March 29, 2008

go vote for me!

I have entered Aerin's writing contest. If you've got a few minutes, go read my entry and leave a comment to let me know whether it was worth your five minutes. There are three entries so far (mine is #3). If you care to vote, here's the voting rule:

5. Readers' Choice voting to occur March 31. Voting will be by email. Voting is open only to those who commented on the contest or on stories before midnight, March 31 2008.

March 28, 2008

Fiction Friday: only a fiver

only a fiver
3/28/2008 - Monday light verse, special FF edition
Fiction Friday prompt: Describe a time your character was wronged; even though it was insignificant to the one who wronged them, your character never got over it. (Join Fiction Friday here.)

You got drunk in Reno while in a casino
and gambled your money away.
And when you drew four threes, you bet him your car keys
but too bad it wasn't your day.
Cause he had four sevens, and cursing the heavens
you hustled off, lost in dismay.
You wandered to my place, and begged for some bed space,
and graciously I let you stay.
I gave you a warning that early next morning
I'd have to be going away,
and while I was sleeping, you set yourself creeping,
your honesty going astray,
And then, you conniver, you took my last fiver
and snuck out to go back and play.
So now I'm disgusted, you'll never be trusted.
Our friendship you just threw away.

One of my writing goals for 2008 is to write at least one light verse or poem every week in addition to my haiku wednesday and fiction friday posts. I will try to do this on Mondays.

March 26, 2008

New monument to be dedicated on Sunday in SF

beer labels

Someone was talking about saloons and home brewing the other day (ok, it was Christine), and it reminded me that it's time for me to make another batch of something, maybe an English ale this time. Anyway, I thought I'd share a few of the private labels I've made in the past few years. I hope you enjoy. Sorry, there's no more beer available, but if you want to request a batch, I'll consider making one up.

The Bunny Brew was a pale ale and was a big hit. I think my mom may actually have an unopened bottle still. (Note the 2003 vintage.)

Every year my soccer club (men's over-30 league, our club has four teams in the league) has a raucous dinner-dance with a raffle and auction to raise a little extra money for the club. For several years I brewed something special for the auction. Since many of the club members are British, Irish, or Scottish (and at least one Welshman), there's a lot of beer drinking after the games. My team for the past ten years has been the Clayton Town. Thus, the "town drink."

The Royal Oaks are also in our club, but they're an over-40 team full of crusty, grumpy old men. The younger guys tend to drink Gatorade or other energy drinks at halftime, but I would not be surprised if some of these old goats have an agreement with the local pub for their halftime boost.

I was a member of a terrific writing group in 2006 that folded when two of the members had irreconcilable political differences which created a rift among the writers. It's too bad, really, because it was, I thought, one of those very rare things: A group with several talented writers who all had a great rapport for honest and useful critique. We met at a cafe called "Yellow Wood Cafe" and so called ourselves the Yellow Wood Writers. This beer I brewed and labeled in honor of my first short story sale. First "draft." Get it? Get it?

I have others, but I figure you weren't interested in these so why should I post any more?


haiku wednesday - March 26, 2008

This week's words are

token woman, I
question board diversity
glass ceiling intact

cough up token, bitch
sit there smug in your glass cage
what's your question, sir?

question fogged-up glass
does faith need token of proof?
hazy reflection

March 25, 2008

March 24, 2008

4,000 and counting

dear lord. I remember thinking 1,000 was far too many.

writer's monday

a writer's monday

a writer's block is often caused
by staring blankly at a page
your creativity is paused
your brain is failing to engage

some think it like an empty cup
a vacant space that they must fill
and once they've got it all filled up
ideas and words will freely spill

and some, all vexed, begin to think
that if they write one word's formation
there is no doubt that it will stink,
so theirs is verbal constipation

and others view it like a wall
that they must bash to bitter bits
for them to hear their muse's call
for on the other side she sits

for me, it's just that there's too many
words and thoughts all in a jumble
I get confused and can't pick any
and so my roar becomes a mumble.

One of my writing goals for 2008 is to write at least one light verse or poem every week in addition to my haiku wednesday and fiction friday posts. I will try to do this on Mondays.

March 23, 2008

March 22, 2008

constitutions, war, and leadership

I just read a Washington Post op-ed that pretty clearly articulates why the Bush/Cheney administration has frustrated and frightened me so much the past seven years.

March 21, 2008

lost doggy

lost doggy
3/21/2008 Monday light verse, special Friday edition because we all gotta keep on keepin' on, ya know?

I came out looking for my poor, lost dog
who ran away just after supper.
I lost him in the dark and fog,
that rotten little rascal pupper!
I walked all over town til midnight,
suffering the awful weather.
I found him here under this streetlight.
Now I guess we're lost together.

One of my writing goals for 2008 is to write at least one light verse or poem every week in addition to my haiku wednesday and fiction friday posts. I will try to do this on Mondays.

March 20, 2008

So long, my dear, dear friend

Today I got a call I had been expecting but did not want to receive. My boss, Joan--a dear, dear friend and mentor these past seven years--passed away today after a year-long battle with lung cancer. It was already stage four when she received the diagnosis. Never a smoker, always a health and fitness nut. The diagnosis was a severe shock to us all.

Joan's passion (after her kids) was changing the world. She got herself into a position where she could make a huge impact through a corporation, and she proceeded to make that impact. I think she may have surprised even herself with how successful she was at moving people and inspiring them.

The phrase that was used when I got the call was "passed away." It's a nonthreatening phrase, one that implies peace and passivity and quiet and calm.

Tonight, I will watch my 11-year-old son go through a rite of passage, a scouting ceremony called "bridging" where he literally will walk over a small bridge, leaving his Cub Scout pack and joining his Boy Scout troop on the other side.

That is how I am imagining Joan "passing away." And when she gets to the other side of her bridge, I am sure the first thing she will do is figure out how to make Heaven a better place for everyone. I bet she's already gotten on Management's calendar to discuss some changes.

Joan, the world is a darker place today without you. But the dozens--hundreds--of people you inspired will each carry your inspiration for the rest of our days. I hope in some way we can live up to your legacy.

March 19, 2008

She nose what it is

she nose what it is
3/19/2008 Monday light verse, special Wednesday edition

I asked sweet Mary Jean who was wearing only green
what the little blob was stuck upon her sleeve.
"Is it gum," I asked politely, thinking it was quite unsightly.
"No, it's not," she giggled; then she took her leave.

She was causing quite a stir when my friend ran into her
and she wiped some sticky goo into his hair.
"What is that," demanded he, "is it wet sap from a tree?"
"No, it's not," she said and ran away from there.

She was playing with her brother when upon them came their mother
who was curious, as mothers often are.
"Is that banana?" She was curt as she studied Brother's shirt.
"No, it's not," yelled Mary as she jumped into the car.

And just now sweet Mary froze with her finger up her nose
stuck so far in that it disappeared completely.
when she finished with her thrusting, she extracted it--disgusting!
"Yes, it's snot!" she said and smiled very sweetly.

One of my writing goals for 2008 is to write at least one light verse or poem every week in addition to my haiku wednesday and fiction friday posts. I will try to do this on Mondays.

haiku wednesday - March 19, 2008

This week's words are

threat not understood
tangled in Iraq quagmire
blood for oil money

money presented
proposition understood
nude bodies tangled

tangled money mess
divorce lawyers confuse me
I understood love

March 18, 2008

3,990 and still counting

Recently I passed my five-year anniversary as a full time employee where I work. (I contracted for a year before that, but it doesn't count.) I've had numerous jobs, but this is only the second company I've worked five years for. Five years is a long time... 28% of my career.

Five years in Iraq, and we are approaching 4,000 dead American soldiers. That is a lot. And is there any end in sight?

My God, look at what this war has cost the United States, England, "the Coalition of the willing," which I guess means about a hundred soldiers from Australia (or did they go home already?). FOUR THOUSAND soldiers dead. Untold numbers of Iraqis, too. A country thrown into ruins. Meanwhile, the American reputation around the world has gone to Hell, the American economy is spiraling down the toilet, foreclosures are at record high for record length of time, the savings rate is actually negative, and what did we get for it?

Um... Saddam Houssein is dead?

Help me out here. What else did we accomplish?

Because their sacrifice can never be repaid.

Five years. And no solution to the mess we've made.

But at least Bush is well rested.

March 17, 2008

st pat's day limerick

she likes to show her Irish

The teacher sent Lynn from the class
For wearing a skirt made of grass.
"You said to wear green,
so why be so mean?"
He answered, "It shows too much ass."

One of my writing goals for 2008 is to write at least one light verse or poem every week in addition to my haiku wednesday and fiction friday posts. I will try to do this on Mondays.

March 14, 2008

Fiction Friday: A Night at the Zoo

This Week’s Theme: Tell about your character's feelings toward animals and why she feels that way.
A Night at the Zoo
3/14/2008 (Monday light verse, special Friday edition)

Gwendolyn Rice thought it would be nice
to go with her mom to the zoo.

She begged and she pleaded cuz she really needed
to find out what animals do.

Her parents were vegans (just like her friend Megan's)
so Gwendolyn hadn't a clue.

But old Missus Rice said, "Sorry, no dice,"
while stirring her lima bean stew.

Well, Gwen was no quitter and when the urge bit her
she snuck out at quarter til two.

She felt like a sinner and thought she'd miss dinner
but knew what she needed to do.

She rode cross the city while humming a ditty
of lions and rabbits and gnu.

She got to the gate at a quarter til eight,
and the man there was closing the zoo.

She snuck past that guard and into the yard
just as the "we're closed" whistle blew.

Now Gwendolyn Rice, in two winks and a trice,
around all the cages she flew.

She saw bears, fox, and minks, a giraffe and a lynx,
and even a hippo or two.

She saw monkeys and birds and elephant turds
and llamas and three kangaroo.

She saw snakes eating mice while gorilla picked lice,
and sad grazed a lone caribou.

She went round and round, taking in every sound,
every odor and all the sights, too,

and when she was done she'd had so much fun
she just couldn't utter adieu.

So Gwen thought she'd stay til the break of the day
even though she'd be way overdue.

And then she thought, "Gee, don't they want to be free?
These animals are people, too!"

So around them she walked, to each inmate she talked,
and at each the latch she'd undo,

To be nice she was tryin' when she let loose the lion
but it wasn't a good thing to do

Cuz the lion thought, "Nice, I so rarely get Rice
as dessert for my beef brisket stew."

One of my writing goals for 2008 is to write at least one light verse or poem every week in addition to my haiku wednesday and fiction friday posts. I will try to do this on Mondays.
get the Fiction Friday codeabout Fiction Friday
Technorati tags: ,

March 12, 2008

haiku wednesday - March 12, 2008

This week's words are

money woes began
apartment power shut off
feet, hands, mind all numb

foreclosed--lost the house
began apartment hunting
soul numb with fatigue

caught in apartment
numb from naked betrayal
it began last year?

March 11, 2008

why I came home late

why I came home late
3/10/2008 (Monday light verse, special delayed Tuesday edition)

it was a chilly winter evening,
a deserted desert road
in the northern of Nevada
just beyond the Comstock lode

down the mountain I was driving
while the winter blew and snowed
and the icy curves lay lurking
in the darkness so I slowed

but I skidded off the highway
cause a tire up and blowed
and we landed in a river bed
where ice and water flowed

so I climbed on top and hunkered down
and with a paddle rowed
til we smashed into a great big rock
and saw a stranded toad

and we plucked him from the frozen wash
as magically he glowed
and he croaked his thanks for saving him
and said his life he owed

then we all swam to the riverbank
as nearby cattle lowed
and we roped us one and got on board
and to the city rode

where we found a tow truck driver
who we had to prod and goad
then we took him to the river
where the smashed up car we showed

he hooked it up and pulled it out
and to his shop he towed
and all the while his rusty truck
creaked hard under its load

and all the while he grinned at me--
the bill it growed and growed--
while to the east a rosy sky
warmed up as sunrise glowed

well of course I couldn't pay him
so he never would unload
and that magic toad croaked out a curse
that made his truck corrode

that driver was so mad he got his
shotgun to reload
as he was gunning, I was running
at full sprint home I goed

and that's why I came dragging in
right as the rooster crowed
an awful, icy, snowy night
out by the Comstock lode.

One of my writing goals for 2008 is to write at least one light verse or poem every week in addition to my haiku wednesday and fiction friday posts. I will try to do this on Mondays.

March 9, 2008

March 7, 2008

Fiction Friday:

This Week’s Theme: Start your entry with a fire.
Reminder: Over the weekend you can participate in judging the Write Stuff photo writing contest. My entry is posted here.

As Daniel fished his chemistry text from his backpack, he glanced out his bedroom window at the night and was astonished to see an orangish glow dodging about under the bridge. Shadows writhed along the half-frozen river and clambered up the rocks of the embankment. Phantoms made from firelight waved at him, beckoned him to come out and play.

He closed his eyes and counted to ten. Walter was dead. That was not Walter's fire under the bridge.

When Daniel opened his eyes again, he dropped the book with a solid thud. Someone was down there, with a fire, in Walter's spot. That wasn't right. Daniel hustled through the door, snatching his black hoodie off the floor as he went. Down the stairs three at a time, his sneakers squeaking on the hardwood steps. Mom wasn't home yet, probably wouldn't be home for an hour or two, some work meeting keeping her late again.

The front door resisted and squeaked as he yanked it open and felt the rush of winter flow over him and up the arms of his sweatshirt. Mom would yell at him to wear his parka, or his boots at least. But it wasn't far, and he didn't plan on being out long. And someone's fire was warming Walter's little home under the bridge.

He trudged out into the night, up the street and around the corner. Just past the Falks' house, at the fire hydrant, he turned from the sidewalk onto Walter's path. A thin, wobbly track in the frozen grass between the Falks' place and the Delanos', some sort of sewer or power company easement that wound through the rocks down to the river's edge. Scattered seeds of moonlight fell through pine branches above, and his breath made pale patches in the darkness before him.

The snow along the path was old, and its crust crunched under his steps. The temperature had dropped fast after the sun went down, faster than he'd expected, an already he began shivering.

He couldn't see the bridge from the path because of the bend in the river and the steep bank. His house was up there somewhere behind the fences, and he gave one glance up at yellow windows before turning onto the groomed path that followed the river. During the day, this path would be thick with joggers and dogs, even in this frigid weather. In all his evenings with Walter under the bridge, he'd never seen anyone walking this late.

It would be in sight... now. As Daniel came around the big rock that pushed the river left and then let it flow right again, he stopped. The span of the footbridge arced over the water, a slim and graceful gray line against the black trees across the river. It flowed like a dark rainbow into the riverbank, blending as if it had grown right from the dirt. Walter's path staggered down this side, around the buttress and disappearing beneath the bridge into the darkness.

Where there should have been an orange glow was blackness. Where he should have heard crackling and popping of dried sticks and shards of wooden crates and palettes, he heard only the whispered hiss of the water passing by. Where he should have welcomed the warm odor of a campfire, he smelled only the pines and the river mud and the cold.

Daniel found himself running the last twenty yards, dodging down under the bridge to Walter's home. It was black, blacker than the cloudless sky, there under the bridge. He knew the place by feel, by memory, but he could see nothing. He knew that a few feet to his right was where Walter lay as he passed away, alone in the cold of a November night, passed out even before the last of the vodka was gone. He knew the fire would be a little farther in, where the bridge could collect and hold on to the heat. He knew how the light would dance in the beams and cables above, how it could mesmerize and fill the silence on those nights Walter had faded beyond speech.

Daniel shivered hard under his sweatshirt and hugged his hands under his armpits. He turned and started back up the path, wondering how it was possible to walk away from that place without the sound of Walter's hard snoring behind him.

get the Fiction Friday codeabout Fiction Friday
Technorati tags: ,

March 6, 2008

go solar

My family went to a movie night sponsored by the Rahus Institute tonight. They showed two movies about solar energy because, well, that's what they do. They teach kids about solar power. One of their movies was about the 2005 Solar Decathlon, in which universities from around the world design and build functional solar homes.

This is a remarkable competition, and the video is definitely something to watch. If you or your kids are at all scientifically inclined, or if you find yourself watching hours upon hours of HGTV (particularly that Ed Begley Jr show), you should go to the site and buy the video. It had clips of the 2007 competition also, in which the Santa Clara University team used hot water to cool their house.

The houses have to be fully functional and are graded on ten criteria. While solar power is at the heart of the competition, the teams tend to focus on fully sustainable technologies and use a lot of recycled and organic materials. Plus, the designs they come up with are very cool.

Here's a preview of the video.

March 5, 2008

haiku wednesday - March 5, 2008

This week's words are

twice past the fountain
close your eyes and rest now, love
sidewalk lullaby

it rained on me twice
waving this sign with no rest
sidewalk to nowhere

chemo twice, no rest
I trudge, slow and pained, to death
sidewalk to heaven

sidewalk twice traversed
said sorry and all the rest
she still locked me out

March 4, 2008

photo fiction contest entry

The Write Stuff Photo Contest #2 [link]
The challenge:
Take a picture of whatever you wish.
Post that picture on your blog.
Write a
fictional story based on that picture.

Life is fragile as a dime store cap gun. One good crack with a smooth tumbled river rock, and it's all over. I suppose that's when it began, the day Ian got all up in my face for losing his best Lego storm trooper when he knew damn well he'd lost it himself in the Thompsons' ivy. We were only seven--he was turning eight the next day, but he was going to be held back in second grade. Ian couldn't count the consonants in his own name.

I remember the spit flying from his lips. I remember an animal rage in his eyes. I remember telling him I never had his storm trooper, but his voice screeched higher when the tears came and he called me a stupid liar. And then I remember the push and the tumbling backwards, off balance, tripping on the bed of river rocks my father had just spent two days shoveling out of wheelbarrows.

What happened next is still in debate. Ian says I threw one of those rocks at his head. That I tackled him and took his cap gun and smashed it on the concrete driveway. But how, my mother asked later with a bloody paper towel in her hand, had I ended up with a forehead gash requiring four stitches? He vowed he'd never play with me again as he stalked home, his dirt-streaked hands holding the remains of his cap gun.

Two days later, we got out our light sabers and played a grand Star Wars game. It seemed all was forgotten. I even got to be Obi-Wan so I could wear the hood over my big bandage.

Tomorrow Ian turns eighteen. I’m giving him two birthday presents, just two little things. I think about little things a lot these days.

Dad finally left, and Mom took her little diamond ring off her finger. It’s better for both of them, really, with me moving on soon. But when Dad came home to get some stuff, his little key wouldn’t open the door any more. Little things have power. Sometimes.

The day Mom changed the locks, I bought Kathleen a new cell phone, the littlest one they make now. Our second anniversary, at least the way I count it. I’ve loved her since fifth grade, but it wasn’t until sophomore year she finally kissed me. A bunch of us were snowed in at Marian’s house, and I found a little corner on the basement stairs where we hung out, talking about nothing until she just leaned down onto me and put her lips to mine, soft and dry, cracked with winter. Her breath was cinnamon red-hots, and her hair was strawberry shampoo. Her long, slender fingers hovered on the back of my neck. We fell asleep on the stairs until Ian found us in the morning and we all went home. Kathleen gave me one of her earrings when she left, a little diamond chip I wore for two years.

I took it out this morning. It’s on my desk in front of me, next to the Lego storm trooper I dug out of the Thompsons’ ivy after lunch. I’ve got a book propped up so if Mom sticks her nose in my room, she won’t see any of it. Not the earring, not the storm trooper, not Kathleen’s cell phone, not the positive early pregnancy test. Mom would flip if she saw that little thing.

At first when I saw the box in Kathleen’s medicine cabinet I freaked. EPT? We’d been careful all three times we’d made love. I’d swiped a little box of Trojans from the drug store where I worked. So I didn’t understand why she had the EPT box. At least it was unopened. “Just in case,” she’d said. And she kissed me. Just a little kiss.

Yesterday she was out when I stopped by, but her dad let me in to drop off some CDs. I wrote a note, hated it, crumpled it, tossed it in the trash. That’s when I saw the little corner of the EPT box buried under some tissues. I dug it out, found the positive test stick. Then I heard her phone.

She left it, I guess. Incoming text message. From Ian. “Neg or pos? Luv U!”

That was yesterday. An hour ago I acquired my other little birthday present for Ian. I dig it out of my pocket and place it on the desk. Now a neat little arrangement of little things: a Lego storm trooper, an earring, a cell phone, a pregnancy test, and a thirty-eight caliber bullet.

But a nice, smooth river rock would be more satisfying.

March 3, 2008

a federal case

a federal case

A snack that had me interested
looked so good, I bit and tested
then the whole thing I ingested
came to find it was infested
with some bugs I then digested
had a taste that I detested
so I went and I protested
but I got myself arrested
to my deeds they all attested
but the judge, disinterested
sniffled loudly, all congested
had no sleep, was quite unrested
"close the case!" we all suggested
but the lawyer had requested
in his suit all double-breasted
that the judge should be devested
shouting in the courtroom crested
but I was not interested
so I just went home and rested.

One of my writing goals for 2008 is to write at least one light verse or poem every week in addition to my haiku wednesday and fiction friday posts. I will try to do this on Mondays.