Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pix from Martinsville

My older daughter sent me some from her digital camera, so I thought I'd post them here. This is me with my youngest daughter. The race wasn't wonderful with twenty cautions, but we had fun with everyone there. Martinsville gets fans closer to pit road than anywhere, except maybe Bristol.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Of Martinsville, Mice, and Men

It's taken me a while to get back to the blog world because we've been on a pilgrimage. Don't laugh when I admit it was to race tracks. After Martinsville, and dropping the munchkins back at their respective schools, we loaded up the truck and decided against going home. So we wandered through Southwest Virginia, stopping at Morgan-McClure's headquarters (home of my fav driver, Ward Burton) in Abingdon, and then from there, farther into Tennessee to Bristol Motor Speedway. The leaves were lovely, despite the drought, and we stopped along the way whenever we felt like it.

Bristol feels like a Roman coliseum. The high seats, the small, short track (just a hair over half a mile) and the steep banks (up to 34 degrees) echo, even without the sellout crowds of 160,000, of screaming engines. As I tried to walk up the banking on the concrete track, all I could think was that it takes steel cojones to drive on that track. I wouldn't even try to rollerskate it.

The Martinsville race was a bit of a let-down. By now, I should stop complaining about the Car of Tomorrow (now the Car of Today), but it seems to me that the racing just isn't as wild on the short tracks like Martinsville and Richmond. It's kinda like when your favorite driver switches genres, and you're holding his or her newest book, going "what happened?" I remember vividly when David Morrell did that to me - went from westerns to Brotherhood of the Rose. The great part about Martinsville is that Ward made the race, the hot dogs are still bright pink, and the weather was perfect for racin'. The bad part happened after the race.

Carl Edwards didn't like something that happened on the track with his teammate, Matt Kenseth, and he went after him while Matt was being interviewed by Speed. The look on Carl's face, even though he wore sunglasses, was ugly. Shoving Matt around, he started to walk away, then swirled and raised a closed fist and thrust it in Matt's direction, pulling back just before connecting with Matt's chin. For those of you who don't follow Nascar, Edwards is buff. Built like a prizefighter. Matt is smaller and definitely not buff.

I've liked Carl. Admired his gusty driving. But the "incident" turned me off, big time. Battered women and abused children have seen that "look" before, as well as the bullying threat with a closed fist. In Virginia, it's against the law to lay hands on someone like that. It's called assault. Carl could scream at Matt all he wanted, and that's okay with me. Beat and bang away on the track. That's Nascar. But shoving and closed fists aren't okay. Carl deserves a hefty fine and probation. What he did in front of the cameras was not only stupid and illegal, it was also cowardly. Picking on someone smaller than you is for mice, not men.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Writing and Vogue Patterns

I've been reading what other writers have to say about maintaining sanity in a world where we who live in our minds are considered a bit ...odd. Exercise works for me - my two mile walk in the morning is more of a plotting session than a physical workout. Getting out into the real world helps - I do my share of volunteer gigs, teaching Sunday School, etc., but I need other forms of creativity to keep my brain cells perking. Recently, I re-discovered how much I love to sew.

I've sewn all my life. I know - it's an old-fashioned deal, but I was raised by women who could whip out a Vogue pattern in hours. Fabrics, their colors, their weight, how they mesh, how they will drape, all attract me. I wandered through a fabric store (a dying breed, I fear) the other day, fingering bolt upon bolt of fabric before I found the right one for a new pattern I want to try. Before the project was done, I'd adjusted the pattern, substituted my own ideas, and voila, produced a blouse that wasn't boring, didn't look as if it had been churned out in a sweatshop somewhere, and fit.

Even better, I'd thought about where to take this new book I'm playing with. Working with my hands frees my thoughts, and even though I'm paying attention to what I'm doing as my trusty Husquervarna runs like a Hendrick engine through layers of cloth, I'm living with my new characters. Talking to them. Listening as they lecture me. The conversation felt as productive as if I'd spent hours spent in my yard, planting, pruning and weeding. Plus, I didn't sweat as much, LOL.

My creative well is now swathed in some very nice lightweight wool and a lovely silk, and feeling quite full, thank you very much.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fall is the real New Year

I've been hauling out the Halloween decorations and much to my horror, discovered that some of them must go. As in, to the trash can. How dare they? For years, I've perched the huge,ugly, fake black crow that bears down on trick-or-treaters with a malevolent eye, on the porch. Alas, its feathers fell off in the attic this summer. Other beloved decorations have taken the same path. Huge sigh.

This is the end of an era, I thought. No more munchkins to dress for the Big Day. No more sewing of costumes into the wee hours. That ended years ago, but still, as long as the decorations existed that we'd used when the munchkins did their scary bit, I thought of Halloween as fun. Now, I ruminated, no more buying huge amounts of candy. (Whoa, back up there...the candy stays.) After moping for a bit, I rallied and decided to go for it. Skeleton candles. More sound effects. New stuff! I've recuperated from my malaise, and am happy to say, the house is beginning to look a lot like...Halloween. To heck with Christmas.

The writing is ripping along wonderfully. The Golden Oars is half-way finished, and my writing partner, Kat Jorgensen, and I had a great brainstorming session for the next half of the book. We've always known the last chapter and how the characters get there, but this time, details fell into our laps like manna. We can't wait to finish it and get going on the next book for this group of unstoppable women who don't let anything - murder, kids, grandkids, old boyfriends, new boyfriends, or bad weather - stop them from their weekly session of rowing together on the Chesapeake Bay.

With ideas pinging, I wrote a detailed synopsis for my next solo project, an idea that's sufficiently cooked in my mind to put down on paper. Or hard drive, as the case may be. The first chapter knocked itself out, miracle of miracles. Some Kind of Wonderful is its working title. More later. . . .

So why don't we recognize September as the real New Year? January is just hunker-down-and-stay-sane, as far as I'm concerned. September is full of new beginnings, new energy, and all calendars should being with Sept. 1.