I’ve begun the arduous process of editing my 2003 NaNoWriMo project, Illusions of Motion. Here’s a very raw excerpt.

The problem with having an over-active imagination is that things stay in the back of your mind, lurking over your shoulder and waiting for the worst possible moment to make themselves known. The fall after my seventh birthday, one of the murky figures that took up residence in my brain was the Headless Horseman.

I don’t remember how it began that Tia and I would visit Aunt Goody on weekend afternoons. Possibly it had to do with the fact that we both missed distant grandparents. Equally possible was the fact that we both saw the spark of mischief and good humor beneath the old teacher’s crusty exterior.

In any case, it was on a Saturday shortly before Halloween that we both ended up in front of the old Goody house. It was a cozy little place, at the end of a road and surrounded by aspen and pine trees. I always thought of it as being a bit backwards, because the front door opened into the street level living room dining room and kitchen, and the bedrooms were below, nestled against the hillside. And truly, it probably wasn’t actually an old house, as much as it was decorated with old things, an eclectic collection of ornate wooden furniture.

Aunt Goody always had some kind of a project planned for Saturdays, though it’s only now that I’ve begun to wonder whether she expected us, or was just such a creative thinker that whipping up something for two small girls to do was nothing to her. On this Saturday, before the year’s first snow, with the bite of fall and the rustling of leaves filling the air, her plan was to make caramel apples and watch a movie.

And so we did. As the afternoon sunlight thinned into twilight, we sat on the floor with our backs against the sofa, munching candy-coated apples, and watching The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – I don’t remember which version, only that the horses were pretty, and, at seven, I couldn’t figure out how they made a man look headless.

We were having so much fun, that I never noticed how dark it was outside. Twilight had fully descended, and the moon was visible. Aunt Goody called my parents, and let them know I was on my way home, on my bike. Tia only lived two houses away, so I walked my bike that far, with her, then hopped on and began to ride.

Half a mile never seemed so long. Clouds kept moving in front of the moon, changing the light and making the shadows move around me, and the trees, which I’d always thought were pretty, suddenly seemed to close in. And…what was that sound? Was that the swish of a cape brushing against a tree branch?

My small hands gripped the handle-bars of my trusty red bike tight enough to turn my knuckles red, then white, and my feet slipped off the pedals more than once, as I tried to get out of the woods and onto the lit streets near our building before …. I didn’t know what.

I did know, however, that Rule Number One is never look back, and so I didn’t. I forced myself to hear music in my head (Shaun Cassidy’s “Teen Dream” is great biking music, by the way), and pedalled as fast as I could, not coasting down the hill, the way I had every other Saturday, and not stopping til I got to the brightly lit front door of Lyon’s Ice Cream, where I paused to catch my breath in the protectiive amber glow of the lion head sconces.

I sat there for about five minutes, still not daring to look behind me, just breathing. Ahead, I could see light in the corner of the front window of our apartment above the store. Across the street, I could see Russ the Librarian, locking up the library. He saw me, and waved, and I waved back. Then I continued down the block and around the corner, and home.

The edited, more interesting version will be posted in a day or two.


Last night in the shower, I learned that Venus “Divine” razors are sharper than even I ever imagined. I’m not sure how I did it – I was reaching up to the shelf where Fuzzy keeps relocating my razor, in preparation for the ritual of shaving my legs, and lost my grip. The contraption caught the side of the ring finger on my left hand, which started bleeding profusely, though there wasn’t any pain at first.

I yelled for Fuzzy, because I was wet and bleeding, and even if I hadn’t been, I can’t put a band-aid on with one hand. Except we’re out of band-aids. So we used gauze and tape and saran wrap and I finished my shower – and shaved my legs, thanks – then, cslmer, I made a smaller bandage out of tape and cotton.

Typing with a finger covered in cotton is more of a challenge than I thought, and when I forget and actually attempt to type correctly, it HURTS, but for a minor slicing, it’s not a big deal.

Though, I really do need to remember to go in for a tetanus shot soonish.

Cirque de Stars on Ice

Apparently, the ice at the American Airlines Center in Dallas is pretty bad. I suspected this as soon as we sat down, last night, because we were close enough to see that the corners looked a bit slushy, and there was a dark spot near one of the mats, as if blood had frozen into the ice (it was probably more like cocoa, but, this is where my mind goes). Our suspicions were confirmed when, just before the opening music, the announcer informed us that some programs would be modified for the safety of the performers, due to the condition of the ice.

That aside, this years tour of Stars on Ice was every bit as good as tours I’ve seen in previous years, despite the notable absences of Kristi Yamaguchi and Scott Hamilton (who is dealing with brain tumors, this year).

They’ve revamped the cast a little. Partly, this is normal – it allows newer, younger skaters to be in the tour, and allows older skaters, many of whom have families now, to take time off. So now, instead of seeing Kurt and Ilia and Michael in every show, each is only performing in select cities. Dallas is on the Kurt Browning leg of the tour, which is fine, because he’s one of my favorite performers.

Stars on Ice follows a fairly structured format of a group number, performances by each soloist or pair, and another group number, in each act, and adds liitle bits of comedic diversion to cover costume changes and lighting changes. Each year’s show has a theme that ties everything together. This year, the theme was Imagination.

From the moment the lights came up on lavender and silver-clad skaters, all grouped around a central platform, to the last wave-goodbye at the end of act two, it was obvious that Christopher Dean is the principal choreographer for the show. The use of props – especially hats and umbrellas – is typical of his work, and the concentration on intricate footwork is one of his signatures as well.

The cast we saw included:

Sarah Hughes – who skated to Eva Cassidy’s version of “Over the Rainbow” – elegant as always, though her jumps were a little ‘off’. (I blame the ice, mainly.)

Alexei Yagudin – who did some Cirque de Soleil-type acrobatics suspended from a white sheet over the ice. He worked without a net, yes, but he was also extremely cautious. And eventually, he did skate, wonderfully, as always. He vamped it up for the audience, but I still think he comes across as cute, not hot.

For HOT, we had Steven Cousins. I’ve seen him skate before, but he never made much of an impression. Last night, that changed, and no, Fuzzy, not because he was shirtless for part of his performance.

Yuka Sato (who is alternating performances with Ekaterina Gordeeva, I think, as the latter did not skate in Dallas), skated to “Naughty Girl” in act one, and “Amazing Grace” in act two. In the first, her vamping was more adorable than sexy. In the second, she was breathtaking, ethereal, wonderful, classy. Did I say I missed seeing Kristi Yamaguchi? I take it back. It was wonderful to see Yuka Sato not in Kristi’s shadow.

The pairs skaters were all equally wonderful. Watching Ina and Zimmerman was like seeing old friends – they do amazing feats of lifting and he holds her up there for nearly infinite lengths of time, it seems.

Sale and Pelletier, recently engaged, skated with the intensity of young love. I really enjoyed their skating to “Who Wants to Live Forever” which spotlighted their yoga training. (Fuzzy liked it because ‘the music was from Highlander’).

Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze had some issues during their second-act performance (it looked like soft ice was tripping Elena), but their overall performance was everything you expect from Russian skaters, intensity, precision, style.

And then, there was Kurt Browning. I’d seen both his programs on television – he used them for the last Ice Wars competition, which surprised me, because they don’t seem like competitive programs – Leaky Pipes I & II. The premise of these two numbers is that Kurt is left home to fix a leaky pipe while his wife and son go out, but he’s distracted by the lure of his kid’s toy box. The performance then becomes Kurt playing with all these props – a cape, a slingshot, a knight’s sheild (with a hockey stick as a sword), impossibly tiny skates, a fire hat, a jumprope. The man JUMPS ROPE on ice. Both pieces are witty and engaging. The first is set to Jitterbug (the number cut from The Wizard of Oz), the second to SuperCaliFragilIsticExpiAliDocious, both as performed by Harry Connick, Jr. Perfect childlike music for a show themed IMAGINATION.

The two finales were both wonderful, with the first being a medley of music from The Who, and the scene being an amusement park. At first, all the skaters are on a roller coaster, and we watch them climb and then sail down, the first ‘hill’, then they break off into smaller groups, with the skaters not in the spotlight chugging around the edge of the ice. It ended with everyone (except Ina & Zimmerman) skating beneath red umbrellas, while rain fell – I&Z skated in the rain.

The act two finale was just as dramatic, with each skater coming out in silver and tinsel, and skating a bit alone, and then going back off-ice, and then returning, each time more people returning, until the full company was available. We’d been warned at the end of act two to listen to weather reports, which were piped over the loudspeaker during Intermission, and the hints provided paid off – for this act culminated in an indoor snowstorm falling on the skaters, as they waved goodbye.

It was a lovely show, as always, and when we left the arena, I was surprised to find it was after ten, because it felt like we were only there for half an hour.

A Blustery Day

It’s not particularly cold outside, but the wind has made itself felt all morning, making the slats in the vertical blinds rattle against each other. This bothers the dogs, as they are aware that beyond the blinds there is Outside, even if there’s no actual access to it from our bedroom.

I haven’t been Outside myself since I opened the bedroom door, and back door, for Cleo, around nine-thirty, and I’m wondering what surprises I’ll find when I go. Scattered leaves, for sure, probably even inside the kitchen, as that back door is still open.

Often, I find families of ladybugs seeking shelter on the cool blue tiles of my kitchen floor, on days like this. I’m never sure if I should slide them onto a sheet of paper, and return them to the great outdoors from whence they came, or if I should let them stay there, risking demise in the form of gallumphing puppyfeet.

Cleo, though she is technically an adolescent dog as a small breed who is almost five, will always be somewhat of a puppy, it seems. Zorro growls at her more and more often, as his epilepsy causes him to age pre-maturely. After all, he’s not quite eight. I think of him as the crotchety old grandfather of our family – give him food and a spot on a sun-warmed chair, and he’s happy as can be.

There was a great sliding sound from Outside a bit ago, and Cleo started barking at it (continuing when the actual sound had long since ceased. She’s very vocal). I’m almost certain that one of the deck chairs has blown off the deck and is upside down in the ivy, which may not seem like a big deal, but these are fairly solid, metal chairs, and not the type anyone would expect to see easy blown about.

I’m off to find something comfortable, yet presentable, for our evening out. Ice arenas are always chilly, yet because skating exhibitions are as much theatre as sports, everyone dresses a bit better than jeans and a sweater. I didn’t manage seats on the ice this year, but we’re in row 4, which isn’t bad at all. It’s close enough to see faces, to see FEET, and to hear the blades slicing through the ice.

While we’re gone, the dogs will likely curl up on opposing couches, and bark at the wind Outside.

As dogs do.


Thanks to EasyWriter, I can’t complain about having nothing to read this week. Why? Because he mentioned a very cool website called Bibliomania, which features online editions of classic literature.

I’m not in a reading mood right this minute, but I’m looking forward to coming home from Stars on Ice tonight, and curling up with a mug of tea, and my laptop, and visiting, or re-visiting, some classic literature. I think I’m in the mood for Jack London, just now.

Hearts, Flowers, and … Sand?

Just a couple of minutes ago, I was chatting with my friend S, who lives in New Zealand, and, in the course of the conversation, I apologized for being late back from an away-period, because I’d gotten distracted while making tea. (Or at least, the plan was tea; I’m actually sipping cocoa – it’s the kind of day that REQUIRES chocolate.)

The exchange went like this:

Me: Got distracted while waiting for water to boil – found the Valentine’s Day box.
S: oh?
Me: Must start decorating this weekend.
S: ??? you’re kidding me???
S: Just a few hearts and red candles around the house. Nothing major.
S: *blink* you’re serious
Me: Yeah.
S: *blink* We give cards, and chocolate, we send flowers, we have romantic dinners… well that’s the theory anyhow
Me: Yes, we do that.
S: I’ve never heard of the house being decorated before like a major festive event.

I don’t know when my mother began decorating for Valentine’s day, but the presence of hearts and flowers in the house from late-January to mid-February is one I remember from childhood. For all I know, it may have started with me bringing home red construction-paper hearts. For all I know, it may have been something my grandmother started.

Please understand, it’s not that we decorate for this holiday on the same level as Christmas. Not even close. Yes, I tape a few cupids and hearts to the windows, and bring out red candles, and heart=shaped candles. And yes, I try to have more flowers in the house – but then, I ALWAYS try to have fresh flowers in the house, and even Fuzzy has learned to pick seasonal bouquets if he’s not sure what to buy.

One of the things I love about seasonal decorations is that I tend to forget what I have, from one year to the next. Oh, I remember the big stuff, but, until I opened the box this afternoon, I’d forgotten the candle with candy hearts in the bottom third, or the red heart garland for dressing up the front-door wreath.

Oh, right. The wreath. My pine wreath is still on the front door, just as the pine ring candle holder (adorned with teeny cardinals) is still on the kitchen table. Pine isn’t just for Christmas, but for all of winter, so we leave the wreath up, leave one of the three 2-foot trees up, and leave the candle-holder, and just change the trimmings to heart-themes. (Really, the house is pretty big, so this isn’t a lot of stuff).

I love that the house always feels special, and that things change enough to keep me from getting bored. Fuzzy loves that I change decorations, and not the furniture. Well, not all of the furniture. I did move my desk the other day.

As to the sand in the title of this entry? When I was getting the house ready for my parents, I found the Beach Box my aunt had made for me when I was in South Dakota, and bemoaning the fact that I was in a landlocked state. It was full of shells she’d picked up from the beach near her house in Connecticut – lovely shells, pine cones, feathers, and a bit more beach glass, and so I’ve scattered the shells around the house, where I already had other shells, in jars, or larger shells holding beach glass. (In a mild fit of whimsy, I stacked many of the shells in a fish shaped ceramic dish, which now sits on my hearth).

This is my world for the next month: flowers, candles, hearts, and sand.

Lemon Lust

I’m out of lemons. I told Fuzzy this as we were en route to the Kinko’s in Arlington, but he didn’t grasp the impact of my announcement. In fact, he still doesn’t really understand why this is a major Thing and not just a fact.

It’s not just that I had to use a tangerine on the Dover sole, tonight (which wasn’t quite the flavor I was going for, but was still tasty), it’s that without lemons, I can’t drink water. I’m bad about drinking water, but an unofficial resolution was to be healthier this year, and water is a key component of my twelve-month plan. Except that I hate it, and it always feels like I’m really drinking lead.

Then, last weekend, I realized that if I pop a slice of lemon in the bottom of one of my pretty bottle-green tumblers (each of which holds 12 ounces of water), and keep refilling the glass, refreshing the lemon every so often, I’m able to drink water all day long – without the lead feeling.

And now we’re out of lemons.

Which, while bad enough, is compounded by the fact that I left my Meyer lemon tree in California, when we moved. (In my own defense, it wouldn’t fit in the car, and a month in storage would have killed it.) And I miss having the delicate scent of lemon blossoms waft up at me whenever I step out the back door, just as I miss the convenience of picking a lemon whenever I want.

I spent some time doing research today, finally figuring out that the DFW region is in USDA’s zone 8, and that lemons and limes can, in fact, be grown here, as long as they’re either protected or brought inside when it gets below freezing.

So now, I’m looking at pictures of lemons, in bowls, on trees, intact, sliced, alone, mixed with other citrus…

I’m having lemon lust.


Note: image from iStockPhoto

T3: The Next American Idol

Onesome: The next- What would be your idea for the next great reality tv show?
Before this month, I’d have said, “Queer Eye” for women, but that exists now. I’d love to see something like “Runway” done with writing, but there’s not much that’s visual about a bunch of people stringing words together. Maybe a behind-the-scenes at a magazine?

Twosome: American- What do you think of as typically American? Mom and apple pie? Afternoons at the ballpark watching baseball?
Lime green polyesther. Seriously, aside from our serious knack for conspicuous consumerism, I’m not sure what qualifies as quintessentially American. Jazz and coffee houses, I guess.

Threesome: Idol- Who’s the one person you admire the most and why?
This changes on a daily basis, but the list generally includes: My mother (really, there’s more to her than the Hurricane Susan persona I complain about), K&L in San Francisco, Liz, my aunt P.

My Country Awake

I heard this poem read by Martin Sheen, on a re-run of Inside the Actor’s Studio, and fell in love with it.

Where the mind is without fear and the head held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

The poet, Rabindranath Tagore is a Nobel laureate (literature, 1913), and composed the anthem of independent India, among other writings.


Scritture is the Italian word for “writings”…and this is my new collection of them. Scribbles, essays, quotes. It’s part blog, part digital commonplace book, part writing practice…

My “uber-caffeinated” identity just doesn’t fit any more, so I’m trying something new. I accidentally deleted that blog tonight, anyway, so watch here for site-tweakings and some such.

Welcome. Be well.