Friday, December 30, 2011


Just watched SENNA, a documentary about the Brazilian Formula 1 driver. Get it now, if you are at all interested in racing and the men who dare drive those scary death needles. A man who read the Bible before a race, he was unashamed to use his faith to support himself in a stressful career. You could tell he loved pure, apolitical racing, and that the politics of Formula 1 drove him crazy. The saddest part is, he thought he had a long life ahead of him to learn more than just racing.

His face said everything he was thinking. A man seemingly without guile, he gave Brazilians, desperate for a bright light in a dark time, something to cheer for. Someone for whom they could cheer. How sad he got in his car that fatal day. He wasn't happy with the car, and his owner wasn't sure he'd be on the starting grid. But Senna could not quit.

A lesson in listening to your gut, sadly enough, that Senna didn't heed.
Watch the film. You won't be wasting your time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Post Christmas

Errant tree is out of the house. Needles vacuumed. Ornaments, the survivors of the Great Escape, snooze once more in the attic. It's beginning to look like back-to-work at our house.

That means getting the Mythmaker books up on Amazon. My Beloved bought me a scanner, so I'm ready to put that puppy to work. Need to work on rewrites on the 2011 book, pull together The Reservation Dead in a final draft, and then start the new book. Phew. It all sounds wonderful to me. Time in the office, working on the writing, has been scarce the past few months. Crankiness is a direct side effect, my family will assure you.

No resolutions this year. I have to-do lists to last me a lifetime. Two dogs and two cats are curled up at my feet and splayed across the desk, as if daring me to rev it into high gear. Hitting the clutch and shifting. . .hold on tight!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Tree Tried to Escape

We went to see "We Bought a Zoo" last night, thinking it would be a sweet movie and a welcome respite. Both were true. However, we came home to anarchy and chaos. Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. The Christmas tree, you see, had nosedived onto the floor, bellyflopping in the direction of the front door.

It didn't land on any furniture, so the glass balls took a direct hit. Fortunately, we'd used the red wooden beads for a garland this year, instead of the antique glass strands that are part of my Beloved's childhood memories. We also have a ton of handmade ornaments, and that's a good thing. But some beloved pieces shattered, and as I was lamenting their demise, my youngest had some words of wisdom gleaned from TV. The show "Hoarders," to be precise. "The stuff can go, but the memories remain."

Yeah, sounds good, right? I swear I don't hoard. Every now and then, I get vicious with the closets. Still, I'm going to miss the beautiful hand crafted glass ball from St. Thomas. And the dangly-legged Santa with curly white hair that I bought on another trip. The good news is, the milky, other-wordly ball made from ash from the Mount St. Helen's eruption survived. I guess if you're volcano-born, you're tough.

This will be remembered as the year the tree made a jail break for freedom. That's okay. We have it tied up six ways to Sunday, and it ain't goin' nowhere 'til Santa is back at the Pole, resting up for next year. Sorry, kiddo.

I don't hold the smashed balls against you. Tonight, when we turn off the house lights to have Christmas tree admiration hour, I'll be the first to say how lovely you are this year, all trussed up like a green and glittery turkey.

Merry Christmas Eve to all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's a rainy, quiet day

and I'm pretty much doing nothing on my to-do list. I decided to have a Mary, not a Martha day. When my youngest was a student at a girls' school, the headmistress would give a short lesson during the annual Christmas program the upper school presented for the parents and families. Invariably, she spoke about being in Martha mode at this time of the year, and how she had to work to get to a Mary-stage.  I knew exactly what she meant. Hence, today I took a few Mary hours.

I've been reading some in-depth articles about the star that appeared over Bethlehem, which may actually have been a constellation that had meaning for Hebrews, and of which the Romans were unaware. So, some people were paying attention, and some were too absorbed in their own political games. Yep, feels familiar.

Placing the birth of Jesus in its historical context, taking place when the foot of the Roman empire was especially heavy on Palestine and its taxation of the Jews crippling, gives me something to ponder. Just think, Jesus raised the dead, healed the sick, and cured the incurable, all in a time when the Hebrews were at rock bottom politically and economically. No matter what the economy or politics of the time, healing and hope cannot be denied.

 And some Bible experts think the wise men arrived two years later! The shepherds got there on time, which says something about acting immediately and not taking the long way around to get where you need to be. Listen to your gut and go with it. Check, got it.

I've given myself the perfect gift for this season. Time to stop and think. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dec. 20

Today would have been my dad's 90th birthday. While we miss him and all our family members who have moved on, going about their Father's business, we refuse to be sad. He left us with wonderful memories of a happy childhood, as did my Beloved's parents and my mom. What a blessing that is, to know as a kid that you are loved and will always be protected and guided by those who are raising you. My Beloved and I are beyond fortunate.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Good Excuse

I'm on the downward side of a judging stint for a best book in a genre I can't name, and it's been a job to keep up with the reading load. I'm down to the final book, and in a way, I'm glad I still have one to go. I now have a totally legitimate excuse to plunk down with a book and wave off any other distractions, such as 1) wrapping gifts 2) cleaning the house 3) watering the tree (my beloved is very good about this, but I worry about spontaneous combustion and the like, even though we've never had a Christmas tree catch on fire).

I would like to say all the cookies are deccorated and the fruitcake marinating, but that would be a lie.

What cookies?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Writing through the holidays...

Or not-writing, as the case may be. Every year, I swear the extra holiday work load won't cut too deeply into the writing time. I do more online ordering of gifts. Instead of decorating two trees, I do one.  I decline extra outside commitments of my time. I try to hoard my creative energy. Somehow, it never quite works.  I'm always flat-out and just plain frazzled when I stare at my WIP. 

I love Christmas. Love decorating for it. Love the lights, hearing carols (although it's getting old when they start blaring in stores before Halloween). Finally, I have to admit that I'm a willing participant in the whole Christmas shtick. That's the bottom line, so I'm willing to take the hit where the writing is concerned. Is this a major flaw? I've come to the conclusion, it isn't. All the decorating, etc., gives me pleasure. Admittedly, I could trim back. In fact, I have. A lot. But some of my happiest Christmas memories are of being up at 1 a.m. Christmas morning, trying to finish sewing Indian Princess costumes for the children, with matching dresses for their American Girl dolls. 

So if the writing dips into the non-existent zone for a month, so be it. I'm not going to give up these few weeks of fun and family. Next year, though, I won't agree to judge a book contest that has a January 15 deadline!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Virginia Tech redux

I was going to discuss Darian Grubb's future, (as if I know what's going on, but hey, I think Stewart done him wrong). Then yesterday happened, and my heart did that scary jumpy thing and I thought I was going to throw up when the guy who is refinishing the oak floors said, "Say, did you hear about the shooting at Virginia Tech? Two dead, they think."

I was immediately back to 2006 when my daughter, a freshman at VT, called to say she was okay after a man shot two men in uniform and took off for the campus. I hyperventilated a lot, decided I would let her stay there, and calmed down. I'm even proud of myself for not jumping in the car and hauling a** for the school so I could stand, spread-eagle, in front of my child to protect her from all harm, real and imagined.

I can't even think of April 16, 2007, without getting upset.  My daughter, guided by angel thoughts, left her classroom and went off- campus, leaving her backpack, keys, and books by her desk chair, ten minutes before Cho began his mass killing spree. Those hours when I didn't hear from her (all lines in and out were jammed) were filled with sheer terror as her dad and I listened to reports on the TV, watched the police standing outside Norris Hall while gunfire was going on inside, and just barely held it together. Her high school teachers called. Friends called from all over the country. A friend, a former police officer and detective from California, told me everything the campus police did wrong. And I could barely speak for the fear clotting my throat. I called her sister, in college 45 minutes down the road, and asked her to drive to Tech and get her sister out of there. She couldn't. The highway was blocked for emergency vehicles. Ambulances.

I thought I'd put it behind me. Then yesterday happened, and I found myself back in those terrible minutes of 2007, and praying like crazy for everyone involved. A father of five. A deranged gunman. A beautiful, peaceful mountain university once more rocked by senseless violence.

This must stop. Evil has no place in a school filled with a diverse, bright, and vibrant student body and faculty. Evil does not have the upper hand. 

Darian Grubb is a VT graduate, as is my daughter. Yes, she stayed and graduated with honors. She still loves her school, its campus. Love is the only power I know of that can fight such evil.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Old diaries

I never kept one. The idea just doesn't appeal to me. I know writers who use journaling as a useful writing tool, but for me, the small details of my very quiet, boring life just don't work as a springboard to creativity.Besides, I don't want my children reading an old diary and thinking "Golly, mom was so boring.". I think I have them fooled right now, so I need to preserve the illusion.

In clearing my dad's house, I found a diary kept by his brother during his years as a cadet at West Point. His brother was killed in 1952 in Korea, so I have no idea why it didn't go to his widow. I'm guessing she returned it to my grandmother after she remarried. Anyway, it's pretty boring stuff. Mostly, he lists what subjects he studied, exam grades, PE activities, and the names of movies he saw. Girls are sprinkled in here and there, including one named Jeanne Anderson. Jeanne, if you are still with us, I want you to know you looked really, really hot in that one-shouldered black ball gown. And he was crazy about you for at least a month.

With electronic communication dominating our connections with each other, we don't leave written records to be passed down to our heirs. Letters my grandmother, then my father, saved from her dead son still exist for us to read today. They're certainly not earth shattering, but they come from a long-gone place and time. I have enjoyed "hearing" from the uncle I never knew. I think I'll keep them, too.