So tired

As much as I love the moody weather we’re having from a writer’s standpoint, I hate it because the pressure changes and funky light make my head hurt.

What I really wanted to do today was sleep myself out. Instead, we were up at dawn and out of the house early to take Minnie the foster dog to an adoption fair…she didn’t find her forever home today, but she’s so sweet, I know she will.

After dropping her we nt to Ol’ South Pancake House for breakfast arriving between the breakfast and lunch crowds. Great food. Great service. Will definitely go back.

Then, on to Midlothian for Starbucks, Ace Hardware, and hair appointments for both of us. Fuzzy’s hair takes ten minutes, so he went back to fetch Minnie while Natalie darkened my base hair color to a deep coppery/strawberry color, and added streaks of Sonic Green (which turns out sort of teal). The overall effect is that of the green oxidation on a copper penny. It looks kind of cool, and it’s much more subtle than I anticipated.

And on that note, I’m calling it a night and going to sleep with Doctor Who unmatched on the DVR, because sometimes sleep really is exactly what you need.

Soft Focus Rambling

I took migraine medicine so am too loopy for anything terribly coherent…so I’m rambling tonight.

This morning, I woke to gray skies and dampness, but rain didn’t actually fall until late this afternoon. Even so, it was cool enough to spend the day with the air conditioner off and leave my bedroom window open.

meteor coffee

I’ve had three cups of coffee today. 2 French roast and one Viennese.

I spent much of the day doing laundry, so when I go to sleep in a few minutes it will be in a bed with freshly-washed sheets that have a faint lavender scent, and our medium-weight comforter instead of the summer quilt.

I have this urge to cut my hair short – it’s a few inches past my shoulders and kind of honey/strawberry blonde right now, but tomorrow is Salon Day with Natalie and we’re adding teal (Sonic Green from Special Effects) streaks to it. I will probably ask her to just do a blunt bob just above my shoulders.

I missed seeing The Help in theaters, but just watched it, and it’s really quite lovely. Great cast. I bought the book over a year ago, and then sort of forgot it was on my Kindle, so I’m reading it in between reading books for review at Bibliotica, my book blog, this week.

I’ve also been watching Supernatural on Netflix, but I have to limit it to one or two episodes a day or I have nightmares. Somewhat ironically, films like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser do not give me nightmares.

Have read that while the iPhone 5 is cool and fast, there’s really no need to rush into an upgrade since I have a perfectly good 4S. My contract isn’t over til mid-May, anyway.

My trusty red Dell laptop turned three years old three days after I turned forty-two, and is now out of warranty. I’m happy with Dell’s laptops, but I was watching Tech News Today on earlier today (streaming on my Google tv) and the comments about Windows 8 have me actually thinking about going to a MacBook Pro at some point. Haven’t decided yet. My last Mac experience wasn’t great, and I don’t find Apple’s computers to be at all intuitive, but I love my iPad and my iPhone.

I cannot be trusted around good cheese. In fact, if I had to give up either chocolate or cheese, I would give up chocolate.

My migraine meds make me feel like I’m seeing the world through a soft-focus filter.

Thursday 13: At the Ballet

I don’t like the room to be quiet when I’m writing, but there are only certain types of non-quiet that don’t distract me. For example, when I’m writing for work, or just reviewing and approving websites for a coppelia_bolshoi11-300x200 directory I help maintain, I can play DVDs of familiar TV shows or movies – generally those that have snappy dialogue (Pretty much anything Aaron Sorkin ever wrote, Gilmore Girls, Sex and the City, and a good portion of Joss Whedon’s creations.)

When I’m writing something that requires actual thought, however, I prefer to have music playing, but there I run into trouble, because if the music has lyrics I want to get up and sing instead of staying in my chair and writing. At times, if I’m writing something that fits with it, I can listen to French pop-jazz – artists like Sanseverino. Often I listen to jazz and blues, but that can make me moody, and even without lyrics, there’s enough story in that type of music that I can’t just have it on as background music.

As the final days of summer spiral away, and my mailbox begins to fill with ticket offers for various Christmas concerts and performances of The Nutcracker, however, I find myself listening to the soundtracks – scores, really – of various ballets. I like the old classical ones because they’re full symphonies and generally pretty long, with enough variation that I don’t get bored but a unity of tone that gives just enough story to keep writing, but no so much that I want to go watch every single dance film on Netflix.

The practical upshot of all this? My Thursday 13 this week is a list of the ballets I particularly love:

  1. The Nutcracker (Tchaikovsky): Yes, it’s a Christmas story, but the music is so familiar and infectious I can’t not love it, and it really brings E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tales to life. Also? Duke Ellington’s album Three Suites features jazzed up versions of many of the more familiar elements of The Nutcracker. I’ve seen it live in San Francisco and Denver, and never miss the ABT (American Ballet Theater) version from the 70s (Baryshnikov/Kirkland) when it’s aired on PBS every December.
  2. Cinderella (Prokofiev): I worked props for the Fresno Ballet production of Cinderella all through high school, and grew to love the music. To this day, when I hear certain phrases, I can see the prancing ponies in my head.
  3. Giselle (Adam): How can you not love a ballet that was partly inspired by Victor Hugo’s novels, and partly inspired by St. Vitus’ dance. It’s haunting and creepy and completely wonderful. Incidentally, the title role in Giselle is probably the most coveted in all of ballet. The movie Dancers from sometime in the 80s (I think) starring Baryshnikov, was about a dance company doing a touring production of Giselle. The plot was absurd, but the dancing was breathtaking.
  4. Coppelia (Delibes): Like The Nutcracker, Coppelia was inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s stories, particularly “Der Sandmann” (“The Sandman”), but it’s also special because it marked the first use of automatons and marionettes in ballet. Because it is a fairly light story, this ballet is often used to introduce children to the art form.
  5. Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev) Yes, it’s the ballet version of Shakespeare’s play. Yes, it’s an iconic ballet. The modern version still retains much of the mood and story from the version Prokofiev composed for the Kirov Ballet in 1936.
  6. Sleeping Beauty (Tchaikovsky): There were actually several other ballets based on the tale of Sleeping Beauty (which, itself, has a dual source of Perrault and the Brothers Grimm), but Tchaikovsky’s has become the standard. It premiered in 1890 in St. Petersburg, Russia, but a later production served to introduce ballet fans worldwide to Rudolph Nureyev. A very young George Balanchine made his own ballet debut in a production of Sleeping Beauty.
  7. Swan Lake (Tchaikovsky) This was the composer’s first ballet, and its initial reception was actually not that great, but today it’s probably the first ballet most people think of. My first introduction to it was via a music box I was given as a child, and I met it again as a slightly older child when my ballet teacher in Georgetown, CO, (David something. He had amazing thighs.) taught us all the “swan curtsey.” If your first introduction to Swan Lake was through the movie The Black Swan, you have my sympathy. Please wash your eyes and brain out with a double feature of The Turning Point (which was made in the 1970s and featured a recently-defected Mikhail Baryshnikov) and The Company, starring Neve Campbell (who actually had some real dance experience) and members of the Joffrey Ballet.
  8. Don Quixote (Minkus): This is one of those great ballets that came out of the Bolshoi in the late 1800’s, and has gone through many incarnations. Yes, it’s based on the same novel by Cervantes that inspired the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha, and both are fantastic in their own ways, but the ballet is something truly special, especially when you have really strong male dancers.
  9. La Sylphide (Løvenskiold): There are actually several versions of this ballet about a Scottish farmer who falls in love with a Sylph, and the original, staged by Taglioni, even used different music, but it’s the Løvenskiold music that I’m most familiar with (and, in fact, am listening to as I write this). Btw, there’s another ballet called Les Sylphides that also involves a man falling in love with a forest spirit, but it’s got completely different music and choreography, and is staged as a short ballet.
  10. The Firebird (Stravinsky): Like many ballets this is based on fairy tale, but this time it involves thirteen princesses (making it appropriate for a T-13 inclusion, yes?), forbidden love, and a stolen egg. Jerome Robbins choreographed the best-known version of this ballet when he was at NYCB (New York City Ballet).
  11. The Red Shoes (Easdale): Okay, technically, The Red Shoes is a movie about a ballet called The Red Shoes, which ballet was created just for the movie. But, honestly, does anyone watch this for the plot? Of course not, we watch it for the dancing (and more than one ballet company has staged the ballet itself, since the movie came out in 1948). By the way, the ballet within the movie was based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story entitled – you guessed it – “The Red Shoes.”
  12. Fancy Free (Bernstein): This is another Jerome Robbins piece, set to music by Leonard Bernstein, and it’s a ballet about three American sailors on leave in New York City. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the musical On the Town was actually inspired by the ballet. If you’re like me, you saw the movie version of On the Town (starring Gene Kelley, Frank Sinatra, et al) first, and thought the movie inspired the ballet. (I was fourteen when I asked my dance teacher, who was staging it at his ballet company, for the real story.)
  13. The Hard Nut (Tchaikovsky): If you begin a list with The Nutcracker, it only makes sense to end it with The Hard Nut, the sexy, dark, irreverent version of the same story (one that’s actually more in line with Hoffmann’s original tale). Yes, the music is the same, but this time it’s set in the 50’s, and the toy soldiers are actually an army of G. I. Joe dolls. This version was choreographed by Mark Morris, and features men en pointe as well as some subtle homosexual themes.

Islands and History

Farallon Light

When all was ready and the land duly claimed in the name of Queen Elizabeth I, Drake set sail on July 23. The next day he hove off to the southern Farallones, which he named, for reasons that are not documented, the Islands of Saint James. While Drake gives July 24, 1579, as the day spent at the Farallones, according to our present-day Gregorian calendar, the date is August 3.

* * *

When Drake or one of his crew stepped ashore onto the islands, a full 41 years before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, he became the first European to set foot in what is now the city of San Francisco (the islands are within the city’s limits).
~Peter White, The Farallon Islands: Sentinels of the Golden Gate

The Farallones captured my attention years ago, when I still lived in California, and saw an ad for a day-trip to go take pictures of white sharks, or even cage dive near the islands (with a hookah – not with scuba gear).

Their hold on me grew several years ago, when I read Susan Casey’s book about them: The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks. In it, she mentioned a much more scientific book, the one quoted above, which is really a comprehensive history of the islands.

It only made me more intrigued. In my mind’s ear I hear the roaring waves, and the cries of birds, and in the dimmest corner of my imagination, a ghost story about the little girl who used to live on the island starts to form, because anyone will tell you that if there’s anyplace on earth spookier than these islands and the water that surrounds them, it would be difficult to name them.


In all honesty, I’ve been avoiding the net today, partly because I’ve been focused on other things, and partly because I wanted to avoid all the 9/11 anniversary stuff, because eleven years later, it feels more maudlin than anything else. Am I sorry people died? Of course. But I’m sorry for every life lost in every conflict around the world, and frankly, we’re still pretty lucky as far as terrorism goes, unless you count our own legislature spending all their time passing laws that tell women what they can do with their bodies instead of creating jobs.

So, here’s my favorite Roy Zimmerman song, because his manages to blend jaded irony and idealistic hope into one really catchy tune.

NOT another Manic Monday

drink coffee

I did not wake up at 6:00 this morning, but stayed in bed til 9:30 waiting for the pool guy to come and go, because if I stay in bed the dogs do, too.

Not that I ever wake up at six in the morning, unless there’s a compelling reason.

However, even though I really didn’t start my day til after eleven (there were distractions), I managed to write one press release, seven articles for various work blogs, three letters (which actually made it INTO THE MAIL) took a swim, cleaned the kitchen, made dinner, ate dinner with Fuzzy (while watching Warehouse 13, I do so love Brent Spiner as the big bad), and had a great conversation with a friend.

As days go, it was pretty good.

I’m sure the double espresso I had with breakfast made all the difference.


A sleepy morning followed by lunch at Panera and a brief, though unfruitful, trip to Half Price Books was the highlight of our Saturday.

However brief our time out of the house might have been we still managed to enjoy the cooler day.

The heat of the day may be ten to fifteen degrees cooler this weekend, but anywhere else in the country it would still count as summer. I enjoy the warm days, but am looking forward to crisp evenings.

Fuzzy suggested a visit to Trinity Hall yesterday, and I had to explain to him that I only like Irish pubs when it’s rainy or cold…preferably both.

And Fall Blows In…

I’ve been mostly loopy all day, from a low-grade infection, leftover jangled nerves after a dental visit yesterday, and a migraine triggered by both of those things and a shift in the weather. I’m still feeling a little spinny, and even though it’s not quite midnight, and I’ve been groggy and half-sleeping all day, I’m probably going back to bed as soon as I get this posted.

For the last week or so the weather reports and the Texas Stormchasers have been talking about the cold front that has been creeping toward us all day. Not that it’s actually going to be cold – tomorrow’s high is supposed to be just below 90 – but the overnight lows for the next few days are supposed to drop into the sixties, and the ten-day forecast doesn’t have a single day predicted to be over 94. If that seems like the height of summer, still, consider that this afternoon’s high was 106.

Earlier this evening, Fuzzy and I sat on the deck, watching clouds blow across the night sky as the dogs raced around the yard. It was dark, and still pretty steamy, but the wind had a bite underneath the warmth.

We sat under the rustling trees, and held hands in the dark, as fall blew into town.

Thursday 13: Things my Mother Taught Me

I have to confess: I was working on a completely different Thursday 13 list for today, but it’s still in draft form, and not quite ready, and this morning at the dentist, while reading political posts on Facebook and HuffPo and Jezebel, I was thinking about my mother.


Last month, she wrote a birthday letter to me in her blog, and it made me cry, but over the years she’s also been a source of sage advice, and I thought I’d share some.

  1. Stand up for yourself, and for the things you believe in. If you don’t, who will?
  2. It’s okay – and even healthy – to think of yourself first from time to time.
  3. Never underestimate the simple pleasure of a bubble bath.
  4. Thank-you notes and good hygiene never go out of style.
  5. Happy feet = a happy heart.
  6. Trust your body, and trust your instincts about your body.
  7. Every woman – indeed, every person – should live on their own for at least a year before getting married.
  8. They should also travel.
  9. And have at least one truly-tragic love affair.
  10. You do not have to marry the first person you sleep with.
  11. Pretty underwear can lift your mood. If it matches your outfit, even better.
  12. When moving house, unpack the kitchen first, and get it set up completely.
  13. Coffee, chocolate, and a good book can save your sanity.