Monday, December 31, 2007

TONIGHT IS FIRST NIGHT! And the weather is fabulous

I have to say, while driving back to Tacoma-land on Saturday through wind and sleet and snow ... I was beginning to wonder what tonight's weather for First Night would be like. But this morning, I'm shocked by the first blue skies I've seen in ages. You can hardly tell that this city just had a white-ish Christmas. I take this as a good sign ... a sign that First Night is back. So go out and enjoy!

Our family's plans ...

  • Hit the museums this afternoon (my eldest is OBSESSED with the glass museum and the boy loves his trains)
  • Fold some paper cranes and wish for a Happy New Year. I was going to wish for a less emotionally wrenching New Year, but I know perfectly well that s*** grows great flowers. So I'll take my ups and downs and live each day as best I can.
  • Valentine's Performing Pigs. With a pack o' munchkins all 7 & younger trailing behind us, this one's a must. Gotta throw them kids a bone.
  • Tokens Improv. We like improv in our house.
  • Deborah Page. I've been listening to her stuff on MySpace this week and I'm hooked.
  • And tons more ... I kinda wanna see Alex Duncan, the Smilin' Scandinavians, The Elephants and a few others too. And I'm excited to see the fire dancers and the roller derby gals. And the SOTA pirates. There should be much to see and do ...
See you at First Night! Will you make it to the fireworks?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

My future entrepreneur

The kids were playing restaurant this evening (got lots of kitchen/chef play doo-dads for Christmas), and my eldest daughter stood up on a chair this evening, and announced that their play restaurant had a name: Pasta Perfect ... it's a place you can go where the pasta's always perfect. Sounds yummy!

1 Night Until First Night: Will you make it to the fireworks?

It's the night before First Night, and all through the house ... I'm realizing I need to make my plan of attack TONIGHT! With so much to choose from, and several young kids in tow, and trying to plan dinner with friends around our and their First Night duties, I need to be more organized than I've ever been before and actually put together a schedule. A schedule that will likely include contingencies for sending the kids home before the fireworks ... or at least some of them. Luckily grandpa will be in town and might be able to be bribed with a Guinness or two (waiting at home in the fridge) and a pizza to head home a bit early if needed.

By the way, have I mentioned the FIREWORKS? They're being done by the same folks who did fireworks at Evel Knievel's funeral -- so you know they're gonna be good. Because you know Evil would go out with a quite a bang ...

Here's crossing my fingers that we'll make it to the end. With all of us standing. But here's the realistic side of me knowing that if my 7-year-old, 5-year-old, 2-year-old and their 7-year-old cousin don't drive us bonkers by midnight, it will be a Christmas miracle for sure. Parents out there: I see you nodding ... I see you shaking your heads ...

See you at First Night!

A poem to grandma (an excerpt)

Children can be the best of medicine. They can offer great wisdom and insight. Perhaps because they are not bogged down with with unnecessaries. And thus here is a small excerpt of what I read yesterday at my grandmother's memorial service, a poem inspired by the innocence of my little boy.

You are not gone
When I look inside my mind
I still see you there
Alive and strong
Loving and kind
Forever and ever
For so long

Saturday, December 29, 2007

2 Nights Until First Night: Photo Op!

It was suggested recently by a brilliant woman that First Night would be a great opportunity to take advantage of the most recent and most hysterical neon light funniness that is currently "Tacoma Elf Storage" (located at S. 26th & Holgate ... near Commencement Bay Coffee) for a fun self or family portrait.

You'll be downtown anyhow, so grab your camera, grab your sweetie and any other nearby friends and family members and position yourself on a sidewalk where the sign glows behind and wa-lah! Your New Year's letter photo!

What? You sent out Christmas cards? Well, you're just too organized for me. Let's just say I'LL be looking for my New Year's letter photo with family in tow ... I just hope they haven't replace the lights yet ...

See you at First Night!


Today is my grandmother Doris' memorial service. The third of my grandmothers to die in 2007, and the one I was the closest to, in a large part because I spent my first 18 years in the same house as she ... but also because she was the type of person that allowed you to get close to her. Not everyone is like this. We all have walls of some sort. Some higher, some sharper, some impenetrable. My grandmother Doris' wall had a door with no lock.

But the night is not over for me, and I have a poem to present today that I have not yet put the finishing touches on. And tonight has been filled with happy tears as we tell tales, watch videos, share memories. Today will be filled with more.

May your door have no lock.

Friday, December 28, 2007

VIDEO: A bit about the King's Books cats

Watch as my new-to-Tacoma brother introduces his girlfriend to King's Books. She's a cat freak, and a book nerd, so many smiles were had. And thus my brother begins to believe me that there are bits of awesome all over Tacoma ...

The question is: Do you go to King's Books for the books, or the cats? There are lots of King's Books fans out there, but could there be an even bigger King's Books cats fan club? I'm starting to wonder ...

And if your answer to the question was "I've never been to King's Books," you should fix that. Go say hi to Harriet and Miko yourself, and Pat & John & sweet pea (yes, his name really is sweet pea), too -- though those three are humans, not cats, in case you're confused. There's actually lots of fabulous humans around there ... and lots of fabulous books. And lots of fabulous corners for humans to read books in.

P.S. King's Books is yet another place you can buy your First Night button.

P.P.S.: Find this video and others by Adam the Alien here. (link fixed)

3 Nights Until First Night: Your LINK to New Year's Eve Fun

In case you hadn't noticed, downtown parking is becoming a hot commodity. So when it comes to navigating First Night activities, check out downtown Tacoma's LINK light rail! Not only will small children consider it an attraction all on its own, but the LINK allows you to park for free at the Tacoma Dome station (across from Freighthouse Square) and ride up and down downtown (also for free) with ease. And on Dec. 31, it runs until 12:45 a.m. -- plenty of time to enjoy the countdown and fireworks and make it back to your car.

See you at First Night!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

4 Nights Until First Night: Practice Your Paper Crane Folding

On Dec. 31, as part of First Night festivities, you have the opportunity to become part of a permanent exhibit at the Asia Pacific Cultural Center! From 5 to 8 p.m., First Night participants are invited into the center at 934 Broadway, Ste. 5 (next to the Children's Museum) to participate in attempting to fold 1,000 paper cranes during First Night.

According to the announcement, "an ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. In recent years, the crane has become a symbol of peace." That's sounds pretty cool to me ... whether a wish or a symbol of peace, or a joint wish for peace from all the First Night folks, that's a powerful thing.

Not sure how to fold a crane? Have no fear, they'll teach you. But if you want to practice and hone your skills, click here for some easy how-to instructions.

See you at First Night ... let's all fold a crane and make a wish for the New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas cuteness and predictions of snow ...

Christmas was quite the day in our household. A day of cuteness. A day of cuteness that started at 2 a.m when the eldest woke up to discover that Santa Claus had indeed been to our house. In fact, he'd left new slippers by each of the kids' beds. And despite their needs-t0-be-cleaned room and the 2 a.m. hour, the eldest noticed the slippers immediately and ran downstairs to find all the stockings stuffed. She ran up and told the boy. And he went down to look. And then they came back to tell mom & dad, who feigned polite surprise while giggling inside. And then the blessed children actually refrained from waking up baby sister AND resisted tearing into their presents. Oddly enough, they willingly went back to sleep until 8 a.m at which time ...

The boy bursts into our room and declares that he dreamed about snow. Little flakes, big flakes and definitely snow. And he was convinced, totally convinced, that it should be snowing outside. He peeked out his window, then our window, and was sorely disappointed. Though the whole big pile of presents helped distract him from his unfulfilled dreams for a couple hours.

And then ... it started snowing.

Little flakes. Big flakes. A good couple hours of snow. Not really sticking snow, but it did snow. We got a White Christmas. My son's dream came true. This was a spooky Christmas ...

Check out Satellite Coffee "cuppings" on Thursdays

Had the day off so stopped by Satellite Coffee Co. this afternoon for my vanilla Americano and have some good news to share: Satellite Coffee hosts a weekly "cupping" (coffee tasting) at 7 p.m. each Thursday. It's a chance to check out different blends and see which ones you want to take home.

When I lamented the fact that I'd be in PDX while this week's cupping was taking place, the kind proprietor quickly lifted my spirits by informing me that by heading south, I'm heading right smack into the heart of Stumptown Coffee (the high quality brew that Satellite serves) land and that I could still take advantage of the twice-daily cuppings at several of the company's Portland locations). I might just do that ... but I think I'll put the Tacoma tasting times on my definite to-do list.

As to Satellite Coffee itself ... I'll simply say: Lovely. Fabulous folks & divine coffee ... need I say more? OK, a little more ...

I have a lot of good memories about this space from back in Temple of the Bean days when friends and I would head over there about 1 a.m. on a Saturday night. And I'm happy to report that it's not a disappointment to walk into Satellite. In Temple days, I ordered mint mochas with whip, today as I wandered into Satellite I was very happy I'd weaned myself to a vanilla 12 oz. Americano (hubby got his coffee-snob triple 8 oz. w/no flavor) as I could truly enjoy the coffee, and not just the filler. And I'm looking forward to checking out a cupping and supplementing my at-home bean stash with a blend born out of my other favorite NW city.


5 nights until First Night -- Bonus button benefits!

Sure, buy a First Night button and you'll get into all sorts of festivities Dec. 31 at the Rialto, Pantages, Theater on the Square and so much more -- but there are some added button benefits that you might not realize, such as:

  1. Free admission into the Museum of Glass 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 31 (they'll be making Cone Head party hats from 1 to 4!)
  2. Free admission into the Washington State History Museum 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 31 (second to last day to check out the 12th annual Model Train Festival)
  3. Free admission to the Children's Museum from 5-7 p.m. Dec. 31. (visitors can fold special pirate hats).
  4. Restaurant discounts! And restaurants open LATE! There's a big list of 'em! (Guess what I'm excited about.) Infinite Soups will be open until midnight, giving out free rolls to soup-ordering button-holders. Tully's is offering free tumblers for the first 100 buttonholders to come in on Dec. 31. Over the Moon Café is open until midnight. Button holders can get 2 cupcakes for the price of 1 at Hello! Cupcake on Dec. 31. Galanga Thai and TWOKOI offer up a free appetizer with entrée purchase. Extra-special reservations-needed menu at Paddy Coyne's and Pacific Grill. Stadium Bistro has a party on Dec. 31, but they're offering discounts ALL THIS WEEK to folks who get their button early. All-night happy hour at the downtown El Toro. Then there's all the crazy, crazy button-holders-only discounts and other specials at India Mahal, Broadway Quick Stop, Ravenous, the Varsity Grill, Pastrami's Eatery and more ... go here for the most up-to-date list and a map!
First Night buttons are just $7 in advance, or $8 on Dec. 31. Kids 7 and younger are free.

You can get your button online here, or in person at the following locations:
See you there! Oh ... and if you want to dress up for First Night, there's plenty of costume opps, and apparently Funkoma Vintage is TOTALLY getting into the spirit! Check 'em out!

THIS JUST IN: Junior Bizarre will be open for First Night (until midnight!) and is offering 20% off everything, plus free coffee and snacks.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I must try mas masa ...

I joined the office folks at masa for happy hour on Friday, and I gotta say ... not bad. Before Friday, I hadn't tried out the current incarnation of the place formerly known as Ricardo's and even more formerly known as Lorenzo's. The reviews I had heard hadn't wowed me ... basically not bad but not great, and pretty spendy. So I was in for a pleasant surprise that evening ...

I hardly touched the menu on Friday as I had to hurry home and work on Christmas planning, but the happy hour maragrita on the rocks I did have was fabulous -- took me right back to the summer I spent in Mexico. The baskets of chips were huge and yummy, and the salsa (while a tad more watery than my norm) was actually quite nice. And the appetizers some of the rest of our party ordered looked fabulous, and while the ordering couple are expecting a baby ... I don't think that was the only reason for no crumb or drop left untouched. Gotta say, when they arrived at the table, I wished I'd ordered something ...

Peeking at masa's website, there's yet another factoid that will have me heading back with the hubby for a date in the hopefully near future. It's this statement that wins my heart: "Our menu features handmade molé, and rellenos as well as house smoked meats, artisan cheeses from different regions of Mexico, and handmade sauces that just can't be found in the Northwest."

You see, back when I spent that summer in Mexico, I lived with a family in San Miguel de Allende, and this picky eater fell in love with my host mother's molé. A simple meal of toast smothered in molé and cheeses I haven't tasted since: divine. Only once have I experienced anything close, and that was while dining at the table of a lovely and wonderful Mexicana.

Wondering what molé is? According to, it's an assortment of thick sauces used in Mexican cooking made out of chiles. The sauces are made with one or many chiles, flavored with cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nuts, seeds and chocolate. Their flavor is rich, smoky and very complex. ...

Did you see the key word in that description? I'll just tell you: Chocolate.

Need I say more?

Anyone want to join us to check out the offerings sometime soon? Me thinks this place could use a little lovin'.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another reason Tacoma rocks: Neighbors

I had coffee today with a fellow PLU alum and former T-towner, and we got to talking about what makes this little city so great. You see, it was great for her even when she bought a house on the East Side in 1999 for many of the same reasons I think it's so great in 2007 going on 2008 -- reasons that don't have anything to do with a good or bad downtown, condos, home prices, development, etc. It's all about the neighbors.

She remembers buying her first home (don't choke -- it was less than $100K), and fixing up the inside and out the best she could, and neighbors coming by and talking. Neighbors bringing food from time to time. Living there, and knowing her neighbors. And it sounds like that's one of the things she keeps in her heart about her time in T-town ... the neighbors. She recounts later living in Des Moines for awhile, and everyone pretty much drove into their garages and shut the door. This bedroom community liked its privacy,

My neighbors are a big part about why I love Tacoma, and why I likely won't move for a decade, or two, or three ... or more. While I am not "in love" with our house, per se, it'll do. And if I tried to move ... well, I'd have to gamble on what kind of neighbors I'd get. Right now, I know everyone on my block, and almost everyone across the block, over a block, and many throughout the neighborhood. As of recently, there are more than a dozen kids, with several near my kids' ages. We share advice and resources. We invite each other over for various social events. The folks across the street have brought us food many times, which was especially appreciated one day when I was very pregnant and had two kids very sick with the flu and the husband who had been carted off by the ambulance due to a nasty nasty flu about 3 years ago. Other neighbors have been there in a pinch when we need someone to watch the kids for an hour or two, or walk the eldest to school with their girls. I've raked leaves for neighbors, others have weed-wacked parts of my lawn. We share loads of TAGRO; we recently paved our alley so the kids would have a place to bike and trike all over the place; we deliver occasional pies and cookie batches off to each other; know the people's houses we're trick-or-treating at; say hello whenever we see each other; ... and so much more.

My neighbors are more than why I don't want to move out of the neighborhood, they're why I don't want to leave Tacoma. For the latter, that "neighbor" definition of course extends beyond my surrounding blocks ... but the word still applies. My friends; my neighbors.

I'm in Tacoma for the people.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A blessed night out on the T-town ...

Thank you to the folks at Suite133 for giving myself and Elle a reason to explore downtown on a Friday night with our hubbies. SANS CHILDREN. Both of these feats are rather rarities, as children are actually fun to be around, and also by week's end we're usually so tired with chasing them and balancing life that we just want to curl up with a movie, our lovely hubbies (note to dirty minds: to each her own, not together), and sleep. These last couple weeks were really no different, between holidays, tragedies and Elle's mission of Sweet Hope chocolate making, we were all exhausted. Had the sweet folks at the Suite not been throwing their shin-dig, it's quite likely our heads would have hit the pillow by 8 in order to recover/prep for other holiday parties. I'm so glad we went.

At 5, I walked over from work, down the Spanish steps and over to Suite133 (just above Capers). There I met up with my "crew" ... and ran into many, many, many others it was a treat to see. (Though Marty, I've seen you too much this last week. Find your own parties! Kidding ...) Old classmates, good friends, new friends, acquaintances from every walk of life ... it was a great meshing of T-Town. And I got to point out that Elle is more than a blogger, she's a talented handbag-maker, graphic designer, shoe connoisseur and so much more. That was fun. Oh, and the Tacoma Gnome was making the rounds with Exit133's lovely stafferette. As a friend, of course, so no spreading rumors back to Hanne ... We look forward to hearing more about his evening! And Elle reminds him that he does need to spend SOME time in her garden this year ...

And then ... we headed over for dinner and drinks at Paddy Coyne's on Pacific Avenue in downtown T-Town. This great little Irish pub has become one of my favorite go-to places, but usually for their fabulous happy hour specials. This time? It might not have been "happy hour" per se, but we spent a happy hour or two there! I had my cheeseburger, of course. The menfolk had the fish n' chips, and the lovely Elle savored the beef stew. The boys had their beer, we girls split a bottle of Yellow Tail reserve. Wow. I'm quite acquainted with Yellow Tail wine, but I'd never tried or even seen the reserve version. Very fabulous. Definitely kicked it up a notch. Now I like Paddy's even more ... great grub, great suds, and great vino!

Ahhh ... now I can relax, meditate, and enjoy me some holidays.

Friday, December 14, 2007

"Godspeed" ... an excerpt

This summer, before all the recent chaos, my little family and I went on vacation to Orcas Island, my first visit to the lovely San Juan Islands, and I had a rare moment to reflect on a few things, one such thing being the impending death of my maternal grandma who died last week. Watching her struggle the last year or two or more had been hard on us all, and while staring out at the water, which heavily reminded me of my grandparents', now parents', beach house, and reflecting on my grandmothers impact on my life, I was inspired to dabble in reflections via poetry ... a road I hadn't venture down in quite awhile. And so I share a mere rough draft of a first stanza ...

Godspeeed (an excerpt)

I see you


Not here; not there

Just drifting

Halfway to somewhere

Halfway to out there

Halfway to heaven

But now

Just drifting

In the middle of nowhere

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm not myself; I miss my grandma(s)

Trying to blog when still mentally in mourning and in other random grief from a crappy week really sucks. On Monday, I thought I was over it, at least mostly. People die, but really, what can you do about it? You're left, you go on, there's life, it's part of the life cycle, etc. etc. etc. And when the folks who die are over 80 you believe you should be more numb, but you're not.

This week, I thought I was over the hard part. Until I realized that I wasn't able to banter anymore. This was quite stunning to me. There are some folks I interact with where banter is the norm. It's expected. And sometimes it's slightly off-color, but always harmless. But this week, when the routine banter was begun, and I kinda just hung there. Stunned. Not by the content of the other person's conversation, but by my pure inability to respond. Couldn't react. Couldn't say funny things. Couldn't be flippant. Couldn't joke around. Just. Couldn't. Talk. And that in itself stunned me even further (most who know me know that talking is something I probably do a little TOO much of ... so me speechless ... that's a true oddity). And while it was quite disconcerting to find myself so speechless, it did make me realize that I'm still in mourning for my two grandmothers who died last week, and for how the other chaos ... personal and that of my many loved ones ... affected me, and still affects me. And I'm realizing that I'm not reacting to things normally, and am trying to use caution in what I say and do, because I'm not myself at the moment.

I'm more myself than last week. And more myself today than Monday, and Tuesday ... but I'm not quite up to par. So if you see me on the street and I seem a bit dazed or not quite myself, just remember: I'm not myself.

Craziness of grandmommy deaths aside, the final of my three grandmothers to die this year was the grandmother who was my second mother. She was a teacher, a writer, a communicator, a creative type who cared for her fellow humans in a way so many of her generation at least outwardly did not. We lived in the same house for the majority of my 18 years in my parents' home, and I thought she was the norm. I later discovered she was not.

This particular grandmother was a farm girl from South Dakota who survived the Depression before moving with her family to Portland. She was going to be a journalist, but became an English teacher. She was also, I believe, Oregon's first Outdoorsman to be a woman. (Had to utilize survival skills to spend a couple nights in the snows of Mt. Hood ... during which time she found out she wasn't really in menopause.) She always wrote ... poetry, stories, and even an article that was published in The Oregonian about how she and my grandfather for awhile lived in a fully furnished bus, complete with stand-up piano, while they were still students at Oregon State University. That Oregonian article, I believe, was as widely published as my grandmother ever went. But not due to lack of talent. She just spent the majority of her time with people ... helping people, listening to people, advising ... than she did with spending time marketing her writing.

Growing up with her in the same house, I had the luxury of having this talented writer and editor as my personal essay editor as a child. I have many memories of venturing into my grandparents' bedroom and sharing stories and essays and poetry. Getting real feedback and many compliments. My grandmother nurtured my love of writing for ages. And when I write, she's very alive in my mind. Offering grammar and content feedback. Always telling me she's proud of me and loves me. My son says it best: "My grandmas are not dead; when I look in my head, I still see them."

Even in her last two weeks, as my grandma fought pain and debilitating dementia, she quite deliberately looked me in the eye and told me how proud she was of me. This was a tradition long held. And my long-held response: I'm so proud of you. I'm very proud of my grandmother. She was loving and kind, open-hearted an honest. My grandparents opened their doors to different cultures, races, sexual orientations, life stories, and pretty much every demographic there was and is. Forgiveness, love, compassion ... they lived those words. I am proud of my grandparents; I miss my grandmother. She was my second mother ... and that fact paralyzes me still.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

When it's good not to be where the action is ...

It's been surreal today to read the news out of Bremerton and Aberdeen and to hear about I-5 at Centralia being 10 feet under water. It's been surreal to think how easily I could have been in the thick of it all.

I used to work for both the Aberdeen and Bremerton daily newspapers, and I can pretty much guarantee that business is not usual at either publication, or location. I've seen the photos of sink holes and washed out roads out of Bremerton, and I've heard from friends in Aberdeen about apartment windows being blown out in the middle of the night, about all major roads closed, about power out, and about the newspaper's operations having to move to the radio station and then the Satsop business park. And about some of the not-so-ethical folks in town taking advantage of power outages at local stores.

I remember wetness in both places, but never to this degree. A little more than a year ago, I was temporarily stuck in Bremerton when Highway 16 closed during the November storms. And between 1998-2000 I remember having to wade into work at the Aberdeen paper. I remember semis driving by and putting waves over my car. I remember everything being very wet. But not this wet.

In Tacoma, there may have been some powerful bursts last night. There may have been a lot of rain. But today I looked out my window again and was amazed at the calm. Recent flash floods have wreaked more havoc, and not near the havoc other areas are going through this week.

It seemed like the rest of the region might just be playing a big trick on us ... if I didn't see the pictures. If I didn't get the e-mails.

It's surreal to think that I could have been there. And despite the part of me that is sad to miss the thrill of covering a possibly once-in-a-lifetime event, I gotta say, I'm glad to be far, far away from all the sinkholes I've been seeing pictures of. So I'll just thank my lucky stars and hope for those who are experiencing the "adventure," that they return to normal soon. Very soon.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Eerily dry out there today ...

It was a little bizarre today to hear about cut off roads and flooding in many areas surrounding Tacoma, but having life IN Tacoma be so calm. I-5 closed. Seattle reporting record flooding. I heard about seals in someone's backyard in Bremerton. Hoquiam and Aberdeen cut off. Down in Oregon, my niece is stuck at an aunt's house because a bridge is closed. Olympia had cars stuck underwater. Everywhere I hear water, water, water. I read water, water, water all day. And yet outside my window downtown ... mostly dry. It's picking up a bit ... and I wonder, will Tacoma remain a little oasis in the storm?

Too cool ...

I learned today that a coworker is retiring ... to become a stay-at-home mom. After 33 years on the job, she gets to stay home with her 8-year-old daughter, just in time to take advantage of the few years kids actually want you to stay home with them. I will miss this coworker dearly ... but am quite excited for her to be beginning life's next adventure, even if it's stereotypically backward.

Here's to living life as it happens.


I'm a bit stunned right now. I started 2007 with three grandmothers: maternal, paternal and step. And it appears I'll wrap up the year with none.

In July, my paternal grandmother died somewhat suddenly. And Saturday my paternal stepgrandmother died quite suddenly. At the same time, we await news on my maternal grandmother, who has not been doing well for quite some time, and who is basically a second mother to me. I spent my first 18 years with her either next door or down the hall. It's been very strange to see her sick for so long. And it will be stranger to have her not around.

It's been a strange year. A strange six months. And I'm oddly speechless about it all right now. But the following poem comes to mind. It's one I remember studying in freshman English back in high school. I remember discussing the meaning, about life and death ... and living. It was also a time I can remember all three of my grandmothers being very alive, and a time when I got to interact with them under the mindset of still-childlike wonder. Before I got too busy. Before I got wrapped up in growing up.

Each of my grandmothers lived zestfully in their own way ... it's going to be weird going into 2008 without their presence.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
By Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words have forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A few new things ...

The new year approaches, and I've begun contemplating what my 2008 blog should look like, sound like, etc. After last week's South Sound Technology Conference, and long chats with Elle, TacomaMama, Beast Mom and others, I have been re-evaluating what I want this blog to be. I still want to blog about great things in Tacoma, but what about all the other stuff? Why should I have to have two, three, four, five blogs when I can have one with several topics? I've discovered that's kinda what key words are for ... they help categorize things. And so, as I spend the next month or to evaluating what I want this blog to become, there will be a few new things here and there. I'm learning how to make headers. I actually bought a domain name,, I added a "silly photos" section, and I've expanded my topic a bit to include Tacoma, novelling ... and silliness. Who knows what will come next ...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

And that's the tooth ...

Today, the eldest came up to me while we were at a birthday party and complained that her loose tooth was bothering her. She'd bitten it again, and it was hurting. (If you recall, at the end of a loose tooth's career, the bottom of it is sharp and jagged ... and can hurt.) So I said, "Well, then pull it out." And she did. She was very excited to be able to show off the bloody tooth to all her pals. I was very excited that she listened to me. :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 -- DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Somehow, I have more than 50,000 words. And somehow, I think amidst all the crap, I even pulled out at least one or two very intriguing twists to follow up on. Twists I had no clue were in this story's potential. And the last one, the one that put me over the top, I started writing it and thought it was way out there, so far out there that I might have been bullshitting my way completely to the finish line, until I realized that it did indeed tie so extremely smoothly into a plot twist I'd started at the beginning of the evening, the one inspired by the child's teeth falling out, that it's like I planned it all along. But I believe I mentioned the other night that generally when I start a paragraph, I have little idea how I'm going to finish it. And usually it works. This one worked FREAKILY well.

I'll ponder sharing some of it tomorrow, but I don't want to give away my main plots should this actually make it into finished form ... so I'll just say this, have you ever thought of how weird it is that kids' teeth fall out and regrow in? As if our creator was problemsolving how to put us together, and realized that teeth, unlike hair and skin and organs and bones, were not something that could just grow with the creature as they matured. I could see the creator, he or she or otherwise, smacking their head against the desk trying to figure this one out. Teeth must be hard enough to bite and grind, which means they couldn't grow, but they must be utilized whether the creature was young or old in order to fuel the growth ... it would be quite the chicken and the age conundrum, only to eventually be solved with the bizarre (in my mind) two sets of teeth.

So, if you were creating humans, how would YOU solve the teeth issue? Or is there some other part of human function that just seems so bizarre and un-logical that it's likely the result of a very tired scientist/engineer creator who decided enough was enough and it was time for humans to exist already, and trusted that he'd dealt with the ingenuity and free will side of humans enough that they'd figure out how to fix themselves.

And now I'm officially losing it. But I'm done! Time to go post my results ...

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 (I lied, here's an outtake)

Not promising good ... eyes blurry. But I have less than 1,000 words to go, and just under two hours. Yes, I need to get back to work. But hey, I'm an ex-journalist. Me loves a deadline.

Day 30, late night, bleary-eyed outtake:

Liz ran through the dense woods, barely flinching as tree branches whipped across her cheeks, as nettles began to sting her ankles. Discomfort and pain was not something she cared about right now. Push on she must, push on she will. Keeping going, and going and going. Each bit of pain, each drop of blood, seemed to validate what she was after. Validate the pursuit that could cost her life, but would hopefully save a generation.

P.S. This one's for you Ed: No kids puked tonight. The boy did, however, beg and do a little dance to try to get a bowl of brown sugar for dessert. Even better ... and even better boogie dance to go with the begging ... how about a bowl of brown sugar on top of CANDY!?!?!? He was so denied. But so persistent.

Ok ... back to work. Don't want to flake out this close to the finish line.

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 (so close I can taste it ...)

Less than 1,500 words to go and spelling has gone out the window. This is where I close my eyes and type. I'm tired, and even with my eyes open I can barely see the page. Thank you Megan for your kind words, and helping push me to the final lap. Back to the blurry page and the final lap ... no promises of excerpts tonight, or even tomorrow. I will definitely be doing some reflection ... but when I finish, I may just collapse. Sandpaper eyes cometh ... must go finish ...

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 (getting there!)

Less than 5,000 words to go, and about four more hours. I did more than 3,000 in the last hour and a half, so I'm hopeful. It's not necessarily as "finely crafted" as some of the previous stuff, but I promised myself in the beginning that I would just write. And if I got stuck, I would keep writing. Even if it was crap. And considering this last month has been full of not just regular life, but significant in-house illnesses, lots of holidays that required travel, and what appears to be the end my grandmother's time on this Earth, I think this is pretty good progress. I could even probably call it a night and be proud of my progress this month. But this particular grandmother in question, well, she'd tell me to keep going. To not worry about the what and just do. My grandmother was a writer. An editor. A mentor. And a big force in my "writer life," as well as my life in general. And so, I keep her alive with writing, and persistence, and stubbornness, and if you come over, I'll feed you until you're overflowing. But more on all that later. My grandmother still breathes the last I heard, even if for not much longer. And I have words to write. I can imagine her, as I write this, shaking her finger at me to get back to work and giving me a playful wink and a hug. So back to work.

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 (here we go ...)

I came into the evening not knowing what the heck to write. I think I might have grasped a hair of inspiration thanks to the tooth-shedding eldest child. We'll see how that works. If it does, it will lead to a nice little twist in my story I wasn't expecting. Off to writing ... 5-1/2 hours to go.

Let the holiday season commence ...

Tomorrow is Dec. 1, which means the beginning of a month of magic. Parties and potlucks and all kinds of crazy socializing. This weekend kicks it off with several tree lightings ... tonight is the Proctor Tree Lighting ... Sunday you have Downtown's 61st Annual Holiday Tree lighting.

Metro Parks has some great stuff going too ... and next weekend is the The Dickens Festival.

And no matter whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or something else or nothing at all, come Dec. 31 ... don't forget about the fabulousness of First Night. An arts-centric, family friendly event downtown that will be going on until the clock strikes 12. Buy a button for $7 in advance, or $8 the day of, and you can get into museums, you can get discounts on food, and you can enjoy all sorts of music and many performances in and around the downtown Theatre District.

More details coming soon ...

Enjoy the magic of the season. (Have I mentioned before that I love sweater weather?)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 29 (24 hours to go!)

I made a little progress. Not much, but a little. I have an awful headache that won't go away, and I'm distracted. But I wrote about 1,500 words ... which only means a little more than 8,000 for tomorrow. I better go dream some plotlines, because I'm stuck. I have some areas I definitely need to fill in, but I'm kinda stuck. Hopefully it's just the headache and tomorrow I'll blaze ahead and hit that 50,000. If I get stuck, I might just have to write some crap.

In the meantime, no outttake today. It wasn't the most interesting stuff, and you got a long one the other day. And my head hurts too much to pick one. Must. Go. Find. Tylenol. Goodnight!

Random lost person ...

I'm starting to wonder about the wisdom of 505 Broadway's sales offices being at 711 St. Helens. I ran into a very lost person today, and pointed them in the right direction. But I'm seeing where they got confused ... seeing as Broadway is just a hop skip and away. It would be one thing if they weren't named "505 Broadway" ... but having 505 Broadway sales offices at 711 St. Helens? Which is right at the intersection of some very crazy and confusing streets? Ouch. Great location -- both places. But wow. Confusing. And mostly due to the address naming. I hope they make super-duper extra efforts to let folks know that the name of their place is not the address to their sales center ... as they seem to have some intriguing layouts, including HUGE master suite layouts. Wow. Huge. If you're a couple or single, these master suites rock even in the one-bedroom units. And I think in one 2-bedroom layout I saw a giant closet with a window. These are some very spacious places ... but I don't know the price tags. Not cheap, I'm sure. But worth a look if you can swing it! But if you're looking for the sales office, don't let the name fool you. Just sayin' ...

THE FINE PRINT: Lots of people get lost in this block due to the irregular street layout in this specific area between South 7th and South 9th. It's a fabulous place to shop and wander, but it can be confusing. I just thought it's funny that with all the Marcatos and Triangle Townhomes and other "named" developments, that the one with an address as its name located on a really confusing address corner, and the giant sign out front with the development's "name" doesn't help the matter. But until you build, where are you gonna put the place? So this is more I feel sorry for them having to deal with this conundrum right now. They have a really beautiful set up in that office. I enjoy walking by it. Which bodes well for the final project ...

Back to the grindstone ...

Last night I had a late work meeting, which meant no NaNo-ing ... and today I've been busy with the South Sound Technology Conference, where there was a news blog panel, a parenting blog panel, and a civic blog panel. No time to pontificate tonight, as it's back to NaNoWriMo writing, as it's just over 24 hours to go, and nothing was done last night. For now, I'll just say, I enjoyed hanging out with the the TacomaGnome, Elle, TacomaMama & Beast Mom in the front row. And sorry to Mr. Editor for my bit o' mama brain affecting my ability to read lips as he attempted to tell me how to use his camera through mime. Luckily, it was Elle to the rescue. And, Mr. Editor, I have a couple decent pics of you I'll e-mail once I download them.

Ok, back to the novel ...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NaNoWriMo: final countdown ...

I passed the 40,000 word mark! Considering that less than a week ago I was only in the mid-20,000s, well, I'm very happy. I have Wednesday, Thursday and Friday until midnight left to write and I have less than 10,000 words to go. I know I'll have plenty more work later on regarding this novel, as I weave the pieces together, edit, strengthen the plot line (which only one of you has seen in anything resembling a fleshed out form ... those pieces are SO not online), etc.

I have hope.

And now that I've crossed this next-to-final threshhold, I'm fairly confident I'll make it to the last one ... but we shall see. I don't want to be writing "the end" 5,000 times. (Kidding. Wouldn't do that. I'd write boring s*** before I did that. Promise.

OK. I think bedtime is in order. To celebrate over-40,000 ... yeah, that's it. I'm not tired or anything, no ...

NaNoWriMo: random

I gesture a lot when I write. Especially when I write fiction. Especially when I'm trying to get a better handle on a theme or a word or something else that is on the tip of my tongue ... or my fingers, if you will.

Laugh if you will.

It seems to work.

Those who've seen me talk when I'm excited won't be too surprised.

If you haven't ... let's just say you don't want to sit/stand too close. Just might accidentally smack you. I'm a handtalker. I admit it ...

NaNoWriMo: Pure weirdness

I just tried to type the word "program" and instead I typed the word "brother." WTF?

I swear, I never had these typing mind blips before I had kids. I'd like to blame it all on the fact that I type really, really fast and perhaps I just get ahead of my thoughts. I even typo my own name ... but it's just letter flipping. One hand tends to get ahead of the other. But seriously, I've noticed this a lot lately ... I think one word, and a completely different word comes out. It's spooky.

Did I mention I used to be a copy editor? Aren't you glad I'm on a different career path now?


NanoWriMo: Day 27 (the insanity!)

First, I'd like to say, do you have any idea that I sometimes start my paragraphs without knowing what the end of said graph will look like? Seriously. I just start writing and hope something makes sense. That's how NaNoWriMo has been, which is why I could blaze through 12,000 words the other day. That and I had pent-up ideas after several day soff in a row.

Right now ... I haven't had several days off in a row and I've been rushing to catchup up before Friday's midnight deadline. And I'm starting to run a little slow on ideas. A lot more has been put onto computerized paper that anyone who's been following this trail of tears has seen ... but I'll admit, with hours to go, I'm starting to falter. I could use a kick in the pants. I could use an infusion of outside creativity. If anyone out there has any theories. If you have any ideas of where you'd like to see this story go, please comment. Please e-mail me. Please something. I would appreciate it whole-heartedly. I have until Friday at midnight, and I know if even one or two people could put their hypotheses into my conciousness, I could blaze through the final few thousand words. Whether I agreed with them or not, I feel confident I'd be able to riff on it. And thus I beg ... if you've read any of this, send me a few lines. A quote. An idea. Really, anything. I'll probably make it through ... but I need to kick some action into this storyline, and I'm still a little rough on this.

However, faithful friends and random followers, I did force myself a bit into the dark side if you will today. Trying to get a bit of action. A little less ho-hum. And thus today's excerpt is next, and then back to writing for me ... warning: it's long. I didn't shorten it up as much as usual.

Day 27 outtake:

Chill at her cheeks. Warm beverage in her hands. Liz stood uphill from the tallest building in town. Most of the windows were dark. Many had gone home for the day. But the 10th floor was still blazing bright. Liz smiled. The 10th floor. What went on at the 10th floor … oh, if only the walls could talk. The testing. The plotting. The targeting. And quite likely plenty of torture on top of all the other horrible things that were masterminded out of these offices. The insurance agencies and bankers and other professionals who passed these evildoers each day in the elevator or escalator had no idea who their neighbors were. GENTECH is all the door said. Innocent enough. The genetic industry was big in the Northwest. And most were making revolutionary advances in medicine. ... But not all of them. And this particular one definitely qualified as the not one of them. They knew what they were doing. They’d seen the proof. They’d covered it up. They’d murdered to cover it up. And this wasn’t a floor of scientists doing a job and not having seen the studies. These were the ones who stayed late because cover-ups have to happen at all hours of day. Liz spotted a wooden bench a few feet away, and decided to have a seat. As she bent down, her cellphone rang.


“Hey.” It was Agent Miles. He was positioned a few blocks closer. Waiting for the blonde to enter the building.


“She just walked in. Give it 5 minutes and then you know what to do.”

“Gotcha.” And she flipped her phone shut.


Liz looked back at her watch. It was time. She flipped open her cell phone and called Agent Miles.


“We still good?”

“Yup. I’ve heard from the other two as well, and no one’s left the building since blondie went in.”

“Good. Just checking. Ready?”

“Ready or not, here we come.”

Liz flicked her phone back shut and stuffed it into her pocket, then fumbled around for the other device. Pulling out a small, glossy red square, she polished its cover for a bit. Any passerby would have thought it was just a fancy cellphone. But it wasn’t. She flicked the cover of this one open, and inside was a button that glowed red. She took one more glance toward at the tallest building in downtown. She watched as the 10th floor glowed with business. She saw figures moving by the windows. She was pretty sure she recognized the blonde’s shadowy strut. And she pressed the button.

Everything happened in slow motion after that. A deep boom seemed to come from beneath the earth. She watched as the 10th floor grew even brighter with flame. From the elevator shaft out the brightness expanded until the windows around the floor shattered. Glass poured down on to the empty sidewalk, into the empty square. It hailed glass. Flames lept out. It was as if they’d discovered the horror into which they’d been sent and the flames started trying to leap out the window. Of course they weren’t. There was a body or two that fell. Folks trying to make a fruitless attempt at escape. Ten floors they fell. Slowly doing cartwheels in the air. And into the square they landed. Unmoving. Dead. She could hear the screams from blocks away. A part of her cringed. But she’d seen what they’d done. Heard screams much closer. Heard the wailing. Seen the faces. Seen the product of their deceit. Her face burned with anger. Her conscious was clear.

NaNoWriMo: Day 26

Well, it's after midnight, but just barely. I've been steadily catching up, writing more than 12,000 words between Saturday night and Sunday night, and now another couple thousand tonight, meaning just over 13,000 words to go, in four days, in order to make the goal I set out for. Attainable, but barely. There's a night meeting in there. That could cause trouble, but likely not much more than the children who tonight enjoyed running in every half hour to tell me they weren't asleep or this or that. We won't talk about the raisins all over the floor. I did take time out to enjoy dinner with them, and hear about the letters to Santa they're writing. Next week things will return a bit more to sanity, though I'm hoping to at least somewhat keep the writing thing up, though perhaps not with quite the output expectation this last month has meant. Besides, next month I'll be needing to grab some index card and start writing down all the bits and pieces I've written up and try to put them in some sort of sensical order. While writing this, I've truly solidified my membership card in the Right Brain Club. My structure is definitely not lineal. And as much as I think some of it's pure crap as I write it, more and more seems better as I glance back. But there's definitely some plot stumpage that requires me to sleep on it to move forward as quickly as I hope. And with that in mind, I wrap this up and go to sleep.

Day 26 excerpt:

Therese sat on the couch. Unmoving. Her face was a bit gray. Liz wasn’t quite sure what to say to her friend. Therese was obviously in a different world, her eyes distant. Her mouth still, not edging up or down. Just still. Therese had just gotten home from the hospital. She’d miscarried 6 months into her pregnancy. Six months into a pregnancy that was 10 years in the making. And she hadn’t been old when she started. A mere 25. ... It should have been easy. It should have been a no-brainer. In Therese’s family, it was a well-known joke that her parents had conceived her and her six brothers and sisters on every kind of birth control known to mankind. She was a condom baby. Two of her sisters were conceived on the pill. Her youngest brother was brought into the world while her mother was on Depo. Another two brothers … IUD. And the eldest, of course, was a present from the rhythm method. But of Therese and her six siblings, only one had been able to conceive. The other six, all married by 25 and trying by 30 hadn’t been able to seal the deal no matter how many methods and interventions they tried. Adoption was definitely an option, but somehow, slowly, quietly, the adoption world was no longer clamoring for parents.

Now I really have you confused, don't I. Really, this is the same story. Just wait. You'll see. Maybe. If I ever finish ... off to dreamland, hoping to dream of some plot bridges.

Afterthought: I take little comfort in the fact that if I added up all my blogging on this novel writing, that I'd probably be over 50,000 words. Add in the procrastinating e-mails while I should have been noveling. The messaging. The stupid Facebook pirate game. ... I don't want to think about it. Ok. Sleep. Really, will go sleep now ...

Monday, November 26, 2007

A T-Town bakery review and wish list

Independent bakeries have long held a soft spot in my heart. Perhaps it's rooted in my helping make chocolate chip cookies when I was still in diapers, or perhaps it's nostalgia from when I was 5 or 6 and my brother and I would cross the street from my family's bookstore in downtown Oregon City to Muno's Bakery to buy teddy-bear cookies. All. By. Ourselves. (With parents watching through the window, I'm sure.) While my husband is the household chef, baking has long been my niche in the kitchen. My aunt co-founded a fabulous little bakery called Vinmans Bakery in Ellensburg, where everything is fabulous and drool inducing. This weekend, I visited the kitschy Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland for my first time, and it inspired me to reflect upon the purveyors of baked goods in hometown T-Town, and ponder what might still be missing ...

In no particular order ...

Margaret's Cafe isn't your stereotypical bakery. It's actually more of a cafe, but Margaret does plenty of baking to qualify for this list. And since it's quite likely the one I frequent the most due to its proximity to work, I'll list her first. In addition to salads and soups and other great meals, she bakes her own rolls, offers coconut and peanut-butter chocolate cupcakes, cookies, biscotti, scrumptious brownies, occasional pies and so much more that I probably don't even realize. I tried her chicken stew the other week with a roll at the bottom of the bowl -- yum. And apparently around the holidays she takes roll dough and pie orders. And she caters, too.

Pao's Donuts is probably the place I frequent next often. If you hadn't guessed, they make donuts. Some of what I believe are the best within the City limits. And while not as quirky as some of PDX's Voodoo odd offerings, they are still unique. One of my favorites is the honey-glazed chocolate donut or the apple-spice. And the cruellers and fritters? Yum. Just make sure to bring cash. And I will warn you, the place doesn't look like much from the outside. I've talked to many folks who have seen it, but never ventured in. Let's just say they spend more time on the food then the decor, and that's a good thing. I love the fact that you get a wide array of folks in there, from families in beat-up Eurovans (that would be my family) to folks driving brand new jaguars. Great people, great donuts.

Corina Bakery. A fabulous place for cake, bars, cookies and so much good stuff. It was about exactly a year ago that I first ventured through their doors during my first month on the job in my still-pretty-new downtown career. I think it might have even been my first week on the day job that I walked through their doors and selected a piece of egg nog cheesecake. And while I'm done with eggnog lattes, I think I might be venturing back up the hill this holiday season to see if this tasty treat is back. Since that visit, I've become addicted to their magic bars, and they've gone from lovely hole-in-the-wall to lovely locale with a recent remodel that's as decadent as their goodies.

Hello, Cupcake. This cutie pie place in downtown T-Town, right smack on Pac Ave seems to have been busy since day one. I don't think I've been able to walk by once without seeing someone heading in, or heading out with a pink box. I tried a variety box back in September, and was a bit disappointed in the cake, but I've had a bite of their red velvet more recently, and I've heard other reports that makes me thing that they've worked the beginning bugs out -- which is fabulous. It's a great concept, and a great addition to Tacoma's re-emerging bakery scene.

Le Donut. I gotta say, I have yet to get here. Donuts are occasional Sunday morning treats and Pao's on the west end of 6th Ave is nearer to me than this downtown destination. But I've heard fabulous things and whole-heartedly encourage a try if you're in search of donuts near downtown!

I've also heard Upper Crust on North 21st does some bread baking and occasionally other goodies. And there's of course the Safeways around town. But as for independent bakeries, that's all I know of now that Frisbee's, Harbor Bakery and Elena's (did I remember that right -- it was in Proctor ...) are all gone. And what's missing, at least in my book? Bread. I think there's still a Great Harvest store in University Place, and that's just a small chain. But when it comes to independent bakeries and bread ... there don't seem to be any options right now. Am I missing someone? Because I gotta say, I may need to make an Ellensburg run soon ... or I suppose Olympia's Wagner's would be a bit closer. Because as much as I love bakery goodies, but I miss really good specialty bakery bread.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 25 outtakes

Well, I'm making up ground fast. Between tears and fears and pure procrastination, I'm forcing myself to make a final push to the end. I think I have some good stuff in store. Whether or not I'll figure out completely how all the bits and pieces tie together by the end of the month, I'm not sure. But in all honesty, I think that once I map out the bits I have, and write out the characters and the plot, there are several folks I know I can tap to help flesh out the spots I'm stuck. My writer's group, my parents, my pals, there are many who will readily feed me ideas if only to get me to finish the damn story so they can see where everything fits together. I know because when others are stuck, the answers seem sometimes obvious to me. I'm counting on the bridges to my canyons being obvious to others, and thus I continue to write. Following the tips of many of the NaNoWriMo guest columnists, when I get bored, I jump. I go explore another realm. When I feel the storyline stagnating around a particular scene, I wrench myself away from it. Push myself away.

And thus today's scene, which I really can't believe I'm posting. No blushing allowed. I opened the doors and this is what came out. No apologies. And, ok, a few blushes. But hey, I went to VooDoo Donuts in Porland this weekend. And I visited my grandma. I'm feeling a bit daring.

And to my writer group: I will be seeking some input soon. I need some help pole vaulting some canyons. Oh yeah, and I should thank my brother for this evening's excerpt.

Day 25 outtakes:

Liz headed to the molded plastic seating area. Around the corner, true to what the ponytailed order taker said, was racks of pubs. Senior citizen newspapers, real estate listings, autotraders, a few copies of The Oregonian, The Columbian, The Olympian, The Daily News, The Daily World and even The News Tribune out of Tacoma and some copies of The Stranger from Seattle. Lots of commuters must travel through. And of course, there were the nickel ads. As if anything was a nickel anymore. Even the ads must be worth a few dozen nickels by now.

Liz grabbed a copy of the Stranger. She was in a mood for some mindless entertainment. And the Stranger’s “alternative” voice managed to cover fact and fiction in a manner both informative and entertaining, that she might even learn something while distracting herself. It was a nice benefit. On the cover this week. A bucket of geoducks sitting on a vintage scale. Apparently submitted by a reader. It honestly looked like a bucket of castrated penises. Gotta love the geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck for the uninitiated.) And you gotta love that it’s actually the mascot of Olympia’s Evergreen State College. Only Evergreen, with its fuck-if-I-care-what-you-think-of-me reputation would have the balls to pull off such a mascot. There might be no football team, but no one at UW or WSU could pull that one off. They need huskies and cougars to amp up their masculinity quotient. Vicious predators. Evergreen just puts it out there. You want mascots and masculinity? Well then, we’ll just make our mascot a penis. It’s almost like a subtle joke on all the other schools. Mocking their mascots while they think they’re mocking the geoduck. If only they knew.

Along the edge of the alt-newspaper was the faintly visible daily message. This copy was well-used by the time Liz grabbed it out of the bin of earmarked papers, but the words were barely visible. “They’re watching.” Short and simple. Sometimes meaningful, sometimes meaningless. But always there. A little inside joke at times. Today’s was a little too true for comfort. They are watching. Who they’re watching, who knows. What they’re watching, who knows. Everyone? Everything? Liz hoped not. Liz really hoped she’d still managed to stay beneath the radar for the most part. Obviously not completely, as she was learning how on the radar she was for a certain segment of folks.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 24 outtakes

I know, I've missed a few days. I've been distracted with family sicknesses, with Thanksgiving holidays, with family and daily duties. And yes, I'll admit, yesterday I was distracted by the stupid, pointless, mindless, strategiclessness "Pirates" game on Facebook. I finally got conned into skipping out on MySpace and started a Facebook account, and then got hooked on the stupid game. I think I've cured myself of the more than 10 minutes at a time though. When after an hour or two I'd gotten "far" ... to level 24, I discovered other folks on levels in the hundreds and thousands. And I have no desire to waste that much time on nothing, with no point, with no skill involved, with no point, and did I mention no point? I may still hop on for 5 minutes or 10 now and again when I need some mindless time, but I think I'm through with the addiction phase.

Plus, while on "Thanksgiving vacation" down in the state without sales tax, I actually had some "adventure dreams" to draw inspiration from. And perhaps the time doing nothing let my brain rest enough to get back to the task of creative writing. I don't know. But I have to admit, I read over some of my last stuff and had forgotten enough that it was interesting. And now I'm kicking myself for not doing some flash cards as I go so I remember plot lines and twists and character name and stuff like that. But I think in December I'll make myself go back through and write all that down, then try to assemble more of an order to all my random scenes so that I can fill in the blanks for a full novel. (Note: Not all are THAT random ... some are on quite a theme, but others from earlier and during points of "I'm stumped" are a bit more random, though I think they are finding there ways in through some interesting "side roads" to the storyline ... I just don't write straight storylines apparently.)

Anyhow, I'm still WAY behind. Don't know if I'll actually hit the 50,000 ... but definitely have a good start on a novel. I'm up to almost 25,000 with less than a week to go. If I can "hit it" every night, I know I can finish" ... but even if not, I've made great headway, and will just have to have a competition for myself. Because sometimes, life happens. Life, and sometimes death, happen. And you have to deal with life even when you want to channel the creative gods. And sometimes, November is not the month the muse hits.

November has been a great muse for me. I've found my lost muse, and I have better discipline ... and hopefully I can keep with it. Whether it means 50,000 by Nov. 30? I don't know. I'm not going to kill myself for it, but I will keep working. This is my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, and it won't be my last. And for me, winning doesn't necessarily mean winning NaNoWriMo, I've discovered. (Don't tell my teenage uber-competitive self this ... she just might bitch-slap the 30-something version ... kidding. Or am I?)

Today's excerpt thus far:

“Liz!” shouted Viki. “Did you see this? Isn’t this your labmate?”

Liz ambled as casually as she could over to the sofa where her roommate Viki was sitting watching the evening news. Eric was on the television, getting hauled off by the cops. Liz’s face flushed as she heard the reporter talk about how he was being held as a suspect in Colin’s shooting. According to the news reporter he’d been the last one before Colin to enter the lab, and therefore was a suspect. Liz didn’t know what to think. Right or wrong, that could have, should have, been her.

“Oh my,” said Liz. What else was she supposed to say.

“Man,” said Viki, “what is up down there at your lab? Have you even been able to get back to work?”

“Nope. Not yet.”

“Apparently your labmate entered the lab about 20 minutes before Colin, so he’s a pretty strong suspect,” Viki said, filling Liz in on the details she’d missed while doing the dishes.

“Seriously?!?!” This reaction was true. She’d entered maybe 10-15 minutes beforehand, unbeknownst her roomie and apparently most other folks, and just after Eric apparently. She subconsciously rubbed her shin, where a dark bruise had recently formed. And then she remembered … she’d tripped over Eric’s stool. Not something he normally left out. Had he been there, too? Had he just ran into the lab and back out in a hurry, kind of like she had meant to be in, or had he ducked out of sight when she came in … but why? Had he watched her?

Liz’ previous blush was quickly drained from her face and her face and fingers were soon icicles due to the new realization that there might be a witness to her witnessing, and a witness to her return of “the file.” Why would Eric hide when she came in? Any answer made her cringe with the fact that then he had seen her switch the files. Of course, he very likely could have just been in and out. That had been her plan, after all. But Liz was sick with worry. Sick with what-ifs. Sick with who might know what. Sick with not only who already knew where she’d been when, but with who quite possibly might know why she’d been where when. That, she had been secure in thinking was still her secret alone. But perhaps no more. And that was a scary thought.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

7 reasons to love breakfast in Tacoma

I'd been told by coworkers of the wonders of Puget Sound Pizza's breakfast, especially after they moved serving my favorite meal from weekends only to SEVEN DAYS A WEEK of breakfast wonderfulness. I'd attempted going to the FeedTacoma early bird event a few days ago, but an early morning meeting I couldn't skip conflicted. So it wasn't until this week that I found a morning where I was really, really hungry and walking by the fabulous smells that come out of their 7th & St. Helens location (just kitty corner from one of my other favorite places). I couldn't help myself -- I was lured in. And oh, so hungry.

I already know the place and people are fabulous (had the pizza -- yum!) and I was ecstatic to finally get a glimpse of the breakfast menu. I got a chuckle over the "Mother and Child Reunion" (has eggs and chicken ... and other yummy stuff) ... and noted for my brother's girlfriend that they had a nice stack of pancakes for just over $5. (Though, dear brother, no milkshakes on the breakfast menu.)

This particular morning, I decided to keep it small, simple and easily portable (though you can get any of their stuff to-go). I had the breakfast sandwich, which consisted of two fried eggs that were a perfect balance between cooked and runny (such as in, barely runny but not overcooked), two juicy-yet-crisp pieces of bacon (you can also choose sausage or ham) and a croissant roll (there are various bread options). And then I headed back to the office where I hope I didn't torture anyone with the glorious smell of breakfast. I made sure to thank my tipster coworker profusely. So good. SO hit the spot.

I love breakfast.

And so, in no particular order, here is a list of my favorite 7 breakfast spots in Tacoma (outside of my own kitchen -- I make a heck of a french toast strata) ...

Monday, November 19, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 19 (no soup for you!)

Progressing being made, but not enough for an excerpt. Looking forward to the long weekend ...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

NaNoWriMo:Day 18 (no comment)

Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday dear eldest one ...
Happy birthday to you.

Small progress, but not much.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 17 ... Strange kids

After a full day of birthday activities and the middle child fretting about going to bed, he finally comes into my room, and eventually gets over his tantrum and heads back into his own room upon saying "I just needed to clean my head up." Hmmm. Seeing as no writing has happened today ... ditto here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Birthday Shopping in T-Town aka NaNoWriMo: Day 16 (no progress)

The husband might be sick, but that does not change the fact that eldest daughter who just lost her first tooth is about to turn 7. Which meant sick day for mom, lots of local shopping, and another day of no added words for my poor NaNoWriMo novel ...

Today has been spent running kids to and fro, still making two work meetings, getting brother-who-missed-his-bus to the 512 park and ride (we live in N. Tacoma), and spending THREE HOURS shopping with the soon-to-be-7-year-old for birthday presents and birthday party prep. Party: Tomorrow. Birthday: Sunday. And now I'm baking cupcakes and cleaning the living room in order to prep.

So far today, we've been shopping at:

  • Teaching Toys in the Proctor District ... where we picked up a how-to origami book and extra origami paper for the soon-to-be-7-year-old. And where the freshly 5-year-old wanted to only buy things for himself, of course. (Big girl was not on this trip; she was in school.)
  • The Learning Sprout ... where the soon-to-be-7-year-old tried to spend some of her birthday money, and where I tried to find craft ideas, but it was almost as if there was TOO MUCH to choose from. We walked away with a how-to balloon animal book and extra balloon animal balloons (are you sensing a theme here?) and some mini-cookie cutouts.
  • The Bead Factory ... where we bought our craft for the afternoon. We'll be making necklaces. With 6- and 7-year-olds. Wish me luck! We found some great butterfly main beads and lots to fill, and the check-out lady was SUPER helpful with helping me find some stretchy string to put the beads we bought on ... she recommended the magic wire, but the almost-7-year-old wanted the stretchy stuff. So we went that route. Lots of extra beads are expected .. .yay!
  • And Target on Union: Where daughter spent some of her birthday money on a Barbie. I found stuff to put in party bags and many shirts on the clearance rack which should round out the eldest's long-sleeve wardrobe. Yay!
Now, time to bake cupcakes and actually clean up. Ugh. I'm just glad I could do all my shopping in town ... :) Super yay!

However: All this action has meant to NaNoWriMo word progress. However, I am hopeful that once party is over, kids will pass out and I will write with the speed I did LAST weekend and quickly catch up. I miss my NaNoWriMo ... :)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 15 (forced day off)

Husband sick. (No Ed, he did not puke on me.)

However, that means having to take the day mostly off and be stay-at-home mom for the day, and for tomorrow. And still make a couple work meetings in between taking kids to and from school. Which means that baby girl got to be my assistant today ... she seemed to like it.

Oh, and tonight the tooth fairy comes. She was asked to pass by last night so that the eldest could take her tooth to school and show her friends. And Saturday is the eldest's birthday party. And Sunday is the eldest's birthday.

And writing will commence. But not tonight. Erik ... you should have DEFINITELY passed me by today ...

Unless I get a bug in the middle of the night and crank a few hundred words out ... hmmmm ... feeling mischievous. We shall see.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 14 ... day off

I had an 8 a.m. long meeting, and a long meeting until 8 p.m. to wrap up the day. It's been a long day. I know I can catch up. So today: I choose sleep.

(You heard me, no being puked on and I'm STILL taking a day off. I'm such a rebel.)

I will have to just deal with the fact that this means Mr. Erik will likely catch up and/or surpass me with his word county. I'll admit slight joy in having been several hundred, and for a moment a couple thousand, words ahead of him for the last few days. What will I do ... Go Erik! Pass me up! Now's your chance ... tomorrow, I'll be beating my way to the 25,000 line, and by the end of this weekend the 30,000 line ... the race is ON! ;)

On a more productive note, I may have figured out how to put an RSS feed on this sucker ... it should be upper right. I'm new to RSS feeds ... so let me know if it works or not ...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 13 outtakes

Had less than an hour, but made progress. Only about 500 words short of where I should be today, which ... considering I had primary parent duties this evening in the getting-them-t0-bed department, and that I gave in to the guilty watching Boston Legal AND Heroes online-because-I-missed-it-last-night ... I'm so bad ... I think that's doing pretty good. Tomorrow my only guilty pleasure is ANTM. And if you don't know what I mean by that acronym, I don't want to admit my guilty pleasure to you. But, basically, I'm admitting to giving in to TV during this novel writing attempt. Can't help myself. And really, I think that keeping up with popular culture can be a good thing. So there. I don't apologize. Just admitting a bit of a weakness. :)

Day 13 outtakes ... my final graph of the night:

He just hoped, he even prayed, that he was playing for the right side. Because sometimes. Sometimes. You just had no clue. The world is a stage, and the people merely players. Merely players. But who … who was the director. That’s what was bugging him. Who was the director. Hell, who was the producer. He was getting tired of only knowing the players …

Monday, November 12, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 12 outtakes (passed 20,000!)

Wow, just passed 20,000 w0rds. Time to take a break ... Eww ... baby girl needs diaper change. Guess I need to attend to parental duties. But I have a feeling I'll be able to crank out a bit more before I got to sleep tonight. (After kids are in bed.) Basically: I'm on a roll! Twists around every turn ... it's a bit surreal. I look forward to going back in the second draft and beefing up certain areas, tightening up others ... but right now I'm just following the plot. I can add better descriptions and tweak the chatter more later. Right now, I need to keep up with figuring out where the storyline is going, as it's quickly escalating into an actual plot.

Day 12 outtake ... he's alive!:

“Hey, did you know Colin Smith?” Viki asked. Liz went cold for a moment and looked over at her roommate. The newspaper was in front of her friend. She was afraid to ask. “Is he in the same lab as you?” asked Viki.

“I think so,” Liz said quietly. “Why do you ask?”

“The guy’s in a coma,” said Viki.

NaNoWriMo: A few reflections on the past 11 days

Eleven days into the 30 days of NaNoWriMo and I've discovered that "write what you know" doesn't necessarily mean what I thought it did, at least not for me.

The first few days, I struggled with trying to start with the known world, and I came up short. I would begin with a situation that I knew, then try to fictionalize ... but trying to take my reality across the great canyon-like divide to my character's fictional world just wasn't working. I wasn't able to make the leap. I'd try, and fall into the deep crevasse with its many sharp rocks. Trying to shed a 13-year relationship and three kids and a long career and many other personal quirks, it was painful. I felt like I was bouncing Homer Simpson-style from sharp rock to sharp rock into the ravine and then trying to pull my damaged, near lifeless character back out. Trying to flesh out one character, I kept thinking "but where did the kids go?" "did they die?" (couldn't go there for a backstory, it's a mom thing) or "but I don't know what single life is like." Every attempt felt like I was cheating on my actual life. It was really silly. But it was simply too personal to start with myself and then try to shed identifiable elements in my effort to channel the fictional world. I couldn't let go. And I spent many hours staring at the computer screen forcing myself to type SOMETHING.

Yesterday was a completely different experience. All of the sudden scenes were flowing out hundreds of words at a time. Instead of hitting "word count" and finding myself 50 or 100 words further when I was hoping for many more, I'd find my word count go up by nearly 1,000 words at a time, and it seemed nearly effortless. Some editing will definitely be needed later, but it's like I'd finally gotten the muse to stay in the room for more than 5 minutes at a time.

The biggest switch? Perspective.

Instead of looking across that canyonlike divide between my nervous reality and the freedom of the fictional world and wondering how to transport myself across the spanse, instead of trying to transform myself into something I'm not, I'm now taking a person from the fictional world and working in some of "what I know" as secondary details to the story. And I feel silly that I was stuck in the first place. I feel like this is knowledge I once knew, that this tact is actually quite elementary -- but my fiction gears were oh, so rusty.

So here's hoping I can keep up the pace ... and seeing as it's a stormy day, a holiday, and the kids are being good ... I might actually get a bit ahead at last and be able to breathe a little easier this week.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 11 outtakes, round 2

Been typing like a madwoman for an hour or two this evening. It's going much better than just a week ago, and I'm definitely making up for lost time from the last couple days of being sick, and being sicked up on. The words are flowing fast, and the story lines are coming together. I might even have a plot by the end of the month, lol.

And in that vein, I need to get back to the writing, especially while it's still flowing out in hundreds-of-words-at-a-time bursts. So, my mini excerpt of the last couple graphs ...

Day 11 outtake, round 2:

With a deep breath, she resurrected a bit of courage and stood up from her dark corner. She saw Colin across the room, lying still on the cold floor with a hole in his head, a pool of blood growing on the floor.

But he moved. Just barely, but she could see he was not gone. Not yet.

NaNoWriMo: Day 11 outtakes (makin' progress)

So, I'm definitely not done for the day. But the kiddos have requested early Thanksgiving, so we're a cookin'. And a couple folks a comin' over. I made pumpkin pie. I made cranberry sauce. There's mashed potatoes, chicken & turkey, bread, cooked pumpkin and so much more.

But I still found time to write today, and am strangely finding a possible blend between my "channeling conflict" storyline and one I'd brought up to my writers group a few weeks back. So perhaps I'll have more of a novel by the end of this than I thought. No matter, the experience is definitely pushing me. Definitely making me realize the areas I need to practice more and challenge myself more if this is something I want to be serious about. And definitely making me realize that creative writing has so many avenues, and I've not traveled the fiction road for far too long.

Anyhow, no one's puking, and dinner's not quite ready, so better post while I can ... :) And Ed, glad I could make you laugh. Meanwhile, we had to change sheets in the middle of the night. But LUCKILY, no splatterage on the laptop. Escaped by inches.

Day 11 excerpt:

Liz wasn’t sure what she was looking at.

She’d left the lab in a hurry that evening, wanting to slip in an early dinner with a girlfriend before settling in with her computer and files for homework. ...

She’d apparently grabbed the wrong files. Shit. Her evening schedule had been closely scheduled in order to allow at least a little time for sleep, and now she was going to have to run back to campus. Liz flipped through the files, hoping that her eyes deceived her and that perhaps she just wasn’t recognizing her own data in her delirious busy-ness. She shuffled through the manila file folders, thumbing through thickly paperclipped bunches of papers, hoping to see her familiar blue medium-point pen markings. But these were all Sharpie-labeled with the handwriting of an engineer -- each line the same, each letter’s slant exactly matching the one before. Perfect, and clearly not hers.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 10 (today's excerpt interrupted by puking child)

Baby girl just puked on us. Today's update is postponed until further notice.

Friday, November 09, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 9 (you'll just have to wait)

It's Friday. I'm tired. It's a three-day weekend. I'm finally starting to feel better. I'll soon be writing my heart out. If there are any suggestions or requests for direction attempts, just e-mail me or comment. I'm fearing I'll venture back into the land of the benign, as I'm trying to figure out the next stop of afore-written-about plotline. I may have to start a new line of conflict, but I'll try to pick another part of the already-touched-on storyline. Might be before, might be after ... I think I can do it. But I'm nervous.

But for now: Sleep. New haircuts and new hair colors (not quiet as daring as Ms. Zesty) mean need for sleep. Or should I blame the anarchists. That's it .. .this novel is facing anarchy.

Hmmm ... no, just tired.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 8 outtakes

The work week is nearing an end, I'm beginning to recover from whatever has been draining my energies, and tomorrow downtown Tacoma could erupt in craziness and potential violence, or a simple peaceful protest. No matter, I'm tired. I plodded through another 1,000 or so words to keep myself somewhat on track. (Only a day and a half behind!) Not the best words, not the worst words. But I'm tired, and am going to treat myself to sleep and see if my dreams can awaken the destiny of my main character's quest. But for now ...

Day 8 excerpts:

First, a follow to yesterday ...

The trio sat in stunned silence. Their breath before them, nothing but the sound of intake and exhale. Then George began to shriek. First it was little more than the sound of a balloon when you slowly let the air out. But it soon escalated into something more piercing than the squealing wheels of a road-racing Mustang or a 2-year-old who’s been told no. But Liz would not be shook. “Tell me,” she insisted. The slight laceration on Davin’s cheek still fresh, he retorted, “Tell you what." His voice was soft but clipped, his lips pursed. He was subdued, but still stubborn. ... “Why I’m here,” she responded. “It’s a pretty standard question. I don’t appreciate being a toy.” The shrieking continued to escalate. George was entering the realm of banshee before Davin spoke again. “You’re not a toy,” he stated. “You’re a weapon.”

Liz kept her gaze on Davin for a few more seconds, trying to read his face, find fact within this man’s fiction. But she couldn’t ignore George’s shrieks anymore. He was now writhing on the ground. As she watched, he began scratching at his clothes, pulling at his hair. He was beside himself. Soon his hysteria led to welts. Then scratches. Then there was blood not of her own hand.

“You’re killing him,” Davin said calmly. Liz kept her position.

“I thought this is what you wanted,” she retorted.

“We wanted to test you,” Davin responded. Unfazed. “It was a success.”

And in another scene (we will return to conflict at a later date) ...

Liz turned as a drunken young man tumbled across the five-way intersection, jolting to a stop every few feet as if he’d just dodged a car. The streets were all but empty, making the stumble-step-step-dodge pattern look like a bad dance routine. Perhaps a clown act. She couldn’t help but stare. When he finally made it across the street, he stood to attention with a goofy grin. Did he even realize his precarious ambling? “You look lost,” he insisted.

And now to ponder ... does he get killed off? Is he a spy? Not human? Or just a distraction for the dear reader ... (quick! Look over there!)

Good night!