Friday, November 27, 2009

Two weeks ago, I was struck by a brilliant idea. I was stuck on my novel, "Otters In Space 2," and I was feeling downhearted about the prospects for sending "Otters In Space 1" around the agent and publisher slush piles out there. So, I thought, why not create something entirely different? Something that can be published straight to the internet (not to be too cliche here, but...) like Dr. Horrible and The Guild? Of course, I have no actors...

Or do I!??!?

Actually, it turns out that I have some very fine actors. Canine actors. And, swathed in duct tape, Trudy and Quinn make some very fine SPACE HOUNDS.

So, I have been very busy, building sets, making costumes, giving my actors some last minute obedience training, and, oh yeah, learning how to use an entirely new piece of photo-managing software. But, the hard work has all paid off, and I am now using my precious vacation time at Orycon to make SPACE HOUNDS! live.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Elaine checked a book out from the library today. She's seen me do it before, so she apparently had the concept down. We were in the children's section, flipping through a book called "Countdown to Kindergarten," about a girl with a cat who clearly reminded Elaine of Kelly. And, when I said it was time to go, Elaine declared, "Take book home!" So, she brought the book right up to the check out counter and, except for needing to borrow my library card, checked the book out all by herself.

Between inheriting her dad's old computer and learning to use the library, Elaine now has all the tools she needs to learn how to take over the world! Bwa ha ha!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In addition to general communication skills, Elaine has also been making huge progress on her computer skills. Last week, I started her out on Reader Rabbit. It's fairly different from the little, black and white game I played on my mom's mac as a kid. But it's the same basic idea: educational puzzle games that reward you with music and animation when you get them right. Of course, the puzzles I remember mostly had to do with spelling rhyming words (of only three letters), and they were way too advanced for Elaine.

Now, however, there's a whole sequence of Reader Rabbit games -- starting with one aimed at babies who can't do anything other than uncoordinatedly waggle the mouse and pound on the keyboard. Elaine mastered that one in two days. (Even so, it was an excellent game, as I don't know any other way to teach a two-year-old to use a mouse.) The next level of Reader Rabbit is aimed at toddlers, and it took more like a week for Elaine to master it. Last night, she graduated to the preschool level.

At this rate, hopefully, she'll be ready to play Diablo 3 with me by the time it comes out.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This has been a big month in Elaine's little world. She started preschool, gymnastics, and a music class like the one she used to take in Seattle. Until I signed her up for all of those, I hadn't realized that she was basically starting school. Four days a week, she has somewhere that she has to be before noon, and, apparently, four out of seven days is critical mass for utterly shifting Elaine's sleep schedule. I don't think I've seen this much of this many mornings since I was in high school.

Elaine's language development has become fairly interesting too. She no longer picks a pronunciation (such as "doot" = milk) and sticks with it, requiring us to learn her code language. Now, she'll switch her pronunciation of tricky words around, trying to get them closer to standard English. This makes her overall easier to understand -- but it was confusing when "doot," which has been constant for about a year, suddenly became "nut" (with an umlaut over the 'u'). Elaine also uses complete sentences; though, her pronouns tend to be backwards. ("She wants more," being her way of asking for more.)

With all of this progress in communication, I've noticed that Elaine now feels different in my memories of recent events. For instance, if I remember that I watched a movie last weekend, and I try to remember who all was there, I might think, "I know there were three of us -- but, I don't think Mom or Molly was visiting... So, that would be me, Daniel... and... Elaine?" See, I'm used to discounting Elaine when counting people, because, until very recently, she hasn't actually contributed to events and conversations like a full person would. Now, in her broken way, she does. It's eerie. A little like the moment in "The Cat From Outer Space," when Jake the cat first speaks to Dr. Frank Wilson.

Now if we can just teach the other Floor People to talk...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

As Daniel headed back to work after lunch today, I told him I might just let Elaine watch movies all afternoon since it's already been a long week. However, despite my worst intentions, Elaine has so far banged on pots and pans, read Green Eggs & Ham, and played with alphabet refrigerator magnets. Now she's talking about going to the park.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A bigger house requires more cats to be properly cat-saturated than a smaller house. So, since our new house is about a third larger than the house we were renting in Seattle, we needed ~30% more cat after moving here.

A few visits to the local humane society turned up a three-month-old torbie kitten who seemed appropriately intense, intelligent, and independent (for me) as well as mellow (for surviving my dogs, two-year-old, and older cats). I named her Kelly for the classic song "Don't Fence Me In." And, this time, I thought for sure that I'd picked out a kitten that would love me best.

My first kitten -- Heidi -- is too zen to have a favorite human. My second kitten -- Theresa -- is definitely the kind of cat with a favorite person. Unfortunately, Heidi turned out to be that person. For Kelly, that person is Elaine. Yes, the two-year-old. The two-year-old who drags her about by the middle, grabbing her paws and poking her ears while shouting, "Tawry! Hold Tawry!" (That's how she pronounces "Kelly.")

I tried to protect my brand-new, delicate, little kitten at first. Then it became clear that she liked it. She seeks Elaine out. In fact, Elaine and Kelly are so close that getting Kelly is now part of Elaine's bedtime routine. Because Kelly seriously lets Elaine hold her like a stuffed animal until she falls asleep.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In preparation for Talk Like a Pirate Day, I bought four pineapples. (Both tasty and decorative!) Earlier tonight, Elaine took me by the hand and dragged me into the kitchen where the pineapples are lined up, rather impressively, along the counter. She pointed up at them and declared, "Eat pinecone!"

After I regained my composure, I decided to strike a deal. Now, I wasn't about to cut into one of the fresh, whole pineapples, but I did have a can of pineapple slices in the cupboard. I also had a daughter who until very recently would answer, "What does a pirate say?", with a good, hearty "ARRR!" But with one week until our big pirate party, she had suddenly decided that, actually, pirates say, "NNNNN!" And she has been taking great delight in torturing me with that.

So, I told Elaine, pineapple would be a good treat for a little pirate. Then I asked, "What do pirates say?" She thought about it for a moment, and then she gave me a good, hearty "ARRR!" Apparently, pineapple is more valuable to little pirates than torturing their mothers.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I've been having an absolutely fantastic time maintaining a yard of my own. It's like playing Diablo -- but even more satisfying. Instead of hacking apart re-animated skeletons and lava monsters, I get to hack apart plant beasts. So far, I've completely shredded three rhododendrons and have severely hacked back innumerable shrubs. (Okay, I could probably numerate them if I wanted to... But, it's much more fun to attack them with sharpened hedge shears than to count them, despite what Sesame St. would have you believe.)

Of course, I've planted things too. Three roses: a yellow one called Radiant Perfume; a pink one called Spellbound; and a white one called Pope John Paul II. Also, two camellia bushes to replace the rhododendrons. (Camellias are much more interesting people than rhododendrons.) But, really, gardening seems to be mostly about fighting plants back as they war to take over your yard. It's epic, really.

My hedge shears are sharp, but the hedge keeps growing!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Getting a second Sheltie has been working out really well. Quinn is almost exactly like Patrick. Except, only in the good ways. He's like Patrick v.2.0. It's a little eerie, actually. He has the same toy and game preferences; many of the same idiosyncratic behaviors. But, mostly, he exudes the same presence. It makes me understand people who want to get their pets cloned better. Because, apparently, you really can get a new animal who will set at peace the part of yourself that aches with missing the old animal. With Shelties, however, you don't have to go to the trouble and expense of actual cloning, since they're already all so genetically similar.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The time came to get a pet robot.

He's still charging.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The time came to get another dog.

After meeting some Corgis and scouting out the mutts at a local animal shelter, I decided what I really wanted was to get a Sheltie puppy again. So, I emailed most of the Sheltie breeders in Oregon and ended up with leads on some litters that would be available in the fall, one litter of seven-week-old puppies that would be available in a week, and a pair of thirteen-week-old puppies that had been meant to be show dogs but were turning out too large. The seven-week-olds were down south of Eugene, and the thirteen-week-olds were up north of Portland. I made appointments to meet them both.

My experience with the seven-week-olds was pretty much the same experience I had meeting Patrick -- the puppy was annoying (although, I found that endearing since it reminded me of Patrick as an annoying puppy) and the adult mother was lovely.

The thirteen-week-olds were completely different. By that age, the puppies are starting to look and act like little Shelties instead of wriggly, toothy, little balls of fluff. They're old enough that personality differences between the two puppies were readily apparent. And, even better, they were already trained to sleep through the night. So, when I brought Quinn home, he was already, in some ways, the best behaved dog in the house.

So, now, when our dog pack rushes the door or tears around the yard, there is -- as there should be -- a fluffy but dignified, high-stepping, orange Sheltie in the mix.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Perhaps my expectations were skewed, but I felt there was a disappointing lack of helicopters, time travel, and ninjas at my ten year high school reunion.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

As a shield against the chaos, confusion, consternation, and uproar of my house being dismantled and put into boxes around me, I started Otters In Space 2 last week. I needed to withdraw to a world where the animals talked, and I've been outlining it in the back of my mind for a while. So, I figured it was about ready.

I'm not usually much of a sit-down-and-write-every-day type of writer. Generally, I can go distressingly long periods of time before the guilt fully kicks in, forcing me to sit down and pound through a story in a week. This strategy has worked just well enough for me in the past that I haven't had much success replacing it with a strategy involving less guilt. Thus, I was very pleasantly surprised last week to find that the good habits I developed while writing Otters In Space 1 actually stuck.

About six months before Elaine was born, I decided that I didn't want to have a baby before writing a complete novel. So, I became very disciplined; I wrote every day; and I finished my first novel. Then I lapsed back into my old ways. So, I was taken completely by surprise last week to find that, while the habits I learned for Otters In Space 1 don't seem to apply to short stories or the other novel I'm working on, they do apply to further works of Otters In Space. As soon as I set those characters free again, the old training took over.

So, now, before I can go to bed, I need to make some progress on Otters In Space...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Moving is a strange and confusing process. Returning to Seattle after my weeks of house hunting was like stepping into a mirage. I know I won't be here much longer -- not relative to the time I expect to spend in the house we're buying in Eugene. And, yet, this is the place I've lived for years. That house, I've been inside three times. So, the permanent feels impermanent. The transitory... solid.

And then there's Elaine's perspective. She spent the last two weeks asking to "go home." Of course, I've been explaining everything to her -- buying a new house, staying with Grandma, coming back to Seattle to pack... but it's all lost on a not-quite-two-year-old. Given how much she's asked to "go home," I thought she'd be really excited when we got back here. But, no. After an hour or so of enjoying all the toys we'd left up here, she went to the front door and declared, "Go home, see June." I had to show her videos of other greyhounds on youtube to calm her down enough to go to bed.

She's right though. Grandma's house (despite having June) isn't home. This isn't home (especially since the cats have already moved to Oregon). But Elaine won't recognize our new house as home either. That will take time. For me, though, I'm not so sure it will. To a certain extent, I've been living in that house for years... I just didn't know quite where it was or exactly what it looked like. Now I do, and I find that very peaceful.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My child is afraid of fireworks. I did not see this coming. I've always loved fire and fireworks. For as long as I can remember. And Elaine gave every indication of being like me on this front. When we used the last of our wood up in our fireplace this winter, Elaine found the fire so thrilling that she kept begging for us to do it again for days afterward. But, apparently, fireworks are different. They not only terrify her, they make her fearful for my safety. Like Patrick was afraid of the ocean, Elaine is afraid of fireworks. Patrick not only wouldn't go near the water himself, he would try, frantically, to herd Daniel away from the water. And Elaine will not tolerate me being anywhere near fireworks -- even unlit ones that are still shrink-wrapped in a box. In fact, she'd prefer it if I didn't even go outside if there's a box of fireworks out there.

Sigh. I guess I'll just have to wait and have my fiery fun after she goes to bed tomorrow night. Hopefully she'll be over this by next year.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

In one week, I drove by 37 houses in Eugene; walked through 11; showed the best 3 to Daniel; and agreed to make an offer on 1. We accepted the counter offer this afternoon.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Daniel's graduation is in the morning, and I've assembled an amuse-Elaine-kit to help survive the hour and a half long ceremony. I'm reasonably certain that it won't actually be enough to keep Elaine in the auditorium for the whole time. (Elaine's a very active child.) And my mom and sister have promised that between the two of them, they'll see to it that Elaine is watched and I can stay. However, I figure I should make it as easy for them as possible.

So, I've packed my blue backpack from elementary school with all kinds of treats and toys, including...

*Three kinds of snacks: the standard cheerio/raisin mix, a quartered tortilla (they travel really well because they're flat), and some special fruit and nut medley from Costco
*Plastic dogs and dinosaurs
*Finger puppets
*Assorted foam letters
*Two alphabet books
*Some scrunchies that Elaine thinks are bracelets
*A brand-new deck of playing cards (I think she'll like looking at the numbers)
*Felt pens and a pad of paper
*Extra pacifiers on beads
*And Bert

Lots of things that can be doled out slowly and played with quietly. Even so, I think we'll be lucky if she makes it twenty minutes.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

When I first watched Farscape, I was still living in the basement apartment by Green Lake. So, I didn't think a whole lot about the plot lines where Moya would lose control of life support and everyone would have to scurry around trying to fix the situation before it got too hot and Aeryn Sun's brain would melt. See, Peacekeeper's can't get too hot. Or their brain's melt. Like I said, I didn't think too much about it at the time. It was a cute but silly plot device.

Since then, however, we've moved into a house with giant, west-facing windows. None of which open. In fact, in the entire house, only one window opens. So, it's a heat trap. The afternoon sun shines in, and then it stays in. The house lopsidedly follows the heat patterns outside: the temperature rises when it's hot outside, but holds steady when it gets cool at night. So it stays hot until we finally get enough cool days in a row to slowly pump the heat back out through the one open window.

The practical upshot? Between six pm and midnight, it's 83 degrees in here. And I get Aeryn Sun. With that kind of dead heat, I can feel my thoughts disassembling, breaking down like complex proteins fracturing into their constituent molecules. Pieces of thoughts float around incoherently in my mind, and it feels like my brain is melting, just like a Peacekeeper's.

Friday, May 29, 2009

After some serious thought, I've decided that I am not capable of objectively reviewing the new Star Trek movie. Was it a good movie? I have no idea. Was it a good Star Trek movie? I hope so? Did I like it? It unhinged my sense of linear time and took me to a place I'd rather be. (So, yes, very much.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

This morning, I watched an animated Disney movie about spaceships and aliens (Lilo & Stitch) that I'd never seen before. This afternoon, I watched several episodes of the last season of Stargate while working on my spaceship. (I've been improving its ductwork.) Then, this evening, I went to see the new Star Trek in IMAX form.

Happiness: Spaceships and aliens all day.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

We got a burst of hot weather this weekend, so I dragged the fans up from the garage.

Elaine was terrified by the square, gridded box buzzing in the doorway. So, I told her it was a robot. Throughout the rest of the evening, Elaine took periodic breaks from anything she was doing to run over to the door, wave her hand at the fan, and say, "Hi robot!"

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Linear time can be hard to accept. The pilot of DS9 is about that. Commander Sisko, unable to adjust to the loss of his wife, "exists" in the time and place of her death.

People live in the past and the future all the time. I spent my first three years in Seattle walking Patrick around Green Lake and the surrounding neighborhoods talking to him about the house we would buy when Daniel got out of grad school. Slowly, as the true scale of grad school became understandable to me, talk of a house got replaced by talk of a second dog, which was more attainable. Eventually, I had to give up on living in a future that felt farther and farther away. (After living here three years, I had a much more concrete sense of how long another three years would be.)

When this year and Daniel's job search started, the end seemed finally in sight. Only, it wasn't the end I had promised myself. Without any control over the situation, I had led myself to believe that there was at least a reasonable chance that Daniel could get a professorship in Oregon or Northern California. And I could go home.

But... With the current economy and grim job prospects everywhere, that hope grew dimmer and dimmer. First, the idea of having a choice of locations (hopefully including some I liked) fell away as Daniel only received interest from universities in places like Michigan, Texas, and Scotland. Then, the idea of leaving this limbo at all was struck down as Daniel changed his sights from tenure-track positions to prestigious postdocs. Meaning another two to three years in a temporary location.

I had completely accepted that this summer I would be moving to Pittsburgh, a place I have never, ever wanted to even visit. And then Daniel got an email from UO.

Because linear time is so hard to accept, I can barely believe that two weeks ago I lived in the uncertainty that I would ever get to move home to Oregon. I simply can't reconcile my memories of a self who expected to be dragged haplessly across the country with the self who gets to go searching for houses in Eugene this summer.

This self is much better.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We've come a long way in the last month. Instead of spending half an hour insistently repeating "taupe" while I frantically try to translate, last night, Elaine simply laid her head on my arm and said, "So tired."

Then, this morning, she insisted on having a spoon with her buttered toast. I was skeptical; however, Elaine successfully used the spoon to eat the toast, spearing each quarter in its soggily buttered middle.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Kookaburraton is gone. Carolynn called us yesterday, so we know she got home okay. The news is still scattered... But it sounds like the rebel koalas were backing down. Some of their demands had been met, and they were coming to a compromise. It was probably an accident... A kangaroo got nervous. Somehow buttons got pushed; switches got flipped. A dial got turned. The practical upshot? The particle accelerator went kablooie. And it nudged Kookaburraton out of its quantum equilibrium. The whole town started oscillating in and out of phase with the rest of Australia. After four and a half cycles... Gone.

There is some speculation suggesting that if the particle accelerator were repaired, it could push Kookaburraton back in phase with the rest of the planet. But, even so... I don't think Daniel and I want to live somewhere so unstable. I'm glad Carolynn made it safely back to her family, but, even if Kookaburraton reappears, I don't think we'll be joining her.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Elaine has developed a taste for Pixar movies. She watched Monsters Inc. while we were at my mom's house last weekend, and she was hooked. Every time we weren't watching it, Elaine would run to the TV, point, and yell "Sars!" (The final syllable of "monsters.") I managed to switch her to Ratatouille after my brain had been pummeled into a gooey mush. And, now that we're home, I've introduced Toy Story 1 & 2 into the mix.

Generally, Elaine's not a big fan of videos she hasn't seen before, but Toy Story had her mesmerized. She made it through the entire first half with barely a blink. (Generally it takes us several sittings to make it through a movie the first time, so that was really impressive.) From my perspective, it was a little weird to watch Toy Story for the first time since discovering Joss Whedon. I hadn't really thought about how dark it is before.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

We just heard that a band of rebel koalas have taken over Kookaburraton U.'s physics building. They've issued a list of demands and are threatening to overload the particle accelerator if they're not met. (Apparently, the Kookaburraton particle accelerator could take out a significant portion of the Southern Hemisphere if properly misused.) I can hardly believe it. We were talking about this possiblity only two days go... I didn't think it would really happen.

Carolynn's crazy with worry for her family. We've bought her plane tickets back to Australia, but hopefully she'll be able to get through to her brother before she has to use them.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I stayed up late last night, drinking tea and talking to Carolynn. She told me all about Kookaburraton. She misses it there. She's been settling in better this last week -- watching Sesame Street with Elaine, practicing zen meditation with Heidi, etc. -- but, she clearly wants to go home. The thing is, from talking to Carolynn, I'm feeling less and less sure Kookaburraton is the right place for us.

They do amazing work there. The robots that Daniel would be writing algorithms for are the most advanced in the world. Not only can they beat grandmasters at chess and predict the stock market, they can eat eucalyptus leaves ten times faster than the record holding koala. (Of course, therein lies the problem...) And all the other sciences are just as advanced, as Carolynn demonstrates. Talking wallabies, walking eucalyptus trees, and kangaroos who can do your taxes! Could there be a more exciting city in the entire world?

And, yet, I'm not sure we want to be bringing Elaine up among so much civil unrest. Carolynn says the robots are harmless. Her own people, however, are growing more and more agitated. They don't have equal rights, and the situation isn't stable. Maybe in twenty years, the revolution will have come and passed. Until then, I'm not so sure...

And, well, the eucalyptus trees are anyone's guess.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Carolynn, our wallaroo translator, has been here about a week now. She hasn't taught us much about Australia or Kookaburraton yet. She claims that she needs to settle into the rhythm -- become a part of the family first. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that's working out so well.

Her first move was to try to become something of a nanny for Elaine. I liked the idea, and her assistance did make it easier to finish editing "Otters In Space" and write a good cover letter for it. However, Elaine really isn't willing to accept the authority of a fuzzy marsupial, barely taller than her. Every time Carolynn tries to help Elaine with something, Elaine just shouts her new favorite word, "Self!" Meaning, of course, that she wants to do it herself.

After Carolynn gave up on the nanny idea, she tried bonding with the dogs, but... Well, I'm not completely sure how it happened, but let's just say that Trudy and Carolynn are about evenly matched in a boxing match. Dale tips the scales.

So, now, Carolynn mostly sulks around with the cats. Theresa, who's always cold, hides in Carolynn's pouch, and I think Heidi's taking lessons on being a kangaroo. She's always been a versatile cat.

Well, at least one of us will be prepared for our new life in Australia...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's interesting how Daniel's and my careers have followed similar paths while we've lived in Seattle. We were both published for the first time in the summer of '05. And, this spring, while he's been finishing up the research for his dissertation and applying for postdocs and jobs, I finally finished up the editing on my first novel and have started looking for an agent. We've been aware of the similarities between our jobs for a while -- they're both creative and amorphous. However, there's a substantial difference between having an advisor and working completely alone. I've had a great deal more control over my work than Daniel has had over his. There were many times when I would have traded that for a little guidance, but, in the long run, I think the lack of guidance may have caused me to build a stronger individual vision for my work than I would have otherwise.

At any rate, I now have a novel making the rounds. If only I could find a little more time to work on the second one...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A big truck just pulled up in front of our house, and a big, fluffy wallaroo hopped out! I had been hoping she'd get here last week, so we could dress her up as the Easter bunny... but, oh well. She's here now! I can see her through the window, hopping up the front steps... So exciting!
Elaine's language skills have been progressing fantastically albeit patchily. She clearly understands a vast number of words, and she can say quite a few. However, her pronunciation often leaves something to be desired. She has a few standard babyified words -- "doot" is milk, and "shoop" stroller. (She came up with both of those herself, but they've stayed consistant for months.) And there are some words she can say perfectly like "hot soup" and "shoes." But, then, there's the third category -- words she tries to pronounce properly and yet completely fails at. These can be tricky. For instance, if we're in the kitchen talking about things to eat, it can take me a while to work out that "suit" means spoon. Or, if it's late in the evening and Elaine suddenly insists that she must have "taupe," there are a lot of possibilities to work through before discovering that she's substituted 't' for 'cr' and the 'p' is really supposed to be a 'b'.

So, she stayed up half an hour later than she might have if I had only known "taupe" meant crib. I'm looking forward to her being better able to enunciate.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

We've ordered up a wallaroo translator. I know they speak English in Australia, but there are bound to be cultural differences. And these wallaroo translators are supposed to be entire cultural guides, familiar with the most minute customs. It's all the rage -- indigenous animal guides. So, since it'll be a week or two before our wallaroo gets here, we went to the zoo to show Elaine some of the wallabies and wallaroos there. Pretty cute. Not as intelligent as the genetically/cerebrally enhanced wallaroo that we've ordered -- but, then, you wouldn't want to put one of those in a zoo.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's a lot farther away than I would have liked, but Daniel's really excited about the job... And, in the end, that's what's really important to us. So... We'll be moving to Australia this summer!

It's really peaceful to finally know where we'll be living next year.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A brilliant innovation: instead of making cookie dough and baking cookies, make cookie dough and keep it in the refrigerator all week. Then, bake only enough cookies to eat while still warm every night. This way, the cookies are always freshly baked! No stale, week-old cookies wasting away in a tin. Only warm cookies with gooey chocolate chips melting the vanilla ice cream on top of them. Oh yeah. It's so simple... And, yet, somehow I'd never thought of it before.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I decided to run the dogs through their tricks today. For Trudy, that means "sit," "lie down," and "shake (hands)." For Dale, it means "sit," "roll over," and "turn around" -- though, she can't tell the last two apart. Needless to say, they're not all that impressive.

However, it's been a long time since I've bothered quizzing them, and, apparently, Elaine doesn't remember seeing it before. From the look in her eye, you would think I had performed actual magic. With mere words, I had controlled the movements of wild beasts!

If only she could have seen Patrick...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

When people -- especially other writers -- hear that my husband and mother are my main editors, they usually suggest I might be better off with... well, editors who would be more comfortable being cruel. These people, of course, have never had their work edited by Daniel.

In response to the various drafts of the story I finished earlier this week, Daniel suggested:

"Perhaps it would be more exciting with space voles?"
"The end is unsatisfying, and the characterization of the friend is superfluous."
"You could try cutting the entire second half."
"This is better... I can see potential here."

And, finally, "I can't find anything wrong with it.

Yeah. With responses like that, I probably wouldn't even let Daniel read my stories (or at least comment on them) if he wasn't a really good editor.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I've decided to start a league of lizards and small desert birds, joined together, in the full twilight of righteousness, waging an eternal battle against the evil forces of Daylight Savings Time.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Elaine will fly on an airplane for her first time today. Myself, I've avoided flying for about five years now, but this should be a pretty easy flight: Seattle to San Jose. And, thankfully, Daniel was able to change our seats around last minute, so we can all sit together. It may be a challenge keeping her happy for the full flight, but I've done what I can with packing toys. For one, she'll get a plush Ernie doll when we get to the plane.

Elaine's been extremely enamored of Ernie since my dad introduced her to youtube videos of classic Seseame Street last week. Kermit's pretty good -- but Ernie is her favorite. Yesterday, she kept trying to share her breakfast with him. She'd hold her toast out to my computer screen and say, "Eee!" and "Shaa!" Meaning, "Ernie" and "share." She also went around finding rubber ducks and offering them to the alter of my monitor.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I have a hundred marked up pages of "Otters In Space" to work through, but, instead, I've been spending all my free time on a short story. There's something about the returning sunshine that always make me want to write new things. I've heard a lot of people say that the winters in Seattle are good for creativity -- there's nothing to do but stay home and write. I haven't found that for myself. The darkness makes me hibernate, creatively. Editing is okay, but I just don't feel like writing new things when the sun goes down at 4:30, and it probably spent the three hours it was actually in the sky behind clouds anyway.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Handfuls of sand = happiness. Or so I'm told. Not with words, though. Elaine was too busy to speak, trying to move the entire park's worth of sand, handful by handful, into her stroller. She thought we should bring it all home with us.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

It's very freeing to be between drafts for editing "Otters In Space." For the last half year or so, I've felt like any free time I have time to work on my fiction, I should spend editing. But, now, I'm waiting for Daniel to read and comment on the current draft, so... I'm free to work on short stories or whatever other project I want. Of course, this will only last for the next several days, as Daniel plans on reading draft three while he's in Florida. So, once he gets back, it'll be polish, polish, polish and then research packaging it up to send to publishers or agents.

But, for now... I'm free! Free!

And, to that end (the end of exercising my freedom), I've decided to take part in a current internet meme. Thus: 25 things...

1. I spent my evening dancing to the Rolling Stones with my daughter and sister.
2. When I go for too long without writing fiction, I actually start getting headaches.
3. Sometimes I'm jealous of my cats when they're hanging out together on a sunny windowsill. I think it would be nice to be a cat and join them.
4. The first time I realized that I would rather have a fruit smoothy than a chocolate milkshake was a moment of true identity crisis for me. Fruit over chocolate? Seriously?
5. I have too many animals I like too much to pick an all-time favorite. Over the years, though, my favorites have tended to include otters, cats, octopi, Utahraptors and, most recently, giraffes.
6. I find it strange to count a non-carnivorous, non-vicious type of animal (namely giraffe) among my favorites.
7. Watching an entire season of Stargate (or, better yet, Farscape) in one week feels a little like having my brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick. This is a sensation I kind of crave.
8. I'm very, very glad that my daughter is not at all shy.
9. I'm actually a luddite. Ironic, no?
10. My favorite part of the week is my daughter's music class.
11. I listen to music as I fall asleep. In high school, it was Brian Wilson. In college, the soundtrack to Camelot. Now, James Marsters.
12. My imaginary friend from childhood still visits me, though not as often as he used to. And, generally, he doesn't stay very long.
13. I picked out the name for my first dog, Patrick, ten years before getting him. And, though I don't know when I'll get him yet, I've already named the next one.
14. My favorite part of Daniel's and my wedding was the processional music: the theme from Jurassic Park. It makes a great processional.
15. If I didn't have a cat who would eat them, I would have Jade trees in my house.
16. It makes me happy that, according to at least one source, my hair is essentially a shade of green to people who are red/green color blind. This seems right.
17. I like to play silly mind games like "which actor would play me in a movie?" or "what kind of car would my pet drive?"
18. My husband is practicing the guitar chords for a song he wrote about my sister right now. It's an incredibly pleasant sound.
19. I've managed to keep my pet betta fish alive for an entire month. Things looked really dicey for him at first, but now he's going strong.
20. I will be really surprised if I agree with the people who like Babylon 5 better than Deep Space Nine after I watch it. However, I've been surprised before.
21. I started wearing baseball caps in college to make me feel anonymous. Now I wear them to feel more individual.
22. I miss the intensity of my imagination as a child.
23. I'm looking forward to finding out my daughter's favorite color, assuming she has one.
24. My favorite color for flowers is yellow.
25. Daffodils are my favorite flower, and my favorite poem, William Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," is almost certainly responsible for this.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Red bell peppers make a good substitute for tomatoes, if you're out of them, in a BLT. They give the sandwich a kind of spicy taste.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Draft three done!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The shoe-storms seem to have passed. And all the shoes on the ground have melted. There may never be another shoe-storm again. By the time the weather is right for it, Elaine will probably have learned to pronounce "snow" correctly. Alas, no more pointing at the sky and joyously shouting "shoe! shoe!"

On the Beyond Centauri front: I found the second half of the issue equally engaging. The "Rusty the Robot" adventure was cute, and "She Came To Sing" by Susan Hanniford Crowley really stood out. However, more than any individual piece, the overall magazine pulled together into an experience that was optimistic, adventurous, and fun. Most of the stories featured characters with a drive to figure things out: how did I get here? how can we fix our spaceship? how can we save our planet? or, simply, how can I get home? It gave me a very warm and collegial feeling to read my story among so many others that felt so right to me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My contributor's copy of Beyond Centauri came yesterday. I've been eagerly checking the mail for it all month. So far, I've read about halfway through the issue, and I'm finding it surprisingly delightful and engaging. I particularly like the SpaceMonkey Adventure by MonkeyJohn and "A Planet Called Cheese" by Judith Kelvin Miller. It's usually quite hard to find science-fiction featuring talking animals, and it's by far my favorite genre. So I'm very happy to find two stories about animals flying spaceships (monkeys in one, mice in the other) inside one cover.

Although... I suppose, based on which story of mine they bought, I shouldn't be so surprised...

Friday, January 16, 2009

I was making progress towards catching up on Battlestar Galactica. Less than a season behind... But, now we're canceling cable. Most of the shows I watch are available on the internet, and $100 a month is crazy expensive. Given the number of shows I watch, it'll be significantly cheaper to wait and buy them on dvd. Besides, I seem to enjoy shows more if I watch large chunks of them all at once.

In other news, the tiny diplomat is still alive! I'm constantly delighted and surprised to find him still swimming about, above my monitor.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Having never had one before, I wasn't completely sure I would like a pet fish. I had two kinds of caged animals as a child: rats and walking sticks. The walking sticks lasted less than a week before I realized they were simply too alien and creepy for me. We gave them back to my third grade teacher who supplied them in the first place. The rats lasted several years... But I never trained them to do anything, and, when I thought about them, which wasn't that often, I felt guilty for not giving them any attention beyond basic, necessary maintenance. In the end, I decided that if you're going to go to the trouble of having a pet, it might as well be a cat or dog.

Now I find that I must amend that conclusion: if you're going to go to the trouble of having a fuzzy, house pet (it's important to leave room for things like goats and horses here -- just in case), then it might as well be a cat or dog.

A pet fish is really more akin to a potted plant than to other pets. (Though, my cats eat potted plants. Ironically, they've shown no interest in Emmett.) And, while Emmett is every bit as alien as a walking stick, I find him very peaceful. He lives in an entirely different atmosphere than the rest of us. Maintaining him is like keeping a miniature dignitary from a world of methane-breathers on my desk. The walking sticks were less like dignitaries and more like miniature savage warlords. Very creepy. If I'm going to keep a tiny representative of an alien race on my desk, it may as well come from a world with which I keep peaceful relations.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I went fishing today and caught an Emmett. He's green with red fins. But he's not a cyborg. He seems much happier in his new tank than he was when I caught him. And he swims around a lot more than I expected.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The cyborgs have been out in force. And a snowstorm met us in Seattle. It's a little surreal, after a week of sunny California, to have a three inch blanket of white on the ground and fluffy flakes filling the air. I hope it doesn't keep the cyborgs away.