Sunday, August 22, 2010

Washington and Wakey-Wakey

We'll see you in a week, Pops!

Tomorrow the kids and I head up to Washington for a week of family and friends: Great Wolf Lodge with my friend Michelle and two of her kids, overnights with my parents, overnights with Mick's parents, and a Mariners game with Karen. (Somewhere in there I get an overnight hike with my pal Maureen into the alpine.)

Mick'll fly up to meet us in Seattle on the 31st, where he'll spend his birthday week with us and various good friends. Dinner with some amigos in Bellingham, and, weather-permitting, some wakey-wakey with the Lanes on Lake Sammamish.

Can't wait!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

anCay ouYay eepKay aAy ecretSay?

extNay uesdayTay: eatGray olfWay odgeLay ithway ymay idskay.

OoWay OoHay!

*In other news: I ran 27 minutes this morning; I also found out my Flash Fiction short story submission will be judged by September 13th, which means I can forget about it for a while!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Look What Dane's Group Made on Day 2 of his ScienceWorks "Animate It" Camp

A Second-Guesser Gets Philosophical

I keep thinking about the 987-word submission I made to the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge on Sunday.

I keep thinking of it because that's what writers do: a) they obsess about stuff they've sent out, and b) they second-guess the quality of what they sent out.

That said, I re-read my piece this morning and, honestly, I highly, highly doubt that it sustains itself well enough to be considered a "Comedy."

I also doubt that my one-line synopsis does anything very tantalizing.

This is where I get philosophical, though:

*In order to figure out what works, you have to be willing to do some stuff that doesn't work.


*You have to be willing to see what you did get out of the work you completed (or drafted).

In my case, I now have a better sense of some elements of comedy: exaggeration, deception, misunderstanding, contrast... very few of which I successfully used.

I also wrote an entire story (which might belong in another genre!) that I can now revise, polish and possibly submit somewhere. At the rate I'm writing this summer, I wouldn't have had that at all otherwise.

Final lesson?

*Play and Learn.

Monday, August 16, 2010


The kids are into setting up shop on the sidewalk across the street these days. They've got a big beach umbrella over their heads, an old bench from the front yard as their table, and a stool and a high chair for their seats.

Dane's at "Animate It" camp at ScienceWorks today 'til 1, but Aubrey and Kimmi (neighbor) are selling ears of corn and frozen Otter Pops.

Yesterday it was 95 degrees out and all the neighborhood kids were at the table with Dane and Aubrey, knitting scarves to sell with the warm lemonade.

NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Competition

Genre: A comedy.
Location: A dance club.
Object: A motorcycle.

Twenty-one other writers in my group had the same assignment: to write a story 1,000 words or less using the above guidelines.

There were nineteen other groups,about 450 writers total, each group with a different assignment. Genres ranged from Sci-Fi to Political Satire to Romance to Fantasy to Horror, etc. Locations and Objects ranged from a bakery and a ladder, to a well and a baby carriage, to a typing class and an eyedropper, etc.

We all had exactly 48 hours to write and complete our short stories. This was Round Number 1.

Stories will now be judged and given points within their groups. See How It Works for details.

I have no idea how my story will be judged. It's a little scary to claim you're being funny; there's always the chance you'll flop. And as for plot, characterization, and setting: let's just hope I at least showed up for the right assignment!

I can't post my story here, but if it goes live on their website, I'll provide the link. For now, I'll tell you the title and synopsis I submitted:

"Still Wet" - An unpopular local earns a new reputation.

Oh boy...

P.S. In writing this story, I re-discovered the infinite number of ways there are to write a terrible, no-good, lame-o story.

But it's really fun to write for an audience with an assignment and a deadline. And it's going to be exciting to be given feedback from judges, as well as to read all the other entries. Play and learn.

P.P.S. Leave a comment and tell me: What would you have done with my prompt?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Taking the Siskiyou Challenge


It's been six years since I ran my last marathon, a couple since I've jogged religiously, but guess who's running an 11K in six weeks???

That's right. Yours truly.

The Siskiyou Challenge is hitting the town and I'm on a team.

In fact, I'm on a team with some of my favorite people. Mick is riding the road race leg, his bro Kai is running the 5 K leg (and sponsoring it through his Endo practice!) and Kai's bro-in-law Garth is paddling the kayak leg. And a new friend, Mike Jack, is riding the mountain bike leg.

Because Kai's Endo practice is sponsoring the team, I think our logo should be ROOT FOR US! (C'mon, tell me you like that in the comment section.)

So far in my first week of training, I've run 10 minutes, 8 minutes + 17 minutes (one day), 12 minutes, and today, drumroll please... 20 minutes.

I've only got about 45 more minutes to tag on to that last time until I'm at 11k.

Obviously, I've got my work cut out for me!

But I'm hopeful. Training for marathons, into week 4 or so I was up to 7 miles. I'll follow that schedule now.

So come September 25, ROOT FOR US!

Oh, and root for Farm to Schools. The $ raised here supports local farmers getting their fresh foods to school lunch rooms. Better for everybody.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Year In Books

For the past fifteen years I've kept a journal of books I've read. Today I just picked it up to see what I've read in the past twelve months. Here's the list:

9/09 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Steig Larsson - a gripping, page-turning, brutal but well-written murder mystery suspense novel published posthumously. Two more in the series have been released by this smart Scandinavian novelist. Note: this book is not for everyone, nor is the movie. However, I'll say that the movie is one of those rareties, in the sense that it follows the book amazingly well.

10/09 Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson. This is excellent, inspiring nonfiction. Read it.

10/09 Cannery Row, John Steinbeck. Such good writing, such a good story. Steinbeck was a master.

11/09 The Pilot's Wife, Anita Shreve. Oprah's Book Club stuff. I read it in a day. A page-turner, but not necessarily satiating.

11/09 The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula LeGuin. Science Fiction. A book club selection. Ursula LeGuin's so prolific and smart. I'm glad I read this, even if I didn't just love it.

11/09 Gods Behaving Badly. Can't even drum up the writer's name. Awful. Couldn't stand it. A book club selection. A story of modern gods living in London. Blah, blah, blah.

12/09 Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Surival in the Arctic, Jennifer Niven. I think I wrote about this on an earlier post. Fascinating story, decent nonfiction writing, brought about plenty of discussion at book club.

1/10 The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon. I love Michael Chabon. Not everyone will agree with me, but: He can do no wrong. He's the master of descriptive writing.

1/10 The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick. Graphic novel for YA or middle grade. This was a wonder-filled book. Loved it.

2/10 Shiloh, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Dane's class read this, so I did, too. Lovely story about a boy who saves a dog from an abusive owner. Set in 50's/60's south.

4/10 The Daykeeper's Grimoire, Christy Raedeke. I wrote about this in an earlier post; my friend Christy's debut YA novel. Read it!

5/10 Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen. I can't recall a thing about this. Not even a main character. Wait... Oh. The 16-year-old girl traveling to Bath with chaperones. Meets good boy, pursued by bad boy. Etc. Still not in love with Jane Austen. I'd like to be. Will keep reading her works.

5/10 The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan. The first in the series of five. Excellent middle grade reading.

5/10 Cheaper By The Dozen, Frank B. Gilbreth. Wrote about this on an earlier post. Didn't do much for me, in the long run, but it's a decent read. Besides, I had to read it for book club AND I was waiting for book 2 in Rick Riordan's series, since Dane and Aubrey and Mick were reading the only copy we own!

6/10 The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan. Book 2. Fabulous.

6/10 The Titan's Curse, Rick Riordan. Book 3. Fabulous.

6/10 The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan. Book 4. Fabulous.

6/10 The Last Olympian, Rick Riordan. Book 5. Fabulous.

7/10 The Reader, Bernard Schlenk. I've wanted to read this since I saw a poster for the movie, starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. Set post-Holocaust, and taking on difficult themes, this book was excellent. I read it in a day. I'd see the movie.

7/10 The Girl Who Played with Fire, Steig Larsson. Book 2 of 3. Brutal, but good writing. And I'll read the third.

7/10 Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher. Young Adult literature. The premise caught my attention. A boy gets a box of cassette tapes after a girl's suicide, and listens to the 13 reasons she killed herself. Great premise, and the teens that read it probably love it. I just thought the girl felt objectified a few too many times. Possible - and even probable - in real life, but the way it was written made me not want to believe she had to see things the way she did. Which, of course, is part of the brilliant premise of it, right? We're supposed to believe suicidal cases -- the signs are there, and the reasons are real to the victim. (Anybody else read this and had thoughts about it???)

So that's all for my year. Twenty-one books. Looks like I read a lot of YA and Middle Grade novels this year. Some book club selections, too (which didn't always move me). Oh, and I read these three books all year long, whenever I felt like it: The Fourth Genre, Writing Life Stories, and The Eleventh Draft, among other essay and short story collections.

Upon reflection, I didn't really seek out good literature in the past twelve months the way I usually do. I think that'll be my goal in the next twelve: Keep something on hand at all times that I really want to sink my teeth into. (Help me out with that? Suggestions welcome.)

He's not here to put this together, but I'll throw in that Mick read the Lightning Thief series, too, some Michael Chabon, the Girl with the... series, and lots of David Foster Wallace (his new hero -- Mick loved the 3-inch thick novel, Infinite Jest).

These two cats LOVE the Lightning Thief series (wait, they call it the Percy Jackson series). Dane's read it four times this summer -- yup, that's about 1500 pages each time, so 6000 pages total. Aubrey's on book 4 of her second reading. These guys can't get enough of Percy Jackson and Greek mythology.

They've also listened to books 1-5 on CD of The Ranger's Apprentice series. We're waiting for the audio CD of book 6, reserved at the library. I think we're hold 2 of 6...

Got a good book suggestion for me? Leave me a comment!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Our Lady of the Lake of the Woods

Me and my girl at our new favorite place. She and Dane and I have been there 5x in the last month. When it's too hot in Ashland (95ish) it's perfect at Lake of the Woods (85ish). We went there with my parents on Thursday and floated around on air mattresses and pedaled against some afternoon wind on a sparkly red paddle boat.

Now Dane's in Washington. My parents drove him north to stay with his other grandparents. He called today in the middle of a ping-pong tournament with Grand-dad.

Have fun, Dane-o. Smooches from all of us. xoxoxo

What did YOU love about summer as a kid?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Up and at 'em

I have to write this up, because, as most of you know: I don't like to over-book. I like to have lots of interesting things to do and think about, but I don't like every hour of every day to be accounted for. However, last week turned out to be the exciting exception.

Last week went like this:

8-12:30 ScienceWorks Mammal Camp (daily)
*I taught 4-6 year-olds key character traits of mammals with lots of charades, stories, and activities. Dane and Aubrey came along daily as my helpers/students.
*Two of those days, nieces and nephews (Jude and Barrit, Indi) came and gave awesome demonstrations about guinea pigs and rabbits!
*Hence, two of those days, I rewarded them with yummies at Yogurt Hut for a half hour before dropping Aubrey off at...

1 - 4 Gym N Swim at the Y (daily)
*Aubs Gymmed and Swimmed her heart out
*During this time, I planned the next day's class, cleaned the house, made dinner, and walked the dog.
*Two of those days, Aubs followed her already long day with...

4:15-5:30 Hot Shots Gymnastics Class (Tues, Thurs)
*A certain someone can now do kick-overs (back walk-overs)! And lots of 'em. In a row.

5:30 - 11
*On Monday, a pool party with my writing group
*On Tuesday, a Styx concert for Mick and me at Britt Fest / another pool party for the kids with Jennie (until 11pm -- thanks, Jennie!)
*On Wednesday, Big Bad Voo Doo Daddy at Britt Fest with the kids, including lots of swing dancing on the hillside
*On Friday, a party at my friend Davis's 250 acre home in the woods -- with trampoline and band!

So, that was just Monday thru Friday.

Friday night, my cousin's wife Peggy and her two boys, Nic (12) and Zac (9), showed up at midnight to spend the weekend at our house to see Oregon Shakespeare Festival plays (four total!). While Peggy saw "Ruined" at 2 on Saturday (not necessarily kid-appropriate), I took all the kids swimming at the Daniel Meyer pool. Before that, though, we had lunch here -- and our friends Matthew and Bethany Nielson from Dental School stopped by on their way south with their two kids!

Sunday, while Peggy and the boys were seeing Hamlet, we were invited to a BBQ/Pool party with new friends here in Ashland. (Amazing water slide at this one. Sheesh!)

If you've read this carefully, you might notice that the real trooper here is Aubrey -- for at least two of those days, she was up and at 'em from 7am to 11pm, with a lot of activity already in her day.

This week, we're gearing up to have my parents come to town (tonight) for a long weekend. I hope to take them to Lake of the Woods to float around in the hot sun with us, and we're scheduled to do the Hellgate Jet Boat Brunch Tour, to get our stomachs satiated and our bodies soaked!

In the meantime, on Monday Dane and I took eight hours and completely emptied out (and then re-filled) his and Aubrey's room (Aubrey was at her new pal Mia's all day) and I got out this:

And their room went from two tall lofts head-to-head (you can kind of see here how both lofts were tall enough to walk under, if you're under age 9):

To one tall loft and a shorter loft tucked underneath the tall one.

[woops, can't find the camera; will post photo here when I find it]

So cool, we can hardly handle it.

I can't believe it took me 39 years to discover the joy of using a Sawzall.