Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy Eighteen

Happy Birthday to the Girl.  She's eighteen!  Long after all the cake is gone, I'll still be happy at how well she's turned out.  So far so good ...

The girl says:  The cake is gone.  Why is the cake always gone?

We're very proud parents.  She makes it easy to be proud.

Monday, June 27, 2011


My DH is coming home today after a long absence.  I love the work he does, but I love having him home more.  The relatively quiet winter spoiled me.  He'll be globetrotting most of the summer, and he'll be away more than not.

At least I'll be able to go with him for some of it.  We're going to Worldcon, barring unforeseen circumstances.  I hope we'll see some of you there!

In writing:  I'm researching architecture.  Not just for Masks, but for a bunch of books.  The books I own on it (I hadn't gotten around to reading them yet) are fascinating and easy to understand, at least so far.  I'll review them when I'm done.  

Anyway, research is a dangerous thing.  It can halt a project dead.  Research and writing have to balance in favor of the primary task.  In other words, the writing still has to go onward somehow.  I try to get the 'short answer' quickly (as in within a couple of hours) so I can move onward, and then in the evenings I read up on the subject so that I can embellish the section later.  After all, though I love setting-heavy books, my main focus is on the human characters and what they're doing.  Unless one of them is an architect, I shouldn't have to know everything there is about architecture of my period (or fantasy setting) in order to complete a paragraph.  

There's always a chance that my research will lead me to changing whole aspects of the book, but I don't think it's wise to stop the writing process just because there's a chance (not a certainty!) I might have to rewrite some stuff (or all of it).  If the book really was that dependent on research, I should have done it up front ... and while I'm researching that book, I can be working on another.  I also have to entertain the possibility that if research may change a book that much, there might be a vision issue.  If the book relies too much on things that I don't know, then how do I know my overall concept is sound?  It would be like trying to write a book centered around a dinosaur planet without knowing much about dinosaurs.  If I knew what I needed to know about dinosaurs in the first place, would I really choose to write my book around a dinosaur planet?  Maybe it would be a better idea to write a book set on a world with dinosaur-like creatures, but they're alien enough that they behave like I imagine them to behave.  As our adventurers get into more and more trouble, maybe scientists back home trying to help them keep throwing their hands up in despair because as far as they knew, dinosaurs aren't like that.  And it could work as a story.  Isn't the story the point of writing in the first place?

Some books really do require research, and I wouldn't dare write them without.  But if all my book concepts require massive amounts of research, then I should ask myself if I'm ready to write books.  Maybe writing short stories in the meantime will keep my writing skills honed until I'm ready.  But isn't that a trap?  Maybe I'm not ready to write those stories either because they need research ... and I'd end up being a researcher, not a writer.  

There's nothing wrong with being a researcher.  I could put up an amazing website about my research.  I might even be able to make money through a donation button, or through selling articles as my knowledge grows.  And then I'll really be writing, though maybe not the way I'd planned.

It's all good.  Writing.  Research.  Reading.  Lots of reading.  I just have to make sure that I'm doing my primary thing, um, primarily.  Because, in theory anyway, that's the thing I really want to do.  Right?

Friday, June 24, 2011

On A Lighter Note ...

I'm not sure what this cat is doing, but whatever it's doing, it negates all my thoughts and makes my head kinda cock to the side and then I want to take even more pictures.

And no matter how many pictures I take, even though I use the flash every time ...
freakishly ...
... it just keeps doing it.

And her eyes follow me around the room.


Thursday, June 23, 2011


A lot has happened in the past week, and some of it has been terrible stuff.

I hate to write about it because I don't want to attract sympathy, and I certainly don't want to cause my family additional pain.  But I think I need to write about one of the things because it might save someone some pain and agony.

A relative of mine passed away suddenly.  She'd written off doctors a long time ago ...  

I'm so sad for her family and closest friends.  And I fear there are thousands of people out there who are going to die from treatable, even preventable illnesses because they have a thing against regular doctors.  There are so many people who have no choice at all, and wish they had access to a medical doctor.  It might seem like madness to them to reject water from a pump when you're dying of thirst because you refuse to drink from anything other than a stream.

I have to be okay with it, though.  People have to make their own choices, and it may be that my aunt was willing to die this way rather than see a doctor.  I have to honor that choice, because it is her choice, and I wouldn't want to take that away from anyone.  In the end it was her body to do with as she wished to do.

Having said that ....

I'm well aware of a doctor's limitations, and the dangers of going to a hospital.  You can come out more ill than what you came in with.  I don't think going to the doctor should be done frequently, or lightly.  On the other hand I think it's foolish to refuse things like antibiotics or blood pressure medication or insulin when it might save your life, and it seems very strange to me to take these things without a prescription on your own by borrowing someone else's medicine or getting it on the black market or making it from scratch on your own, as if that makes it better.  

I believe that real naturopathic medicine can be extremely effective, but it's not the only way, or even the best way in a given circumstance.  And I believe that there's a lot of misinformation and delusion in regard to naturopathic medicine out there.  There are bad doctors too, I know.  But clearly, avoiding all doctors to avoid the bad ones is not a path toward superior health.

I hope my aunt lived happily and well and fully, and my heart is with her immediate family.  They all did what they thought was best, and I refuse to point fingers and blame and be angry.  This isn't about me anyway.

What I don't want to see are people convinced that their chosen alternative form of medicine is the only and best option, and that things would have come out far worse if they'd seen a doctor.  If they choose to limit themselves, I hope they do so accepting the fact that it is a limitation in some situations.  Limits can be good, and honestly we're all going to die anyway, so I'd just soon people live the way they want--as long as it really is a choice, and not delusion.  Because, we all know deep down, that living naturally doesn't make us immortal, or better, or cleaner.  And a long, healthy life isn't truly natural.  It's a combination of luck, and resources, and wisdom, and genetics, and ... medicine.

I urge everyone to make these choices in an informed way, and to really study all aspects of their health and well-being from a variety of sources.  Health is one of those incredibly valuable things that many people take for granted, and not always in the way that you'd think.  Ill health can be taken for granted just as easily as good health.  Health is not obvious, or automatic ... it's a gift.  May it be yours to hold and keep as long as possible.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Thought and Action--Infatuation vs. Love

I've had lots more fun/progress with Masks.  I never have enough time to write, or garden, or do art ....
Sometimes what I pick shows how much of a priority that takes above the other things, but sometimes it means the opposite.  When a project gets too overwhelming or goes too deep or takes me to scary places, it's funny how important my other stuff becomes.

Which works okay, but I have to be really careful that I come back and finish what I began.  Otherwise, eventually everything that I care about will be put on a backburner until that fictional time period where it will no longer challenge me.  I can't live and create in fictional time.  I have to do that in real time.  I have to work hard and get my hands dirty in the garden.  I have to sit my butt in the chair and write.  I have to get out my ground and my medium and work them together until I finish (or give up, more likely, but at least I'll have gotten to a place where I'm doing more harm than good and I can set it aside satisfied that I've taken it as far as my skills allow.)  

And now I really do have to find out why my dogs are freaking out.  Could it be a deer eating my roses?  Time to get my flashlight (wah, it's all the way upstairs!) and go outside (but it's cooooollllddd out there!) and check it out.

'Cause intent without action means all the roses will be gone tomorrow.  I love them too much to let that happen.  I guess that's the difference between infatuation and love.  Follow through.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

She did it!!!!

Congratulations, my daughter.
Your teachers and every member of the tribe is so proud of you.
Especially your dad and I.

Love, Mom

Monday, June 06, 2011

Work and Play

I'm trying to set up a new business and the details are crazy-making! I think I'm going to have to do a lot more research before I can figure out what it is *exactly* that I'll be doing with this.

Advice is welcome.

I had a wonderful time in Seattle. Our hosts were amazing and extremely hospitable. I had some amazing conversations over the weekend, and met a lot of fantastic people. Which reminds me: thanks to everyone there for weathering my sugar-crash on Saturday. I forgot what they felt like.

Note to self: No donut for Kami when she's hungry.

We have ongoing good weather, so I'll be out in the garden a lot. Good grief, the garden ... it either rains too much or not enough. I'm sure the seedlings are very confused, what seedlings I have. It's late, it's late, I've missed my very important garden dates, but it doesn't bother me. I'll plant anyway at this inauspicious time and see what happens.

Gardening would be boring if it turned out awesome every year. I guess that makes gardening something like gambling, and maybe that aspect is part of what makes it so addictive. The other parts? I can go on and on about how huge the peony blooms are this year, and the taste of fresh tomatoes and snow peas, the pleasure of picking fresh herbs to season our meat for dinner, etc.

Besides, I like playing in the dirt. It smells nice.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Tangential Thoughts that don't lead to anything but more thoughts

Long but good day. I had a lot of great conversations during breaks (my DH was teaching and no, I didn't have to be his button monkey.) Some were intense and got me thinking about things I haven't thought about in a long time.

Mostly I had a really easy life, but there were a few hairy patches and some rough and sad times. Who hasn't? I think that it was those hair, rough and sad times that shaped me the most. And people who don't have it tough, who seemingly have everything (nice house, plenty of money, access to good food, medicine, the best education, etc.)--are those of us just misinformed about their behavior or are the privileged kids creating their own problems to weather?

Do we need a certain amount of pain to grow through, and does pain we generate for ourselves actually grow us or is it a sad substitute that doesn't work but is better than nothing?

Stuff to think about.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

In which Kami gets Long-Winded


Not mine, at least not directly. The girl is experiencing unprecedented levels of pressure, and it's starting to really get to her. Luckily she's got a nice weekend ahead of her with nothing more to do than pick out which book she'd like to read in the shade under our trees.

I only vaguely remember that kind of pressure. It's not a success thing, at least not in the usual way I think of success. When you've been living under the protection of adults all your life, it's hard to trust that you've got what it takes to make it on your own. Add to that the sense of permanence to those early decisions ...

I decided that I wanted to be an engineer like my father. I didn't do very well in college in that first year. Better than some, in that I didn't completely flunk out, but my grades reflected my complete lack of preparation for attending a university full time.

It was the end of the world, or so I thought. I bore up well on the exterior (I think) but deep down I felt like opportunity had come knocking and I'd opened the door and accidentally shot it dead.

The girl is trying to decide whether to work, where to work, how to focus her learning and efforts, how to do the college thing both financially and also mentally/emotionally, and I know she feels like whatever she decides in the next couple of months will either make or break her.

Well, yes and no ....

Because all of us who've been there know that things like college and first jobs and where we choose to live when we first set out on our own is just a beginning. That beginning could be really short and actually not affect the rest of your life at all.

My father died. I married and had children. I started writing. I took more college courses, toyed with finishing my degree or maybe starting a new one ... and that life-and-death freshman year in college turned out to just be a brief testing ground. I learned important stuff about myself, but in the grand scheme of things, I doubt that completely flunking out would have broken me. Completing school and getting an engineering degree didn't guarantee success either. I'd have a different life ... but better? Worse? It think that would have depended on me more than what I achieved, if that makes sense. I think that one way or another, wherever I ended up, I'd be happy only if I figured out how to be happy, and I'd be miserable no matter how cushy a job I landed with my fancy degree if I never learned how to cope with failure, and cope with partial successes, and appreciate what I've got no matter how things are going.

That's a really long-winded way of saying, basically, that I think that no matter what the girl decides, she'll be all right. Even if she's not, it may not have so much to do with being stuck with what she decides as being in a particular place at a particular time with a particular skill set. I wish I could help her understand that it's okay, and that sometimes mistakes aren't mistakes, and sometimes the right choice turns out really crummy, and we just have to adapt. Stuff happens. Part of growing up is learning how to take that failure or success or weird switcheroo and make it work out for you, or at least laugh and move on and keep being happy.

As long as there's life, there's hope. Not hope for a happily-ever-after. Just hope. Hope that there's going to be a good day, or hour, or minute ahead, or if not, hope that we can at least say it was all worth it.

Good luck, my children. It's a big world full of lots of things, and I hope you can shake off the stress long enough to appreciate how much of a privilege it is to try, and choose, and be.

Friday, June 03, 2011


I'm on my way to Seattle with my DH. It'll be a working vacation, with lots of writing for me and lots of teaching important stuff for him.

Before we left I took a shot at putting in some veggies. It's so late in the year I don't even want to think about it. Ugh. It's not the latest year, though.

I remember the year we moved to the area. Wind tore the gutter away from the roof on our first night. I'd wondered what the banging outside might be--I was unfamiliar enough with the house that I didn't think it was abnormal.

That year it refused to stop raining, and I didn't know enough about how the planting season worked in our area, or that it would have been better to just turn the sod over rather than try to dig up the grass (which was really more like bamboo at that point) and shake off as much topsoil from the roots as possible--I didn't know anything, actually. I thought I did. I was about to learn that I was a lousy gardener ill-equipped to deal with a large property.

I don't remember if I actually got anything out of the garden that year. Probably not. But I got started. Every spring since then I thought this year the garden is going to be really spectacular. One year it really was, but I didn't realize it at the time. I was too busy battling blackberries.

I don't think this year will be very good, but it may still surprise me. What I have learned, though, is to appreciate the progress. I might never think the garden is really good in a particular year, but even on a cruddy year with mostly cloudy skies, low temperatures, the ground too saturated to dig and/or too cold to plant until June, I can take a look around and think 'this is the best year yet.'

So here's to the best year yet, in gardening and in life. Enjoy the sunshine if you've got it!