Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hurricane Season

Hurricane season officially begins in the Gulf of Mexico on June 1, which (the Gulf, not June 1) as I type is either about 3 miles away, or 400 yards (you can do the conversions to metric, my brain is too tired to look up a website to do it for me). It depends on if Offuts Bayou counts as the Gulf--which I guess it doesn't, since it's really off Galveston Bay. So--3 miles from the dayjob. Two blocks from my house. (The picture is from "our" hurricane, Ike, at Fort Crockett Park, about 6 blocks from my house...)

However, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to it until a tropical depression forms somewhere and the Weather Channel starts to get excited about it. On June 1, our hurricane supplies are only beginning to dwindle from last year (I think we still have pinto beans from 2 years ago), and we're probably not riding anything out anyway, so... yeah. No need to get really excited about it until there's something to get excited about.

Which means that last week, when "The tropical depression that will be named Alex if it ever gets winds above 50 mph" was fooling around in the western Caribbean, the fella went out and replenished our hurricane supplies. We now have TWO 40 lb. bags of pinto beans. One of them is half used. We just don't eat that many pinto beans... Plus a humongous bag of rice, which will probably have to be replaced before the season is over in November, many cans of tuna, chicken, green beans, etc. and 4 or 5 cases of water bottles. We may have to replace those too. We drink the water.

Unless weather patterns change drastically, tropical storm Alex won't mean anything to us here except rain and maybe some waves for the local surfers to get excited about. The rain is pretty exciting too. It's been dry. And the oil spill cleanup shouldn't have to stop working either.

Anyway, now that there actually IS a hurricane in the Gulf, it feels like hurricane season has arrived.

We used to live in Tornado Alley. All my adult life, actually, I've lived in Tornado Alley. I don't get too worked up about tornados, because most of the time, they go somewhere else, and if they hit--well, there's not a whole lot you can do about it, except get in the bathtub or closet in the middle of your house, because usually there's not much warning, and they'll probably go somewhere else anyway. Hurricanes give you a lot of advance warning, and it's easy to leave town to get away from them. (For us, anyway. We have lots of inland relatives to stay with, too.) But when they hit, they really hit.

So. Yeah. It's Hurricane Season. There's an actual storm in the Gulf. It's going somewhere else. Life goes on.

Still writing, little bits at a time. Those little bits will add up.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Eating the elephant one bite at a time

You write a book the same way you eat an elephant. One bite--one bit--at a time. It's a long hard slog. (Okay, an elephant reading a book doesn't have anything to do with eating or writing, but it is an elephant, and a book...)

I was going to say it's probably a good thing that stories aren't exactly like elephants, because a whole elephant would go bad before one person could eat the whole thing. (Not that I can imagine one person actually trying... A whole tribe of people, maybe...) Except, it's entirely possible that stories might rot a little before one finishes writing it. Or go stale, anyway. Still, that's not my point here. We don't want to stretch that metaphor right out of shape.

The point is that when you take on a task that is going to take a while, you just have to keep doing the next thing. Keep writing the next words. And the next ones, and the next ones.

I have fallen out of practice of doing the writing First, and I need to get back into it. If not First, then Whenever I Can.

And in pursuit of that, I have joined a "100 words" loop. The goal of this loop, generally, is to write 100 words every day for 100 days, no excuses, no exceptions.

There are some members who have slightly different goals--one is writing 300 words a day, with weekends off. (This will put her ahead of the 700 words a week pace...) One of the main rules is that, if you get More than 100 words, you can't say so. Just say that you got your words for that day. That way it doesn't turn into a competition, or something for someone to beat themselves up over. Oh, and if you miss a day--you have to start over with Day 1.

One of the members, Kay Hudson, has made it up to Day 300-something. Or maybe 400-something. She's now burning up the contest circuit with finals and agent/editor requests. And she's on Day 52 of the new cycle.

I'm on Day 3. I had to squeeze my words in yesterday between the dayjob in the a.m., and the dentist in the afternoon. (I now have my permanent, gold crown on my back tooth, and the sharp, hurty temporary crown is no longer hurting my tongue, and the tooth has calmed down and is no longer crazy sensitive to cold. I am happy.) But the words are squozed. I have made it through the scene I was unsure about, and I think it works. I am on the verge of the black moment, crisis, climax, etc. etc. and the end. I do tend to write extended black moment/crisis scenes, so we will see whether I can soldier through this before the grandboys come for sea camp.

I did get all their paperwork done and turned in and fees paid, so we are all set for them to come and stay and dissect fish and such in two more weeks (or three). It will be fun. And until then--the writing.

One bite, 100 words, at a time...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Seaweed Season

So, while we really haven't had any oil on the beach so far--none at all, from what I can tell--it is seaweed season. Every year, huge blankets of sargasso seaweed drift into shore. The picture is of Padre Island National Seashore, but our little sandbar island looks much the same during seaweed season. Except a lot of mornings, the blanket of seaweed is thicker, and wider.

It's perfectly natural. The seaweed is actually GOOD for the beach and part of the Gulf coast ecology, and it's interesting to walk on (though you don't want to much, because you can't see what's under it). It can be kind of stinky. Here, they tend to rake it up and pile it against the seawall to help anchor new sand dunes. Other places, I'm not sure they do that much.

Thing is, it's kind of a red-brown color, once it washes ashore and dries out. Very similar in color to the red-brown oil they're showing in the pictures on TV. Consequently, a number of folks in hotels along the beach would see the sargasso clumping up on the beach, and call downstairs in a panic to ask "What's that stuff on the beach?!?!!" It's seaweed. It belongs there. Just step over it, if you don't like the crunchy, textury way it feels. It'll be gone soon, and then it will be jellyfish season, and you'll be missing the seaweed. (Yeah, the jellyfish come ashore after the seaweed mostly stops. It doesn't really ever completely stop.) Still, when there's a choice of oil on the beach, and seaweed--give me the seaweed!

I did get some pages written today. Not many. I'm going to join a 100-words-a-day group and try to get this dang book finishes.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Summer just seems to be made for fun, bouncy songs. "Hot Fun in the Summertime" and "Under the Boardwalk" and "Up On the Roof"--they're all about summertime. They're all really old songs, (Not as old as "In the Good Ol' Summertime") but I don't know if any of the newer songs (I listen to Breaking Benjamin and Avenged Sevenfold, thank you, and even Lady Gaga, among others.) specifically mention Summer. The 60s beach party songs just seem to be suited to "summer songs."

Anyway--I'm not sure why I'm riffing on summer songs, except that it seems to have suddenly become summer. It was a cool spring, then all of a sudden--Wham! Ninety degrees and 900% humidity. (Yes, I know that's not technically possible, but...) And the oleanders have been blooming like crazy for better than 6 weeks now. I am very impressed. I mean COVERED with blooms. Plants almost solid pink, or white, or red. I'm amazed every time I drive down any street in town. (We have lots of oleanders because they are salt-resistant.)

And so far, I really haven't had time to enjoy the summer, so far. I've had to make a couple of trips to check on the Alzheimer-y parents. Then I caught a case of The Flu That Would Not Die. And it's just been really busy. I haven't even had time to go out for a swim in the Gulf.

Yes, I know the Gulf of Mexico is full of oil. But the oil is east of us, and so far, it hasn't come west. Haven't seen a single tarball, much less that oily gunky stuff, along the shoreline. I want to swim before we get any--if we do. The current runs east, not west. It's going to Florida, not Texas. I have a lot of sympathy for Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama, and Florida, too. But I can't be sorry it's not coming this way.

So, yeah, it's summer. Lots of stuff to do, lots of places to go. So I'd better get my writing done, huh?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Art & Music

I've always loved both art and music. I took oil painting classes when I was in junior high and early high school, and piano lessons for years, as well as participating in band in high school and college. In fact, the fella and I met in the Baylor University Golden Wave Marching Band, following family traditions. (I played flute (not very well) and he played trumpet and B-flat baritone.) (One does not play instruments very well if one never practices.) I got back into the painting while I was in the Panhandle--haven't managed to pull it out again since I've been on the island, though. Sigh. Anyway...

So we encouraged our children to be involved in art and music--or at least music. The daughter has taken up watercolor. That's one of her paintings from her trip to Sardinia. Yes, the Sardinia that is the island off the coast of Italy where Italians (and apparently many Germans) go to vacation. (Statisticians must have really good conferences. She got to go to Dublin too. I am totally jellus--except for the statistics conference part. Don't particularly want to go to one of those, just to Dublin, or Sardinia.)

All three of our children were in band (trombone, trumpet and baritone). They have variously taken up guitar and singing. The oldest & youngest have played with learning keyboard. They are able to sing because they have not been handicapped with the allergies their father has had. They can hear and match pitches.

And now, the next generation is coming along. The middle grandchild loves to play with his parents' trombones. (We moved seven of them the last time they moved.) He loves music, especially the songs in Disney's Fantasia, both volumes. He is so enamored of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue that one of his favorite birthday gifts was a book about the Gershwin brothers and how that music came to be written. And he's Seven years old.

He also wants to know why there isn't a Rhapsody in Purple. (This may be why he colored himself purple with markers the other day...)

He wants to jam. Not in those exact words, but he does. This is his picture of the instruments in a jazz band. Okay, so the trombones look a little like pregnant, one-legged camels, and the trumpets look like they could play from both ends, but I think they're recognizable. I guess there are so many trombones because his parents have so many. (They met in the Texas Tech Marching Band, in the trombone section, just FYI.)

I just like the look of the picture. I think it could make a cool all-over fabric print, or something. Not bad for a 7-year-old, is it?

In other news, I had the Flu that Would Not Die last week, and am only now finally getting myself vaguely back into the swing of trying to get my book finished. I am so glad I don't have a deadline. :)