Saturday, January 31, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Today we moved the gecko (and his tank) downstairs so he wouldn't have to breathe paint fumes. He seems at home next to my in-laws' glassware.
The painters are worried about where they will work when this job is finished, so during breaks, they call the unemployment office. The line is always busy.
My brother emailed me about graffiti in Los Angeles. I shouldn't have been surprised that the paint presents an environmental hazard.
Remembering this picture book makes me smile.
I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!
by Karen Beaumont
illustrations by David Catrow
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I decided it was time (after living in this house for 21 years) to get the inside painted. We recently solved (I hope) the problem of rain in the kitchen,* but the damage was huge.
Monday, I spent the day moving chachkas to the basement and taking pictures off the walls. My sons own a huge number of tippy trophies.
Yesterday, while the painters repaired drywall, I moved my parents' and my in-laws' china and glassware to the basement so the china cabinets could be moved. My parents and in-laws certainly bought a lot of dishes during their lifetimes. Why did it all end up here?
Everything upstairs is covered in tarps - except my sons' beds. The boys have threatened to move to the Tae Kwon Do studio in search of a little peace and quiet.
The smoke alarms keep going off. I think it's from the paint fumes.
This morning, the painters will be back at 8:30, and my computer will be unplugged. So long ...
*I was going to blog about this problem, but Jacqui Robbins' post about the rain in her kitchen was funnier.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Later, I told the story to Jeremy and said, “I know nothing about your friends. Is that because girls talk more than boys?”
See what I mean?
So I developed guidelines for how my characters can communicate with each other about each other.
1. Moms gossip.
2. Teenage girls may discuss their lives at home.
3. Teenage boys exist within a cone of silence.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Yesterday my sons came home from school and collapsed in front of the TV in a middle-of-finals-week stupor. The TV was tuned to yet another comedian lambasting his wife. The comedian explained when men argue, they have it out right away, while women save up grudges then argue days later. (Okay, his routine was a little funnier than that, but not much.)
How did this comedian know that in my WIP, I'd delayed an argument between two brothers for an entire day? Today I rearranged scenes so their emotional explosion was immediate.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
What a first line!*
The Iliad and The Odyssey
translated by Robert Fagles
I recently purchased a boxed set of The Iliad and The Odyssey. When I wondered aloud if I taken on too large a task, Jeremy said, "Mom, you're the best reader I know. If you're not doing something in the kitchen, you're either reading or writing."
How's that for a summation of my life?
I'll admit here, before all of cyberspace, that I'm relying on some help from sparknotes and plan to rent movies of the two stories. So far, I'm enjoying The Iliad.
*Some translations of The Odyssey begin with those words.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Jay Asher's blog has a beautiful watercolor by Lea Lyon
Yesterday was also quite a day. In response to Barack Obama's call for volunteerism, Shutta Crum started a volunteer manuscript critique event within the Michigan chapter of SCBWI. Ruth McNally Barshaw's blog describes it elegantly.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
The main story takes place in Ireland in 1981 near the north-south border where political unrest affects every aspect of life. 18-year old Fergus hopes to escape the violence and turmoil of Northern Ireland, yet he is pulled inexorably into the fray.
I highly recommend Bog Child. Click here for a detailed review.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I am pondering a new project, brainstorming scenes, sketching characters and enjoying myself - so far. Yes, I know the main character needs a name.
Sam said that while his English class is reading Heart of Darkness, he welcomes homework interruptions of all kinds, even requests to shovel the driveway.
Sam is taking an Advanced Placement calculus class online. I emailed the distance learning institution several times to request the bill. They responded that it would be sent later. I worried that if we never paid, Sam wouldn't get credit for the course. They finally sent the bill; I paid it. We are no longer stealing a calculus class.
Jeremy's science book states that ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the most important biological molecule. My husband wondered why they wanted the kids to memorize that little fact because there are at least 500 molecules required for life. I responded that cyanide poisoning is almost instantaneous, and since it works by inhibiting electron transport and thus the production of ATP, organisms die quickest without ATP. Oxygen deprivation takes longer to snuff out the test subject. Then, my husband reminded me that anaerobic bacteria need no oxygen, but do require ATP. That settles it ATP is the most important biological molecule. We agree that Mg+2* is the most important biological ion.
*Again, Blogger thwarts my desire to use superscripts.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
At Jeremy’s bookmark, our heroes are on a transoceanic voyage. They have been attacked by pirates and their ship was damaged by a storm. (So far, so good.) Then they found refuge on a tropical island, where both our heroes and the plot became marooned. Sure the heroes are repairing the ship and pushing back the frontiers of natural science, but other than that nothing is happening. They while away the pages with snappy banter.
Snappy banter isn’t all bad. I find that in early drafts of my manuscripts, letting my characters talk to each other is a good way for me to get to know them. But then a lot of it has to go. I recently cut 10,000 words of snappy banter from my WIP.
I’m trying to decide on a new writing project, and I’m leaning toward the idea that has more potential for action.
Photo from Getty Images.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
I'm going to rate it a resounding --- Pretty Good.
Smoked cheeses tend to taste like a tailgate party, but the smokiness of this cheese was more interesting that usual. Would I be able to differentiate between applewood smoke and some other kind of smoke, like maple or cherry? Unlikely. The paprika was mild, and I wished they'd used the spicier variety.
Was this cheese my favorite of all time? No.
Did I like it? Yes.
Who knew buying cheese could be so much fun?
Wasn't it only last week, that I resolved to keep this blog on topic?
Friday, January 9, 2009
"If you buy this cheese, you'll remember me," he said.
My face must have had the Oh-No-Another-Grocery-Store-Crazy look because he said, "I'd better stop talking to you before my wife gets back." I edged away from him, the cheese still in my hand.
When I got to the checkout lane, the checker said, "You must really like cheese."
I explained how a person I didn't know recommended the applewood cheese. "I wanted to try some new cheeses because the family of a close friend started a magazine just about cheese," I said.
The look on his face was Oh-No-Another-Grocery-Store-Crazy, so I went on to explain it was an upscale magazine like Bon Appétit or Gourmet. This seemed to reassure him because he told me a story about a friend who, when visiting France, was served cheese with maggots in it. The maggots were supposed to be there as they were part of the delicacy.
When I told my husband about the maggots, he said, "Chimps eat maggots and are glad to get them."
I haven't tried my applewood cheese yet, but I'm sure it has no maggots.
Waving from the evolutionary tree ...
The trend is spreading across the country. Tomorrow (1-10-09) is pantless day for the Los Angeles subway system. Yep, that Commander Dan Finkelstein they interviewed is my very own brother.
Somehow, this event seems less meaningful in Los Angeles. The weather is warm, and winter fashions tend to show skin anyway.
If I lived in a place that had a subway system, I would not participate. I'd be home revising my novel.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Monday, January 5, 2009
Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
Penguin Books (2000)
If you've always hated math, this book probably won't change your mind. For people like me, who enjoy numbers, science, questions and history, it is a fascinating read.
Seife describes the roll of zero in mathematical history. Early number systems did not include zero because people did not need zero to count sheep or barter grain. Later, zero was banned for religious reasons because accepting zero, meant acknowledging infinity, and numeric infinity threatened Medieval concepts of God. Seife gently leads the reader through calculus, relativity, quantum mechanics and string theory. He finishes by explaining why the universe will end in ice not fire.