Wednesday, January 31, 2007

This and that but not very interesting

      Not much to post tonight. I worked, came home and wrote. That's my day. We've got freezing temps. We're supposed to get freezing rain/sleet/snow tonight. We'll see what happens. I wouldn't mind it being bad enough for me to stay home tomorrow, but I doubt that happens.
      Trixie also did Crystal's meme. Stop by there and read her interesting answers.
      Did I mention it was cold here? I want to be somewhere warm. A white sand beach sounds good. Warm ocean breezes. Sigh.
      I'm all wrote out tonight. I wrote a lot of words on Darkness, Oklahoma tonight. I need to update the word meter on it. I'll try to do that tomorrow.
      I updated the scrollies and added two new cartoons to the sidebar. Did you notice? I'm going to update the quotes tomorrow. I foudn a couple I liked.
      Anyway, that's it for today. Have a great, warm day tomorrow. Night.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Musical thoughts

      I recently watched Rent. If you like musicals, it's an okay show with a so-so storyline but several really strong songs. If it bothers you that people suddenly break into song backed up a full orchestra, naturally you won't like it.
      My family is musical. We had voice lessons when we were children and sang endlessly at church and school. I have a great appreciation for music and enjoy many musicals. Especially the great ones, like Man of La Mancha, Into the Woods, Mame, Oklahoma (naturally), Godspell, Passion, Chorus Line, Cabaret, etc.
      Frankly, I've never really trusted people who can't respond to musicals. I always wonder what they lack in their souls. How sad their worldview must be when it can't admit music and wonder in their lives. I've known many people who like to sneer at musicals. I wonder if they realize that I pity them because of all they miss, and worse, because of all they're incapable of understanding.
      Of course, we don't live in a musical world. We live in a world of senseless wars, drive-by shootings, murderer martyrs, child molesters and serial killers and a thousand horrors that we accept as being the real world. We shake our heads and boast of our wisdom and maturity as we despoil the environment and let thousands of children die each day of starvation while we stuff another Big Mac down our gaping maws as the right-wing Lauras and Rushs give us the moral justification for sitting on our big fat butts. You think I don't understand what this world is? I understand better than you ever could realize. I watch the parade of broken lives and senseless sorrows and I rage.
      So for a few minutes, I like to pretend that a better world exists somewhere where people sing of their dreams and can express their love in a song with an invisible orchestra that accompanies them on cue. I like to think that maybe dreams matter and the good guys win and we are capable of being more than stupid creatures that even shame the apes.
      Sometimes I wonder if we're the fallen angels, cast out of heaven because of our greed and selfishness, our hatred and pettiness. And that maybe that spark of heaven in our soul still longs to fly, to throw ourselves into the river of stars, to be in His overwhelming presence again. And we can't so we lift up our voices and our songs spiral up, above the clouds into the black sky and the endless light beyond.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Cold front moving in

      More cold weather is coming. Freezing rain, sleet and snow. Sigh. I need spring. Desperately. Oh, well. I guess it will come eventually.
      Work was hellish today. Too many customers who needed too many things all at once. I handled it, but it made for frantic times. And when thingscomethisfast, I worry about forgetting some important item.
      One strange experience today: One of my customers brought in a quartz crystal to give me. She said it would "drain away negative energy" and heal my back. She had me place the crystal in my hand, then she made circles over my hand while saying three times, "The creator of all will heal." I bet you haven't had that happen to you today. (And no, it didn't take away my pain or heal my back. Surely you didn't think it would.)
      She did this in front of about six other customers who were waiting for their chance to treat me badly. It did subdue them. I think they were afraid that she was a witch and I'd have her curse them. Which is a thought. Although not a good one. Still, I did have a thought and thus deserve some sort of award for it.
      Both Michelle and Frenzied Feline answered Crystal's meme that I tagged them with. Stop by their blog to read their interesting answers.
      I still haven't found a way to use the Label list from the new Blogger in my "classic" template. I'm sure it's possible. I hope someone figures it out. I can make a Label list using HTML, but it won't count the number of posts labeled with a particular label like the Widgets used by the new Blogger do.
      Anyway, not much else to tell you about today so I think I'll close. You have a great day tomorrow! Night!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A meme for today

      I'm caught up on the family newsletter! The last page of the November issue is printing even as I'm typing this. (We did the December issue in December.) Admittedly, I have to immediately start to work on the January issue, and since I won't be able to get it done before the end of January, I'll be behind again on Thursday, but for a few moments, let me enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. Okay, that's enough.
      Hey, does anyone know how to add the Label list from the new Blogger to the classic template? I tried just adding the widget listing from the new template to the old template, but it didn't work. Any help would be appreciated. I'd like to keep my current template, but it would nice to be able to add the label list.
      Crystal sent this meme around that she created. Here are my answers for those who didn't receive it.


1. Which super hero would you most likely have an affair with? Wonder Woman.

2. What show do you watch that you would be embarrassed to be seen watching? Anything on MTV or any reality show.

3. You've got an hour to waste doing anything you want -- what do you do? Write.

4. If the townspeople gathered together and ran you out of town, what would their reason be? Those insects fear my lasers and world domination plans. And they should.

5. Of all your friends, who is most likely to have been abducted by aliens? I have no idea.

6. Someone is looking at your body and says, "What is that??" What are they looking at? The scar on the left side of my chest.

7. Which monster do you most closely associate yourself with: vampire, werewolf, Frankenstein, or zombie? Vampire, I guess, but really I'm more of a mad scientist.

8. What movie title best describes your love life? Great Expectations.

9. If your life had a theme song, what would it be? "Living Again" by Cee Lo.

10. Do you have any body part pierced? No.

11. Are you easily distracted by bright, shiny objects? No.

12. If you had to wear a costume instead of regular clothes, what would you wear? Black leather duster.

13. Do you think it's weird I'm asking and answering myself these questions? Oh, yeah.

14. Who's your favorite Star Trek character? The Doctor from Voyager.

15. What animal gives you the heebie-jeebies? Republicans.

16. Do you eat the stems of broccoli? No.

17. What was something you did that could only be described as "white trashy"? Once made out with a third cousin, although I didn't know she was a cousin at the time. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

18. Did you ever do anything while you were drunk and had to learn about it from others later? No.

19. Name your top 4 fantasy vacations. Don't know, but they would involve the sun and white beaches and the blue, blue, blue waters of the ocean.

20. Name your top 4 fantasy jobs. Author, playwright, millionaire, president.

21. Would you move for the person you loved? Sure.

22. What's the ringtone on your phone? "Disarm" by Smashing Pumpkins

23. Can anyone verify your whereabouts from midnight to 5 am? Not unless I need them to.

24. What's one thing you hope to accomplish in 2007? Sell a book, lose weight, write another book. That's three things. I've always been an over-achiever.

25. Make up your own question and send it around. Can't think of one. Sorry.

      Let's see. I think I will tag Frenzied Feline, Michelle and Trixie with Crystal's meme. Have fun!
      And now it's time to get ready for work tomorrow. You have a good week. Night.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Plans on a Saturday

      Yesterday I said I'd be back tomorrow, and here I am if only to make sure I'm not a liar. But there's not much to tell you. I spent the day doing laundry and other housework, running errands and writing. I have another family newsletter (the November issue) almost ready to go. I will print it tomorrow and mail it Monday. Then I will start on the January issue and hope to finish it next week. After that, the February issue (on time for once). Then I go into rehearsal with The Vigil. Auditions for The Vigil are Monday and Tuesday, February 19 and 20. We go into rehearsal February 21. Which means I'll be living at the theater until Sunday, April 1, the last day of the production.
      The Vigil is Easter-themed. It's an interesting twist on the familiar story. The various participants in the Passion of Christ gather in a courtroom and are subjected to cross examinations as attorneys attempt to prove or disprove the resurrection of Christ. It packs quite a wallop and doesn't pull punches for either side. I won't tell you how it ends, but I think the end is surprising, particularly for when the play was written (the late 50s). The material is sound, and if I get a good cast, I think it will intrigue and surprise the audience. At least they won't be bored.
      Until that time, I will be frantically working on Darkness, Oklahoma. I am filled with urgency to complete it. When I'm not working on it, I'm thinking about it, and I find myself resenting anything that takes time from it. My books are, I think, my future, and I want that future now. And the only way I will have that future is to write, write, write.
      But it's nearly midnight now, and I'm tired. So I'm going to call it night. Y'all have a great day tomorrow. Talk to you soon.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Update & another excerpt

      I promised Crystal I'd blog tonight, but I wish I hadn't because I don't have anything to say. All I've been doing is writing on Darkness and working on the family newsletters. That and work make up my life lately. So I'll just hum a bit.
      Oh, there is this. Blogger moved this blog to the new system today. So far it seems to working other than some minor annoyances. I had attempted to change over a couple of times before, but Blogger couldn't do large blogs like this one yet. Now they have. We'll see how it works. It's not like I had a choice, anyway.
      As for the newsletters, I'm at a standstill. I'm waiting for columns from my older sister and my older brother. There are these huge empty white spaces on the pages where their writing is supposed to be. I have some minor editing to do and some formatting on the pages that are completed, and then they can be printed, but I need my sibs material to complete the issue.
      Tomorrow I'm going to write and do housework. What a jet-setter I am! It's an exciting life. Anyway, so that Crystal will have something to read, here's another excerpt. It's getting near the end of the book, and some of our heroes are trapped by revenants. Kate and Blanche are the elderly Blyman sisters. Arizona Tate and Muriel Merryman are members of their coven. Bridge is a young witch, part of another coven that raised the Bone Queen. That, of course, hasn't worked out for them. (Note: This excerpt is fairly raw and unedited. It hasn't had a polishing yet, but I thought you might enjoy it, anyway.)

Excerpt from Darkness, Oklahoma

      Kate looked at Muriel. "What was that commotion outdoors?"
      "Some people were running down the street," Muriel said. "I couldn't see anything."
      She heard Bridget scream.
      The four rushed out on the porch.
      "No!" Muriel gasped.
      "God have mercy," Arizona said.
      Horrors marched toward them. Twisted bodies walked up the street, leaving a trail of tattered clothes and rotting flesh. Skulls shone in the streetlights. A few newly killed people walked among them. Kate recognized their mailman, and wasn't that the new florist? She closed her eyes briefly, trying to find more courage in her tired heart.
      "The Bone Queen," Blanche said flatly. "Behold her power."
      "She raised the dead!" Bridget gasped. Her eyes shone greedily.
      "Don't be stupid, Bridget," Kate snapped. "She's not God. She can't raise the dead. But she can raise revenants. Re-animate their bones and put evil spirits into them."
      The revenants turned toward the Blyman house.
      "They've seen us!" Muriel said.
      "They already knew we were here," Kate said. "They can sense life. And they hate it." She felt faint, her heart hammering in her chest.
      "Do you have a gun?" Arizona asked urgently.
      "There's daddy's shotgun in the front closet," Blanche said. "The shells are on the shelf above them." Blanche looked at Kate. "We have to try to stop her, sister."
      Kate nodded, knowing how weak they still were. Kate reached out her right hand and took Blanche's left hand.
      Muriel shoved Bridget out of the way.
      The sisters stepped off the porch, hand in hand, and for a moment, Kate remembered them as children skipping hand in hand down the sidewalk.
      The revenants advanced on the house, moving slowly with terrible purpose.
      The sisters threw out their free hands. Fire answered their call, a sweep of flame that ignited rotting clothes and seared bone. The trees and shrubs burst into flames. But the revenants kept coming.
      Kate pushed herself until she began to feel herself tear inside. Blanche dropped to her knees. Kate couldn't sustain the flames by herself. The revenants came toward them, moving faster.
      "Sister, we're not enough," Kate said.
      Arizona stepped forward and started shooting.
      Muriel helped Blanche up.
      "In the house!" Kate yelled, clutching her side.
      "Help her!" Muriel snapped at Bridget. "They'll kill you, too!"
      Bridget helped Kate into the house.
      Arizona locked the front door. "That's not going to hold them."
      "The attic," Blanche said, still clinging to Muriel. "We can hold them off there."
      The five hurried up the stairs, Arizona bringing up the rear. The front door broke open as the revenants pressed against it. Arizona shot the first one, but the shotgun blast did nothing but knock it back. Silently the revenants began to climb the stairs.
      "In here!" Blanche opened the attic door.
      Muriel darted inside, followed by Blanche.
      Arizona shot again.
      "Come on," Kate said. "That's not stopping them."
      "I need explosive shells," he grunted. "That'd stop them."
      "I'll pick some up, dear, first chance I get," she said.
      She dashed into the attic, followed by the Cherokee. She locked the door behind them. "That door's solid oak, but it's not going to hold them long."
      "Help us!" Blanche said as she and Muriel pushed an old dresser toward the door.
      They all pushed it against the door.
      Kate began to pick up boxes and pass them to Arizona who put his shotgun aside to pile them onto the dresser.
      The door shook as something heavy hit it.
      Bridget screamed hysterically.
      Muriel grabbed the young witch and slapped her hard. Bridget stumbled back.
      "I wanted to do that," Kate said.
      "You can slap her next time," Muriel promised.
      "More!" Blanche said, pushing another box onto the barricade.
      The four grabbed items and piled them up.
      "Aren't you glad we don't throw anything away?" Blanche panted.
      Kate managed a short laugh.
      The door shuddered and creaked.
      The five backed further into the attic. Arizona pumped the shotgun, jacking another shell in the firing chamber. Muriel picked up a croquet mallet. Bridget ran to the far corner of the attic and pressed herself against a rafter. Blanche and Kate grasped hands. They exchanged a glance. Kate knew if they called fire again, the strain would kill them, and she knew Blanche knew that, too.
      She realized then that they could die. Would die unless some miracle took place. And there was still so much that she needed to do. Not enough time in this world, she thought. Not enough time.
      The door split open.

Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

      And I guess that will be it for tonight. I'll be back tomorrow. Y'all have a good night.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


      I don't know what to blog. Not speechless. Just tired, I guess. I've not been sleeping well. My back won't let me. I can't remember when I've slept more than three or four hours at a time. That wears you down after a while. So I'm feeling wore down.
      Maybe a bit worn down by life, too. Too many crazy and rude customers at work. Too many bills. Too many struggles with the diet. Blah, blah, blah. Enough of that.
      Hey, I should be able to pay off another credit card in May, assuming everytbing goes as planned. Then I start on the huge card. It will take me approximately 15 months to pay that one off, and then I'll be left with only my second mortgage and first mortgage. It should take a year to play off the second mortgage. That's as far as I've gone with it, but rough calcuations show that the home will be paid off in two years after that. And finally I'm out of debt. Of course, that's planning nearly five years in the future. Who knows what will happen in that time? But it's a good plan.
      Hey, I know what I'll do. I'll share a bit of Darkness, Oklahoma. Then you can rain me with praise! Yes, it's a plan.
      Okay, this is when our hero and his lady end up at her house together after dispatching a zombie in the morning and having a romantic dinner that night. Yeah, it's that kind of day for them.

Excerpt from Darkness, Oklahoma.

      Darcy couldn't really decide how they ended up in her bedroom. The dinner had been nice at The Tex-Mex Kitchen restaurant. They had talked of nothing important, carefully avoiding what had happened in the morgue. She learned that he graduated from Oklahoma State with a degree in business administration. He was forty. He had been married once nearly twenty years ago, but his wife had passed away. He didn't say how. They had no children. Darcy felt a peculiar stillness in him when he spoke of his wife.
      To change the subject, she told of her time at the University of Oklahoma Medical Sciences Center and how she followed a man to North Carolina only to break up with him when she realized that he had no intention of ever marrying her. She glossed over her departure and return to Oklahoma.
      During the meal, their eyes would meet and hold each other for a moment longer. Once Darcy reached over and patted the side of his mouth with her napkin to remove a speck of salsa. A part of her had been aghast at her presumption, but it felt natural. Her hand lingered for a moment near his lips. Her skin tingled from his warm breath.
      Back at her apartment, she asked him in for coffee. He followed her into the kitchen. She turned from the coffee maker to ask him if he wanted sugar and milk, and he stood only inches away.
      She reached up and touched the side of his face, marveling at the strength and pain she felt in him. He took her hand and looked at it intently and then kissed her palm. She shivered, then sighed.
      He pulled her to him gently, his strong arms pressing her body against his. She realized that they fit together as if they were two pieces of the same whole. She raised her face to his. Then he kissed her. She felt the room circle slowly around them. Her gifts surged, expanding out.
      He pulled back.
      "Am I going too fast?" he asked softly.
      She nodded, then shook her head. Her heart pounded, and she felt the tide of her pulse.
      "It's like I've known you forever," he said. "I --"
      She put her finger to his lips. This was the part that she couldn't remember. Did she lead him to her bedroom or did he carry her? She didn't know; yet she lived completely in the moment as it happened. They stood at the foot of her bed. She wasted a moment regretting that she hadn't made it up that evening when she crawled out of it and then forgot about it.
      She unbuttoned his shirt slowly as his hands massaged her shoulders and down her sides. His hands moved slowly and surely. She reached out and felt the slight curl of hair at the center of his chest. She slowly ran her hand down, exploring the hard muscles of his stomach, the ridges of his ribs. He shuddered. She slid her palm past his navel and found the top button of his jeans. His hand covered hers and gripped hers gently.
      He stepped back.
      "No," he said. He took a ragged breath.
      She looked at him, not understanding. His face was pale, his eyes wide. She realized he was panicked.
      "I don't understand," she said.
      "I can't," he said, gasping like he was running a race. "I didn't realize that it would be like this. I didn't realize you would be like this. So … precious." He shook his head. "I can't take the chance."
      "Chance?" she asked. She reached out with her gifts, straining to understand the pain that tormented him. Beneath his sorrow, further down, something lurked, something hidden, something repressed, but strong. Strong and wild. Powerful. Savage. She pressed further, down into the depths until she began to see the shape of that lurker. She strained. Then glowing eyes looked up and saw her!
      She gave a small cry and backed away, her hand to her mouth. "What are you?" she asked, but she already knew. She had seen the Beast -- and it had seen her.

Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

      And on that cliffhanger, good night!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Clear sky Monday

      If you've been wondering what I've been doing over the past few days -- and even if you're not -- I've been busy catching up on the family newsletters. I did the September one last week and nearly finished the October issue this weekend. If everything goes as planned, I should finish it tonight and mail it tomorrow. Then I want to do the November issue before the end of the month and make a good start on the January issue. In February, I should be able to publish the January and February issue, and finally be caught up from all the time I lost due to my back injury. If you're wondering why the schedule of the newsletters is so weird, I did the December issue out of order so that the subscribers could get it before Christmas. I'll be glad to be caught up again.
      Speaking of my back, it's better. It's not healed completely, and I have to be terribly careful when I do things because it complains, but I think it's getting stronger daily. Soon I hope to start an exercise program.
      The diet? Don't ask. No. DON'T ASK! Okay, fine, the diet isn't going well. Are you happy now? Really? That's all it took? Amazing. Well, here's some more info about it. I'm holding my own, not increasing, but not losing, either. I've identified some problems that I need to address in dieting and hope that when I can exercise, the weight loss will begin in a major way. Although I'd take it in a minor way, too.
      HEY! I got to do something at my local bookstore that I've never been able to do before. I 'faced out' books by Carolyn Hart and by Holly Lisle. What that means is that I re-arranged the books so that Dead Days of Summer by Carolyn and Talyn by Holly were facing out, i.e. displaying their covers to the buying public. I've read in other blogs about fans doing this, but this is the first time I've seen their books at the local bookstore. I've ordered both from the bookstore before and talked them up in the vain hope that I could influence the store's buying decisions, but it's a chain store and the clerks just stared at me like I was a freak. But both books were there this time so I'm hoping that my nagging did something. Anyway, I got to face out their books. I quite feel like a proper fan now, I do.
      The snow and ice are mostly gone in my town. Our streets are clear. I'm so relieved. The huge snow and ice they predicted was only rain here. Rain that we needed. I hope we get more rain. It would be wonderful if our lakes and ponds would be filled to overflowing, particularly after the terrible drought we suffered through last year.
      I just finished watching Jay Leno. I love Headlines. It's my favorite of the segments he does. I always watch it on Monday nights.
      And it's now time for bed. Have a wonderful day tomorrow. Good night!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A few tips to a new director

      It occurs to me that you might have taken leave of your senses and volunteered to direct a play. If so, I suggest you ask for Room 421 at the hospital. The padding on the walls is soft, and it's near the elevator so you get your meals swiftly.
      I've directed over 30 plays, and while that doesn't make me an expert, I thought I could share with you a few tips that might save your sanity or at least make the descent into madness more pleasant.
      First, understand that you're not going to get exactly the actor you want for a part. Meryl Streep and Harrison Ford just aren't as available as they should be. In fact, sometimes what you saw in your mind for the character will be so removed from what you get to cast that it's like the difference between jetting over the mountains compared to crossing the Continental Divide by pulling yourself along with your tongue. When this happens, take a deep breath and remind yourself that Rome wasn't built in a day. Since you're not doing anything remotely like building an Italian city, that doesn't really apply, but it's something to think about. Just cast the thing and move on because you have plenty of other problems to confront and we can't waste any more time. Hurry!
      Feel rushed? Get used to it. You won't ever have enough time to get everything done no matter when the play opens. I make a checklist and mark off each item as they're completed. I've never directed a play where I didn't have at least 10 or more items undone at opening. You have to make sure that you have the important things done, such as costumes, make-up, set, lighting, sound, blocking, special effects, etc., etc., etc. Are you making a list yet?
      Understand, too, that unless you're in professional theater -- and if you are, why are you reading this? -- you're going to have to work around the schedules of your actors. If you're lucky -- and I have been -- you will get a core cast who willingly give their time to the production. If you're not lucky, you will end up juggling schedules and rehearsals in a manner that would drive an air traffic controller to drink.
      Have I mentioned the set? You will need to make sure you have a set that has enough entrances to get your cast on and off stage. The more, the better. And you will need to decorate the set, too. Or supervise who does. Put that on your list. Right after casting.
      Next, we will have to worry about costumes. You may like Victorian drawing room plays, but it's hard to find corsets and paper collars these days. Stick with plays set anywhere in the past 25 years. Trust me. Did you put costumes on your list? Put it right after casting.
      Also, you'll need to make sure your actors have sufficient lighting to be seen by the audience. Audiences take a dim view of a pitch black stage. Put lighting on your list after casting.
      No, wait, put sound on your list after casting. The audience needs to hear your actors and the sound effects. That's very important. Special effects are important, too. Put them on your list after casting.
      We can't forget publicity. People need to know when the play is scheduled so that they can set their VCRs or DVRs to tape Desperate Housewives. You can't neglect that. Put it on your list right after casting.
      We've not even got started, but I don't want to overwhelm you. Most importantly, don't forget to reserve Room 421. Put that on your list. Right after casting.

Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Something humorous

      "You've not written anything Funny in months," Lisa complained.
      "How did you capitalize Funny like that when you were speaking?" I asked. "And it's true that I've not been feeling funny lately, but there have been moments of hilarity in the blog."
      "Right," she said. "Name three."
      "The cold weather, weight loss and … uh … NaNo," I said.
      "I'll give you the cold weather and weight loss, but National Novel Writing Month wasn't. Peculiar, yes, but funny, no."
      "Oh, I was laughing the whole time I participated," I said.
      "Mad laughter doesn't count," she said. "Otherwise the Bush Administration would be a Font of Funny. And I’m using Font in the sense of a Fountain, not in the sense of a Typeface."
      "You're doing that capital thing again," I said. "LeT ME trY."
      "Amateur," she said, scorn dripping from her voice. "Leave Capitals to the Professionals. But let's get back to the subject."
      I stepped out of the puddle of scorn she was creating and said, "I promise to write more funny stuff over the next few months."
      "Now," she demanded in that cute adorable way she has that makes her sound like Hitler's sister.
      "But I don't have anything funny to talk about," I said. "The ice has kept me penned in my house except for my daily treks to work and back. And no one wants me to walk on the ice because of my back."
      "Yeah, you should stay off the ice," she said. "After all, you can trip on lint so I shudder to think what you'd do to yourself on ice."
      "You make it sound like I try to hurt myself," I said.
      'That's one theory being bandied around," she said.
      "About," I said.
      "Bandied about, not bandied around," I said. "And that's ridiculous. Why would I do that?"
      "To get attention," she said.
      "I get plenty of attention without being hurt!" I said.
      "Black police vans watching your house don't count," she said.
      "Oh. Well, I still get plenty of attention."
      "And you can't count protective orders," she said.
      "There hasn't been a protective order filed against me for a long time," I said. "Maybe even a week!"
      "That long?" she muttered. "Will wonders ever cease?"
      "You know, you've developed a sarcastic streak that is simply not becoming," I said.
      "Coming from the Sultan of Sarcasm, that can only be a compliment," she said.
      "If I'm the Sultan, you're the B-"
      "Watch it!"
      "—elle of Biting Remarks," I said smugly.
      "This isn't about me," she said. "It's about you posting something humorous on your blog."
      "I will," I said. "In fact, I think I know exactly what to post tonight."
      "Why are you smiling like that?" she asked suspiciously.
      "No reason. No reason at all."

Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More photos of the ice storm

      We have more snow coming Saturday. Sigh. Here are some more photos of the Oklahoma Ice Storm 2007, as the local news likes to call it.

The sky yesterday.

My front yard.

My back yard.

Ice on a shrub.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Don't wake me until spring has sprung!

      There's something wrong with me. (No, I don't need to see your list, thank you very much.) When I see photos of soaring, white capped mountains or a peaceful, frozen lake glistening in the moonlight as a white owl glides over ahead, I think, "Man, that looks cold." No thrill at nature's beauty. Instead, I feel a great appreciation for central heating.
      People always seem surprised that I enjoy summer's temperatures. "Most large people don't like summer," they'll say, right before I raise my massive arms and smack them upside their tiny heads with a two-by-four. And there are the brave, foolish ones who think they know me well enough to say things like "Fat is a good insulator so you should enjoy winter," but then they disappear and their bodies are never found so I don't hear that as much as I used to.
      I haven't always felt this way about winter. When I was a child, I can remember being happy when it snowed because then I wouldn't have to go to school. I can remember actually enjoying getting out in the snow and even throwing iceballs at my siblings or making miserable looking snowmen that never looked like those ones in the movies. Later I would discover that those perfect snowmen were built by trained sculptors, like Michelangelo. (Most people are unaware that his statue of David started out as an homage to Frosty, hence the white marble.) My snowmen always looked like they were squat mutants from Planet X, but this only made it more fun to attack them with a baseball bat as I defended the earth from their cold grasp. We owe our freedom from snowman domination today to my friend Batty.
      But as I grew older, winter began to lose its fascination, especially when I started having to drive in snow and ice to get to my various jobs, none of which ever closed due to bad weather even when the rest of the city would shut down because of six foot drifts and wild, ravaging polar bears. There were no snow days in my working world.
       Driving in winter weather always stresses me out. There I am, driving safely with my mug of hot chocolate in my right hand, my cell phone in my left hand, my breakfast muffin in my other hand, steering the car with my knees while using my toes to adjust the car stereo, and then I hit a patch of ice and spill something. And then there are those jerks in four-wheel drive trucks that zoom past me going at 600 miles per hour. See, you might not know this, but when you have four-wheel drive, you can drive at regular speeds on ice and snow. In fact, you can even drive faster because the roads are strangely deserted, and it's just you and the long white highway that for some reason dead-ends in someone’s living room. I have seen trucks fly past me so fast that they actually break the sound barrier. At least, that's what the highway patrol report later as they survey the wreckage.
      The only good thing about cold weather is that it gives people a license to eat. Let it get near freezing, and people start packing away the calories like they're about to go on an expedition to the Artic. "When it's cold, you need fuel to keep warm," they say as they stuff another burrito down their throat with a hunger that rivals that of the Donner Party. The Donner Party, by the way, was one of those social events that you didn't want to get invited to. (A friend of mind just read this and said that cannibalism simply isn't funny and that it upsets him. I agree, but I try to not let the subject eat at me. Ahem.)
      I've always thought that bears have the right idea. They eat several tons of food, then they sleep through the entire winter. They go to sleep fat and wake up thin. They never see snow at all. We could learn a lot from bears. Just ask Smokey.
      I will concede that snow is pretty, but you won't ever convince me to like it. We'll have to leave it like this: Winter just leaves me cold.

Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Photos of the ice storm

      This is what I and my poor state have been dealing with and will continue to deal with for several more days. Man, I miss the sun and its warmth.

Friday, January 12, 2007

On a cold winter day

For L.J.
      The worse thing about thinking that you can't stand another minute, is that you know you will have to. You can rage against all the choices that led you to this point, this place where you can't find the ground to stand, but you learned a long time ago that rage is useless. You will endure, you will swallow your rage and all those things you want to say, because that's what you have to do.
      You listen to the songs on the radio on your bed at night. Sometimes you hear the one that speaks to you. You say, that's my life, and memorize the words. You buy or download the song and play it over and over until it loses the hold it had on your soul. But you find yourself muttering it under your breath at odd times. People occasionally hear you. It doesn't enhance you in our eyes. You already have a reputation for being odd.
      Their condescension and ridicule makes you defiantly do other odd things. They whisper that you're only looking for attention, not understanding that you wish the earth would swallow you whole. You hate yourself.
      You hate them, too. You hate their lives. You hate their friends. You hate their achievements. You hate them all, but if they talk to you, you find yourself snapping to attention like a lap dog. You'll run their errands, you'll laugh at their jokes, you abase yourself for that attention. You hate yourself even more for that.
      You can't endure the quiet. You have to have noise. The TV is always playing or the radio or your MP3 player. You need something, anything to drown out the hum of your thoughts. You remember reading that Poe story about the ever-beating heart; your thoughts are like that.
      Even though you try, you can't recall how it started. When was the first time? When did you realize that the blades let out your pain? Maybe you were just fooling around. Maybe you read somewhere that other kids did it. Who knows? That was many years and many scars ago.
      You have a good life, you tell yourself. You have a good job and many friends, some of whom are close, but you don't tell them your secret. You don't let them see behind your mask. Sometimes you have to lie to keep that mask secure. Sometimes you have to drop a friend who asks too questions or who gets too close. And you don't have lovers any more. Besides, how could they compete with that gleaming edge, that one friend who has never left you alone?
      So you spend years alone, just you and the knife, walking an edge that no one knew you did. Perhaps you thought you could live that way forever. Maybe you knew that you couldn't.
      It was a cold winter day. You were tired. You were sitting in front of the living room window after a hard day at work. Your friend cut too deep. An accident. You watched the blood for a while until your head swam and your vision darkened. But then you decided you wanted to live.
      In a way, it was funny. All those years you had thought you'd rather be dead, but now you realized you wanted to live. Ironic in a terrible way. You made it to the phone.
      Of course, there were counselors and changes and all sorts of lies that were exposed. You lost some of your friends; they couldn't deal with your issues and weren't truly friends at all. Others held onto you too close. You were different. You had decided to live and be more than what you had been, and that was hard on your friends and harder on your family.
      Finally, who you are now couldn't fit into the place that you had made for yourself here. So you moved across the country. Found a great job and a man to love and now you're living the life you never dared to dream. I get Christmas cards from you, and we talk every now and then. But the calls get shorter because we've both have different lives now and that's hard to share over a phone line.
      I'm sad for that, but happy for you. On cold winter days like today, when I look out the sliding glass doors across my brown lawn to the barren trees beyond, I think about you out there in the world. And in my mind, you laugh as you walk in the bright sunlight.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Writely Wednesday 2: Wanderer

      It's a strange night. The wind is picking up. A cold front is moving in. Winter is about to hit us hard. I always feel different when the weather changes. I've read that it's the negative ions in the air, that the wind picks up a charge from the interaction of particles between the sky and the ground.
      When these times come, I always feel restless. I look around my life and wonder about wandering away. Sometimes I'm filled with energy. Other times I sink into a quiet but watchful state. Sometimes I write.
      I rarely work on books or long projects. Instead I wander around in my writing. Just placing thoughts on paper whatever they may be. No editing. No thought. Just aimless. Most times I don't write anything worth keeping. Other times, I stumble onto an idea or a twist on another idea. These can be useful, particularly if I've been wrestling with a writing problem. Or I file them away later.
      Many times questions pop up. Ones for which I don't have the answers, but that might interest me enough to pursue later. Like, how would a modern priest really react to a vampire? Or how do you atone for taking an innocent life? Or is love possible between two damaged people who've stopped believing in it? How would we react to an alien race that was more advanced than us and insists on bringing us their view of God before they'll let us off this planet? How far do you have to push a man before he breaks? What really goes on at Area 51?
      I answer those questions in scenes, and from those scenes, a play or book or poem is created. So now you know how I get my ideas. Good night!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Homicidally yours

      I have at least one fault -- yes, I know you have a list, but let's just consider one right now, okay? -- and it is that I get grumpy without sleep. Testy, even. Angry. Murderous. I realize this, and so when I don't get enough sleep, I constantly remind myself that jail is an ugly place and I don't want to go there so there's no reason to strangle that customer who comes into my office just to complain about the prices my company charges even though I have nothing to do with said prices and in no way can I change them. Likewise, it would be bad to beat the people in the building next door to me to bloody, terrible death just because they play their radio so loudly that I can clearly hear it. I remind myself of these things because I know that, with enough sleep, I could handle those annoyances and all would be fine. I could even be charming. With enough sleep.
      But today, dear customer, when you came in my office to complain that my boss didn't call you back even though I gave him the two messages you left and then accused me of not giving him those messages, frankly you were lucky to leave here alive. You wouldn't have, but I'm slower now that my back is injured and I couldn't get my hands around your weasel throat before you got away.
      Because I really am a decent person, I'm not going to hunt you down. I'm not even going to release the robot monkeys to pull you limb from limb. But remember this: When I'm finally declared emperor of the earth, you'd going to be so very, very, very sorry.
      A person who's read a bit of Darkness, Oklahoma asked me where all the anguish and horror in the story came from. I will tell you now -- it comes from my job. And lack of sleep.
      Sleep is where I'm heading now. Hope you have a great day tomorrow. Night!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Good intentions

      I had intended to post a lot tonight. I had some things to talk about, I thought, but life got in the way and I didn't have time. It's late now, and I'm tired. We'll talk tomorrow. But as a consolation, here's a Christmas photo of Mikey as he opens a Christmas gift. He's growing up fast. Good night.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


      I spent most of this day writing and trying to get caught up on filing and paperwork. I made progress on both. Not as much as I hoped on the filing and paperwork, but the writing is going okay so far. You'll be able to follow my progress on Darkness, Oklahoma on the meter to the left. I don't actually know that the story will be 100,000 words. I suspect it will probably be between 80 and 90 thousand, but 100,000 is a nice round number. I'll start with it and see how it goes.
      Anyway, that's pretty much everything I did today other than watching Saints & Soldiers with my roomie. It's a great World War II movie. I highly recommend it. It's based on a true story, though, so don't too attached to all the characters. It is, after all, war.
      So I'll close now. Have a great week. Talk to you tomorrow. (In my best Jimmy Durante impression) And good night, Ms. Trixie, wherever you are!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Neutron Dance

      Busy today. I did a lot, I said A LOT, of housework today. Laundry, dusting, filing, vacuuming, filing, etc. I blurred all day. And now my get-up-and-go has got up and went. My back is complaining a bit now, but I wore my brace and was careful so I think it's going to be okay. I'm pleased with all I got done. A lot of stuff is organized and arranged better. Dug myself partly out of paperwork. I'll work on the filing and paperwork and the bills tomorrow. Or I might sleep all day. Except I can't do that because I have things to do.
      Today makes up for yesterday when I did nothing except go to work and then come home and watch TV and nap. I was lazy. It was wonderful. I don't even know how I gave myself permission to do that without feeling guilty. But I did. I think I need a few more days like that.
      I did go to the library and check out several books, including several authors I haven't read before. Because I'm one broke pony, I don't like to spend money on an author I might not like. The library lets me sample new authors. If I find one I like, I start buying them. I actually chanced upon Holly Lisle that way. My library had a copy of the first World Gates novel so I read it and then had to read the whole series -- a series that should have been longer. Sigh.
      Gloria allowed me to play with the New Blogger on Wry Words. (Thanks, Gloria!) I don't think much of it. Other than the ability to add labels -- which is kinda cool -- it doesn't have any features that excite me. I should probably switch now and get used to it since eventually we'll all have to go to it, but not this weekend.
      Let's see, what else? My street remains a disaster. It's not helping that it keeps raining so the crew can't get a lot done. You can sink to your knees in mud in the street. My roomie did it. He wasn't happy. I would have made a joke about how people pay big money for mud baths, but this time my common sense was able to slap its hand over my mouth before I said anything.
      The writing is going well. I've had a good time exploring the past of the vampire. I didn't think I could have a new angle on him because there are so many vampire books out there, but I found one that I like and that I haven't read before. He still remains a minor character -- the story belongs to Luke and Darcy -- but now he advances the plot and adds quite a bit to the setting of the strange town of Darkness, Oklahoma. If I write another book about Darkness -- and I plan to -- I think he might feature more prominently.
      I did watch two Westerns today while cleaning house. The Sons of Katie Elder and Night Passage. Both very good. I've seen The Sons of Katie Elder several times before, but I always enjoy John Wayne. I'd never seen Night Passage before, but enjoyed it.
      I think that's the whole day for me. How was your day? I hope it was good. Talk to you tomorrow. Night!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Thumpin' Thursday

      I had a thumping headache most of Thursday. Sinuses, I guess. But I still managed to keep to my writing schedule and, with my roomie's help, take down the Christmas tree and inside decorations. Crystal thought I'd have trouble putting up my Christmas village because I enjoyed it so much, but that was no problem. I hated to put up my collection of Nativity sets since that truly ended Christmas this year for me. Everything is boxed, though, and sitting in my living room, waiting for the trip back to the attic this weekend.
      So far I'm ahead on my writing schedule, adding words daily to Darkness, Oklahoma. When I realized I was four days ahead -- I had a writing day when the words flowed -- I almost upped my schedule. But I realized that I always do that: keep adding things to my activity schedule until finally it overwhelms me or makes me so terribly pressured that I don't enjoy anything. I'll keep to what I have planned, and if I'm ahead, that will be great for those days when the words won't flow. My schedule is to write six days a week, 250 words (basically one page) for four days and 500 words (two pages) for two days. I know that seems slow, but it's something I can keep and finish Darkness, Oklahoma by the end of July. It also gives me time to edit Murder at the Witch's Cottage, publish my monthly family newsletter, and write on Floozy & Me.
      Thanks to everyone for the lively comments on yesterday's post. It's cool that several people from all over the place can have a conversation. Awesome.
      Sorry to cut this short, but I have to move my car so that it's not trapped by the cement trucks. Oh lovely day. Talk to you later.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Writely Wednesday 1: Humor & Truth

(I meant to post this last night, but for some reason, saved it as a draft instead. Here it is.)

      Jean posed an interesting question about yesterday's post (Tuesday) in comments. Jean asked, "I can't tell, is this fiction or your real life? The 'getting sober' comment clued me in that it might be fiction."
      A portion of my reply: "Unfortunately, Jean, it's only slightly exaggerated."
      I've run into her question before. My humor is basically based on exaggeration. I have something bad happen to me, and from that kernel, I expand it into a humorous (I hope) story. All humor, I think, has a grain of truth in it.
      I seem to naturally attract more than my fair share of accidents and flubs. So I usually have something to write about it. But without those events, I don't have the spark to write something. That's why the humor posts dried up during the worse times of my back injury. I could only write so much about staring at the ceiling and physical therapy, and then the well was dry.
      In college, I had two different humor columns, one at a college in Arkansas and one at a college in Oklahoma. I won a lot of awards with the Arkansas one; my Oklahoma column was cancelled. The difference? The college in Arkansas was a community college and had mostly older people enrolled and no students in dorms. They found columns about life outside the college interesting and funny, which happened to be what I mostly wrote. But the Oklahoma column was written for a college newspaper that was mostly read by students who lived on campus. They wanted stories about college life, of which I had only a few. They mostly responded to stories of my disastrous dating life, but to my horror, they would assume that the columns were totally true.
      Example: I wrote a column about a date that ended with the riot police being called out. Now, the date was bad, but it stopped well short of needing the police. I thought that would be obvious since the story included a fire, an UFO sighting, and Lord forgive me, several Dolly Parton references. (I, uh, had a fixation on her then.) But several students actually thought I spent a night in jail. I even had one college professor seriously counsel me about what future employers would think about my record if I continued in my criminal ways. Although it hurt when the editor -- a woman who didn't find much funny in the world -- cancelled the column, it was a relief, too. (When my column won an award later, the editor told a friend of mine: "No one else must have entered." She was wrong on that, and I wish I could tell her that today, but she's a highly successful journalist in a major city while I'm just in customer service in the financial realm so what do I know?)
      I try to make it clear when I write when I'm attempting to be funny and when I'm being serious. Sometimes I know I do me a disservice by making light of hard times in my life. It has a tendency to make people think that I'm not suffering or that I don't need their help because I'm able to make a joke or two about it. Be that as it may, humor remains my defense against terrible things. Somehow if I can laugh at a problem, I can deal with it.
      Not that humor can handle everything. It can't. There's a great movie with Emma Thompson called Wit, based on the stage play of the same name. Emma's character, a learned and witty college professor has to confront cancer. Although this isn't the theme of the movie, I carried away from it the profound (to me) realization of the limitations of wit and humor. In other words, wistful thinking aside, humor is not the best medicine when confronting a life-threatening disease. It may raise your spirits and help you endure, but it won't make cancer cells go away. Take your chemo and fight the good fight.
      I have confronted the limitations of humor several times in my life. At my father's funeral, the skirt string of one of his elderly aunts broke as she leaned over his coffin. There was a doubtless funny moment as her skirt fell and family members scrambled to preserve her modesty. Even now, I can't find the humor in it. Maybe someday it will become a funny story that I will be able to tell, but not yet.
      I guess another facet of my humor is that I try to be not cruel. I don't like humor that is hurtful. I mostly stay away from satire because it can be quite mean-spirited. Peter De Vries said, "The satirist shoots to kill while the humorist brings his prey back alive and eventually releases him again for another chance." I'm definitely in the catch-and-release program and proud of it. I hope to catch you and give you a few more laughs in the years to come. And that's about all I have to say about that. Good night!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Shhh .... don't wake the road crew

      No one's reading the blog today. Shhh. We can talk behind their backs. Come over here. I've got chocolate-covered pretzels and Barq's root beer in a frosted mug. We can have a nice sit down and chat a bit before we have to be writerly and all that.
      Let me tell you of the latest annoyance in my life. The city decided to tear up my perfectly good street apparently just to put the street back exactly as it was. Or I guess that's their plan. Mostly we just have piles of gravel and crushed stone everywhere and a dirt road that wouldn't look out of place on the Oregon Trail.
      And the road crew has placed black steel rods -- at random -- in the street and in our lawns. I don't know what they're for. They're sinister in day and invisible at night. Frankly the whole thing is creepy, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a tribe of cannibals ravaging down the ravine and placing shrunken heads on those spikes.
      The road crew start work every day at 6:30 a.m., apparently thinking that all of us should be up at that time since they are. I actually am because it takes a while for me to face going to work (I need time to build up my courage and get sober), but some of my neighbors who work nights have been talking about taking up arms against the road crew. I try to discourage this as the crew has access to some mighty machines, and I have this mental picture of a critically wounded crewman driving his bulldozer through my house, and then where would I live? Not with Pamela. I've given up on her, especially since she got that court order.
      I was told by my red-headed next door neighbor that she was told by the man who raises roses two houses up that he was told by the lady who has the rat dog that the old man who walks all the time around the block was told by one of the road crew that the construction would be done in four weeks. That was seven weeks ago. So no one really knows when our street will return to normal if ever.
      At least, I don't have the view of the porta-potty that my other next door neighbor has. Every time she opens her front door, there it is, right across the street in all its green glory. And apparently the door doesn't latch or maybe the users are trying to get fresh air, but for whatever reason, she wears a startled look all the time now and has taken to using her back door to get out of the house even though that means she has to vault her security fence, which isn't easy for a woman on the far side of seventy.
      We've always had a nice neighborhood here, but now it has a distinctly trashy look. Or maybe like one of those post World War III movies where everyone slowly sinks into savagery except our hero who is an android and that one beautiful woman who is willing to make a life with someone who is basically an appliance. Yesterday as I wandered among the towering piles of road rubble and crushed stone, I think I saw those desert people from the first Star Wars movie. If only old Ben was here, he could use his light saber to lay a welt across the collective backs of that road crew.
      Did I mention the dust? I meant to, but I got distracted when I coughed up a lung. It hangs in the air giving us that smoggy foggy look that most people have to go to London for. And it's just about as healthy. It coats our houses, our cars, our children. "Dust to dust" has taken on a whole new meaning here.
      Of course, someday the road crew will be finished. They'll gather up their equipment and look out over the new street and feel a great sense of accomplishment. It will come as a great surprise as we rise up, seize our black spikes and insanely chase them out of the neighborhood.
      So ... what's shakin' in your world?

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Day, 2007

      Good evening! How are you doing? I've been working on Darkness, Oklahoma most of the day. Well, between napping and watching old movies on Turner Classic Movies. It's been a good day, fairly free of pain. Oh, the reason I hadn't posted over the past couple of days is that I fell again (due to the numbness of my right leg and foot, sometimes my walking is unsteady) and hurt my ankle again. I also banged up my wrist when I fell. But it could have been worse than it was, and after a couple days of soreness, things have improved.
      I hope you enjoyed the Barry Manilow song of yesterday. That song perfectly expresses how I often feel about the turning of the year. Manilow has taken a lot of flack over the years about his maudlin songs, and I admit he does go over the top, but he has written and sang some great songs over the years. I remain a fan. In fact, the Manilow song below -- "All The Time" -- is one that I sang in a high school talent contest years ago and won first place.
      I posted over on The Great Slim Down and made a few minor changes to the template. Several of us are going to continue to fight the weight war in 2007. Victory will be ours in 2007!
      This is a good time to place my overall goals for 2007. Here they are in all their unfilled (yet) glory.
1. Be a better Christian, sibling and friend.
2. Finish and edit Darkness, Oklahoma, and submit to publishers/agents.
3. Finish and edit Dragons Gather, and submit to publishers/agents.
4. Finish and edit Figments, and submit to publishers/agents.
5. Finish, edit and self-publish my humor book Floozy & Me. (Yes, the title changed.)
6. Edit Murder at the Witch's Cottage, and submit to publishers.
7. Lose weight by breaking my emotional addiction to food.
8. Sing a song a day. (No, really.)
9. Continue to publish my family newsletter.
10. Do one thing new a week.
11. Continue to publish this blog and enhance its content.
12. Continue to get out of debt by following my debt reduction plan.
      I think that's enough. If I do half of those, I'll have a good 2007. What resolutions do you make? Or do you make any? Some people don't because they don't want to get depressed when they fail. I make them every year. Some of them I keep. Some I don't. But I always think it helps to have yearly goals rather than just living day to day. It gives me purpose.
      Now, I have to get ready to return to work tomorrow. Tally ho! Have a great evening and wonderful week. Talk to you tomorrow.

All The Time
By Barry Manilow