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Writing Ruminations

Writing is such an internal process. Why not make those private ruminations public? This is how stories take shape and grow.

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Location: Happy Valley, Oregon, United States

I've been supporting myself as a writer for many years and am watching the changes in the publishing world with fascination. For me, sharing the craft, teaching, is as creatively satisfying as the writing process itself.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year...Sans Profundity

Okay, it's New Year's Eve. I should say something profound and/or pithy about the previous year. I should share my incredibly insightful resolution for this year with you.

Sorry. Last year is last year and it was full of stuff...good and bad. Process it later -- or never -- don't sweat it now. (Years, like manure, compost well)

Resolutions? Those are dark crows that come to roost, squawking, on your shoulder later, after you have failed to keep them. I did a blanket resolution years ago and it has served me well ever since... Make the most of the coming year. And have fun whenever possible.

So happy New Year folks! May it be a great one to make the most of and don't forget the 'fun' part!

Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sheep New Year

I know it's not New Year yet, but...it is. The solstice is behind us and already the sun is rising just a bit earlier every morning. I know that's pretty hard to notice when you get up in the dark to go to work and come home in the dark and live under electric lighting most of the day. But by my clock, the new year has begun. It's the sheep that tell me. Every morning I watch them slowly resolve from darkness as the sky lightens. First you can see the big white blob of my St. Croix ram, then the gray and black shapes of the ewes. They lie in a loose group in the pasture beside the barn if it's not raining and down under the big cedar tree if it is raining. (They only come into the barn if it's really pouring). The oldest ewe, Red Collar, decides when morning has arrived, always at the same moment of growing light. She gets up, stretches, and begins to amble down to the woods to either browse the blackberry leaves or head over to the big pasture behind the neighbor's house. The ram gets up next, and one by one the others all follow, in no big rush, taking perhaps ten or fifteen minutes to finally disappear through the gate into the woods.

It happens at the same moment every morning; that same moment of light and dark that signals 'day' to the sheep. And now...it's earlier. Not a lot earlier. But a bit earlier. So the new year has begun and I've got my seed catalogues stacked up beside the computer. I'll start my first seedlings under lights a couple of weeks after the official new year; broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and I'll plant the peas and fava beans out into the beds even before that. Another year starts. The sheep are getting up earlier.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Nature's Christmas Gifts (and just a tiny carbon neutral rant)

Well, our worst of the decade storm is over and most of the several hundred thousand folk who lost power now have it back on again. Nature's little Christmas gifts? Amazing how much of civilization goes away when the power goes out, huh? No, I don't mean looting and mayhem, but all those things we take for granted....light when the sun sets at about 4 PM, heat that doesn't take any particular work or foresight, entertainment. Jobs. Hot showers! I got a good chunk of next year's heating delivered to the door of (and on top of) my woodshed. I've decided this is just the gods' way of a: letting me avoid felling trees and b: testing my learning curve to see if I can avoid dropping a hung up tree on my head this year. (I plan to pass that test. I passed the reflex and cardio test last year and I don't need the stimulation again, thank you.)

Of course I got email from my Working Assets Long Distance offering Carbon Offsets as the perfect (PC) Christmas present. Grrrr.... I'd do another page long rant about that, but I would say the same things I did last time. For the mere cost of $55.... Then you can drive your SUV all year, feel smug, and vote against those global warming bills that might inhibit your lifestyle (which is now carbon neutral). Okay. Deep breath. Put the Grinch back in the box. Let's enjoy the various festivals of lights that just about all cultures and religions do this time of year. (How not when the daylight starts fading just about the time the sun gets well up?). (But you WILL use those nice LED lights, right? The ones that use about a tenth of the electricity of those pretty twinkle lights?). I'm not going to fuss at menorahs.

Just to counterbalance the grinchiness...our local birdfeeder raiding squirrel provided a bit of lightness for us all. Now I wouldn't mind sharing with the squirrels if they shared with the birds. Which they don't. So we have a running game of let the dogs out who chase the squirrel to the fence and all have a good time. Well, the squirrel probably doesn't, but neither does he have such a bad time that he doesn't come back. But one squirrel had the smarts to realize that if he just sat tight in the feeder on the deck, the dogs ran to the fence, expecting him to oblige. Sorry, dogs, he's beating you in the IQ competition. I finally had enough of him and swatted him off the feeder with a broom. (Sorry, I am NOT PC about fox squirrels). The squirrel went flying through the air and met DJ, my four year old Rottie in mid leap. Squirrel wrapped himself around DJ's muzzle like a little red-fur muff, head tucked under tail, hanging on for dear life. DJ levitated straight up about six feet in the air, his eyes wild. Annie, my puppy, was of course, right on his heels, her goal his furry nose-warmer. The squirrel, obviously realizing that what goes up is going to come down again, departed DJ's muzzle at the height of his leap, violating at least a couple of laws of physics as he accelerated horozontally onto the big locust tree at the fence (the one that did not fall down this year). I, of course, was in serious danger of falling over the deck railing or herniating myself laughing. DJ was embarassed and Annie was simply ticked off. You could read the 'why didn't you just hold still, idiot!' in her body language as she glowered at DJ and staked out the tree. Did the squirrel suffer? Not enough to keep him out of the feeder, but he no longer sits and watches the dogs run to the fence. He beats it. So balance is restored.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Blue Ocean Blues

Love that gorgeous blue look of tropical oceans? It may be coming to an ocean near us. A recent satellite study has recorded a dramatic shift in ocean color from various shades of blue green to blue. Why is that important? Blue means fewer phytoplankton and that is how the ocean breathes. These millions of tiny organisms take in CO2 and release O2. That's rather nice for us. And when they're not around, the ocean becomes more acidic and that tends to dissolve important things like corals. Phytoplankton love cold water and don't do well in warm water. Guess what is happening to the oceans, folk? What will those blue oceans mean other than cool vacation photos? Fewer fish. Many fewer fish. The phytoplankton are at the bottom of the ocean food pyramid.

You can read more about ocean color and phytoplankton at one of NASA's sites: http://science.hq.nasa.gov/oceans/living/color.html

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christian Science Monitor quote

I'm actually in Wednesday's issue of the Christian Science Monitor, quoted in a very good article on global warming and carbon offsets. The reporter actually contacted me after reading a blog post here, so chalk one up for internet serendipity.

The article is by Greg Lamb and is well worth reading. :-)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Globally Warmed Tomorrow

Patrick Swenson, of Fairwood Press, just emailed my the new cover for Water Rites, due out in January or February. The cover is GORGEOUS, isn't it? I love it, and it really expresses the heart of the novel. I hope this is not our tomorrow:
We failed to check global warming. In this dry future water is the most valuable resource. It is power. And in the US, the Army Corps of Engineers has become the guardian and keeper of water. Life is metered by water – by it’s lack and its location. And who controls it.

Major Carter Voltaire, newly in charge of The Pipeline, the enormous water project that keeps much of the western US alive, finds himself standing between thirsty locals and the need to provide water to the many. He has seen devastating water riots and must find a way to prevent that from happening here, while protecting precious water.

There are no good answers.
Let's hope we don't live this future.