Friday, August 28, 2015

Gazing Guy Rock Stack

 Someone stacked these rocks while I was wandering around with my camera.
I thought it was really cool how he managed to get the top rock to stay in place.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kneeling Woman Rock Stack

This stack reminded me of a woman grinding corn. Or possibly kneeling in front of a shrine.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dreaming Dream Interpretation Art

I dreamed I was helping some people sneak back into what ultimately was Arcosanti.  Previously, there had been something about watching a tech fixing my parent's WiFi or stereo...

The dream had been in progress for some time; a group of us were in a white van, and the driver had missed an intersection, and we were returning via a back-road route.

I want to say it was something like 2 AM in the dream.  I flew down a path and over a hedge, where a side door was on a long wing of a building (in waking, I am reminded of the school wing of my parent's church).  The door was only about four feet tall, and locked, but I had a key for some reason.  I crouched down, below the bushes, unlocked the door, and left it open behind me as a signal to the others that we could enter. (I don't remember why we were sneaking in, we weren't in any danger.)

I entered a long hallway.  Through the windows it was night.  The hall was beige carpeted and had creamy white walls.  I took a few steps down the hall and saw two people in it.  At first I thought they were sleeping in the hall and that we'd have to turn back.  At first I thought they were two middle-aged to old Native American women with two little mutt dogs; later, they turned into S. and G., the instructors at The Child's Kung-Fu place; still later they turned into R.T. and some unknown woman from Arcosanti.

Papers and parchments covered the walls and were rolled up on the floor.  Some of them were covered in either a heavy Gothic typeface or else hieroglyphs or Asian characters.   "Have you come for the dream workshop?" the little Native American ladies asked, "We'll create an interpretive scroll of your dream.  One unrolled a three by two foot piece of parchment or heavy yellowish which paper and began rubbing a stick of butter over it.

"Do you want a soft or a hard parchment?" she asked as she left a thin layer of butter (or something that I understood would be embossed or have characters scraped into it).

"Soft," I said.

"Good," she said, "because that's what you're going to get.  Do you have a dream that you'd like interpreted?"

I had five, but they were on my iPad, so I had to dig around in my backpack for the iPad so I could look up which one I wanted to use.  At this point the dream workers became S. and G.  I wanted to work on a Very Long Meaningful Dream -- at the time I could remember it clearly, but going through my dream journal it must have been some amalgam of dreams, or else a dream that I had more than ten years ago.  The Meaningful Dream had the form 1) Travelling over a Boundary, 2) Wandering in a Maze/Mansion, 3) A Dark Stillness/Deep Sleep/Death, 4) Magical Identification/Awakening with a Tree, 5) Bright Holistic Revel in the Otherworld, 6) Bittersweet Return to Regular, Grey Society.  At the time, I didn't formulate it that way, the dream had a shadow knot in the middle of it, with a dark awakening with a craggy redwood in it.  

Because the dream had happened at Arcosanti, they photocopied a map of Arizona centered on Arco, and presented it to me to put into the collage I would create.

I chose the Meaningful Dream and said I was ready.  The dark pre-dawn morning turned into a bright day.   Other people had wandered into the hallway and it was turning into more of a workshop.  At this point, G. had turned into R.T. and he had me sit down on a table while I held a reddish, hockey-puck shaped disk of camphor or cinnamon to my forehead.  Or else it was a burning disk of frankincense (in waking life I'm reminded of an open tin of Tiger Balm).  

After a while he asked, "Are you alright, because you're slumping."

"I'm a little dizzy," I said.

Someone escorted me to a side stairwell, sat me down with some words or symbols roughly punched out of white tissue-like paper, and I stared at a large white poster leaning diagonally against the stair.  The poster had a light, penciled grid on it.

I think I sat there in a haze for some time, trying to put together what I was supposed to do... remembering this Meaningful Dream and not sure how to make the collage or why it would be an interpretation.  The woman, who had been S, but was now an generic middle-aged Psychic Workshop woman with a soft voice, came up and helped me.

And then I woke up, the Meaningful Dream clear in my head, but fading fast...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rock Stacks

 When we were camping at Iron Creek campgrounds, Mark found a beach with stacked rocks lining it.

We added our our stack of rocks.
 I came back on Sunday (our last day), set up a tripod, and took a few photographs as the sun was swinging around the bend of the river and providing interesting shadows.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ray Bradbury Method

This weekend, smoke from fires on the other side of the Cascades blew into the valley and the air quality index shot up past 200.  The worst of it was probably late Saturday afternoon and night.  It was marginally better Sunday.  Not the best air to be out in; I felt stuff on the back of my throat and walking to the store felt a little like trying to dance in a very smokey bar.  My lungs did not like it.  The sun was blood red for several hours after rising, as was the quarter moon.  There's a very thin layer of brownish-grey ash all over everything; not so much as you would notice a puff of ash when you go walking, but enough to leave streaks on car windshields when you run your fingertip over it.  Everyone wishes the rains would come, but typically, we've got a few more dry weeks in front of us.  

Writing:  I've been feeling stuck lately, so I thought I'd try Ray Bradbury's method of free-associating nouns to jump-start writing.  It seems to work in terms of getting the words to flow.  It seems to work less well on the story about Venus I'm trying to write, because it's harder to free-associate when you're trying to focus on a particular setting and the urge to free associate fights with the desire to stay focused.  And then you end up writing some other story, maybe a better story than the one that you were trying to work on because it's what's percolating in your brain.  In my case, two haiku poems popped out.

Cold, but no ice forms. /
I am unable to etch /

the reflected clouds.

It's called a slush pile /
How fragile, each snowflake in /

the eternal drift.

Working out:  I suppose 2 minutes of aerobic dancing, some random planks and a few rounds of free weights at home counts.  Right?  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Misssing Keys

Tuesday was a bad day.  One would think that I've learned my lesson about reading e-mail first thing in the morning, but I haven't, so I discovered a rejection letter in my inbox for a clockwork fairytale I'd written.  I'd sort of hoped that I'd make it into this particular market because I'd been practicing reject-o-mancy on my friends' rejections over the last three weeks (he hasn't rejected my story yet, he's probably going to buy it!)  

Then I couldn't find my work key.  I wear it around my neck on a bright green ribbon for a reason.  I think Monday I came home tired, took a nap, and took the key off.  The upshot was that Tuesday morning (having read the rejection and playing the post-rejection tapes in my head) I scurried around the house for fifteen minutes, not finding the key, before leaving, late, without it.  It's not fatal if I don't have it, but it makes getting into my office awkward.  

When I got home, I started looking around for it.  Two and a half hours later, in a foul mood after not writing and not finding it in the couch, under the couch, in the bed sheets, in the closet, in blankets, in a folder, on my writing side table, hiding in the cushions of my Stickly chair, under the cat's bean-bag, in the washing machine in or under a laundry basket, nor hanging from any of the chairs in the house, I finally located it in a dirty clothes hamper in the garage.

By then I had to go grocery shopping.  So much for an afternoon of writing.  The upside was that I discovered a new artist on Spotify.

Working Out:  Wednesday I returned to the gym after almost a week (at least I did some minor free weight work at home).  Put in 160 calories in 20 minutes on the elliptical; 120 calories in 10 minutes on the rowing machine.  2/10 assisted dips; 2/5 assisted chin-ups.  3/12 50lbs pec flies; 3/12 85 lbs lat pulls; 3/13 curl-ups.

Writing:  Well... I've been at a picking-at-things level.  Got a critique of a manuscript from the Wordos, with good feedback about adding even more details about when (1985 and 2015) and where (Minnesota) to make things less confusing.  The language and the concept were well received.

Spirit Lake

 On May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted.  A lateral blast of hot air, travelling more than 300 miles per hour, snapped all the trees off at their bases.

A side of the mountain slid off into Spirit Lake.  The lake sloshed 200 feet up the slopes on the far shore, scoured the dirt away from the bedrock, and floated all the newly snapped trees back into the lake's basin.  The logs formed mats which still crowd against the shoreline thirty-five years later.

It's hard to see the scale in these pictures, but some of these logs are three to four feet in diameter and fifty feet long.  The mat stretches out easily four city blocks.
Before the eruption, there was a lodge.  Its location is under water now.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

More Mt St Helens

 Last weekend we spent the weekend at Iron Creek Campground, near Mt. St. Helens.  We were fare enough away from the volcano that there were trees unaffected by the 1980 eruption.

We hiked to Iron Creek Falls.  The waterfall was really cool; I liked the way it had cut through the basalt and cascaded into the pool below.  All it needed (to gild a golden lily), was a rock platform in front of the pouring water where one could light a small fire.

 Fireweed grew everywhere.  I liked it because it resembled peacock feathers growing out of the ground.  There were also lupine, paintbrush, and other flowers.

For the most part the temperatures stayed pleasantly in the 60's and 70's.
At Meta Pond, (which, sadly, was not a pond on an island in a pond, which would have been really meta), we saw little thumbnail sized frogs.  Someone had left a fish head near the shore and six crawdads were busy fighting each other for the privilege of snipping bits off of it.  We also saw a dragonfly.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mark's Birthday Campout

For Mark's birthday we wen to Mount Saint Helens, which is a little over five hours away by car.  The first day was rainy, which was a nice change from all the 90 degree weather we've been having.  The second day was cloudy, but without the rain and warmer.  The last day was clear and warm.

We stayed at Iron Creek campsite, in the Mt St Helens wilderness area. The campsite was mostly pleasant, with only a light Saturday night party camper vibe.  What would have made it perfect would have been the inclusion of a meadow for star gazing.  On the river was a magical beach filled with standing piles of rocks.  We added our own stacks.

Friday, August 14, 2015

When Ideas Come

Thursday morning around 3, a group of men decided to play some loud dance music as they walked past our house, talking and laughing loudly.  I was in that groggy place where I couldn't quite put together the steps needed to throw on a robe and go remind them that some people were sleeping.  I can only assume they are returning students in town early for some reason.  I'd made an effort to go to bed and sleep early, so their timing wasn't so great as they woke me at the five hour mark, which is when I can wake up and then feel like I've had enough sleep, but not really.

In the past I think I would have stared at the ceiling, angrily trying to fall asleep. But I after reading about folks in earlier century who supposedly slept in two parts during the night, I told myself to try to think about characters in a short story I'm trying to write and that it was OK to stay in bed thinking.  This pretty much worked in that I fell back into a kind of half-sleep... but I didn't wake up with any character or setting or plot insights.  

[Oh wax!  That's what the story characters need! It's resistant to sulfuric acid!   (I just realized an important setting detail here in the parking lot)]

Working Out;  Went in Thursday afternoon (a little delayed).  180 cal in 20 minutes on the elliptical.  50 cal in 10 on the rowing machine.  3/10 dips and 2/10 chins on the assist machine.  3/12 50 lbs on the pec fly.  3/12 80 lbs on the lat pulldown.  3/13 curlups on the Power Station.  And then I had to leave...

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Poetry, Dreams and Research

 Yes. There's bad poetry in the Book of Art...
What do Mr. Spock, myself from a dream as an ancient priest with a rhyton, and Marcus Cole have in common?  I'm not sure, but I have some ideas, and if you have any, you could share them with me.

 I also write research notes.

Working Out:  Went to the gym Monday afternoon.  Read a manuscript on the eliptical, which mostly worked except when I had to turn a page and became aware of my balance and that I was stomping on pedals that were going up and down.  Managed 120 calories in 20 minutes and a 4000 word manuscript.  Went on to the rowing machine (110 calories in 10 minutes, without the manuscript) and assisted chin-ups and dips.  Did 3/12 curl-ups on the Power Station, 3/12 40lbs pec flies, 3/12 80 lb lat pulls.  

Writing:  I haven't been as regular or productive at morning writing sessions as I was this time last Summer.  Part of last year's success is that I used a LED candle to wake myself up at 5 AM so I could write; the candles have a clock in them so they turn on at the same time every day for four hours.  The candles are great, but they do take batteries, and the batteries slowly die -- so the candles' LED flames become dimmer and dimmer and dimmer.  This summer, their dimming coincided with the increase in morning light, which I thought I could use as a Time-To-Write prompt, but I guess not.  I'm hopeful that I'll be able to write more.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tweaking Geometry

 More from the Book of Art.  This is a re-working of a tile pattern by Tiffany that is displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Some times when I draw freehand designs, they come out better than when I use the compass.  This fish design is a case in point. In my mind, I thought I could make a fish out of squares, triangles and wedge shapes.

When I used the compass to make the shapes more precise, the fish cam out looking like a television station logo.  Or something.

The same thing happened when I was trying to make a border of circles within a band.  When I free-handed the design, it looked rough.  When I used geometry, the spacing looked wrong; I'd guessed the proportions incorrectly.

At least this sun-and-moon design came out more-or-less the way I wanted it.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Geometry and the Book of Art

There are a lot of geometry figures in the Book of Art.

I like constructing geometric figures because it's calming; I suspect using the compass is similar to knitting in terms of neurological feedback.  On one hand, the constructions are like little puzzles, which are stimulating; but on the other hand, they give me a sense of ordering things, which is calming.  I find they're usually more calming, because if my brain is chattering at me at the end of the night and I can't sleep, about fifteen minutes drafting figures gets me into a more restful state of mind.

Hexagons from circles fascinate me because I have a strong feeling that putting them together illustrates the structure of the universe; drawing them gives me the same sensation as humming in a stairwell and discovering the harmonic frequency of the space.

Another favorite construction is ten five-pointed stars in a circle.  This pattern shows up in zillij patterns a lot.  I like it more than combinations of eight or twelve stars because the stars aren't distorted in order to fit.

Triangles and 2:1 circles are fun, too.

I've had this particular compass forever.  I should get a travel case for it, because it gets a little banged up travelling lose in my shoulder bag (and occasionally the needle sticks me).

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Pages from the Book of Art

 Since I had posted about losing and recovering it last week, I thought I'd share some of the sketches from my Book of Art.

This is from I short story I wrote last Winter/Spring.  I was playing around with world-building and imagining some of the things characters in a fictional Northern Country might see.

Some times I find it easier to think in pictures than in words, and shuffling the pictures around in my head can generate ideas.

That's not to say that I don't think in words some times; I also use the Book of Art to write things long hand.  I'm more likely to do this on days where words are coming extra slowly, or in situations where getting onto a keyboard isn't convenient.

It's probably safe to say that I can draw a sword more easily than I can a bow.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Bowling Alley Fire

Not the most productive Thursday morning... yesterday afternoon a bowling alley a few blocks away caught fire.

I heard the sirens, and after about the forth, I looked around on Twitter and saw the local TV station's tweet about the bowling alley.  I had though the sirens were heading south, but it was really the echo off our neighbor's big house.  When I looked out the front porch, I saw a large black and white plume of smoke rising.

It was a two-alarm fire that sent smoke billowing all around the neighborhood.  The smoke was not so bad if there was no wind, but when the wind blew, the smoke enveloped our house.  Several times the sun was blotted out and our house smelled like a beach fire built with pier pilings.  Of course, the first time, I had all the windows open to cool down the house and the smoke blew in.

People were walking through our neighborhood and toward the fire.  Nobody really knew what was burning.  Traffic on Willamette Street had been rerouted, so we had extra cars and trucks going by.

I figured this was a perfect Writer Research! opportunity.  I mean, if I ever have to write a cathedral burning or the barbarians sacking a city, now I can put in various details.
  • The wind against the neighbor's taller house swirls the smoke down into our yard where it rolls like fog.
  • Checked in on frightened neighbor. She's OK, but not happy -- bunkering down with coffee and wine.
  • Our house smells like a camping grill. Grey-white smoke blotting out sun again.
  • Three types of people at fire: responders, rubber-neckers holding aloft their mobile devices, and folks walking away saying, "You don't want to breathe this."
  • Closer to the fire, the scent of plastic and sulphur was stronger. I realized the fire could spread to the next-door gardening store, which might have been storing fertilizer. Then the wind shifted and I really wished I had worn a mask over my mouth and nose.  
  • My lungs--which felt tight--did not like whatever was in that smoke. Neither did my watering eyes.
  • Black smoke turns white when hit by water, but still blots out the sun. The air smells like 100 struck matches.
  • The smoke blew away from the fire like a column of dark angels, which shifted and marched toward us, suddenly dark and gigantic.
  • The deck under my bare feet was gritty, and I realized that it must be ash from the fire.
When Mark drove home, he parked several blocks away to avoid having the car enveloped by the fumes.  He said you could see the plume from his work from several miles away.  When he walked in, he said that it smelled like plastic had been burned inside the house.

We went out for dinner (so did our neighbors), but when we came back, the house still smelled like burnt plastic and the bowling alley was still smoldering.  The fire department had the fire contained, but the building was made of old wood and they figured the fire would burn through the night.

We tried to air the house out as well as we could and went to sleep... at some point I woke up and wandered out into the cooler living room, and I woke up with a headache.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

The Lost Book of Art

Oh dear.  Wednesday morning when I was packing up for the day, I discovered that I had misplaced my Book of Art.  I'm assuming I left it at Turtles, when I pulled it out to sketch a combination desk/chair/shelf some other Wordos were talking about.  I guess that I when I got up to pay, I left the Book on the table.

Now the question is did other folks notice the book and pick it up, or is it in the Turtle's Lost and Found.  I'm trying to think if I've written or drawn anything super-embarresing.  Mostly the Book is filled with geometrical drawings, rough drafts of story ideas, and sketches of character clothing.  The Book has been in use for about eightteen months, and I don't think there's anything erotic in it, but of course if there was, that's where a random person opening the book randomly would open it to.

I'm having a little fun imagining Ellen Saunders finding the book and being afraid to open it because, once, about 1998, Ellen and I were with some friends at a Corvallis Chinese restaurant, and I was sharing a sketch from that book and I'd forgotten that on the opposite page was a fairly explicit gay erotic poem I'd written about Mark.  Ellen turned a little pink, said, "Oh MY!" and fanned her face with her hand.  And then I realized what had happened and wanted to slide under the table.  So I can imagine Ellen carefully picking up the current Book of Art and securing it shut with its leather lace and front cover button.

I can also imagine the wait staff looking through the book and wondering which of the crazy writers who descend every Tuesday wrote it.

[Postscript:  I managed to get to Turtles Wednesday afternoon and recover the Book, so it's now The Found Book of Art.]

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Leviathan Dreams

Today's dream word is "leviathan."  I'd been dreaming a while, but all I remember was that I had been a very large ocean going vessel, but now I was back in my human body and it was a very small thing swimming in a very large ocean.

I slept oddly Monday night / Tuesday morning.  I think the cat must have knocked something over, because I shot awake to the sound of a Lego falling and tinking on the hardwood floor.  Then I laid in bed, trying to hear any sounds of creaking floors over the sounds of fans and Mark breathing and the cat scampering around in that evil-gravity-controlling way that lets one cat  sound like a herd of elephants.

The room was hot; so I grabbed my pajama bottoms, a bolster, and stumbled out to look at the moonlight shining through the kitchen windows while the dream word "leviathan" echoed in my head.

I thought about writing, but I had a feeling that would really mess up my sleep cycle and make me a walking zombie all day, so I instead told myself I was going to just think about things in that 17th century middle-of-the-night pre-electric-light meditation kind of way, and managed to sort of hover-sleep in a way that was surprisingly restful.  

OK, I did have to force myself to get up at 5:50 to make tea and start writing... but I did manage to (after a bit of gearing up to it) work on the beginning of the owl god short story I'm editing right now.

Working Out:  Went to the gym Monday night.  Managed to get Brian to change the channel from the housing channel (I can only watch so much rich white people buying expensive houses) to Gilligan's Island reruns -- I really wanted a Science Channel, but the closest science show was "Pawn Stars."  180  cal on the elipical in 20 minutes.  120 cal on the rowing machine in 12 minutes.  plus the usual chin-up dip assists on the upstairs equipment.  Downstairs 40 lbs on the pec fly.  80 lbs on the lat pulldown.  curl-ups.  30 lbs barbell curls.  

Monday, August 03, 2015

Aug 2 Journal

More wandering the labyrinth dreams, I think.  I dreamed that I had rescued a black kitten from drowning in a bath.  She was a small little thing, and I named her Undine.  There was more, but that's all I remember at the moment.

Working out:  Went to the gym Saturday afternoon.  Did the full routine.  Upstairs:  20 minutes on the elipical at 180 cal; 10 minutes on the rowing machine at 100 cal; 3 sets of 12 dips and 3 sets of 7 chin-ups on the assist machine.  Downstairs:  40 lbs pec fly, 80 lbs lat pull-down, 3 sets of 12 curl-ups, 3 sets of 12 reps with 30 lb dumbbells, 3 sets of 12 reps with 40 (maybe 30)lb triceps pull-downs.

Followed by a fabulous 11-1 anniversary dinner date with Mark.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Happy Summer Ides!

We're (more or less) halfway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox.  Traditionally, Lammas falls on August 1.  Astronomically, the day exactly between the times of equinox and solstice moves around and could be August 4... which it turns out is a different day when the sun is 11.75 degrees above the equator.

In agrarian times, this would have been the beginning of the harvesting season, the gathering of the first fruits and the baking of bread from newly harvested grain.

I like to think of this time of year as the season of the Hunter, the station of the wheel of the year between the Enchanter of the Summer Solstice and the Reaper of the Autumnal Equinox.  The Hunter's motto is: "I am the arrows and the target."   For me this is one of those times (along with the Winter Solstice) to take a look at targets and goals and remind myself that seeking them is supposed to be fun or at least something that feeds my soul (and kick myself in the pants to stop being lazy and get cracking!).

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Eleven Years.

It's my and Mark's anniversary!  Depending on how you count it, it's either our eleventh or our first.

Eleven years ago we got married in our landladies' backyard garden.  It was before same-sex marriages were legally recognized, but we wore suits, and our relatives flew or drove over, and we had a real Unitarian minister perform a ceremony.

We asked the bakery to make a chocolate cake with otters on it, but people thought they looked like stoats.

Last year, on our tenth anniversary, when it was legally recognized in Oregon, we had a civic ceremony on top of the (now demolished) Eugene City Hall.

And I've realized that I don't have any photos from last year:  they're all on Mark's camera or on Facebook.

More here at this blog post.