“Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”
Stephen King

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

the illusions we subscribe to
Thu 2015-08-20 22:53:45 (single post)

The repaint job on our building is over, as far as our unit is concerned. They've got a few more units to finish tomorrow, but our front patio and back balcony are all done. Everything we had to bring inside is outside again, with the exception of the bird feeder--I found out it's against our HOA rules and regs. Which is sad, but fair; if you're worried about raccoons, it makes sense to ban animal attractors. We can put our hummingbird feeder out, but that's the one exception.

The back balcony was the last thing, and the paint crew got to it yesterday. I was in the guest-bedroom-turned-office in the front of the house, but I could hear the racket of ladders--ladders being extended and put in place, people jumping down from ladders onto the balcony, people climbing up ladders to the balconies above ours--when they arrived.

It reminded me of something:

Itís this idea of ownership, I think, which is twined so closely with responsibility and duty: this little patch of earth is indisputably yours, and you must take care of it, because no one else will.

But I think I sensed that this concept of ownership was a lie even then. I knew there were countless infrastructural and financial systems whose whole beings were devoted to allowing me and every other person on the block to engage in this happy fantasy. And for them, there were no boundaries. The men who came to check the meters or the gas or cable lines were perfectly within their rights to hop a fence or open your gate and stroll right in.

A fantasy, in other words, must be maintained. And for it to be maintained, it must be violated from time to time, its fragile penumbra punctured by outsiders going about their day to day business.

That's Robert Jackson Bennett, on a very particular fear that inspired his novel American Elsewhere. Only, of course, in that story, the officially sanctioned trespassers are up to something rather different than checking the meters and maintaining the cable. They're not necessarily men and women, either.

But it's a fair point even without the special pleading of horror/fantasy. We lock the door at night and when we leave the house, and we close the office window that looks out onto a ground floor patio. But because the back-of-house access points are some ten feet off the ground, we feel safe leaving them open so that the evening breeze can freshen and cool the bedroom and living room. And it's all an illusion, pierced the first time someone--legitimate or no--comes around the back with a ladder. Hell, the illusion of security wouldn't even survive a single person who didn't mind breaking glass. And yet we lock the door and feel like we've done the whole of our duty thereby.

It's not so much that I have faith that no one will break in, or that no one will steal the patio furniture if we leave it out overnight. It's just that I choose not to think about, because if I think about it, it scares the crap out of me and makes me paranoid as hell. And that ain't no way to live.

Makes a great basis for writing horror, though.

The evidence for blaming it on the rain is kind of shaky.
recipe for a crappy day
Tue 2015-08-11 23:32:19 (single post)

I think I have a barometer in my head. I woke up with a headache that lingered all day long, and all day long my ears popped and itched. Then this afternoon it rained for the first time in what feels like weeks. It's as good a theory as any, right? I should start keeping track, develop a chart showing the correspondence between changes in barometric pressure and days where I feel like crud.

Actually, it's a crappy theory. Data from Denver International Airport shows about the same range of pressure for yesterday as today, topping out at 30.3 on both days. And I felt fine yesterday. Granted, that's a high for the past seven days, rising from a low on Friday of 29.9--maybe it's a delayed reaction? Maybe I feel like crud on the second day after barometric pressure reaches a new high and stays there? I'm totally stretching for an explanation here. Any vaguely plausible nonsense will do.

Other theories include PMS and also maybe not drinking enough water last night after a high-sodium dinner and a beer. I dunno.

In any case, the result was me dragging around the house in a constant state of blah. I have no interesting reports to make, writing related or otherwise. Just a plea for do-overs on today.

Oh, here, have a recipe for Leftovers Day Crawfish Chowder:

  1. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a medium pot over medium heat.
  2. Chop up half an onion and throw it in.
  3. Chop up a good handful of potatoes leftover from a crawfish boil.
  4. Add any other leftovers from the boil that float your boat: garlic, sausage, mushrooms, corn, whatever.
  5. Once onions are soft and potatoes are softer, add about a pint of the stock you made from the crawfish shells. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Mash the potatoes a little.
  7. Add however much milk gives a consistency that says "chowder" to you. Simmer a few minutes more.
  8. Devour. Repeat if still hungry.

So that was dinner. So I made something today. Tomorrow I shall no doubt make something else.

''And would you like an extra fishing rod for just five dollars more?'' ''No, thank you...''
Because John would probably appreciate the warning/reminder before opening the fridge door.
freedom from ac outlet tyranny means taking the laptop fishing NOT SWIMMING
Mon 2015-08-03 23:59:59 (single post)

I got the email stating that my new laptop battery has shipped! It's hanging out in Anaheim CA as we speak. I can only imagine it'll be in my hands by the time the week is out. I'll have 5400 brand new milliamp hours to play with! And I promise to use nothing but good battery longevity practices with this one. At least for the first couple weeks.

And I'll really be able to take my writing out to the crawfish hole.

I know, I know. You're probably getting sick of the near-daily crawfish report. But I'm terribly enthusiastic, so you're getting a crawfish report. Also, today was Monday. Mondays don't mean no writing, but they mean a lot less writing, less enough to allow ample time to play with the mudbugs.

  1. I bought a fishing license this weekend.

My crawfishing expeditions are now totally legit, for I have visited McGuckin Hardware and bought a license. (Actually, I parked at Hazel's Beverage World, walked to McGuckin, bought the license, then walked back and bought beer. Because fishing and beer go together in the LeBoeuf family, even if Colorado alcohol laws won't let me actually bring my beer out to the crawfish hole.) I have paid my small share toward the Colorado Division of Wildlife's efforts to keep our waterways clear and clean and well-researched. Also, I see from the itemized receipt that I've also put my quarter toward Search & Rescue operations, and my seventy-five cents toward the Wildlife Education Fund.

Was this necessary? Why yes, it was necessary.

ADULTS ó People 16 and older are required to buy and carry with them a fishing license to fish or take fish, amphibians and crustaceans, except as prohibited.

Sure, I could probably have got along without one--it's unlikely anyone was going to come check up on my activities and accuse me of poaching. But it's a darn good deal for $36. In addition to the doing-my-bit warm fuzzy and the "Yay I'm legal!" peace of mind, it's like a season-long all-you-can-eat ticket. (CDW imposes no statewide limits on crawfish. Or on bullfrogs. You totally needed to know that.) Generally that monetary amount would just about not quite cover a single afternoon of all-you-can-eat crawfish at Nono's Cafe. Not that I can spice them as perfectly or provide and prepare them in the same quantities as Nono's Cafe, mind you, nor even catch them myself during most of that restaurant's crawfish boil season (Colorado waters warm up a few months later than Louisiana waters, surprising exactly no one). But still.

  1. I've started experimenting with home-built crawfish traps.

I'm working on a series of photos documenting the project, which will accompany a longish blog post going into even more detail that you probably didn't want. For now, here's the short story: I started with these instructions, made some materials substitutions, and improvised in a trial-and-error sort of way from there on out. So far, results are mixed. The trap doesn't come up exactly stuffed, but the one or two mudbugs in there tend to be huge. Huge, like, "If I don't catch any more today I am still bringing this one home and cooking it all by itself and serving it with drawn butter because this, my friends, is a lobster."

So I've got 24 live crawfish in the plastic bin in the fridge tonight, all but one of which were caught in the last hour I was out. (The previous few hours were spent trying out different promising-looking areas downstream, but discovering that they just weren't sufficiently populated to be worth the time spent there. Once I returned to my usual haunts, things got busy. I was even throwing some back for being too smal.) To that double-dozen will be added whatever shows up tomorrow during the morning writing shift (or that part of it which my laptop holds out for), and lunch will be delicious.

I did say *rudimentary* illustrations.
fly free, little fictionette of July
Fri 2015-07-31 23:59:28 (single post)

It's the last day of the month. Accordingly, one of this month's Friday Fictionettes, "And Did You Bring Enough For Everyone?", has gone free, free as in beer, free for everyone to download as an attractive PDF or to listen to as an MP3 narrated in the dulcet tones of Yours Truly.

It is a fifth Friday, so there is no new Fictionette today. However, I do have one of the July Fictionettes ready to hit the mail tomorrow, right on time, as a quirky typewritten artifact with rudimentary watercolored illustrations and lots of typos corrected by white-out ribbon. Lookit! I took a picture before I stuffed it in the envelope. This is totally a collector's item, y'all. You should sign up to get you some of that while supplies last. Make me type more! Typing is fun!

Speaking of which, I'm pleased to report that the replacement ribbon from Ribbons Unlimited came in earlier this week. It works like a charm. I am no longer typing on a twenty-year-old ribbon, which is kind of important. Maybe not as important as you're thinking; since I only used the typewriter once every two to five years, the ribbon's usable life spanned the two decades fairly well. However, black text was getting unmistakably fainter, and the white corrective ribbon had become all but useless and had ripped in several places. So it's a relief to be able to change it out.

While I was waiting for it to get here, I tried using the ill-fitting universal black-and-red. For some reason, it sagged in the mechanism, so that I'd lose the tops of my letters. Eventually I just turned it over and flipped the type-color switch since red was now on the top and black on the bottom. This worked OK, but I'm glad to have a proper solution at last instead of a kludge. I'm also glad to have a black-and-white/corrective ribbon (whose white half covers all my typos!) instead of black-and-red (whose red half I was going to use... when?).

In other news, I exercised great restraint and did not catch more crawfsh today. I did, however, take my Morning Pages out to the creek. I have the mosquito bites to show for it!

I miss my patio. I can't wait for the building re-painting project to be done so that I can put the furniture back out full time. And my squash, tomato, herbs, pepper plants, and John's sunflower too would really like to be back out on the balcony in full sun...

My first venture had promising results.
you get a line i'll get a pole because apparently we don't need nets
Mon 2015-07-27 23:59:59 (single post)

It's summer and I feel like Calvin of "and Hobbes" fame. "The days are just packed!" Today I was running around barefoot all over my neighborhood, wading in Wonderland Creek, and fishing for crawfish, honest to any God you care to name. I pretty much spent today being twelve years old.

What happened was, Saturday I biked to The Goat at the Garage, which is a cafe about 15 minutes east of me. (It gets its name from sharing a building with Green Eyed Motors.) There I geared up to roller skate the trails with some friends. We skated the Boulder Creek Path across town and across two zip-codes, from the 80301 post office to the downtown farmer's market. It was pretty epic. After all that, of course, I still had to bike, and I had to get groceries. So I wound up biking home along 30th Street and the Wonderland Creek Path with my baskets full to bursting with milk, potato chips, bread, soda, and assorted stinky-sweaty skate gear.

It was during the final part of this ride that I ran into the group of guys crawfishing in Wonderland Creek. They were leaning over the railing at the little flat bridge, dangling what looked like very long shoelaces into the water. I trundled to a stop and wobbled around a U-turn with my overladen bike and came in close to investigate. They proudly showed me an assortment of plastic containers containing crawfish sorted by size. The largest probably came up to around six inches in length. All in all they had about 30.

"Do you lower one of those bins in on a line with bait inside, and then haul up the bin once they crawl in?"

"No," the nearest guy said, with an almost embarrassed expression, "it's just some turkey knotted into the end of the line. They hold onto it while we pull it up."

The simplicity of it! Also the familiarity--I remembered a fishing trip one summer when we caught not a single fish on the line, but kept finding small blue crabs clinging defiantly to the bait. "What are you going to do with them?"

Another shrug. "Throw 'em back."

I was thinking, Throw them back? What a waste! You've got enough for crawfish monica at least for two, right? But I just nodded and wished them luck. The rest of my ride home, though, I was also thinking, Why didn't I think of that?

So today was Monday, and Mondays are often how I steal back a weekend day that roller derby stole from me in the first place. (Yesterday wasn't a team practice day like usual, but only because it was the league's first annual carnival fund-raiser. I made cotton candy and snow-cones all day. Meanwhile, John ran around playing all the games and eating cotton candy and snow-cones. Yesterday was John's day to be twelve years old.) So having an unscheduled weekend day on my hands, I experimented.

Experiment #1 involved finding a good place to drop my line. I didn't want to hang around on the bridge where everyone passing by would wonder what I was up to. That works fine if you're with your best buds and you have great results to show-off, but I was all alone and I didn't know what I was doing. So I made my way downstream a bit. I figured I was looking for somewhere with shadowy pockets where a crawfish might hide, and lots of little minnows that a crawfish might hunt. Places just downstream of small "waterfalls" seemed to be most likely. A place where I actually saw a crawfish hanging out in the shallows seemed ideal.

Experiment #2 was about setting up my line. I brought some pieces of raw bacon and a ball of twine. After some initial false starts having to do with dropping my ball of twine in the creek and having to jump in after it (the creek's not even knee-deep, but jumping in disturbs all the critters) and indeed dropping my miniature ice-chest in and thus freeing my first catch of the day, I settled into a routine that seemed to work.

  1. Tie bacon to end of twine.
  2. Tie a rock just above that, to pull the bacon down to the creek bottom.
  3. Tie this to a longish stick, to allow greater flexibility in dropping the line.
  4. Prop the stick on the bank and shorten the twine so that the twine is taut.
  5. Repeat with additional bait-twine-rock-sticks.
  6. Relax with a book and/or some tatting and wait for one of your lines to twitch.
  7. Carefully pull up line, hoping crawfish doesn't let go until it's over the bank.
  8. Pick up crawfish and toss it into the ice chest.
  9. Repeat from step 4.

If you don't mind spending a little while at it, you can catch a good handful that way. I got seven over the course of an hour or so--sometimes two at a time. (These are featured in the crappy cell phone photography above.) Probably would have got more over the same period had I dropped my lines by the bridge, but, again, I wanted a more secluded spot.

Experiment #3 was to eliminate the part where sometimes the crawfish gets wise to you and lets go before you get him onto the bank. We have this three-tiered hanging wire mesh basket that we used for storing and showing off tea at the old house. At the new place, we never found a place to hang it up, nor a use for it since all our tea fits in kitchen drawers now, so it's been on a shelf in the laundry room all this time. I thought about it today when I considered what might work as a sort of net.

It worked pretty well. I used a twist-tie to secure some bacon to the center of the top basket, then attached some twine to the hanging chain and hook. I let it sink to the bottom of my most productive fishing hole, where it settled flat. I tied the twine to a handy root on the bank, then I settled down to pass the time with Cherie Priest's Boneshaker and a tatting motif I wanted to finish. Periodically I'd get up and take a look: the basket, painted white, shone clearly up through the shadowy two-foot-deep water. It was easy to see when a crawfish had crawled onto it. I pulled on the line, the basket expanded into three dimensions as it rose off the creek floor, and the crawfish stayed in the basket. (Seriously, that sucker clung to the basket. It took a fight to get it to let go of the wire.)

I now have ten of 'em in the fridge and mean to try one more quick trip tomorrow morning. The plan is to then make a very simplified version of this crawfish bisque recipe.

In the near future, there may be an Experiment #4, involving a DIY crawfish trap made from two 2-liter bottles. That may, however, be too much work for a temporary 12-year-old like myself.

The planks and bricks came home today and boy am I exhausted.
the workshop ate my homework
Fri 2015-06-26 23:56:01 (single post)

Pictured at right is a large part of the reason that the July 26 Friday Fictionette will be late. This is the walking-in-the-door view of our storage closet, which is located downstairs in the parking garage. Every unit in the building gets one. Bigger units presumably get bigger storage closets. Our unit is a 2-bed 2-bath, which apparently corresponds to a huge storage closet.

It was also a huge selling point for our new home. From the first time we looked at the address's listing online and saw pictures of all the rooms and amenities, John declared that, if we did buy the place, the storage closet would not be used exclusively or even primarily for storage; it would in fact become his new workshop. He has all kinds of DIY projects in various stages of development, and he needs a place where he can store all their components and work on them in comfort.

If he were that sort of a dude, this would be his "man cave." But he is not that sort of a dude (I probably wouldn't have married that sort of a dude), and he finds the whole gender-normative and gender-restrictive idea of a "man cave" to be repulsive. Scrapping and woodworking and electrical projects aren't just for men. And, as he was quick to point out, the workshop/storage unit isn't just his. Some of my DIY is down there too: fleeces I have yet to card and spin, used roller derby equipment to be donated or upcycled, my homebrew equipment for when I finally contemplate making mead again, & etc.

John's been excitedly showing me every step in the ongoing process of organizing and furnishing the place. Like when he brought home that work bench from Home Depot (you can barely see it on the left in the photo) and pointed out where he was going to hang a peg board. And how he met a neighbor who's put his own storage closet to similar use, and got some useful tips from him.

Today we went to the rental storage unit and, together, ferried back four 8-foot planks and a whole bunch of cement blocks. Back at the old place, these used to be part of our entertainment center, where we kept and used our TV, computer, phonograph and records, CDs, and video games. Now they've been erected as storage shelving. See how well they work?

After bringing those things home, I was officially beat. I have no idea how John found the energy to go down there, put a bunch of things on the shelves, sand his workbench to a satiny finish, sweep the whole place out, and make a first pass at staining the workbench. Me, I was flat. It also bears mentioning that in addition to the planks and bricks, we brought home two boxes of paperbacks, and I wasted no time picking out one to reread. So I wasn't just flat, I was flat with my falling-apart copy of Patricia McKillip's The Book of Atrix Wolfe. I had the self-restraint to put it away after fourteen chapters and several hours of on-and-off napping. Would that I had not picked it up in the first place, but it was probably unreasonable to expect me to resist that much temptation.

(Books! Books are coming home! We have a house full of books once more!)

We don't have a name for the workshop besides "the workshop," other than agreeing, with much rolling of the eyes at the mere mention, that it is not "the man cave." But we do have a name for the house. We came up with it last week: The Conservatory. It is phonetically similar to the previous place's name (The Observatory), and it makes reference to almost all the senses of the word we can think of:

A solarium/greenhouse. We've got the herb and vegetable container garden out back, the tropical plants indoors, and the flowers on the front patio.

A place for the performance arts. We've got a number of musical instruments, many of them real (piano, guitar, hammer dulcimer, cornet, etc.) and a few of them fake (Rock Band 2 and 3 on the Wii). Transitioning from a third-floor unit with neighbors below to a street-level unit with nothing underneath but a parking garage has made us much more free to indulge in melodious noise-makers.

A sunroom. AKA the back half of the house. Since the summer arrived in earnest, it's gotten quite bright and warm. The plants are happy, but we find ourselves retreating to the office, kitchen, and front patio for a little relief.

A pun on "conservation." I've already made mention of the wildlife in the neighborhood, specifically itinerant whitetail and mule deer. And then there's the bird-and-squirrel TV on the back porch. We get house finches, sparrows, and the occasional grackle on the feeder. Then there's a very timid bird, somewhat smaller than a sparrow, that visits the feeder quickly and stealthily, almost before I can get a good look at it. I think it's a black-capped chickadee. Squirrels show up to eat whatever winds up on the deck. Sometimes the squirrels investigate our garden, at which point we chase them away with brooms. It'll be a pleasant surprise if any of our sunflowers make it to the flowering stage.

The most recent bird drama has been a family of grackles--possibly more than one family--the adolescents of which have been doggedly resisting their parents' attempts to teach them self-sufficiency. They yap and yap until the adult birds shove a mouthful of suet cake into their faces. Or until the parents make it clear they are not going to do this anymore, but instead showily demonstrate how one goes about getting one's own damn mouthful of suet cake from the feeder. Today, the youngsters have been shyly arriving on the back porch, unchaperoned and determined to figure things out.

Best of all today was the dragonfly swarm at dusk. I don't generally get to see dragonflies in Boulder in anywhere near the numbers I would back home in New Orleans. Usually I just see one or two, mostly out by the small private lakes, along the creeks, or in the pocket "wetlands" where the cattails grow. But as I walked down the block to go see how John was coming along in the workshop, I happened to look up at the place where our building separates into two "towers," into the space in between that's open to the sky, and in that narrow alley was a mob of dragonflies, all swooping and diving and hunting their prey. John came up with me to see the spectacle. We went up to the second floor walkway for a better look, and it was that much more amazing--especially when some of them repeatedly swooped at our faces. I only wish I could have seen their colors better; at twilight, small things turn monochrome.

Well, I also wish I'd gotten a picture, but I doubt my crappy 10-year-old Kodak would have done the scene justice. Maybe I'll try anyway on Sunday. Not tomorrow. Tomorrow's bout day. Come twilight I'll be skating roller derby at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. (If you would like to see this for yourself, doors open at 5:30 PM and tickets are $15; I'll be in the second bout.) But I'll be home at twilight on Sunday, unless plans should change.

Sunday is also when I'm hoping to post the July 26 Friday Fictionette. Monday at the latest. (Sorry again.)

So that's the week, that's the news from the Conservatory, and that's it for me for now. Good night!

Cover art incorporates a photo of a Greyhound bus by Kevin.B on Wikimedia Commons. Click to see original photo.
this fictionette is only for the strong of stomach
Tue 2015-06-23 22:21:33 (single post)

So here's the Friday Fictionette I was supposed to post for June 19. It's called "All Creatures Great and Small," and it is, at least partially, about puking. (That's by way of your content warning. You may not want to read it while you're eating.) It's also about the creation of teeny, tiny, cute yet disgusting monsters after the manner of a particular fairy tale.

Today's work day went almost exactly as planned, down to taking five-minute spinning breaks out on the patio in between 25-minute sessions of writing. I'm spinning a lovely half-fleece of "black" (really a very dark brown) CVM lamb. At least, I think it's CVM. I used to have this written down on a card that I kept with the fleece, but the moths ate it along with a shameful amount of wool.

When I discovered the moths had gotten into it--this was last year when I was cleaning out the office closet at the old address--I went into Emergency Wool Rescue Mode. The first step of Emergency Wool Rescue Mode was wash it all right now. The second and subsequent steps were to allow it to freeze, then allow it to thaw, repeat until sure all moth eggs have been destroyed.

Despite the emergency washing, the wool still feels greasy. But it's nice. Lanolin is good for your hands, after all. And each flicked lock seems to stretch like taffy as I draft it into the twist. It's pleasant and easy work, and very rewarding as the yards and yards of thin single ply wind onto the bobbin.

We've been spending more and more time out on the patio since bringing home the deck furniture. John and I had breakfast out there together, along with our usual post-breakfast state-of-the-household chat. Then I brought the spinning wheel, fleece, and carding combs out, and they sat beside or on the table all day, ready for me to come out and take each five-minute break. When the five minutes were up, I could easily hear the Pomodoro Timer's "get back to work" whistle through the open office window. Neighbors passed by and waved, smiled, commented on the weather. Lawn mowers sent their buzz-saw serenades up into the sky, where small planes doing airport pattern work occasionally echoed that song back down.

Despite the heat of the summer, it's cool on the patio, cooler even than in the house. It's a very nice place to be--at least until the mosquitoes start their twilight hunt. I may start taking more of my work out there.

Click to view original photo of Estonia's Tallinn Tunnels
this week has barely got its shoes on
Thu 2015-06-11 23:54:58 (single post)

...and tomorrow it's going to take the wheel. We have an eight hour drive ahead of us, followed by quite possibly a visit to the National Museum of Roller Skating (if we get to Lincoln in time, which is, alas, not likely) and, if we've still got any energy, a session of recreational rolling around at the Skate Zone (which is pretty definite).

And then we'll be competing against the No Coast Derby Girls on Saturday. Which is the whole point of the trip.

I'm also looking at composing and publishing the June 2015 Week 2 Friday Fictionette in the car. Yes, I know I said I wasn't going to count on that. Well, that was before the week got squandered on--well, this and that. Mostly this, a little of that. We'll see.

And what about Week 1? Well, it's up. Finally. "You Could Go a Long Way in Those Shoes" is kind of comedy, kind of horror, and kind of vaguely influenced by having recently read Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. The writing prompts for the original freewriting session were "Underground Railroad" and "cleats." It wound up having much to do with the importance of good running shoes in scoping out the possibilities of a cross-continental subterranean passenger railroad system.

I'm undecided whether the world of this fictionette is fantasy or science fiction. It's comparable to present day Earth in many ways, including the technological, but the entire continent which provides the story's setting has sort of a basement floor. I toyed with the idea of making it a post-space-colonization planet, but I was honestly too lazy to come up with any concrete details about the history of space travel and the future tech they'd have to have. So it's more sort of an alternate Earth on an alternate North America with less urban sprawl. (Which seems like a plot hole. There'd be a very good incentive for urban centers to sprawl all about the place, as you will see.) In any case, I'd like to write more in this setting, once I know a little bit more about the setting.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to say I met one of my goals with the June 5 fictionette: It's not just a story-like object. It's actually a complete story. Enjoy!

Click to view original photo (appears heavily distorted in cover art) and photographer credits
this fictionette is going down under the seventh wave
Mon 2015-05-25 22:39:20 (single post)
  • 1,100 wds. long

Because it's about a mural depicting a shipwreck. It's called "Shipwreck in Progress." It's also about family relations, and maybe doomsday.

And now I have almost two whole weeks to prepare the next Friday Fictionette because May 2015 is a month with five Fridays in it, and I get fifth Fridays off. Nyah!

So I've changed my mind about my hummingbird visitor. Now I think it's most likely a male black-chinned hummingbird who looked red-throated only because I was seeing its neck feathers through the optical illusion of its wing-blur. In any case, it's been back countless times and seems to like what I've got on offer, but it still tries to drink out of the songbird feeder from time to time.

I tried to doctor up the songbird feeder with chili powder, because I've just about had it with the squirrel that it's attracted. It was cute at first, but when it's sitting in the planter and eating the leaves off the just-sprouted sunflower seedlings, it's just not funny anymore. The planter was already propped up on top of a bucket, but that sucker actually scrabbled up the sliding glass door to get into it. I have no idea how, but the noise its claws made on the steel frame of the door woke me up in time to watch it visiting the "salad bar." Now the planter has been moved further away from the wall, and what seedlings remain have been transplanted indoors to give them a chance to grow a few more leaves.

Today was the first sunny day I'd seen in what feels like weeks. It was sunny from morning right up until early afternoon, when we got a hailstorm. But before that I got to open up windows and doors and just let that warm air in, carrying with it all the songs of the birds and the occasional mew of the neighbor's adorable and affectionate black cat.

At one point I heard bagpipes, and I went out to hear them better. It's Memorial Day, and we live within view of a large funeral lawn with many a war veteran's tomb. It was pleasant, if solemn, to stand in the sun with my mug of tea and listen to the pipes playing "Amazing Grace," occasionally interrupted by the sound of the fighter planes doing their flyovers.

I did my Morning Pages late, and I did them on the back patio. In addition to sun and songbirds, there was the smell of a propane grill. Down on the lawn across the fence, some neighbors in the next condominium campus were having a picnic. When the big guy in the football shirt said, "Who wants more brats?" I very nearly called out, "Me!" They smelled that good.

And that's about all I've got. Lazy holiday Monday, a new Fictionette, and a bunch of bird-and-squirrel TV. I hope your Monday has been as pleasant. Cheers!

three happy things and one late thing
Fri 2015-05-22 23:34:06 (single post)

Let's concentrate on the positive. We got the piano tuned today! And the piano bench is sort of fixed, enough to sit on at least; Monday I hope to have it fixed in a more permanent fashion. So I sat down and played the piano today for the first time since we moved. Since months before we moved, in fact.

In the piano bench, which I emptied out in order to fix the piano bench, there's a heap of sheet music that belonged, I think, to one of my aunts. I suspect they were handed down to her from a previous generation. There is a Victor Herbert songbook with pieces whose copyrights range from MCMVI to MCMXXXIII. Victor Herbert died in MCMXXIV, which is the copyright date on a couple of the songs in the book.) I played through one of them--as best I can, that is, which is to say slowly and with many pauses to figure out the next chord. It was pretty dang melodramatic. I think it was supposed to be a cheerful song, though.

In other cheerful news, we have a hummingbird. Or multiple hummingbirds, I don't know. They jingle-buzz around the building, on both sides, and you can often catch sight of one zipping from tree to tree. I hung a feeder outside my office window in hopes of having hummingbirds visit me while I write, but almost a week went by and they didn't find it. Then, today, a hummingbird buzzed our patio window--just flew right into the balcony space and hovered meaningfully in front of the sliding glass door. "All right, already," I said, and moved the feeder from the office window to the patio. And now we have a new friend.

Back when we lived in Oregon, we had a hummingbird feeder outside the kitchen window. We weren't always vigilant about keeping it full, but the hummingbirds were not shy about telling us it had run dry. They'd start buzzing every other window of the house, upstairs and down, hovering outside the glass and going vvvrrrreeeee! in a pointed kind of way. I think today's visitor was doing something like that.

I brought a pair of cheap field glasses to the bedside so I could get a closer look next time the hummer came in for a sip (which it did about once every 20 minutes for the rest of the afternoon), but I haven't quite identified the species. It's got a gray-or-green body, a white-or-light-gray chest, and a reddish throat, which could be one of several species that WhatBird.com suggests for Colorado. My best guess is a male broad-tailed hummingbird. I suppose it could also be a calliope, but I didn't notice that striping/striation pattern in the red/maroon throat of my visitor. (WhatBird.com does not suggest the ruby-throated hummingbird this far west.)

One more happy thought: Roller derby tomorrow! Our first home bout of the season--at least, this will be the first competitive event we're hosting in 2015. The January event was a mix-up tournament. Tomorrow's will feature actual rated-and-ranked teams. I'll be skating with the Bombshells against the visiting team from Pueblo in the first bout of the evening--that'll start at 6:00 PM, with the frontman for Big Head Todd and the Monsters as the celebrity whistleblower starting the first jam for us. Right after that, our All Stars will take on Denver Roller Derby's Bruising Altitude.

I was going to put an article up on AXS.com about the event, but literally minutes before I was ready to upload the article, I got an email from AXS saying that they would no longer accept "game-related sports news or timely recaps." Argh. I was not prepared to try to turn it into some sort of "5 things to watch for" listicle at this late date, either, so I just let it go. You get this blog post instead.

$15 at the door! Doors open at 5:30! I'm assuming Georgia Boys will be there, with barbecue and mac & cheese for all. I know there will be lots of local beers and distilled spirits for the grown-ups. Come watch me skate, and then come see me at the fund raiser table during the All Stars bout (at halftime, of course; otherwise you should be watching the All Stars skate, because they are awesome) and help us keep our travel fund in the black! And speaking of the All Stars, keep your eyes on them this season. Latest WFTDA rankings put them at #33, which means this year may well be Boulder's D1 debut.

Meanwhile, it's Friday, and there is a conspicuous absence of Fictionette. I hope to get it up this weekend (where have we heard that tale before? but I really, really mean it this time. Well, Monday for sure). It was taking me longer tonight than I'd budgeted for, and it didn't seem wise to stay up late with such a big day looming over me tomorrow. So you will just have to stay tuned for tales of painted shipwrecks and sinister countdowns, I'm afraid.

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