Saturday, July 22, 2006
One of the great things about living here is the sense of community and even family that I have moved into. Neighbors talking together over the fence, sharing an impromptu barbecue, getting gifts of Russel Stover chocolates and doing favors for each other without any agenda other than being friends.
Our house is being painted and the colors the painters came up with are not the colors they are currently painting over. The colors are brighter and calmer and very nice. All this painting and plastering and making the outside of the house look good means taking some of the old things down and putting them back up again. Such was the case with the mailboxes out front. The painters put them back up in the correct order instead of the previous order. Problem is that now the weathered plastic sleeves and penciled labels look decrepit. I have a printer and ink and some photo card stock so I designed new labels for the mail boxes: a German Shepherd for the landlady, a tabby cat for Nel and a quill and ink pot for me. Our names are in bold Copperplate Gothic and the apartment number is directly beneath. The shiny new color labels go with the new paint job and I was glad to stretch my creative skills even just that little bit.
That is one of the lovely things about living here, the sense of family between Nel, the landlady and me. For instance, tonight I was outside sitting on the sidewalk outside the laundry room waiting for my clothes to wash and dry, the latest two loads anyway. The landlady asked me if I'd like to join her for sausages and grilled vegetable medley. How could I say no? We took turns watching the food on the grill and talked and laughed while she drank her glass of red wine and I drank my water (I have to work tonight). A neighbor brought over a one-pound box of Russell Stover chocolates and the landlady shared them with me, pressing me to take half of them with me, which I in turned shared with Nel and Michael (who used to live here).
When Nel picks up the mail before me, she brings it up, and vice versa. We share utensils, dishes, bowls and food back and forth but no one feels their privacy at risk. All three of us share a need for some privacy and the boundaries, as blurred as they seem to outsiders, are clear for all of us. The landlady will go on vacation and I keep Pastor for her, which is a wonderful treat for me. Nel watches my plants and checks my mail when I'm out of town and I do the same for her.
There is an open and friendly atmosphere in our neighborhood that extends outside this house and into the surrounding houses and streets, an atmosphere that is peaceful and calming when I've had a bad day or need to take a breath of air in the middle of the night. Here, I am safe and happy and our neighbors feel the same way. Whatever spirit or energy or luck led me here more than a year ago I thank. When I lived at the cabin in my solitude I needed to be there to regain my connection to the earth. Living here, I am regaining my connection to people -- and to ghosts. I can't forget George.
I cannot believe some people. You take the time to post a new market listing on a writing community that has seen little if any action for months and all you get are complaints. Complaints about the amateurishness of a paying market. Complaints about their editorial choices. Complaints about the code on their website.
My first reaction was to ask them when they (the complainers) had last posted any market at all and ask if they were disappointed by the amount of money or just that the publication was amateurish and needed editing. I changed my mind. Pearls before swine.
I deserve their complaints. I took the time to post a speculative fiction market that, granted, only pays 1/2 cent per word and that is a new market. What was I thinking?
Guess that will teach me.
I think I'll just quit while I'm ahead and go do laundry.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
This morning the sky was a burnished blue enamel beneath a blazing brass sun. The cool air heated up quickly as the sun rose in a fiery ball above the horizon burning more and more of the cool away until the breezes were warm exhalations that did little to keep me cool. The blinds in the bedroom and bathroom shut out the light but the sun room is full of blazing yellow that touches off the sweating, panting flush of fire that radiates from me like a radioactive cloud. My hands sweat and my fingers stick to the keyboard so that I can barely type without an error even with my macros set and functional. I still have to type the right few keys to get the rest of the sentence or paragraph and I cannot seem to manage even that. My temper is short, frayed by the constant rasp of hot fitful breezes and the scratch and scrape of the painters as they prepare the house for painting. I want them gone. I want the windows open. I want to work without feeling like a goldfish in a glass bowl. I want...
The sky is grumbling, threatening rain but holding back the torrent. A momentary whisper of cool brushes my cheek or my arms, a cruel promise never fulfilled as the sun fires the cooling breeze. Lightning flickers and dies and the leaden sky with its mauve tints and cool cream colored underskirts near the horizon rolls ponderously over. A few spatters of rain drop through the leaves and disappear into the dry ground. Rain spits and spats and moves on, unable to make good on its promise, at least not here.
Even as I lie down on the bed in front of the fan perpetually moving hell through the breathless air, I cannot sleep or rest or find comfort. I keep reminding myself it could be worse as a few splashes of body temperature water dry on my fevered skin leaving a patch of cool quickly swallowed by summer's heat. I cannot concentrate. I cannot sit still. I cannot focus and work. I cannot ... move.
And the dog days haven't yet barked. Antarctica is looking really good right now.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
I know most of you aren't interested in ham radio or the projects some of us like to build, me included, but I thought you might get a kick out of the ingenuity of one of my friends. He backpacks (not as much as he used to but more and more as the itch desperately needs scratching) and he likes to take his radio rigs along and "play radio". He's really just a little boy who loves the magic and excitement of being able to talk to people all over the country and the world on a length of wire.
When you make your first QSO (contact) it's not like talking to someone on the telephone or emailing them. It's so very different and a lot more exciting, especially when the QSO is made on a rig you've built and a wire you've cut and strung in a tree or out a window. Then you know the magic and you're hooked.
At the board meeting on Monday night the treasurer talked about his first experience with a radio he built when he was a young boy. He climbed up on the roof of the barn to put up his homemade antenna. When he turned on his homemade radio he got a little static. He patiently and carefully turned the dials, holding his breath until he forgot to breathe, and through the crackle of static he heard a voice. As Jim talked about that first experience his eyes sparkled with excitement, still feeling the magic of that first voyage into the world on the air waves. Jim is well into his sixties and at that moment he looked like a little boy carefully clutching his rig and antenna as he climbed onto the roof of the barn. You wouldn't think he could still be so excited when he has a big antenna tower with a huge beam antenna on top in his back yard. I've seen it because last year I helped him and a bunch of the hams in the area bring down the tower to change out the rotor that moves the antenna around to just the right angle to talk to whomever he wants anywhere in the world, depending of course on atmospheric conditions, sun spot activity and a whole lot of other factors that affect radio waves. But I digress.
John finished his little rig some time yesterday and posted the pictures of his mini backpacking rig built into two Batman pencil tins. It is a thing of beauty and a work of art.
Yes, you can talk to people all over the country and the world on something as small as that. He's taking his rig out on the Colorado Trail soon with another friend and I hope Steve isn't bringing his goats this time. That's a story for another time.
Congratulations, John. I am so proud of you and so happy you finally finished your rig. It's beautiful.
Monday, July 17, 2006
The Gay Pride parade yesterday reminded me of a 4th of July tradition in Columbus, Ohio called the Doo Dah Parade. It's the anti-parade parade that celebrates the freedom and liberty to satirize anything and everything in as flamboyant a manner as possible. One year I marched in the Doo Dah Parade as a coloratura soprano with the Columbus Mime Opera. Photos do exist, as does a video tape, but they are all in storage in Ohio. I'm not certain my mother would know which box to paw through to find the evidence, but it's there.
As I was looking for links and current information on the Doo Dah Parade these days, I received an email that a local ham, George Lockhart, died yesterday morning. He was on my mind yesterday morning and I wondered if he had died. He did. Another interesting and generous person who gave of his time and talent and resources is gone, having lost his battle with cancer. He is another silent key (ham speak for ham who has died) I will write about in the newsletter, something that is becoming increasingly necessary for me to do.
But I have something to be thankful for. I received an email today that has solved all my problems and proved my mother right, as I'm sure she already knows. The clothes spilling out of the hamper, the things piled in my relationship corner and the lack of pink in my house are the reason I am still single. I thought it was just because the dysfunctional men who pass in and out of my life are in fact dysfunctional and unable to make a choice about the future or be sincere about having a relationship and all the time it was because my feng shui is out of whack. And it's so simple to fix. All I need to do is hang pictures and buy statues of couples, paint my bedroom pink and either keep the clothes in the hamper or do laundry more often and my perfect mate will walk into my life and stay. My tendencies toward clutter and leaving stacks of books in my relationship corner keeps me from letting my perfect mate know that the nest is feathered and ready for him to move in. Something is wrong with this picture.
First of all, in the avian world it is the male bird who most often builds and feathers the nest to attract a discerning female willing to mate and lay eggs. Somehow or other humans got it backward somewhere along the way. Could it have been during the sixties that the human male of the species stopped wanting or needing to provide a secure and cozy home to attract a suitable and willing female? Could this be due to equal rights? Don't get me wrong. I am all for equal rights: equal pay in the work place, equal treatment in the political arena, equal numbers of women running and occupying political offices and certainly equal sharing of household chores. I'm not, however, for feathering the connubial nest just to attract a mate. I'm past the mating age to begin with and I don't see how feathering my own nest and letting some lazy and opportunistic mate come in and take advantage is a good thing. Who needs a mate or a man if I can do it all for myself? I had the idea that two people coming together was to blend the best of both of them into a cohesive and productive whole that allowed them to share the burdens and the joys, but if I have to do it all myself I might just as well get BOB* out of the trunk of my car to keep me company.
The whole feng shui method of bringing a relationship into my life sounds an awful lot like geisha training. I can't let Bill and Bear know or they'll makeup rape me again and keep doing it until some lazy, hapless and most likely dysfunctional male oozes through the door and makes himself at home. I know someone else who will be laughing her tuchus off when she finds out the one color I refuse to use for decoration is the one color guaranteed to bring love into my life. I hate to tell you, but blush and bashful still look like Pepto-Bismol to me. Pink is watered down hot and sassy red. If red is passion and pink is watered down red... Well, who wants watered down passion? I can get that from BOB for free and I don't have to worry about clothes not properly placed in the hamper.
In order to prove this whole thing wrong, I am going to have to grit my teeth, close my eyes and give it a whirl, but I absolutely refuse to paint my bedrooms walls pink. Wonder if the gods and energies of feng shui will go for peach instead of pink?
*BOB = Battery Operated Boyfriend
The gay pride parade downtown was a hoot. It wasn't as big as the one in Denver, or so I've been told, but it was fun. They started and ended with DOB (dykes on bikes) and there was even a drag queen on stilts. I got a necklace thrown from one of the floats and made a friend when someone stopped and asked me if Poor Richard's sold Arizona teas. I said yes and handed him my spare. He thanked me a couple times and then came back after the parade and thanked me again. He was cute, sweet and a bit of a flame, but he was nice. We sat outside Poor Richard's for the parade and lunch and afterward went inside and sat in the shadier and cooler patio for a while. We sent inside in the back to soak up a little A/C but they asked us to leave because Otis was not allowed to be there. Otis is a near toothless Pekingese who is just as adorable as he can be. He's is Bill and Bear's son and he decided I was okay, begging to be picked up and lying at my feet whenever I was near. He has this one little bottom canine sticking up out of his mouth that makes him look like a furry redneck (and much cuter version of Dallas Dave).
Braving the heat, we all went down to Acacia Park. On the corner of Platte and Bijou a group of thumpers (bible thumpers) harassed everyone walking past. One guy was dressed as a monk and the rest were garden variety nosy Nells spewing hate and the message of damnation. Went well with the sky of brass and the breathless heat. The thumpers weren't just harassing gays, transsexuals and the people who accept and love them but Muslims, Buddhists and every other faith and religion but their own and they were very vocal about it. Bear looked at them, smiled and said, "Jesus loves everyone." They responded with, "Jesus doesn't love you and God will see you in hell." I thought Satan would be the one greeting sinners in hell, but I guess I was wrong. Bill argued with them and the rest of our group didn't even see them. I was later told it's a mind trick that helps you walk past a manure pile without seeing or smelling it.
Colorado Springs' finest were stationed at all the corners around the park and manned the barricades as we walked past them and into the park. Acacia Park was a seething sea of people, color, sights, delicious scents and music. Everything from leather and chains to frillier concoctions waving in the hot fitful breeze decorated booths and people. Goths tattooed and wearing black clothes and easter egg hair color in everything from rigid spikes and multicolored wisps and feathers walked side by side, and sometimes hand in hand, with Rocky Horror doubles and rainbow clad run of the mill people. Lesbians of every persuasion, drag queens, trannies, Native Americans, gay men, straight men and women and families with children talked, laughed, smiled, ate, drank and enjoyed themselves. The atmosphere was pure Mardi Gras without the Hurricanes and 500 flavors of Daiquiris. Music thumped and swirled in eddies on quixotic furnace breezes under a sky of pure Colorado blue burnished by a blazing sun. Food and drink, laughter and excitement, happiness, and acceptance wrapped us all.
Bill and Bear towed me from booth to booth looking for a booth with the tools and pigments for another makeup rape but that didn't last long. We stopped at the Stonewall Democrats booth and when I looked for them after talking with a knowledge and passionate young man about politics they had disappeared. I later found out they were drawn by the irresistible lure of hand fans decorated with Joan Crawford's Mommy Dearest best. I found a seat near the stage and watch several acts and a rainbow of people from every walk and situation in society. The air was an intoxicating mix of the heady scents of food, exotic and familiar, and sound. From hip hop and ballads to Rocky Horror and Native American dancers jingling with bells, every musical persuasion was represented. A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll and a whole lot of shakin' and fun going on.
As things wound down, Bill and Bear appeared from the west side of the park through a sea of faces, Otis trotting dutifully alongside, and laughing and talking with a woman. Her name is Pru, short for Prudence, and she was originally from Vermont before coming to Colorado. Pru follows the Red, or Native American, path and she is a serious minded and fascinating woman. We headed back toward Poor Richard's for drinks (water for me this time and lots of it) and conversation in the patio. Bill came through a little later after a trip inside for refills with news that the oh, so elusive Cathryn and Nancy Jo, an elegant, graceful and true Southern Belle of the Old South, were out front and wanted us to join them. It was cooler out there and shadier so Nancy Jo's alabaster skin wouldn't be assaulted quite so viciously by the hot ogling glare of the sun. We joined them.
It was interesting to watch the group come together. Eddies and swirls of conversation rose and fell around the three tables with pushed closer until the conversational tides carried us to two separate tide pools. Nancy Jo, Bear and Pru were discussing fashion and clothes (had to be since I definitely heard the word "shoulder pads") and it turned out I wasn't far wrong. They were discussing younger days and drag fashions and experiences. The other tide pool was awash in talk of science fiction, cars, edged weapons, old movies and science fiction television shows. Turns out Cathryn and I have a whole lot in common, which resulted in our spread out group becoming two groups of three when she joined Bill and me to discuss our passions. We nearly talked the sun down and finally headed toward home around 8:30, the boys dropping me off at my place and ferrying Pru home before they took Otis and his traveling water dish back home to Grazie.
When I arrived home, the landlady was sitting on the porch with one of Elizabeth Young's books drinking a glass of beer and laughing out loud while Pastor lounged nearby. We chatted for a few moments and I took the stairs back to my cozy and still breathlessly warm home.
After hitting the bathroom and feeling lighter by a few pounds and a gallon or two of water and Arizona mandarin iced tea, I called my mother and told her where I'd been. (She worries when she doesn't hear from me frequently, thinking I've died or disappeared for good) After a short harangue from her about never accepting "those people" and how I was aiding and abetting their sinful choices by being friendly and tolerant, we agreed to disagree and said goodbye. At least she didn't hang up on me as she has done uncounted times in the past.
What amazes me most is that anyone can still be so close minded and prejudiced. Like I told Mom, I like people because of who they are, not because of whom they choose to love or what they do behind closed doors. It's none of my business what they do or with whom they do it. I can't hate a person without cause and being different and out of the Moral Majority Religious Right mainstream isn't a good enough reason. I saw people of every size, height, shape and color enjoying themselves and having a good time. I'm glad I was part of it.
But what I'm really glad about is that after all the walking and standing and being on my feet for the better part of nine hours, there was no pain. My legs didn't ache and my feet didn't feel like they were buried in white hot spikes and coals. This morning I expected to pay the price for my excessive exercise but when my feet hit the floor nary a winkle of ache or pain did I feel. I really need another pair of these Nike running shoes.
ADDENDUM:I forgot to mention that my arms are a little darker due to the sun and my face has a healthy pink glow. No, that doesn't mean I have a sunburn. However, it does mean my blue-grey eyes are more turquoise this morning. I also discovered that exercise does indeed help with the battlefield Mother Nature and Father Time have made out of my body and I feel surprisingly good. Of course, it could also just be that it's cooler today and I'm wearing fewer clothes despite the painters who are climbing their ladders and peering in my windows today.
That is all.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
It's hot and about to get hotter and I'm going to venture out in an '88 candy apple red Mercury Cougar for the gay pride parade downtown but I'm still sitting here pondering what I've just done.
A writer with a novella that needs to be edited contacted several editors, me among them, and asked for resumes and references, which I promptly sent. She returned with a test. She wanted each of us to edit the first chapter of her novella as a test of our abilities, deciding from that which one she was going to hire. My first response was, "No way!"
I provided her with enough information to make her choice, including quotes and emails from references. I didn't give her the whole list, but enough to make an informed decision. I wrote and told her that I would not submit to a test and if she wanted a sample I would consider one page an adequate test, and one I was reluctant to do. I am a professional and my time is valuable.
I evidently wasn't the only one who questioned her test because I received one page this morning and an introduction to who she is, none of which I need or want to know. Sound callous? Probably. But I don't really care how many children she has, how many organizations she belongs to or how many articles she has written. All I want to know is if she wants to work with me or not.
After reading the first page of her steamy novella, I wonder if her credentials would bear checking out. I don't know about her nonfiction but her fiction basically sucks. It is the worst kind of amateurish pseudo-romance style formula I have ever seen.
And her grammar isn't good either.
For the last hour I edited that first page, wrote out a summary of what she should be doing with her book and a whole list of questions based on what little I have seen. That was $55 of my time for a job that seems more like a cheap way to get her book edited for free -- and against my better judgment. However, it's Sunday and I'm feeling generous.
The feelings of generosity have worn off and I have given her my professional opinion. Now I need to find some clean clothes and get dressed for the parade. Good thing we're standing in front of Poor Richard's where there is food and water and blessed air conditioning.