Self Portrait in Maggie's Eye
Over Easter weekend, 1997, the cat Bonn had brought home from where it had been abandoned weeks before, gave birth to five black cats. Those five cats became one of the focal points of our lives. They were our family, our feline children, our constant companions and the source of much joy, laughter, and love.
Maggie was the firstborn. Her statement, "I was here first; everything's mine" was taken as a simple truth by all of her siblings. She wasn't the Alpha of the pride, she was The Big Sister. If anyone was not feeling well -- feline or human -- she became Nursemaid Maggie and stayed with them until they were better.
( For more, click on through to the other side…Collapse )
- Current Music:Chidananda - Deva Premal
Recording for posterity:
I play Pente with amlaped and sakkijarvi over at Pente.net. (If you play Pente and are interested in playing, leave me a comment))
There is an area to the left of the board that allows us to leave comments to each other. Sometimes we talk about the game, sometimes we talk about whatever is on our minds. It's a great way to keep up with one another on an almost daily basis.
For Father's Day, sakkijarvi's older sister posted a photo of herself as a baby with her parents. I was struck by how much sakkijarvi looks like his father in the photo -- something I had never noticed before.
Here's our conversation from the Pente comments, (without the comments about the game):
sakkijarvi: The odd thing is that, when you compare us at similar ages, I didn't look much like him until my mid-20s or so . . . as a young man he was handsome, whereas I was, at best, plain . . . in some ways I think I've actually become better looking with age
Me: I think I peaked in my early 20s. It's been quite downhill from there.
sakkijarvi: Maybe it's just that that wise-ass smirk of yours plays better coming from a pup!
I'm going to say that's partially the benefit and the problem of long-time friends.
- Current Music:The Wonder of It All - Steve Roach
Self Portrait in Kings Entryway Ceiling
Three Bits o' Gratitude
1. Taking the Time to Take it Easy; Taking the Time to Take it Slow
Between being tired, feeling run down, and frustrated with werk, earlier this week I decided to take this coming Monday off. After yesterday, I decided to take Tuesday off as well. (Unfortunately I've scheduled a meeting for early Wednesday morning, so I can't keep extending the number of days off)
2. Ground Rules Laid
Last night during a long walk through the neighborhood park Bonn and I were discussing some of the as-yet-to-be-planted plants we have on the side porch. "That's something you could do on your days off!" she suggested. "Don't start trying to set me things to do!" I interjected.
While I probably will get the cherry tomatoes and the tiny blueberry bush into pots or buckets, I don't want anything on my schedule for two days. And Bonn's even agreed to it. : )
3. First Author Interview Agreed To
I had a visit from my favorite kid of someone at werk. He's nine years old and wanted to know about my book. After telling him a bit about it his mother asked me if he could come back sometime soon and interview me for his fourth grade class newspaper.
- Current Music:The Late Show with Cherrie McIlwaine - 05/09/2013 - Various - BBC Radio Ulster
Sunday Afternoon at Joe Montague's Farm: Barn Front Porch
Three Bits o' Gratitude
1. This weekend was the first Grower's Market in Fuquay-Varina, and Bonn's first show selling her soap. The weeks leading up to this show were stressful for her, so it was good to get the first show done and over with. Considering all, she did pretty well. Her soaps got a very good reaction from the strawberry and greens buying crowd and she sold a respectable number of them as well.
2. Apparently there has been a Farmer's Market in this location for a number of years. Many of the sellers are Good Ol' Boy North Carolina farmers who grew up farming the land and have kept right on doing it well into their sixties and seventies. The Market had a strong community vibe -- the majority of the sellers all knew each other and greeted one another with handshakes and hugs.
What struck me the most about this was that the greetings were all very genuine -- race, ethnicity, spoken accents making no difference at all. It's things like this that give me hope for our species.
3. One of the many things the manager of the Market forgot to mention to Bonn was that, as a member of the Market, she was supposed to show up at the home of one of the farmer's on Sunday to have her picture taken for publicity purposes. Before we left the Market, we met the farmer whose home we were supposed to go to. He was an older gentleman, with a white beard, well-worn overalls, and a black felt hat with a John Deere tractor pin on the front.
When Bonn learned his name was Joe Montague she told him that she had Montagues in her family tree. He turned a mean gaze to me as if to say, "You mean you're claiming kinship to me?"
"She's done her research!" I quickly responded.
To be safe, though, I had Bonn print out some of her research that linked her to the Montagues. (13th Great-grandfather)
Turns out the glaring gaze was all an act. Mr. Montague turned out to be the most gracious and amusing of hosts. He gave us a quick tour of the downstairs of their house -- a house built in the mid-1800s and to which he has added several additional rooms (like a living room with a 25' cathedral ceiling and an octagon-shaped kitchen) all constructed with wood originally hewn in the same time period, gathered from old tobacco barns and local buildings. Oh, and most of the windows came from old churches, just for a bit of artistic color.
The front porch of the barn at the head of his driveway looks like it should be an antique shop. Old license plates, a doctor's horse-drawn carriage, an old washing machine, old signs, tools, and rocking chairs.
I spent most of my time there with my mouth gaping open from saying, "WOW!" so often.
- Current Music:Folk Club - 05/04/2013 - Various - BBC Radio Ulster
Bedtime Maxx & Me
I love this picture of Maxx. During the daylight hours he's a very aloof cat who is frustrated by not being able to go outside (where he would, undoubtedly put his extensive leaping skills to work by escaping from the fenced-in back yard… which is why he isn't allowed outside). Once it's bedtime, though, he frequently wants to curl up against me and sleep.
Three Bits o' Gratitude for Today: Online Radio Edition
1. The Iain Anderson Show
Iain Anderson's show is broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland late in the evening (Scottish time) but is available online and through the BBC iPlayer. He plays a good mix of folk, older rock, and various acoustic singer/songwriters. He's only on Monday through Wednesday, so I download the show the next day and listen to it the next day.
2. Late Night with Cherrie McIlwaine
Cherrie McIlwaine's show is on BBC Radio Ulster (Northern Ireland) and overlaps Iain Anderson's show, timewise. Luckily, I download her show as well. She plays a similar mix of music, frequently on the quieter side, but every bit as good.
3. Wrecking Ball Radio
Wrecking Ball Radio originates just down the road from where I werk in Carrboro, NC. They promote themselves as playing "eclectic folk rock" "cosmic americana" "bluegrass + jamband" and "soulful alt.country" which pretty well sums it up. Their daytime playlists have been good this week, so I'll keep tuning in.
- Current Music:Be My Hero - October Project
Green Trail Marker
Raleighwood, March 2013
Three Bits o' Gratitude for Today
I don't remember seeing these up north when I was growing up, so maybe they're a Southern Thing. I'm not brand-name loyal to either BC or Goody's, I'll take whichever is the cheapest.
They're essentially a migraine headache med combination (Acetaminophen, Aspirin, and Caffeine) that do a fine job of relieving some neck and shoulder stress, along with waking me up nicely when it's turning into serious nap time during werk hours. Since they're in powder form they take a bit of getting used to, but they also get into my system faster.
2. Evening walks with Bonn.
3. Laying down and taking a nap with our cats is one of the simplest, happiest things I know of.
- Current Music:Iain Anderson - 04/10/2013 - Various - BBC Radio Scotland
Three Bits o' Gratitude for Today
1. Yesterday I had lunch with a most remarkable man. Gene Lehman is a former UNC Professor whose life began in Hunan Province of China. Born of Methodist missionaries, he and his family escaped in the middle of the night to escape the Cultural Revolution. They landed in rural Kentucky where he grew up during the Great Depression. He's a lover of English history, biology, and laughter.
Last year one of my co-werkers (who interacts with Gene on a regular basis) asked me if I could help him with PDF issue he was having with the biology textbook he wrote and illustrated. The request was a simple one and took me about 10 minutes. A second project took longer, but was one I found fascinating. Since then he thinks I'm a computer genius and now, apparently, he even enjoys my company. Yesterday I took the chance to ask him about his life growing up. He has a very grounded sense of culture and history as he lived his life. I feel honored to have been able to speak with him.
2. Last night was one of those rare nights where Spring is holding on just enough to keep Summer's heat and humidity and mosquitos away. After grilling Bonn some chicken for dinner (and to take to her lynx today) we had a candlelight dinner outside on the upper porch to the barn, accompanied by a few cats eager to share Bonn's chicken.
3. It's a beautiful day outside & Bonn is picking me up early from werk so we can enjoy a bit more of it together. : )
- Current Music:Iain Anderson - 04/09/2013 - Various - BBC Radio Scotland
Three Bits o' Gratitude for Today
1. My boss 'recommended' I attend a lunch meeting put on by one of our vendors today. The presentation turned out to be not at all what we were expecting, but I did win a free laser printer. Since its a B&W, I'll be setting it up on Bonn's computer, making her very happy.
2. My body is finally not hurting (so much) from all of the yard work on Saturday. I remember being sore in the past after using the chainsaw, mowing the lawn, and weeding the garden, but not like this. After I stopped, I went inside, sat down on the living room couch, and curled up and slept for several hours.
3. It may be minor, but I think I finally have my head wrapped around how MediaWiki coding works. It's not all that complicated but it's a lot less direct than HTML.
- Current Music:Iain Anderson - 04/08/2013 - Various - BBC Radio Scotland
Turns out there's been an unexpected hitch in my answer to examorata's "What Happens Next?" question about my manuscript.
Saturday night I received my agent's editorial comments. At the start of the email she wrote that earlier that day she had just read that day's edition of Publisher's Marketplace, an industry newsletter that lists all of the new deals announced by the major publishing houses. Among Saturday's deals was one that, on the surface, shared three key elements with my manuscript. (The setting and characteristics of two of my main characters.) The plot and tone of that book is quite different from mine, but the similarities might be enough to derail my book from getting published anytime soon.
As I've told people, after reading that I was too depressed to even consider drinking. So I just went to bed.
I'm honestly not sure what's going to happen with the book now. I suspect we'll shelve it, but I need to talk to my agent before making any decision.
Over the past few days I've all but resigned myself to this idea. I've put three years into The Book and I'm not eager to see that work collect pixel-dust for what could be five or six years. However, being realistic, I'm grateful that The Book was good enough to get me an agent*. And, as annastan wrote to me, "So much of this business is about timing, which is completely out of our control. The only thing we CAN control is our writing."
I've already started working in my head on another, completely unrelated story. I talked through the basic characters and plot with Bonn last night and she actually liked it, saying she saw lots of opportunities for humor.
So there's that.
- Current Music:I Can See Clearly Now -- Johnny Nash
Three Bits o' Gratitude for Today
1. Thanks to Good Friday and a Tom Thursday, I had a nice four-day weekend. Sleeping late followed by reading on the sunny barn porch made for great mornings. Some garden work did in my lower, but that's to be expected I suppose.
2. Sunday was Easter, and Easter was the day the original five cats were born. Regardless of the date, that's when we've celebrated their birthdays for the past sixteen years. Easters in the past were often celebrated with crab legs -- their all-time favorites. With Maggie being the lone survivor, Bonn baked a chicken and Maggie ate her fill and then slept soundly for the night.
3. Spring is still trying to take over from Winter. Yesterday we had temps in the 70ºs; today it will be in the 60ºs and tomorrow in the 50ºs. Supposedly, we'll get fully into Spring after that. Either way, the weather has given us a string of those rare, perfect days.
- Current Music:Black & White - Three Dog Knight