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Sleep has his house...

* Busy working outside because it's crazy warm and everything thinks it's springtime! Even the randy squirrels! We're cleaning up and building garden beds and transplanting native flora into the yard. I've been dragging a hose every day and the plants are so much happier. Who knew that the liquid that comes out of the hose could make such a difference! /black thumb

* March may still come in like a lion.

* Spent yesterday with Kidling1 and her beau. They've decided on a date and a place for their nuptials! A destination wedding and I couldn't be more thrilled. The Asilomar in Monterey next spring! I love that place. Julia Morgan was the architect and it's just a gloriously gorgeous and spiritual place. The chapel is amazing! And D's sister is a classical pianist and is excited to be able to play during the ceremony on their grand piano! So, now the fun stuff begins - dresses and veils and photographers and it's all very exciting. The two of them are giddy happy and that makes me soooooooooooooooooooooo happy, too!

* On a seafaring kick and we rewatched Master & Commander the other night and could it be any more flawless or perfect?! No, it could not. Last night we watched All Is Lost and that was ASTONISHING work!!! I recommend it! Give me sea recs if you got 'em!

* Took a BYE last week in Idol even though I had a SUPERB idea for a folk horror entry. I simply didn't have the time to sit and write it. THAT BUSY.

* I splurged on a new Janome! And I can't wait to begin sewing like I'm getting paid for it!

* Been listening to a lot of British Gothic Folk and most especially Tibet.

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* So.....I've decided to spend the big bucks and hire a landscaper. D is NOT happy but I frankly could care less. The yard is destroyed because of last summer's construction and he's methodically killing my deep and dark forest and now I can see his 23 cars and trucks from the house and I'm simply not going to deal with this any longer. It looks terrible. And we've spent so much time and money on the buildings and the pool and now its time to spend on the yards. I called, yep, I did, the best landscaper in town. He also happens to live down the road so he KNOWS the mountain! He routinely turns away three to four requests a day and he's booked out for months, but he's so good and I'm doing this. End. of. story. He came out this afternoon and had some good and some bad things to say. The good is that he's wiling to tackle it. We have to get in the queue and we have to break the job down into bits and parts and it will take years but we can start this year and bite off a little at a time. How do they say you eat an elephant? He's dismayed by how bad the situation is and I get that. The house is gorgeous and looks strange now with such a mess surrounding it. He's not hip with the tree murdering, but it's done and I'm not going to mourn a tree. Not any more. He says no to any lawn and yes to tons of hardscaping. He also says we have to pull out the sprinkler system and replace it with drip and that usually has to run, wait for it, 18 hours a day. Uh, The Viking will not be okay with that. And I do think we're staring down the barrel of another drought year....but drip isn't sprinkling and the clay dirt here needs that kind of flow for plants to survive. He said my Japanese maples are water-starved not diseased and I was abashed. He, too, didn't want to look at D's shop and wrecking yard and I told him I have big plans to build a Klondike fence to block it. He had other observations but I don't want to have to slit my throat so I'll spare myself lingering too much more on the negativity. It's time we step up and do this. The yards were once GORGEOUS and we just have to return. The drought and the pool and the lounge and the dogs and the tree falling have all take a terrible toll. I'm excited!

* But I think that puts my new sewing maching fantasy on hold. I've been considering a $$$ machine, but I'm willing to forgoe for a while to make the yards happen. My Singer is trusty and does what I need it to do, for the most part. I picked up a 45 year old Husqvarna the other day at a thrift store for a steal, all metal body and heavy as hell. It's 99% perfect and Kidling2 is going to oil it and tighten some things this weekend. My rag quilt is coming along. Slowly, though. My mother finished hers last week and it's a knockout. I think I might have gotten her a tiny bit sparked for some crafting!

* I've also been thinking about finches or canaries. Any flisters keep birds? D's buddy has a huge flight cage filled with them in the house and an outside aviary for the warmer days. Their song is just gorgeous and they are happy little things. I don't usually approve of caged birds, but humans have been breeding these small songbirds for hundreds of years for pets. They also need to be let out for several hours a day and that seems to keep them quite content. Thoughts?

* Kidling1 and fiance have narrowed down venue choices to two!! It's very exciting. I'm so in love with one of their choices, but don't want to influence overly much. They need to decide by next Tuesday. Once that's done, the pressure is going to be off and we can get into the fun aspects of planning this wedding!

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* I wish I could put my finger on exactly what is happening between me and LJ. Lol. I can't. And it's frustrating. I know that something has shifted, but I just cannot seem to sort exactly what! I'll go days without checking in and then days of just hanging out here reading every word of every journal on my flist. It feels like a lonely place, these days. And I don't really check in or leave feeling all upbeat about it. And, again, I can't seem to point to the cause of such feelings. It's disconcerting.

* I am busy. Work is taking a lot of time. It always seems to take a while to get back in the groove after our holiday time off, but this year seems more intensely difficult for some reason. D is tired and I know he's having trouble finding his groove, too. I mean, it's been a month now! Time to get it together! I did have a talk with the magazine publisher yesterday and told her that I need to make some changes with me editorial work there. I also pitched her a couple of article ideas and she accepted, so I need to get to work on those! I only want to write a few pieces this year and I want them to be my idea rather than an assignment. I simply don't have the time/energy to interview the local dance studio instructor or to research articles about make-it-yourself laundry detergent.

* One article I pitched is focused on printing phone camera photos. Obviously, as a professional photographer, I have feelings and lots of them about photographs. I like to hang them, gift them, arrange them, and print them. Today, with the astonishing ease and affordabiltiy of printing options, it's a shame that folks aren't doing more creative photo projects with their beloved memories. It's easy to create custom albums on your phone and drop enough pictures in to then send them electronically to be bound in a thematic book. 365 photos - a picture a day album. Pregnancy to birth album. Baby's first year album. Wedding album, duh. Let a child take a picture a day and print an album. I mean, honestly, the themes are endless. I know folks are out there showing each other their pictures on their phones and that's cool, too, but I think there's a place for photo albums and prints on your wall. Today it's cheaper than ever to do that!

* We watched Beasts of No Nation the other night and I can't seem to shake it. So depressing. Idris is amazing, of course. But the child actor is astonishing. I do recommend it, but be aware going in that it's going to hurt and it's going to haunt.

* I'm reading two of the most inspiring poetic nonfiction books I've ever come across. I HIGHLY recommend them. The first is Underland:  A Deep Time Journey by Robert MacFarlane. This was rec'ced to me because of my Persephone/Hades obsession and it was the PERFECT rec for me. I love it and am learning so much. The second is even more astonishing and I think there are many flisters who would ADORE this book. Gossip from the Forest:  the Tangled Roots of our Forests and Fairytales by Sara Maitland. PEOPLE! Read this utterly fantastic book about TREES and FAIRYTALES.

This wee girlie, tho -

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filled with wonder once again

I'm busier than I've been in a long, long time. And yes, it passes the time, but it's also making me slightly frantic with the need to just sit and stare out a window for a while. Much of it is Kidling1's desire to jump straight into wedding planning. I finally had a long talk with her last night and told her she needs to slow down. For all our sakes. Enjoy all the new changes and things will work out fine. She can perseforate. It was a very productive conversation and seems to have come at the right time.

We met the in-laws last weekend and they are WONDERFUL! Of course they would have to be because he is wonderful! That was a huge relief to all of us and we truly enjoyed spending Saturday with them.

My mother is needier than ever but I have finally suceeded in getting her a hobby. Rag quilting! It's not cheap but it's super consuming and exactly what she has been needing. I'm enjoying it, too, maybe not as much as she is, but we're bonding over it and that's good.

D has gone back to work and struggling to get energized about it all. This week is better than last week.

I've been reading short stories, but am ready to dive into a thic novel. We are watching nothing and the amount of crap out there to waste your life on is pretty depressing. Any recs?

Struggled writing for Idol the last two weeks. Slightly worrisome, but I think it's a groove thing. The second topic germinated much more quickly than the first. Poll is here if you're so inclined to read, comment and vote -

Snow and rain and overcast days. But I love it.

Hope you all are doing well!

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The Real LJ Idol - Season 11 - Week 11 Part 2 - If the Creek Don't Rise

On November 8, 2018, at 6:15 a.m., faulty PG&E equipment sparked a wildfire that destroyed the small town of Paradise, CA. Over 14,000 homes burned to the ground and 85 people lost their lives. In the fire. The majority of those who died were senior citizens. For reasons that still haven’t been satisfactorily explained, less than a third of the residents received emergency, or reverse 911, calls telling them to evacuate that morning. Dispatchers receiving panicked calls from residents summarily dismissed them until it was too late.

This is a wholly fictional story inspired by utterly real facts.

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The Real LJ Idol - Season 11 - Week 11 Part 1 - Wild Goose Chase

“That’s what it is. That’s what it damn well is!” he shouted. “The human race to the chase for something that's beyond reach.” He raised both fists skyward and shook them. “Your reach, my reach, their reach,” he explained, knuckled-under Philosopher King.

Doggy Dan was good and drunk. And stomping a larger and larger circle around the fire ring fashioned out of an old brake drum. Three of his fellows were seated like esquires of the body on encircling upended plastic five-gallon buckets.

“All them folks,” he gestured to the world at large, “are spending time searching for something that is simply impossible to find. And they demand that the rest of us join in on this foolishness. Capiche?”

Doggy Dan had spent the summer before, as he had done for summers too numerous to tally - although somewhere amongst his rick was a daily accounting of his allotment - rolling paper logs. His method was to tie them off with bits of twine and soak them in the shallows of the creek for a week before tossing them up onto the bank to tinder dry in the sun. One Doggy log would burn for almost three hours. He was masterful. The nights were grown chilly and his adroitness at lighting a fire was legendary with the urban campers wandering into the makeshift diggings to hold their hands palm side toward the heat before turning on the spit of their skeleton to warm their backside. He had his assemblage for his oratory, but that mattered little; he would lecture the intesections in town just as voraciously.

“A pointless, foolish and futile pursuit bound to fail. Comprende, mi amigos?”

Doggy Dan’s dump was more a home and less a squat. He was also the main guy on his stretch of the channel and the derelicts gathered respectfully, for the most part. Paying homage by listening. They sat and drank and shared scavenged butts, harvesting the tobacco and hand rolling smokes.

"It’s about convincing you to waste valuable resources working on something that does not exist."

Someone always had a stashed bottle, or someone was bound to wander in with one. If a skell drank alone, he could have a bottle entire to himself, drink it to the dregs if he so desired, but portioning an acquisition was the companionable thing to do. And most of them that lived hard had unforgiving memories. So, in their way, they paid it forward.

“Insituate this. Does,” he emphasized each word with a punctuating movement of his shoulders, “Not. Exist.””

Goodtime Charley had shown up early in the day with a 750 of Mellow Corn, so Doggy Dan had been into the alki since noontime or thereabouts. The sun had set a forgetful while back and ever since the night had fallen, he had been holding forth about his interpretation of the meaning of it all, the explanation of presence, the understanding of the allusion of existence. More specifically, the clarification that ultimately it was a pointless endeavoring. His analysis was loud and riddled with idiom and analogy and yet he wielded a strange power to kindle a firebrand of comfort in the very heart of the coldest, darkest place of hopelessness. His listeners yearned for the spark Dan could blow into the damp center of their beings. In spite of or despite the veracity and truth of meaningless insignificance that each of them carried inside.

It was an enjoyable anguish they endured.

“I overstand.”
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First day back at work and I'm moving at a snail's pace. Not sure why I'm struggling to get back in the game, but the weekend was staggeringly useless a thing. I had HUGE plans for my Idol entry because I adore an "open" topic and I had been scribbling notes like a woman possessed, but then I simply couldn't muster the energy. Friday night The Viking hosted poker here and that threw me. We have an open floor plan and there really is no way to comfortably hang out downstairs with the poker playing group. My computer is downstairs. My sewing machine is on the only desk upstairs. I'm not one of those bed writing types. Also, there is a kind of novelty to a laptop that renders it decidedly untool-like for me. Anyway, Friday was about my overhearing all the hill gossip as the menfolk got more and more altered. That, at least, was a motherlode of material. LOL.

Then a cemetery meeting on Saturday and I'm beginning to feel slightly hopeless about that lot. All this talk about what we're going to do and no one able to do a single bit of it. It's the silliest example of volunteer beaurcracy I've ever been part of. It has literally been years now since I came aboard and we're still sitting around fantasizing about wrought iron and green burials and meditation benches and blah blah blah. I'm there as community service to my neighbors in their time of need and that's about the length of it.

Still trying to read a minimum of 50 words a day when I'm not sucked into a longer work, so I'm reading a short story a day. Mainly Folk Horror but also the astounding Clarice Lispector. If you don't know this amazing thinker/feeler, then you should rectify that ignorance. Portuguese, so you have to read in translation, but her style is so Carver-like that translation isn't about lyricism but the gut punch that she hits you with. A postmodernist turned modernist turned existential humanist. She's fantastic and her short story collection has everything she ever penned and it's like taking a dark stroll through all phases of a deeply felt life. Read this writer.

Kidling1 and beau are this close to setting a date for the spring of 2021. Once the date is set and the budget is set, then the fun begins! I mean that sincerely.

I've got to spend some time with this week's Idol entries and recenter myself!

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Happy New Year!

Here's to 2020! I hope it brings prosperity, joy and productivity! I know I need to get more productive! I suppose that's really my main resolution - write more, write with discipline, write daily. Can I apply myself? We shall see. The Real LJ Idol returns today, so that will help!

It's a mellow day here. Cold out, but I've already taken my first ten minute speed walk. Two more to go. I've also filled two hefty bags and one box with donation items. Clothes, book and some decorations. That makes me feel somewhat accomplished.

We've been catching a ton of wildlife on the game cams - bears, bucks, doe, foxes and this wily coyote -

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a quick checking in

I know I've been quiet and absent. Is there even a point in making LiveJournal resolutions? I am really conflicted on that.

Hope everyone has been having a wonderful holiday season. Things were good here and I do believe that our second year of bereavement was a healing year. A time of acceptance. Less suck-breath moments and more sighing. And that's a good thing. One simply cannot exist in a state of prolonged grief.

We had ten for Christmas. D and I. Kidling2. Kidling 1 and her bf. My mother. D's mother. And my sister and her two children. Her husband had to work and they celebrated yesterday. We had an amazing standing rib roast and yorkshire pudding. So many cookies! And a gingerbread cake. Everyone got everything they wanted or didn't know they wanted. I bought the young men remote control cars because I do think all men are boys at heart and the cars were a success! D and I got a crazy over-the-top Ninja coffee maker and mornings are blissful now and I don't miss the kettle and coffee press at all. LOL!

It snowed off and on all Christmas Day and that was beautiful and peaceful.

And the GREATEST news we've had in years - Kidling1 and her man got engaged!!!! I can't express the joy we all are feeling. They are the most perfect for each other couple I've ever met and we are all so very, very happy for her and for them. (Think Jane and Mr. Bingley.) I think they will set a 2021 date as this year will be about growing their relationship, combining houses and cats, becoming even better trial lawyers and making the big decisions about where they want to settle. He wants to stay where they are, she years for city life. But they are loved and respected at the public defenders office where they both work and they can buy big if they want to purchase a house and settle in a while. They are close to us and semi-close to his family. They both are very family oriented so I know they will stay in NorCal.

I'm slowly taking down Christmas this week. I usually leave everything up until the Ephiphany but I want to make major changes in my house this coming year and part of that is a kind of minimalism. I'm donating a lot of decorations.

Still reading Folk Horror. Although I am also supplementing with a rousing biography of Coleridge and Wordsworth. We've decided to join the rest of the tv-watching world and finally indulge in The Wire which we have never seen before. Of course it's amazing.

I'm thinking of all of you! 
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* A few pictures -

My sister's crazy cat!

2019 tree.jpg
This year's tree is smaller but manageable. My living room is torn apart because of the leak.

I had to buy this bizarre brand at a tool museum D and I visited last week!

* I'm so happy that this week's Persephone/Hades piece went over well! I have thousands and thousands of P/H words and I need to do something with them all. I'm think novella right now. With some....short stories to accompany? I don't know. I should do something with the 150 short Idol stories I've written over these past five years. Some have gone out into the world and found nice homes! And that's gratifying beyond words! I've been reading only short stories lately and it's made me realize that short story collections are viable and have worth. Unfortunately, the vast majority of my Idol pieces are flash and not short story.

* I hope to write for this week's prompts but this week is busier than Christmas week! I'm cleaning today, Kidling1 and her boy are coming down for a cocktail party my sister is hosting in her McMansion, then tomorrow Kidling1 and I are going to try to get her shopping list crossed off while The Viking and the Public Defender replace her brakes! Kidling2 will probably appear at some point or another but lately the weekends have been long and wasted for him. We will have had him here a year in two weeks and I wish we were seeing more from him....I did convince him to enroll in an online land surveying course for the spring semester. We are having our Christmas on Christmas Eve because we got Kidling1 for Thanksgiving and his folks are getting them for Christmas. I have no problem with this. When you are a military brat you think all the holidays are moveable feasts. I am looking forward to a fun-filled 24th.

* Subscribed to BritBox so I could devour Seasons 5 & 6 of Shetland because My Heart. I must have stepped out of a dragon boat and onto those shores in another life.

* The gentle yoga class has been nice. Gentle is what my spine needs and I don't seem to be "paying for" this class the way I have done in the past with yoga. There is a huge amount of meditation which usually doesn't work well with my mind that never turns off, but I've been schooling myself and diving deep and I have to say I enjoy it. Are there any flisters who practice Transcendental Meditation? I'm considering learning.

* Has anyone seen the Tasha Tudor docu film Take Joy? It freaked me out last night. So much to unpack there. I highly recommend it!