All day I’ve felt spacey and spinny, as if I’m sitting on Roller Coaster Furniture – the kind that feels like it’s undulating beneath you until you realize that no, the furniture is stable and it’s just a trick of your brain making you feel as though you’re cresting hills and rocketing into valleys, and then skating along a smooth surface.

I ate lunch, and I just had a snack, so I don’t think this is being caused by anything caloric or nutritional. I don’t even feel bad, exactly, as much as I feel odd. Disoriented. Disconnected. If my ears hurt I’d suspect that I had an inner ear infection, but they don’t, and I don’t have any discernible pressure anywhere in my head.

My eyes are heavy as though I needed sleep, however, and even though it’s 90 degrees outside, I’ve been freezing all day.

If I didn’t have things to do, I wouldn’t mind the spinning feeling, but since I do, it’s a bit frustrating.

Friday’s Feast – 0708.31

Who is the easiest person for you to talk to?

It depends on the subject. Fuzzy, sometimes, my mother, others, specific friends for specific things.

If you could live in any ancient city during the height of the quality of its society and culture, which one would you choose?
Venice. Or Rome. I like the architecture, and Italy speaks to me almost as much as France does, but in different ways.

What is the most exciting event you’ve ever witnessed?
It really depends on the definition of “exciting.” I was less then fifteen feet away from a student who was gunned down on my high school campus when it happened, which was exciting in a bad way. I ran into Richard Lewis in a cafe in Greenwich Village once, and he invited me and the friend I was with to share his table (largely because we all got there at the same time, and there was no other space). I’ve stood in a doorway and watched plate-glass windows gently crumble one after another during an earthquake, and I’ve had a couple of people (authors, composers) comment on my blog.

Main Course
If you were a celebrity, what would you do for a publicity stunt?
Pink Creative Zen Stones with my website listed on them for everyone. Or I’d convince a busy Starbucks to let me pull shots for them for a few hours.

What do you consider the ideal age to have a first child?
I’m 37 and have yet to have a child, so I’m not the best person to answer this. I think it’s not so much a matter of age as stability though. I think the ideal time to have a child is when you and your partner have had enough years in your relationship that you’ve worked through really grim times, and come out stronger, and are financially stable enough for one of you to take a significant amount of time from work, and when you’ve both decided you’re ready. And if you’re a single person wanting a child, you need to have worked out the grim times within yourself, and have some kind of support system, because you will need one.

Mental Set Dressing

When I’m writing, even if it’s just a piece of flash-fiction, I have to know where a character lives. Or at least where she spends her time. I know that my barista character lives above her cafe, in an apartment with exposed brick walls, a Franklin stove and 19th Century furniture, all of which was rescued from estate sales, garage sales, and old lady aunties.

I know that Kat, the OFC in the ST:TNG fanfic I’m writing has a desk a lot like my actual desk – glass and brushed steel, very clean lines, and that her kitchen is all shiny black and cobalt blue, and that she likes to be barefoot on plush carpeting.

I know that Zoe (named after a character in a movie I saw in college), the lead in my first NaNo novel, Illusions of Motion that I really should edit, lives in a bungalow with hardwood floors, and lots of cabana stripes and teakwood, and that her favorite mug is purple with stylized daisies and fits the curve of her hand in just the right way, and that her lover, Joren the jazz musician (named after a guy I knew in junior high school) has a ratan rug in his studio, because the texture of the fibers under his feet inspires him to always move with the music.

Having this mental set dressing, knowing the space they inhabit, is as important when I’m getting a feel for a character, as when I’m describing their clothes or their facial expression, or figuring out their tone of voice.

It’s also kind of fun.

Thursday 13: 0708.30

Thirteen Things about MissMeliss
Things that Begin with P

  1. Paper – fine stationery, drawing paper, those old Big Chief newsprint tablets, or even spiral notebooks, I’m happy with pretty much any kind of paper. There’s something so intimate about the act of writing something by hand.
  2. Paretsky, Sara – creator of V.I. Warshawski, and generally interesting person, also created the “comfort foods begin with ‘p’ ” theory.
  3. Paris – I have a special affinity for the City of Light. I want to spend next May writing in Paris. I wasn’t born there, but I should have been.
  4. Parks – cities need parks, and I like spending time in interesting parks. Various arboretums and botanical gardens are nice, and the little park in my neighborhood is great despite the lack of swings, but my favorite parks are the postage stamp kind that are just tucked unexpectedly into neighborhoods. Urban treasures.
  5. Pedicures – everything is better when you have pretty toes. I love the whole process of the pedicure, from picking a polish color to soaking my dainty feet in frothy bubbly hot water, to having a foot massage. It’s sheer bliss.
  6. Pens – I am a pen snob. My favorite every-day pens have black or peacock blue ink, a micro-fine roller ball point, and a slim body, because I have small hands. I also like fountain pens, and calligraphy pens. Pencils, in my house, are generally used to pin up hair. I prefer ink.
  7. Pets – I’ve loved animals as long as I can remember, and to me, a house isn’t complete without a couple furry creatures wandering around. My dogs, Zorro Dogg and Miss Cleo, are my constant companions and offer entertainment, comfort, and unconditional love. Also, they force me to exercise. At other times I’ve had lizards, birds, and fish. And a cat or two, but they make me sneeze.
  8. Pillows – there is no such thing as too many pillows. I like to be surrounded by them, especially when Fuzzy isn’t home. I do a lot of writing in bed – I am most creative when I am comfortable, so bed, the bath, and the shower are where my mind is most free – and that means tons of pillows. I have five. Fuzzy uses one. Zorro likes pillows, as well, and if there’s one lying on the foot of the bed, or on the couch, you will find a chihuahua-shaped depression in the center, if not a chihuahua himself.
  9. Pink – after much of a lifetime of detesting pink, I’ve embraced it over the last couple years. It’s a happy, feisty, fun color. I still love red, mind you, but pink makes me smile. Also, I use pink pens whenever I have cause to be writing near other people, because they’re less likely to be stolen.
  10. Pistachios – salted or not, natural, or dyed red or green, these are my favorite nuts ever. Sweet, crunchy, and oh, so addictive.
  11. Pizzarelli, John – he’s a jazz guitarist, and his music is AMAZING.
  12. Play – whether it’s playing an instrument, playing on stage, playing all the parts of a story in my head, or playing with sounds while vocalizing, the operative word here is play. Chick Corea and Bobby McFerrin recorded an album called PLAY many years ago, and it’s just amazing hearing the musical give and take of two musicians who are completely comfortable with their inner children.
  13. Porches – My house doesn’t have a front porch, and really, that’s the one thing I don’t like about it. I keep meaning to talk to Fuzzy about making a front patio in front of the arched dining room window, but we haven’t gotten to it yet. Anyway, porches are a really important thing to me – they represent sweet summer afternoons, and peace, and comfort.

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged!

Trips Untaken

Earlier this year, as Fuzzy and I were preparing for our two week sojourn in the midwest, I got a call from a cousin I never knew I had, inviting us to a competing family reunion, two weeks after, in Pennsylvania. Unlike my great-aunt’s 90th, this reunion would have involved a visit to the town where my grandfather and his sisters and brothers actually grew up.

I knew, almost from the moment he called, that we wouldn’t be able to attend my cousin’s event – the timing was just bad – but I started looking at Pennsylvania bed and breakfast websites, and directories of expensive hotels. I don’t camp, but I love the personal service of B&B’s and I have a great affection for froufrou hotels. Either one will do.

I’ve never spent much time in Pennsylvania, and I still kind of want to visit – we have other family nearby, and friends on the way, and Fuzzy’s never really been to the east coast at all.

For the moment, however, it remains a trip we’ve yet to take.


Few things are as entertaining as watching a chihuahua attempt to capture, bite into, chew, and swallow an errant cherry tomato that fell from the refrigerator and landed in front of his nose.

That is all.

Mooning over Miami

Even though Fuzzy’s been told we’re not going to have to relocate to Florida in the immediate future, every so often I look at Florida real estate, to try and gauge what kind of money we’re looking at, and how far from the water we’d have to live to make Fuzzy happy and keep the dogs safe.

The thing is, I’m spoiled because California real estate listings had a public version of mls that was a lot more current and accurate than sites like realtor.com, and even the local mls here in Texas was available (sort of) through a couple of realtor sites (I’m not sure if they were supposed to make as much info available as they did, but it was helpful.

Most mls though, especially things like this Miami flat fee mls service that I’ve looked at, are geared for sellers. These services are great, and if I weren’t a proponent of using realtors, I’d totally find the Texas equivalent of this, because it allows you to a FSBO (for sale by owner) relatively inexpensively, and use it. But, I don’t have patience for negotiating, and I would never deny my realtor-friends their crack at a commission.

Still, if you live in Florida, and are planning to sell your home, this is definitely worth checking out. It’s pretty intuitive, and a much smarter choice than trying to do a FSBO without an mls listing.

save our homes


You expect a neighborhood to be silent in the depths of night, when only the moon is awake, and even the birds and feral cats are either roosting or curled up behind a shrub, safely asleep. It’s a bit odd for a neighborhood to be silent at 10:00 in the morning, but that’s how my neighborhood was this morning, as the dogs and I took our morning constitutional.

We began, as we always do, at our own mailbox, which each dog marked, making sure all the other animals in the neighborhood know who lives there. We turned left at the end of the driveway, and walked a few feet to the corner, then turned left again. It was already almost 90, and there was no wind, so I had chosen the shorter of our two main walking routes.

We walked along the fence separating our back neighbor’s side yard from the street, and Miss Cleo’s warbling was the only discernible sound. No basso profundo barking emanated from that yard – their dogs must have been inside. We crossed the street a bit up from the corner because those neighbors have rose bushes flanking the kneeling curb, and don’t keep them well pruned. Technically since they’re in the curb strip, they should be pruned, but no one bothers.

We walked up the grassy tree-covered slope of hill into the park. It’s a nice park, more a village green with a slide and a play structure. There are no swings. I don’t understand how kids tolerate the lack of swings. Swings are essential to a happy childhood. Really.

We follow the curving sidewalk through the park, along the green space, past the gazebo. We pause at one of the benches so I can re-tie my sneaker. Miss Cleo jumps up on the bench with me. Zorro simply stares pointedly at my feet.

We cross the street at the far end of the park, and walk along that neighbor’s recently installed, unstained, unpainted fence. I can still smell sawdust as we pass by. The dogs leave “messages” on anything relatively vertical that we pass, and certain sections of grass. We reach the next corner, the farthest end of our own street, and turn left once more.

I notice many cars in driveways, but no signs of life, save for one SUV pulling out just as we get to that driveway. Two houses up, a garage door is open. A fan sits in the middle, and a table. I know that during the summer it’s left open so the kids who live there can get in and out, but there are no kids evident on the streets today. I suspect school started last week.

We cross the street again, the midpoint of the block, and we are three-quarters of the way home. Zorro wants to chase a scent across the street, but Miss Cleo is hot and wilting quickly, so we stay on the sidewalk I’ve chosen. It’s still quiet; the only sound punctuating the sunny morning is the panting of the dogs and the jingling of the tags on their collars.

We get back home, and they wait patiently (for them) while I punch in the code to the garage door. I like this keypad thing. I like not having to carry keys. They duck into the garage before the door has risen enough for me, but this is normal for us.

Back inside, the air conditioning is blissfully cool, and the bubble of silence breaks. I hear computer fans, a/c fans, and the whirring of the refrigerator. Welcome to life in the 21st century, where we can handle the dark, but the quiet freaks us out.