Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Oh, Neglected Dog!

There's my boy Howie.

Or I should say, my little old man Howie, as he's all too quickly approaching 77 dog years of age.

He hates NaNoWriMo, having endured ten of them. He sees me with a laptop and doesn't even bother to come and pester me. During football games, he'll pester. He brings his tennis ball and expects me to play Football Ball -- that's when he puts the tennis ball on the foot stool and waits for me to flick it off, over and over again. But when I'm writing, he knows the tennis ball is a lost cause.

My poor boy, so ignored that he is resigned to riding in the car with his Daddy, to the store, to the gas station, or just around the block if the cars need to be moved.

Yes, he hates when I'm writing, but he's all ears like this when I put on my sunglasses and visor and walking sandals.

'Mope' morphs to 'hope;' 'bored' rockets to 'ready to run!'

A brisk walk makes him feel like he's three again, and clears out my dirty dull story cement blocks that inhibit high speed word flow.

Good dog, good walk, good writing to all.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Writing Habit 2011

I don't know that it's fair to say that I've developed a healthy writing habit so far this NaNoWriMo. 

Yes, I'm writing every day, earlier in the day than was my wont in years past. That's what I hoped to accomplish.

However, it's gone a bit farther than that. I find I'm not really content with just making word count, I want to keep on writing long after I should get my ass out of the studio and take care of laundry, and my actual word count is slackening as I try to find the "proper" words to convey my meaning. I even missed the opening kickoff of the Thursday night NFL game, even though I'd been looking forward to watching it since Sunday.

My studio has become again a place of magic and wonder for me. I'm doing my writing from a folding quad chair (one of those mesh deals that you might take to the beach) and have my little denim footstool to rest my laptop on when I get up to pace or get snacks. Daily writing has sparked a flame of creativity, and I find my eyes resting on unfinished canvases that call to me for completion. It's dang cold out here in the mornings, but I find that if I wear a heavy sweatshirt (the NaNoWriMo one I bought last November, as a matter of fact) and run a space heater, I'm comfortable enough.

Comfortable enough that I don't really want to be any place else in the house.

Unless football is on. I'm not what you'd call an all-out Raiders fan by any means, but it is a fact that I took great satisfaction in watching them kick Chargers ass last night. 

Probably helped my writing habit today.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Love on the NovelFront

Passionflower
I've been crazy in love with writing fiction since 2001.

This past whole year, indeed, since mid-November 2010, I had insisted I would never try to write a 50,000 word novel in November again. I've done it successfully eight times in ten years, and was not about to subject myself to such torture again.

Oh, well, the best laid plans ...

I dragged out a flawed start to a novel from years ago, one that I've intended to write, but was afraid to explore. Nearly 12k into it now, I'm so in love with the story I can hardly stand it.

The characters are unfolding, becoming more and more real. The drama and the revelations are about to blow up. The damage and the rebirth are in the wings.

I know that I can write 2000 words a day, easily. Maybe it's dreck, but I can churn 'em out. This year my love of writing has been renewed by a return to a subject I've neglected. Oh, hell, says NaNoWriMo, just write it, and then if you don't like it, rewrite it later. In November, just go have a 30-day date with your story.

That's what I'm doing, and wow, I can't wait to pick up the date again tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Dia de los Muertos 2011

Ahh, beets.

Alex grew these beets in the planter box on the sunny side of the front yard. They're all prepped and ready for oven-frying.

We peel them and slice them a little less than half an inch thick, then toss the slices with extra virgin olive oil, then once again with garlic powder. Spread out on a cookie sheet, they're lightly sprinkled with sea salt. After 30 - 35 minutes in a 425 degree oven, they're ready to devour.

When Alex decided that she had to plant beets last spring, I didn't dissuade her. Thought she was nuts, but hey, whatever. The front garden boxes were her canvas for experimentation, not mine. When she told me that beet greens make a good salad, I scoffed -- until I pulled off a beet leaf and tasted it. Where had beets as salad greens been all my life? Good thing she planted them thickly: eating the greens in our salads was the perfect way to thin the crop.

I hadn't done much beeting around since we moved to California. They tend to be expensive here, and I'm not often impressed with the quality. Now that Alex has proven herself to be a worthy beet farmer, though, I'm looking forward to greater beetery.

What do beets have to do with Dia de los Muertos, a day for remembering your dead relatives and friends?

When I was in my twenties, I would often mooch jars of pickled beets from my mother. She was picky about her beets, which she bought in quantity. "Lutz is the variety to look for," she lectured me. "Lutz are nice and tender, hold their color, and taste the best of all." And then she would proceed to make the most delectable pickled beets in the entire world. Sweet, flavorful, crisp -- there was never any argument about eating enough beets. We truly could not get enough.

She learned the process of pickling beets from Dad's aunt, who was called "Sis." Mom pretty much learned all her cooking skills from Sis; she told me she pestered Sis to teach her how to cook because Sis was slowly dying, and Mom on her own had almost enough culinary skills to boil eggs. In my turn, I learned from Mom how to make lima bean pot pie, meat pie, pumpkin pie (did we never eat anything but pie?) and macaroni salad, and of course, lots of other things.

But the one thing I didn't learn how to make was pickled beets.

I don't know why I didn't; maybe she didn't have a recipe per se, or maybe Dad refused to eat some. Or maybe some part of me just assumed that Mom would always be there to make them for me. I don't recall her making them in the last 30 years of her life.

Seeing Alex's harvest of gorgeous beets made Bernie and I remember how good Mom's were, made me remember my mother in a time when Alzheimer's hadn't made her an ill-mannered stranger.

Miss that Mom so much.