more dust on me. "I curse you with ... curiosity!"
      The third gypsy stepped forward, but before she could say anything, hospital security showed up and made them leave. But it was too late. I had already been cursed with curiosity.
      I've always wanted to know everything. When I was younger and was misbehaving, my mother would tell me sternly, "If you don't stop, something terrible is going to happen to you." I would always ask, "What?" She would then proceed to impart the information to the business end of my body which somehow never seemed to appreciate my mind's thirst for new knowledge.
      As a small child, I questioned everything. I would point up and ask, "What's that?"
      "The sky," my mother would reply.
      "Why is it blue?" I'd ask.
      "Because God wanted it blue," she'd say.
      "Why?"
      "Oh, look, there's a puppy," my mother would say in an attempt to distract me. "See, it wants to play."
      "Why?"
      "Because it likes little boys."
      "Why?"
      "I don't know," she'd say evenly and then make my sister play with me.
      My curse hung with me through school and college where it must have driven my teachers mad. If an English teacher quoted someone, I wanted to know who he or she was, when he said what he said and why was it being quoted. If a math professor shared the Pythagorean theorem with the class, I wanted -- well, actually in math, I usually wanted to know how to get out of that class as soon as possible. You would think that such curiosity would only enhance my education; explain to me why then I got such strange looks in sex education class. On second thought, don't.
      My personal life also suffered from my curse. If something was wrong with a relationship I was in, I wanted to know what the problem was. I used to ask girls that I dated what they disliked about me. One girl broke me of the habit when she pulled out several sheets of paper and said that she had been taking notes on just that subject -- in shorthand.
      Some short-sighted people who do not understand the workings of a curse have accused me of being "nosy." This is untrue. Like I told my girlfriend the time she caught me going through her dresser, I simply have the instincts of a born journalist.
      "That's the problem!" she said as she tossed a vase, a mirror, several books and a footstool at me. "You have all the instincts!"
      "Why is that a problem?" I said, ducking (a fowl thing to do, I know -- sorry, I just felt punny all of a sudden).
      "Because everything you know, you tell!" She grabbed an easy chair, but I escaped out the window before she could strain her back -- something for which she did not thank me later.
      Besides being ungrateful, she was also mistaken. There are many things I know that I don't tell. For instance, I know my Aunt Ingrid wears a wig and is completely bald because of a threshing machine accident when she was young, and I haven't told anyone about it.
      It's hard to be cursed. If it wasn't for the first gypsy's gifts of intelligence, good looks, wit, charm and extreme modesty (I'm very proud of my modesty), I don't know how I could handle it.
      And for some reason, I'm not at all curious about what you're thinking right now. Isn't that odd.

Copyright 2005. All right reserved.

Carnation


Scanned carnation.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The dangers of chivalry

      Before I go on another date, I want to know up front the answer to a important question that can mean the difference between a good relationship and one that shows up on Jerry Springer: Am I expected to open doors for her or not? You wouldn't think that would be much of a mystery. You'd be wrong.
      Let me explain by first taking a brief look at chivalry. Many people think chivalry is dead. Many people also voted for Al Gore. You can't trust many people.
      Anyway, chivalry started in the days of the knights. It was easy to be chivalrous then. The ladies were dressed in heavy, billowing gowns, and the men were dressed in heavy, shiny armor. Since it typically took both men and women two hours to get dressed, neither sex was all that excited about taking anything off. Not to mention that the weight of their clothes and armor tended to put a strain on the back and thus the ardor. So ladies and knights went around sighing with unspoken love and swooning with passion or sometimes sunstroke.
      Ever so often, a lady would give her knight an article of her clothing -- usually a perfumed handkerchief. The knight would then place it in his gauntlet and sniff it now and then. (This was, of course, before the invention of hair-spray and glue, two products that would sweep the sniffing market by storm in the 15th century.)
      He sniffed for two reasons: one, to remind him of his lady-love, and two, they didn't have deodorant then. After a hard day knighting in that hot armor, a knight smelled pretty rank. (Their odor explains why some knights could kill several men with one blow. The knights had to lift their arms to swing their swords. With a good wind behind them, they could wipe out a whole troop.)
      All that sighing, swooning, knighting and sniffing left little time for loving. As a result, the knights and their ladies died out. Fortunately, enough commoners and serfs existed to keep humanity going.
      As you can tell, chivalry was easy then. All the ladies had to do was be beautiful and lay in a large supply of handkerchiefs, and all the men had to do was kill a few dragons and bully some serfs. What could be simpler?
      Times have changed since then. For one thing, it's practically impossible to find a serf, even for Republicans. For another, women have struggled to win an equal place in society, and some of them feel that chivalry is just a way to keep women downtrodden.
      A couple of days back, I took a woman to dinner. At the restaurant, I jumped out of my car and went over to her side to open the door. She reached for her purse and opened her door at the same time. The door struck me directly on my knees, pinning me against the truck parked beside us.
      Still not looking up, she decided the door was caught on something (she thought it might have been her seatbelt, she told me later) and pushed harder. I would have yelled but couldn't draw in enough air to breathe. She even closed the door and opened it a couple more times, baffled by its refusal to swing wide. Less you think I was enjoying becoming a decal on the truck, I must explain that I couldn't walk and would have fallen except for the truck's mirror, which luckily was buried in my kidneys and holding me up.
      She finally got out of the car and asked, "What were you doing?"
      "I was opening the door for you," I said through teeth gritted with pain.
      "Why?" she asked.
      "It's how a man shows a woman he's dating that he respects her," I said.
      "It sounds like you think women are weaklings that need to be taken care of and kept in the kitchen," she said. "I can open my own doors, thank you very much, and I can make my way in the world without a man to guide me!"
      "So does that mean that you want to pick up the check or should we just share it?" I asked.
      "Does that mean you don’t want to kiss me goodnight?" she snapped.
      We'll close the curtain on that date other than to mention that she really knew how to fight and I was lucky to get away with most of my hair. Anyway, my point -- at least I think it was my point -- is that chivalry isn't dead; it just has fallen and can't get up.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Yet another scanned flower


Yet another scanned flower.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Another scanned flower


Another scanned flower.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Cool!

      51313 Harbor Street was chosen as Blog of the Day by Gill of Sometimes It's Peaceful. Thanks, Gill. Your blog has good reading on it, too.
      In things not so cool, E.R. is currently hosting a hot and getting hotter debate on Terri Schiavo. When I posted a link to Holly Lisle's article about Terri, I wasn't attempting to start a debate here or over there. I just thought the article was excellent.
      I've watched these Net debates over the years at various sites. Nothing ever gets decided, and usually people get their feelings hurt. I choose to avoid flame wars on my blog and will cheerfully delete comments that I think go over the top. Of course, E.R. has a different approach to his blog than me. He welcomes debate, and his blog has a public meeting feel to it. Mine is more sedate and peaceful, like a welcoming harbor after a hard day at the sea of life. Or something like that but not so dorky. I will say this: While I don't always agree with E.R., I always admire his way of expressing himself. And ever so often, he puts his finger right on the problem.
      In book news, we're not going to talk about it. Don't press me! I feel rather cornered about the whole thing, and I might bite. But at least I'm not having to wade through 900 pages. (See Silent Bounce for a photo of 900 pages of manuscript. Makes my eyes hurt just to think about it.)
      And on that note, good night.

Fair use primer

      E.R. mentioned "fair use" in his blog, and I think it might be worthwhile to look at fair use and how it relates to copyright. This is all general information, and if you have a fair use question, contact your attorney for advice, but this should give you a start in what it's all about.
      Many people use the good faith fair use defense if they're accused of copyright infringement. Basically it says that if the person who copied material reasonably believed that what he or she did was a fair use, then they shouldn't be held liable.
      Sounds simple, eh? If I think it's fair use, then it is. Not so fast. The courts use a test for determining fair use. They generally look at these four factors:
      1. What is the character of the use?
      2. What is the nature of the work to be used?
      3. How much of the work will you use?
      4. What effect would this use have on the market for the original or for permissions if the use were widespread?
      Let's look at each one briefly. First, what is the character of the use? The courts have usually found that if your use is nonprofit, educational or personal, such as criticism, review, commentary, news reporting etc., then the use is fair. (There's a catch in this, and it's the answer to number 4. We'll get to that in a moment.) But if you're making money off your use, then your use is probably not fair use.
      Second, what is the nature of the work to be used? If you use material that is fact and is already published, say in a newspaper, then the courts are more prone to find the use as fair. But if the material you used is imaginative (novel, play and so on) and/or unpublished, then the courts look harder at the use.
      Third, how much of the work will you use? You use just a bit of a work, then it's probably going to be ruled fair use, depending on number 4, of course. You quote the whole article, as did my commenter, then you've probably infringed. Quoting just a few lines from a song can be a substantial part of the work, but a few lines from a book are not.
      Fourth, and this is the big one that leads to so many court cases, if your use of this material was widespread, what effect would it have on the market for the original? Why is this one so big? Here's an example: You work for a newspaper and receive an advance copy of a book about a former president. The book is a fairly common biography of the former president except it says the president was actually a cross-dressing woman. You review the book and reveal this fact. Now, according to factor one, it's fair use because you are reviewing the book. Not so fast, bucky. That bombshell may be the major selling point of the book, and you've revealed it before the book was released to the general public. If the book sells well, then you're okay, but if the book sells poorly, the book's publisher is going to come looking for you with a whole posse of lawyers. Good luck.
      In other words, if your use damages the owner's ability to make money off the work, then it's probably not a fair use. This is the one that keeps attornies making so much money because it's hard to determine what that damage is or even if there is any. In our example of the presidential biography, let's say the book is badly written and very dry, not a commercial property at all. The book sells poorly. Is it because of your review or because of the writing?
      Fair use is complicated, and this only covers the very beginning. The best thing you can do before using other person's material is to look at those four questions and answer them honestly. If you have any doubts at all about your use, then get thee to a lawyer! It might keep you from having to appear in court.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Copyright

      I received an email this evening asking that I remove a comment from my blog. The anonymous commenter had quoted extensively from another blog, which is copyrighted. The owner of the material asked that I remove the material. I did so immediately.
      I was curious about how the owner knew the material was on my blog so quickly since it had only been posted this evening. He replied that the "borrower" had sent him an email telling that he was going to borrow it. The borrower didn't ask permission, simply informed the owner of what he was doing.
      The owner uses his blog to make money. He draws people to his blog by having exclusive material. He has advertisers. So he wants to protect his material. He said that a link would have been okay, but not this outright "theft of my words."
      I certainly agree with him on that. (I didn't agree with the quoted material at all.) There is a strange notion on the Net that if it's posted, then it's fair game. That's not how it works. Copyright is copyright is copyright. Just because the commenter attributed the words to the owner, did not make the stealing okay. It's one thing to interview a person and then quote them. It's quite another to steal their words from their writing.
      The owner wants to make money from his blog. His content is his product. The commenter stole the owner's product, thus lessening the worth of the owner's blog. It's a money thing. But even if it wasn't, stealing other people's images, words and other content is wrong. And as a writer myself, I'm always going to side with the creator.
      For people who have trouble with this: If you paint a picture or build a chair or sew a jacket, is it okay for me to steal those items from your house? If so, please send me your address as soon as possible. I need a few things.

Scanned flower


I placed this flower on my scanner, scanned it and then used Photoshop to turn the background black.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

A different slant

      Holly Lisle has an intelligent and interesting slant on the Terri Schiavo case over on her blog. It's worth reading. Click here for the article. I hope the federal judge follows Holly's reasoning.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A nice surprise

      I had a nice surprise this afternoon. Mikey and Mikay and their parents stopped by on their way from Texas. We had a nice visit and went out to eat at a local Mexican restaurant. I got to play with both Mikey and Mikay. The only thing wrong with it was that it was over too soon.
      Hello continues to refuse to let me upload photos. I've been to their support forums, and it's a systemwide problem. I hope that they fix the problem Monday when they return to work. I have several photos of Mikey, Mikay and flowers that I want to post. Naturally when I didn't have any photos, Hello worked. Go figure.
      It's been an odd weekend. One of those ones where I felt disconnected from the world. I've felt this way many times before, this standing one step removed from all that goes around me. Feeling like I'm just a step behind or ahead or to side of everyone else. In a way, I think it's part of what makes me a writer. The observer, the outsider that watches. That small voice that catalogues everything and seeks the plot of life.
      I remember this feeling from my childhood. I learned early on how to pay attention while doing something else so that adults would think they could talk freely. And they did. I'd take their words describing things I didn't understand, and I'd turn them around in my head, try to see if I could puzzle out what they meant. I could feel the currents, but I was on the shore, watching the river run.
      Someone asked me if I wrote myself into my books. I said that I didn't, but maybe a bit. The main character in Dragons Gather is an observer at first. He's so discouraged with life that he drifts along, not paying attention. His life is passing him by, but he doesn't care. Why should he? And then love -- unexpected, powerful, dangerous and joyous -- enters his life, and he starts waking up. It might be too late for him, but at least at the end he will be living his life rather than observing it.
      So maybe there's a bit of me in him. I observe, but unlike him, I realized it long ago, and use it to fuel my writing. And when I'm lost in a moment of love, I hold on as tightly as I can before the current takes it on.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

9=10&11

      It became painfully obvious today that Chapter Nine is going to become Chapters Ten and Eleven. And the old Chapter Ten will probably become Chapters 12 and 13. Sigh. I don't think I'm going to have to throw any words out at least. Over the course of this book, I've already thrown out about a third of what I've written. That gets depressing.
      I scanned a flower tonight. I thought it turned out well, but Hello won't let me post it. If it's not Blogger giving me problems, it's Hello. I think the cybergods are unhappy. Maybe we should sacrifice Bill Gates to them. Anyway, I'll try to post it tomorrow.
      I'm worn out so I'm going to call it a night. Y'all take care, ya hear!

Friday, March 18, 2005

I hate Chapter Nine

      I hate Chapter Nine of my book. Have I mentioned that? If I can just get past it, the book smoothes out. The problem with Nine is that it has a huge block of exposition that chokes the story. It's like I've picked up a ruler and started lecturing my readers about the Develenon Empire and its cities and politics.
      When you write a play, you give your environment exposition -- the set directions -- right up front. You tell the director and set designer how the set should look and then you forget about it. The rest of the play is action and dialogue. It works because the audience never sees those directions. They just see the set.
      Many older books used a form similar to that. You'd get several pages of exposition, and then the action would start. For that matter, older plays did it, too, usually with a couple of servants talking and explaining the backstory to each other and to the audience before the main characters entered. French plays were known for this.
      Modern plays don't do that anymore. Audiences won't sit through it. Likewise, modern books don't do it ... much. This seems to be a particular failing of huge fantasy novels. I just started one in which the first eight pages (!) are filled with nothing but a well-written but tiresome description of the countryside and castle. I confess to having skipped a couple pages of it.
      I start my book with a fairly large info-dump, but those of you who have read the first chapter probably didn't notice it, or at least no one has mentioned it to me. I was able to hide the exposition in the action. The circus's flight from the doomed town of Duntann allows me to tell my readers a lot as well as keep the action going.
      Nine represents a turning point in the book, where the story leaves the road and enters a city where the circus will face greater danger. It's a new environment and hold new perils. But the reader needs to understand those perils, needs to experience this city as it is a foretaste of the ancient city that circus eventually travels to.
      Nine is also the beginning of the new material that replaced the old. It has to join the old with the new. Of course, I went back to the earlier chapters and added new material all along so that this new material doesn't come out of thin air, but Nine still carries a burden.
      Oh, I hate Ten, too. Eleven, I can handle and enjoy, and all those that follow (12-25) seem to work okay. But Nine is trying to kill me, and Ten is waiting to bury me.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Mikey plays football


Football in the kitchen. Lots of fun!
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Rest in peace

Andre Norton passed away early today. I have loved her books for years. She woke a lifelong love of fantasy and science fiction in me. I owe her a debt of gratitude that I can never repay. She will be missed.

Andre Norton
February 17, 1912 - March 17, 2005


This is her obituary from CNN.

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- Science fiction and fantasy author Andre Norton, who wrote the popular "Witch World" series, has died. She was 93.

Her death was announced by friend Jean Rabe, who said Norton died Thursday of congestive heart failure at her home in Murfreesboro, a Nashville suburb.

Norton requested before her death that she not have a funeral service, but instead asked to be cremated along with a copy of her first and last novels.

Born Alice Mary Norton on February 17, 1912, in Cleveland, she wrote more than 130 books in many genres during her career of nearly 70 years. She used a pen name -- which she made her legal name in 1934 -- because she expected to be writing mostly for young boys and thought a male name would help sales.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America recently created the Andre Norton Award for young adult novels, and the first award will be presented in 2006.

"She was wonderful with new or younger writers," said Jane Jewell, executive director of SFWA. "On many occasions, she worked with new writers and collaborated with them on novels to help them get started."

Her first novel, "The Prince Commands," is set in a mythical European kingdom and tells of a young nobleman who returns from exile to stop a communist takeover of his homeland. It was published in 1934 when Norton was 22. The "Witch World" series, which details life on an imaginary planet reachable only through hidden gateways, included more than 30 novels.

She was the first woman to receive the Grand Master of Fantasy Award from the SFWA in 1977, and she won the Nebula Grand Master Award in 1984.

Her last complete novel, "Three Hands of Scorpio," is set to be released in April. Norton's publisher, Tor Books, rushed to have one copy printed so that the author, who had been sick for almost a year, could see it.

"She was able to hold it on Friday," Jewell said. "She took it and said, 'What a pretty cobalt blue for the cover.' "

Norton spent most of her life in Cleveland, where she worked as a librarian from 1932 to 1950, except for a brief stint in the 1940s when she ran her own bookstore in Mount Ranier, Maryland, and worked at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Norton and her mother, Bertha Stemm Norton, who also served as her in-house proofreader and editor for decades, moved to Winter Park, Florida, in 1966 for their health. Norton moved to Tennessee in 1996 because she wanted to start a library for genre writers and didn't like the population explosion in Florida. She found a farm in rural Monterey, about 85 miles east of Nashville.

But the hills of east Tennessee were too isolated for her and her assistant, Rose Wolf. A friend helped them find the house in Murfreesboro.

She established The High Hallack Genre Writer's Research and Reference Library in 1999 on a quiet residential street in the town about 30 miles southeast of Nashville. High Hallack is the name of a country in "Witch World."

Norton opened the library in a converted three-car garage as a retreat where authors could research ancient religions, weaponry, mythology or history that they need to bring their stories to life. The library included biographies, diaries, histories, science books -- almost anything a writer might need to craft a realistic setting on any world in any time.

The library closed in 2004 as Norton's health failed.

Blogger blues again

      I'm thinking seriously about leaving Blogger. The performance over the past couple of weeks has been really bad. I've always liked Blogger, but it seems the problems just keep getting worse. It won't let me post or takes forever to post when it lets me on. Comments are strictly a hit and miss affair. I know their engineering teams are working on these widespread problems, but it just seems to be getting worse. I've been looking around at a few other places to host my blog. It's not something I want to do, but to save time and effort, it might be best. Or maybe Blogger will get itself fixed. I'd be happy with that, too. If any of my readers have suggestions on blogging hosts, let me know -- if you can comment, which is by no means certain.
      Speaking of photos -- we weren't, but now we are -- Space.com has some cool space wallpaper for your computer monitor. They have the wallpapers in various formats. I have one of their images on my computer monitor at work. Here at home, I have images from Webshots. I've had Webshots for a long time, and I recommend it. I have a free account with them, which does have some restrictions, but none that I can't live with. They have some remarkable photos. Their site has a few pop-ups and other ads, but overall, I've found it to be a good service.
      I tried to post a photo of Mikey, but Blogger didn't let me do it. I'll try later today or this evening.
      I hope you all have a great day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Yesterday

      We had a wonderful time with Mikey. He's a bright boy, mischievous and funny. He likes to play and likes to play all the time. He also likes to be read to. One of his favorite books is Where is Baby's Belly Button? WBBB has flip up pages that reveal various things that the book asks you to find. My sister gave him the book for Christmas, and he remembers that and always reminds me that she did. We also have a Winnie the Pooh book that he enjoys because it plays various sounds and he gets to push the buttons. It's a cool feeling to read to him. I'm hoping that he will love books as much as I do.
      We took him to McDonalds for a Happy Meal at lunch. Naturally he didn't eat much of it; instead we went outside and watched him play on a twisty tube playset that McDonalds has in a fenced area in front of their building. He had a grand time, climbing, running and waving to us from the various plastic windows. Once he bumped his head, and we could hear him crying. There's no way I could fit into those tubes, so I was trying to figure out how to reach him when he finally appeared from the tube slide, tears on his little face and rubbing the owie on the top of his head. He needed some kisses and hugs, and then he was ready to play some more.
      We drove home, and he fell asleep as I sang "The Ants Come Marching Down," a new favorite of his. After a nap, he watched Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico (truly the best of the Scooby-Doo video collection), played with his cars on the coffee table and finally ate some of his Happy Meal. Then we played basketball in the kitchen. (Yes, I know, but it's a house of guys and we do things like that.) Eventually it was time for him to go home, my least favorite part of his visits. The house always seems darker and sad when he's not there. Well, that's life. I wouldn't give up any of my time with him to avoid the sadness when he leaves.
      I intended to blog last night, but my Internet provider was down. So I read a little, wrote on my book and went to bed earlier than usual as I was tired. Mikey takes a lot of effort just to keep up with him. I think I'd be in much better shape if he lived with me all the time.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Spring green


More spring greenery.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Hurray!

      Mikey's coming to visit tonight! He'll stay with us tonight and go back home tomorrow night. I'm excited about getting to see him. We haven't had him since early January due to me being sick. My roomie will pick him up after work today. So I thought I'd better blog this morning since it's unlikely he will give me the time to do so tonight.
      I'm still working on my book. Chapter Nine remains a problem. It covers the transition from the old material to the new material. I think that I tried to stuff too much into it as it seems rushed and underdeveloped. I suspect I have two chapters there or even three. This week I will work on straightening it out and making the narrative flow. I've been doing a read-through and have found some minor plot problems as well as some useless and over-blown dialogue. I'm deleting and fixing. Nothing major so far. And I've been pleased overall with what's there. At least it doesn't make me cringe.
      Not much to tell you about my health. I'm doing better. I'm hoping for normalcy this week. My doctor has to make an appointment with a specialist for the lupus screening. I'll let you know about that when I know more. I have doubts that I have it, but maybe it's just that I don't want to have it. We'll see how it goes.
      I'm back on Weight Watchers again. I never really left it, but while I was sick, I ate what I could keep down and didn't worry about the diet points. Because I had such a reduced appetite, I didn't gain anything and even lost a couple more pounds, but now that I'm feeling better, I can feel old habits creeping back. I've worked too hard to lose this weight to gain it back. And I want to lose 60 more pounds by year's end. That's probably more than I can or even should in that amount of time, but that's the goal.
      I got outside in the sun and was able to take a few photos yesterday. I'll be sharing them and hope to have more as spring finally takes hold here.
      Trixie's been cleaning her house. Wish I could get her to clean mine. It needs dusting, vacuuming and general all-around decluttering. I have too many books. Way too many. But I don't want to give them up. Is there a 12 step program for bookaholics?
      Speaking of books, my local library had their used book sale this weekend. Thousands of books for 50 cents to $2. I always feel sort of funny about buying used books. It doesn't bother me to buy the older ones, the ones no longer in print or ones that I would never buy new anyway, but when I see a new book from an author I like, it gives me pause. I know they don't get any money from my purchase of their works, and I wonder how I would feel to have my book sold on an used book table.
      The local bookstore has a remainder table where you can pick up new books for pennies on the dollar. I think that it would hard to see your book there. But then I think, hey, at least if I saw a book of mine on the remainder table, I would have been published.
      Crystal, who home-schools her son, is tackling evolution. Her son, a creationist, wants to learn more about it. I confess that, despite my varied and avid scientific interests, I have no interest in the theory of evolution. I read articles about it in the various science magazines, and it seems they're always trumpeting some new "important" discovery. I always wonder, Important to who? Looking around in the world, I can't see that evolutionary theory has done much improve mankind. It doesn't seem to help cure disease or grow more food or much of anything other than keep a few scientists employed and keep their grant money flowing. Perhaps I'm missing the big picture.
      Many people like to use the theory of evolution as a way to say there is no God. I've always found that argument to be intellectually insipid. You can't use science to solve spiritual questions just as you can't use religion to solve scientific questions. Religion and science address different concerns. Religion looks for the infinite and unknowable while science looks for the finite and knowable. Mixing the two simply means you don't much about either.
      Let me confess to something: I have a prejudice against atheists. I play chess online a lot. We chat during the game a bit, some more than others. It's a way of learning about your opponent, of gauging what he or she will do in a game based on what they tell you about their lives. The other day, I was playing a young man, who -- having read my profile -- decided to rattle me by talking about his belief that there were no God. What he didn't understand was that as soon as he said it, I thought, "Ah, not very bright." I checkmated him shortly thereafter. (Having said that, I fully expect to lose every game from now on to smart atheists.)
      Why do I think that atheists are not bright? Because they have no evidence to support their claim. The most a scientist can say and be precise is that, since he or she can recognize no evidence that God exists (and yes, I see my religious readers jumping up and down now, but bear with me) then the question is unanswered. Saying you're an agnostic, that at least I can respect as intellectually sound.
      The reason I thought my religious readers would be jumping up and down is that they want to address the evidence question. And many of them would doubtless point out the existence of the universe itself, flowers, animals, humans, etc. as evidence of God's existence. I accept those also, but realize that leads to questions of "intelligent design" and "directed evolution." Someone else can debate those. The most compelling evidence for me is spiritual evidence, not physical evidence. Physical evidence can always be explained away; spirtual evidence cannot be.
      And what do I consider spiritual evidence? Not miracles or visions, although I believe they happen. My evidence is something more personal. I know God exists because I can feel Him in my life. Naturally I lose my scientific readers at this point. They're shaking their heads in pity at my maudlin attempt to present feelings as evidence. I won't debate them on this as it would just waste our time, but I want to point something out. You can take a person and dissect them to his or her molecules. Take an electron microscope then and look further at our various particles, but you won't find a single bit of love or freedom or a hundred other things that we humans know are real and that we use to create our world and our lives. There is a point where science ends and God begins. To believe otherwise implies an arrogance unjustified by our knowledge.
      Well, I certainly didn't intend to discuss all this. This is what comes from blogging early in the morning. And now I must get ready for work. Y'all have a great day!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Spring flowers


Spring daffodils on my street.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Blogger boo-boos

      Is it just me or has Blogger been batty this past few days? I wish they'd get the problems fixed. It's hard to comment, hard to post, nothing wants to open, etc. It's driving me crazy. Which is strange when you consider that a couple of years ago, I didn't even know what a blog was. Amazing, but I still want Blogger to get its problems fixed.

Now is the time ...

      I want to speak out for a right that is being threatened now. A fundamental right of all human beings that they should be allowed to pursue without government hindrance. A basic human right that we all -- white, black, Native American, Hispanic, cannibal, Martian, everyone -- should support. I'm talking about dumpster diving.
      If you're unfamiliar with dumpster diving, it's the practice of looking in a dumpster and finding and keeping perfectly good items that other people have thrown away, i.e. lamps, furniture, Rush Limbaugh's morals, Michael Moore's ethics, clothes and so on.
      Many towns have passed ordinances to ban dumpster diving. They cite safety and health concerns. But dumpster divers know the truth: They don't want you finding free stuff because then you won't spend money at the local stores and they won't receive the sales tax.
      Mind you, I don't DD much myself, despite how my clothes appear. (I think a certain rumpled look is part of my overwhelming charm, and that smell is my cologne, thank you very much.) But I've cast a glance at a dumpster when I see something particularly interesting and have picked up a few things. And I know people who have found many good usable items in the dumpsters behind the apartments of college students.
      Many graduates -- moving away to start what they think are going to be promising careers, and boy, are they in for a surprise -- frequently discard items that they simply don’t want to move. Of course, they're thinking, "Hey, I'll just buy new ones with all my money from my fabulous job." One could feel sorry for them if they weren't such little snots.
      As for health concerns, most dumpsters are cleaner than the average teenager's bedroom. Usually much cleaner depending on the teenager and how much the parents are willing to nag.
      Some people are horrified by the idea of taking things out of a dumpster. It's beneath their dignity. Those same people will turn up their pointed noses at a dumpster, but they are willing to paw gleefully through a yard sale. And trust me, a yard sale is only one step away from a dumpster. (A tag sale is two steps away while an auction is often the same thing. An estate sale is like a yard sale, but someone had to die for it.)
      For instance, the stuck-up Simmonets called the police on me when I was going through their stuff. Admittedly it wasn't in the dumpster yet, but they would have emptied out that bedroom soon enough.
      A new twist has developed in the dumpster diving saga in the past few years. Criminal dumpster divers collect personal information on bank and credit card statements, business records and so on. They use this information to open accounts in other people's names, and then they have a good time until the FBI knocks on their door and gives them an all-expense paid vacation where they meet lots of new tattooed friends similar to the people who attend political conventions, but more polite and less smelly.
      Speaking of politics, I attempted to find out what the major political parties' positions on DD are. I telephoned the Republican National Committee headquarters (202-863-8500) and asked them what the Republican's stand was on dumpster diving. A polite man thanked me for calling, told me to vote Republican and then hung up. I then called the Democratic National Committee headquarters (202-863-8000) and asked them what their stand was. A polite woman thanked me for calling, told me to vote Democrat and hung up. (I bet if I were Dave Barry, they'd talk to me.)
      I enjoy my occasional DDing and I don't intend to give it up. As our Founding Fathers (would have) said (if dumpsters existed when they lived): "Now is the time for all good DDers to come to the aid of their dumpsters! Unite!"

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Randall with two hot babes


Randall with two hot babes on one of his SCUBA trips. Photo used by permission. Copyright 2005 Randall.

Happy Birthday Randall!

      It's Randall's birthday today! He's down there in Dallas. I won't tell his age, especially since I'm a few months older than he is. Randall's been my friend since college. Since we're guys, we don't spend much time discussing feelings, but I'll bend that unwritten rule a bit because it's his birthday and tell you that he's a cool guy, quirky, honest and loyal. I'm glad to have him as a friend. So happy birthday dude! May you have many more with lots and lots of hot babes.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Solution to "Tomorrow Never Comes"

      I was going to wait until Friday, but I think we're ready for the answers now.
      Inspector Tandy knew Fretta Jones was murdered because there was no chair or any other object on which for her to stand in order to hang herself. (The bed was in the corner, away from the center of the room.) Someone had to lift her up to allow the rope to be placed around her neck.
      The police arrested Arnold Smythe for the murder. The room was dark. The street outside was well-lighted. He could not have seen into the room. The window would have been as reflective as a mirror. This is the principle behind one-way mirrors. When confronted, Smythe confessed. His motive was he stole Jones’s insurance money to pay for drugs.
      Hats off to Michelle and Randall, detectives extraordinary.
      Inspecter Dandy Tandy will return.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Realization

      I realized something about my book tonight. It explains a lot about how hard this has been. To wit: I don't want the book to end. Not because I'm so in love with the story, but when it's finished and edited, then it has to be sent off to various agents and publishers. And some of them are going to reject it.
      Dragons Gather is my best writing to date. In it, I finally found my voice. I've felt my writing skills grow. I've grown. I feel like I can say "I'm a writer" and not be a fraud. And at the back of my mind is the thought that if this is rejected, where do I go from here? I've written three books already. They're out there getting rejected even as I write this, but somehow it didn't seem hard to send them out. Sure, the first rejections stung, but none of them kept me from writing the next book.
      This one is different. I'm not sure if I can get much better than what this book is. I'm pushing myself further, and I might be reaching my limits. I'm not saying I am or that I can't continue to grow, but a doubting voice whispers in my ear in the quiet.
      So sometimes, when the words are hard or when I just seem to lack the willpower to apply myself to the keyboard, it might be that I'm trying to not finish this book. Because as long as it's unfinished, I don't have to face those rejections.
      I guess this is where I discover if I have the guts to be a published author. Because one thing is certain, if I don't sent it out, it never will be published.

Monday, March 07, 2005

"Tomorrow Never Comes" -- A Dandy Tandy Mystery

      "When was she found?" asked Inspector Daniel 'Dandy' Tandy, walking down the shabby and dimly lit hall of the Ryton Arms Hotel.
      "Around nine-thirty tonight," Sergeant Norton replied, checking his notebook. "She was supposed to pay the manager, one Arnold Smythe, some back rent at eight. When she didn't show up, Smythe went knocking at her door. He went outside to look through the window, and when he did, he saw her and called us. We used his passkey to get in. I tell you, it was a shock when I turned on the lights."
      Tandy paused at the door and looked around the sparsely furnished room which until that night had been occupied by Freatta Jones, 25, clerk at Gus's Gas'n'Go. A neatly made bed leaned against one wall. A nightstand held a telephone, a phone book and a tabloid newspaper. One tiny window looked out on a well-lit street. An old bureau with a couple of broken drawers completed the room’s d├ęcor.
      Jones's body had already been taken away, but the old-fashioned iron light fixture from which she had been hanging jutted from the ceiling in the room's center.
      Flipping through his notes, Norton continued. "Smythe said Jones seemed depressed for the past few days. He thinks she had broken up with her boyfriend."
      "Boyfriend?" Tandy asked. He walked into the room and looked up at the light fixture. He walked over to the bed and looked at the faded covers.
      "A thug by the name of Brace Colings," Norton said. "He's had a few run-ins with the law. Petty theft and such. A couple of DUI tickets before he lost his license. You wouldn't figure that a girl would off herself over a loser like him."
      "She didn’t," Tandy said. "She was murdered." He looked at Norton. "I want to talk to Smythe. And send some men to pick up Colings."
      A few minutes later, Tandy and Norton were in Smythe's room at the Arms.
      "I needed her rent, but I didn't think she would do somethin' like that," Smythe said nervously. "I mean, she just was a couple of months behind."
      Tandy nodded and then said, "Tell me what happened."
      "Well, like I told the other cops, she was supposed to pay me some rent," Smythe said. "She was 'posed to get some money from an insurance company from a car wreck she was in, a couple of thousand or so. She said she'd get it today and pay me at eight o'clock. When she didn't show up, I waited and then I went lookin'. It was a terrible thing I saw."
      Tandy asked Norton, "Did you find any money?"
      "Just a few dollars," Norton replied.
      "She probably lied about the money," Symthe said. "I hear all sorts of stories. They're always going to pay me tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes."
      "Where were you when you saw her?" Tandy asked. "How far from the window?"
      "I had just walked around the corner," Smythe shrugged. "Twenty, thirty feet or so. I didn't want to get any closer."
      Tandy nodded. "So you couldn't have seen anyone else in the room."
      Smythe seemed startled. "Well, no."
      "Did you see anyone else outside?"
      "Just an old man walking his dog," Smythe said. "He lives across the street. I don't know his name."
      It took knocking on a few doors, but soon Tandy and Norton stood on the porch of Isaiah Paradine.
      "I always walk my dog at night," Paradine said. "It's exercise for us both." He spit tobacco juice into a cup.
      "Did you see anyone by the Ryton Arms?" Tandy asked.
      "I saw that manager guy," Paradine said. "He's an unfriendly cuss. Never says hi. Is he doing drugs?"
      Tandy looked at the elderly man. "Why are you asking about drugs?"
      "That place is full of it," Paradine said, pointing toward the Arms. "They go in and out at all times of the day. You know what kind of women they have over there! This town would be a lot safer if someone would burn it down. Nothing but trouble over there. It drives down property values in the whole neighborhood. And the police don't do a thing!"
      "What would you like us to do?" Tandy asked mildly.
      "Stop them!" Paradine snapped. "Close them down! Before something really terrible happens!"
      "Something terrible already has," Tandy said. "Good evening."
      A half hour later, Brace Colings was at the station, angrily demanding a lawyer.
      "We won’t get anything from him," Norton said to Tandy as they watched Colings from behind a one-way glass. "All he will say is he broke up with her weeks ago and hasn't seen her since. We found him in a bar on First Street, buying drinks for everyone."
      "Why was he doing that?" Tandy asked.
      "Says he felt like it," Norton said. "We found nearly five hundred dollars on him. He says a friend owned him the money and sent it to him."
      "That friend have a name?" Tandy asked.
      "He wouldn't tell us," Norton said. "And that's when he started asking for a lawyer and threatening to sue us."
      "Charming," Tandy said dryly. He closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead. "Wait, I know who the murderer is."

How did Tandy know she was murdered? Who did Tandy arrest and why? Answers Friday.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Have I mentioned ...

      ... my Creative MuVo TX FM digital music player? It holds 258MB of music. I have hours of music on it. I recommend it highly. Perfect for when I exercise. Hey, that happens occasionally.
      ... my fantasy book, Dragons Gather, should be finished by the end of July? It's been a long, hard trip, but I see the end in sight. I lost some days due to illness, but we're back on track. Fortunately my subconscious seems to be have been at work while my conscious was occupied by groaning and spewing.
      ... I can't wait for summer? I sometimes think I'm a weather elemental. It's sunny, I'm happy; if it's not, I'm not. Well, not as happy. I think I'm a fairly happy person. Give me a few million dollars and a couple of hot blondes and I'm as happy as -- well, as a guy with a few million dollars and a couple of hot blondes.
      ... the comics that I've added at the bottom of my links? I added Foxtrot today, one of my favorite strips. Jason seems familiar to me. I don't know why.
      ... I'm feeling better? I'm not 100 percent, but maybe around 70 percent. I'm hoping that number will get higher as the week progresses.
      ... I want a maid? To clean my house, I mean. Things have got a bit out of hand over the past few weeks. Perhaps I'll just move away and leave this mess here for future archaeologists to dig through. Think what conclusions they might make. Wait, don't think about that. I might better just clean things up.
      ... it's time for me to go to bed? Night! And have a great week. I insist!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Waiting for the postman

      Where is that mailman? Doesn't he know that the sanity of a writer depends on him? I count on getting the rejections of my poems, articles and stories at a regular time each day, but does he care?
      No, he doesn't. He is completely uncaring. Right now he's eating a doughnut or perhaps rescuing someone from a burning building or something else equally unimportant.
      I think I'll get my binoculars and climb up on the roof. I can see him as he passes the Mortons' place. No, I guess I won't. I had a hard time explaining what I was doing the last time I was on the roof and Mrs. Morton called the police.
      She thought I was a Peeping Tom as if I -- who sold a complete devotional guide to The Divine Messenger -- would stoop that low.
      Come to think of it, why would she care if I was peeping? Mr. Morton's at work. Why does she care if someone spies on her? Just what is she up to?
      Maybe the next time, I will peep -- merely as an objective writer, of course. I might even be able to sell an article to True Confessions.
      WHERE IS THAT MAILMAN? Doesn't he know that I expect my mail at 1:00 sharp?
      Maybe he does know. Perhaps he's evilly enjoying my suffering. He could be a failed writer who resents my obvious genius. Or some editor who was fired because he rejected my brilliant work and now seeks his nefarious revenge.
      Or maybe he's not coming. Maybe in the mail today was a huge check for my novel, and right now he is in some bank presenting false ID so that he can cash it and run off to Aruba, never to lift a finger again as natives cater to his every whim. Oh, there I go, thinking like a Republican again.
      Perhaps I should just stop looking for him. Maybe it's like a watched pot which doesn't boil. That is not true, though, because I have watched pots boil, which is a sad commentary on my social life. But the point is that I should just stop waiting for him. I should do something productive, like write another poem or clean my house or stalk Pamela Anderson.
      And then, when I was totally involved in cleaning my tub (What is that green stuff around the drain and why does it wink at me?) he would arrive with my mail.
      That, however, takes a better person than I want to be. WHERE IS HE?!!
      I would walk up the block and look for him, but I might miss him. Besides, that's exercise, and I've taken a vow against that. Getting hot and sweating and increasing your heart rate -- sounds like a heart attack to me.
      There he is! My hero, my knight in postal uniform. Wait, don't stop to talk to her! She doesn't need her insulin shipment! Oh, fine, now she has to sign for it. Here I am, eaten up with anxiety and anticipation, and he stops just to give her some life-saving medicine. I'd write a letter to the postmaster, but who knows if it would ever be delivered?
      Finally, I snatch my mail from his hand as he goes off muttering about some "loony" on his route. Just bills, mailers, a plea for money for the Republican presidential campaign -- must have the wrong address on that, more bills, a plea for money for former President Clinton’s presidential library -- definitely have the wrong address on that, two ads for Hairclub for Men (including a gift certificate for a hair fitting sent by 'someone who cares') and a three-month- old magazine which belongs to the woman next door. Why did he even bother?

Friday, March 04, 2005

I've made my knot

      I made it to work again today. I was indisposed (don't ask; trust me) a couple of times, but overall, I did okay. Fortunately it was slow so not much was required of me, and I was able to catch up from the days I missed.
      I spoke to my medical team today; well, actually just one of them. Here's their plan for me. Over the next few days, I'll get weaned off the drugs I'm on. Then they start checking for lupus. Right now, my top priority has to be getting healthy because the drugs that treat lupus also depress your immune system so they can't give them to me while I'm fighting this creeping crud. Mind you, they don't know I have lupus. I'm hoping and praying I don't. I didn't know much about lupus when they first mentioned it to me, but over the past two days, I've learned a lot about it. (I also added a link to The Lupus Foundation of America to the left.) I definitely do not want to have it. But we'll dance over that bridge when we get to it if we have to.
      Anyway, I started work on my book again. The characters were waiting impatiently for me so we got back to it. I also paid some bills tonight and did a few other things, but don't worry. Not too much, just enough to make me feel like me again.
      My friend Kevin asked me how I was holding up emotionally and spiritually throughout this. Well, I'm reminded of that old saying: When you reach the end of your rope, make a knot and hold on.
      I'm holding on. And I'm not going to let go.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Well

      Aren't you tired of reading posts where I talk about how ill I am? Trust me, you're not as tired as I am of writing them. And no, it wasn't a cold. Let's just assume from now on that when I say "cold," I am indulging in understatement and that I am spewing from every orifice known to man.
      Truthfully the doctors are not sure what's wrong with me, but they're willing to spend every last cent I have to find out, God help them! The latest illness of the moment is lupus. Apparently I might have had lupus for years, and isn't it funny that none of my doctors over the years ever caught it! Ha ha. We'll talk about lupus and what I have to do find out if I have it and what this means when I know more myself. Presently, my medical team (I have a team!) is working on keeping my lungs clear of fluid. Important health tip: Fluid on the lungs, bad. My team is doing well, and my last X-ray revealed no fluid, but such a manly chest that two nurses offered themselves to me right then and there. And an orderly, too.
      It's been a bad couple of weeks, but today I am better, thanks to my team (I'm going to have to think of a good name for them). I'm on so much medicine now that I'm not sure if my symptoms are my illness or the side-effects of the drugs. I swear last night Superchicken and Fred accompanied me to a disco where we met Josie and the Pussycats at a shindig to raise funds to buy tires for the Mystery Machine. These are very good drugs.
      I actually went to work today. I explained to my team that I can be sick there as well as at home. There was some hesitation, but then I mentioned I needed that job to pay them, and it was green lights all the way. I did okay at work. I took a long lunch, which let me rest a bit, but I made it okay. I'm hopeful that I'm past the worst of it.
      I'm very thankful for your concern and your prayers and ask that you keep bothering God about me. I'm sorry that I couldn't let anyone know before now, but I hadn't turned my computer at home on since Sunday. Listen, you know that TECH is bad sick when he's not playing on his computer.
      I also want to say a big public thank you to my roommate. He took me to the doctor, to the emergency room, helped take care of me, went way above the duty roster of a roommate, and illustrated once again what a good, Christian man he is. Thanks, EC. If I'm ever wealthy, you will be, too.
      Good night all. God bless and someday we will rise to wondrous new world.