Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Night of No Time

I didn't realize until recently that Samhain opened a period known as the "time which is no time."

That's sort of a deliciously chilling concept for some reason. It's a factoid I picked up in a lecture by a Wiccan at a Unitarian Church recently, but it prompted me to read a little more on the web.

Read a little further in some of the online texts and you learn that on the opening night of the period "the natural order of the universe disolves back into primordial chaos, preparatory to re-establishing itself in a new order."

Witchies an and goblins and long-leggedy beasties may be scary but the more ancient concepts are a little more world wrenching.

Of course it being the end of the old year, it's also a time of reflection and contemplation, a time to take advantage of the "no time" to view past and future.

Hope that's interesting. Happy Halloween.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gathering Memories

My mother hasn't recognized me for a while now. I've blamed myself, of course, more than her dementia. If I'd visited more...if I'd left more pictures...if...

A few months ago, one of the nurses who has worked with the elderly for quite some time told me that her condition, unlike Alzheimer's, is cyclical. He predicted she would recognize me again at some point, and she did today.

This a.m.
I strolled into her room at the nursing home with my pumpkin spice latte, prepared to sit and drink it and converse with her as a stranger. I could probably chart her illness by the number of times Starbuck's has welcomed pumpkin spice in and out of season.

"Do you recognize me?" I asked.

"Sure I do."

She's masked her lapses for so long now I've become accustomed to white lies. "I remember that name but I can't put a face with it," is her most common.

"I've visited and you haven't recognized me," I explained.

"Maybe it's because you don't come by very often."

"I've been in Omaha."

"Maybe it's because you don't have as much on your chin."

I rubbed my goatee. "I've got about the same amount of facial hair I've had for a long time," I said.

"Well, you need to keep it."

This from the woman who tormented me about my beard in college until I shaved it to shut her the hell up about it. I, uh, still have a few issues. Doesn't everyone?

"In college, you weren't too wild about my beard," I said.

"How long were you in college?"

"Four years."

"That's quite a while."

"Most people go four years. Some people go longer. You went to college four years."


"Do you remember college?"

I remember her remembering college. She had five Saturday classes, slept on a sleeping porch with wet hair, mastered organic chemistry, preserved her lab implements in pristine shape only to have them stolen by boys who had not and needed replacements. Upon protest she was repaid her lab implement deposit just the same.

"Not much," she said.

"You know who I am?"


"Who do you think I am?"

Ah, ha, can't play a game with a direct question, eh?


Wow, it wasn't masking, and the nurse was right.

We pulled out her scrapbook called Gathering Memories created by hospice workers with information gleaned from me.

In the pages of memory
Once we got past the calligraphy "G" in gathering she thumbed through it. My father's name did not jog her memory, but she remembered their last dog and knew the clipping a worker had used was not really his picture.

Since Samson's picture was a fake, so too must be the picture of herself snapped at Valentine's Day while she wearing a red hat and drape. The person in the picture was old. Couldn't be her.

And the person in the nursing home bed couldn't be my mom. But it was.

Time is not gentle nor kind. Time is just time and life is what it is. At least she knows my name again, for a while.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What's on the iPod? Omaha

There are lots of songs named "Omaha."

I happen to have the one by Moby Grape but it's not great as an anthem for the next couple of days as I'm here in Omaha on day-job business.

Found a great record store down in the Old Market section so maybe I'll browse there a little more for a better choice.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The My Garden Sandwich

Temperatures have been unseasonably warm which--along with a late planting of cucumbers--has kept my garden going longer than I expected.

I've been enjoying a veggie-heavy sandwich enhanced with available ingredients, and I've been pretty pleased with the flavor.

On a sub roll, I've been using:

  • Cucumber slices
  • Orange bell pepper (though I will soon use red because that's what's just ripened)
  • Clippings from Territorial Seed Company's Micro Greens salad assortment (slightly cooler temps seem to have killed whatever was eating them)
  • Tomato (from my grocer's produce section, the tomato plants gave out already)
  • Veggie cheese, American or Swiss (ditto-grocer. I don't know how to make it.)
  • Vegenaise® - from the health food store and very, very good.
  • Sliced turkey
I have done the sandwich without the meat and found it to be just fine as well.

I hope it's healthier than average, and it does have the spiritual benefit of being grown as the result of my own effort.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover

Charles was mentioning bad reviews the other day. Sometimes they come from people who haven't even read the book.

For example, I was signing books once upon a time. Night Brothers was new and I was at a Waldenbooks in a mall. I can't really recommend mall book signings. I've known of people who had successful mall book signings but they were wearing black lipstick and nail polish. That catches the eye.

I digress
Bayou Bob Petitt and I were doing a signing at a mall once and a lady kind of shuffled by and said: "They write horror fiction!" Unspoken subtext: "Let's get out of here. They're probably dangerous."

At that same book signing a mother and grandmother came along. They had a son/grandson who was a Koontz fan. I was signing Night Brothers and Robert was signing the paperback of Razored Saddles in which he has a story.

"His grandmother wants to buy him a signed book," the mother said. "He likes Dean Koontz, but she's not going to buy him a book with a cover like that one." She pointed at Night Brothers.

So they picked up Razored Saddles which has a skeletal cowboy on the paperback front. "Fine, I thought. "Wait until you read '"Yore Skin's Jes Soft 'n Purdy," He Said.' Maybe that'll teach you not to judge a book by its cover."

I get back on point
But so anyway I was at a mall, and this guy ankles up to the card table I was sitting at.

"You shouldn't be writin' that stuff about our state."

Did I mention this was in Louisiana?

"Why not?" I asked.

"Makes us look bad. You ought to be writin' sumthin' historical or sumethin'."

"It's got some fairly carefully researched historical content," I said. "There are flashbacks."

"Yeah, but it'll make everybody think Louisiana's full of all this spooky shit."

If I was writing straight historical, I'd probably have to include voodoo, I thought but didn't go into it.

"Stuff like this, and Paul Harvey, I got a bone to pick with him too," the guy went on.

About then the staff ran him off, leaving me thinking: "It's not me, buddy. It's you."

By the way, for examples of just a few of the wonderful, enlightened people in Louisiana:
Check out the Louisiana Connection on Charles' blog.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Good Movies

Is it me or are there 50 good movies suddenly appearing? I'm perplexed about what to choose at the multiplex.

Maybe it's because I'm such an eclectic.

The detective thriller lover in me would love to see Gone Baby Gone based on the Dennis Lehane series entry with Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan as Lehane's heoric duo.

My inner political activist wants to see the socially-conscious thriller Rendition.

And of course my horror and comics fan self can't wait for 30 Days of Night in which vampires take advantage of those long Alaskan nights.

There are so many hours in the weekend. I wonder which door will thrill and which will disappoint.

Guess I'll flip a coin in the ticket line and hope for the best.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Sad Situation

I don't know all the facts, but this situation with Ellen DeGeneres's dog sounds very unfortunate.

Just reading that account it looks like a case where the letter of an agreement compromises its spirit.

If the dog was in a good home, why not just investigate to make sure? Why yank it away just because it's technically against a policy?

Where's the caring and compassion in that?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Old Long Since

I dreamed about a girl from high school. Not that kind of dream. She wasn't that kind of girl.

In the dream, that I now don't remember well, she was at a laundromat or something innocuous, and I woke up wondering why she was putting in an appearance lo, more years than I can count since I saw or thought about her last, that latter being when she was appearing as an enemy spy in a short story I never sold or needed to sell. I was reading Ludlum a lot back then.

The dream was a little discomforting as is high school.

It wasn't until later that I awoke to the reason. It was when a conflict at the day job reappeared. It was something that I thought was over, or that I thought I was over at least.

And I thought that right up until I stopped keeping my mouth shut and told my co-workers I'd felt a little dissed by some decisions.

In the midst of it the long-ago face from dream slashed into my mind and I realized some conflicts from back in the day mirrored the current situation.

It was almost like a contrivance from a novel, yet it was my everyday.

Not sure it's something I can use, but it certainly reminds again the cyclical nature of life and relationships.

Yep, sometimes people stab you in the same place.

Fir ald lang syn

Friday, October 12, 2007

Apparently Blogger is adding some improvements

So of course everything is #(_) ( |( |= @ up!

I'll be restoring the usual look and links as soon as I figure out the work arounds or until someone gets back to me from Blogger Help.

When does hell freeze over? I'm sure they'll get back to me right after that.

What's in the Mail Box? - Werewolf Magazine!

In the Better in the Mail than in the Trunk Department: My story "Lync" appears in Werewolf Magazine No. 7 which I received the other day. (Please don't miss the most important part below. The order link had grown old and had to be removed. This post is preserved for archivable purposes)

"Lync" focuses on a slightly futuristic society in which a designer drug brings out the lycanthrope in addicts. The heroine of the story is on an evening jog in the park when she gets on a werewolf's radar and has to run and ultimately fight for her life.

The Beast Within
It has some social reflection mixed in, yuppies and social climbing etc.

I almost completely rewrote the piece for Werewolf Magazine, but the core story is years old. I began it as a submission to an anthology Wayne was involved in, but it didn't pan out for that so it sat around in my files producing a warm feeling for me but little else.

Out of the trunk
Then--following a kind note from the Dracula Horror Series author Robert Lory telling me I should get things out of my files and into the world--I ran across the listing for actually Werewolf's sister publication Blood Moon Rising and sent a different story. After a couple of e-mails with the editor I dusted off "Lync," decided I didn't quite like the main character's portrayal and retooled it a little.

Hopefully it's mainly a good action short story with a few extras in the mix, what ol' Bayou Bob Petitt would have called the lagniappe.

Charles and Sphinx and some of the Southern contingent will know what I'm talkin' 'bout. For others - Lagniappe in Wikipedia.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Finding My Way Out of the Amazon Jungle

Amazon persists in selling animal fighting periodicals even though the activity they cover has been outlawed in all 50 states. Apparently there's still a good market so they defend the measure on free speech grounds.

I am anti-censorship and pro-free speech in every way, but cruelty is where Jeff Bezos and I stop seeing eye-to-eye, and Mr. Bezos it's on your watch.

As the above-linked SF Gate article notes:

"At last count, Amazon was selling 27 books, monographs and magazines about cockfighting. If your passion in life is watching two tormented birds tear each other to pieces, in a bloody pit surrounded by shouting gamblers, Amazon is the place to go."

For writers Amazon is a "can't-live-with-them/can't-live without them proposition." Yeah, things I wrote are for sale at Amazon. Fact of life. Can't change that so maybe it's hypocrisy to write this post.

But I am looking at ways to cut the money I give to Amazon.

I cut the Amazon affiliate links from this blog.

Beyond that, not buying from Amazon is not as easy as it sounds if you're an online shopper, but I'm trying as is Christine.

Christine's mom e-mailed her to see if I'd updated my Amazon wish list last month. My birthday was coming up and she was going to send me some things.

Christine told her we'd prefer not to have gifts from Amazon and directed her to The Portland-based retailer has a large inventory with easy access to used books and if you're willing to roll the dice, they have sales. You can pick up some items at big savings while supplies are available. (Happily they sell Charles' books and those of other friends as well.)

So, my mother-in-law shifted gears. She's sent us Christmas gifts for years from Amazon, not just books but stoneware and other items.

This year my $25 gift card came from Powell's.

Christine gave me copies of Spook Country and Michael Marshall's The Intruders from Powell's.

Getting some CD's for Christine's birthday has proved a little trickier. I went to and suddenly I was shopping Amazon.

Christine searched herself and found a site called Online Classics or something like that. Shopping cart courtesy of Amazon.

I searched a little further.

Borders - partnered with Amazon.

Virgin Superstore = Amazon.

Barnes and Noble had the CDs but wanted a fortune.

Best Buy - didn't have what I was looking for. Beethoven, specific album, OK?
Plus a Spanish classical guitar album.

Then the choirs of angels sang. I remembered They ran a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago advertising free shipping to get you to try them.

I ordered a few times then dropped away because I forgot my password.

I started over. They had both CD's, they gave me free shipping on the combination and all went fine.

That's another $35 that won't go to Amazon because of their support of animal fighting periodicals. I'm sure that will hold up the application of maybe one rivet on Jeff Bezos' rocket ship.

And it raises a question -- if they own the online retail universe, why do a few animal fighting magazines matter so much?

Mr. Bezos, turn your thoughts from space just a moment to focus on the suffering you're condoning on earth.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Meeting the Shadow Divers

The event for which I built a ton of U-Boat model kits rolled around last night, and the kits, which served as centerpieces, were a hit. My co-worker's husband did a fabulous job of panting the subs a gun-metal gray.

It was all for a medical staff dinner at my day job featuring The Shadow Divers as speakers.

The divers, John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, told my co-worker, the event's planner, that they'd never seen model kits used in any events to which they'd been invited to speak.

For their presentation, they discussed their discovery of an unidentified U-Boat off the coast of New Jersey and the seven-year effort to explore the wreck and find some identifying artifact. It was ultimately identified as U869. (That site includes a list and picture of the crew members who died aboard the ship.)

The divers showed videos from PBS and History Channel documentaries about their efforts to create a sense of being-there.

The cool part, from my perspective, was that afterwards, when the divers started signing books physicians began picking up model kits to have them sign.

I hadn't expected that, so I nabbed one of my best ones and hung around until they'd finished with the doctors to get autographs on it.

"You put a lot of care into this," Richie Kohler said as he passed it on to his partner.

John Chatterton looked up at Christine who was with me. "You realize he's now about this close to being a U-Boat fanatic," he laughed.

All in all, a cool evening, and a nice display item for my office.
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