Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

We tilled the garden this weekend, and planted strawberries.  I love the smell of the wet earth.  I should wear gardening gloves, but I like the feel of the dirt between my fingers.

Starting a garden is such an adventure, especially if the previous owner of the property had a habit of throwing random things into the yard.  We've discovered all sorts of treasures, from bits of broken children's toys to part of a syringe.  (The last discovery was somewhat disturbing.)  I feel like an archeologist, especially with those items that seem to have no use in the modern-day world, but perhaps, five years ago, were the greatest treasures of long-gone children.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Yesterday found me rather gleeful, as I received an email from the 100 Words or Less Contest containing the evaluation of my story.  I still won't know the outcome of the contest until the middle of May, but I did well in the evaluation (66 out of 70) and that's always splendid to hear even if a cash prize isn't involved (though it is nicer if one is).

So I'm feeling a little better about the world in general today.  I also get to sew feathers onto little girls' canary costumes, which always creates a bright spot.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Concerning Tangents

I've been revisiting Dickens lately.  To me, picking up a Dickens novel is the mental equivalent of curling up with a cozy blanket and a cup of cocoa.  It's the comfort food of the soul.  I remember the first time I read David Copperfield, feeling from the first pages that I'd literally fallen into its world.  (It always angered me when I read reviews saying Agnes was a two-dimensional character.  You don't often meet people like her, it's true, but I have met at least one, namely my mother.  Of course, everybody knows a Mr. Micawber, a Dora, a Tommy Traddles...)

Anyway, what always makes me a little sad is the realization that, in all honesty, no one would probably publish a Dickens novel now, or they would insist on cutting it down by at least a third to cut out run-on sentences, unnecessary dialogue, pointless description, etc.  In Nicholas Nickleby, for example, in Chapter Two, he devotes six pages to a Public Meeting concerning a United Metropolitan Improved Hot Muffin and Crumpet Baking and Punctual Delivery Company, which (so far as I can recall) is never mentioned again in the entire novel.  Then, at the end of Chapter Five, he overturns the Coach Nicholas is traveling in simply in order to allow them to stop at an Inn where two gentlemen spend Chapter Six telling stories completely unrelated to the plot.  I always love to imagine the public of Dickens' day, reading the novel in serial form, eagerly awaiting Chapter Six to find out what happens to Nicholas, only to be met with The Baron of Grogzwig.

However, I love Nicholas Nickleby, mostly, of course, for the central plot and characters, but in part because of the weird tangents.  I find all six pages concerning the UMIHMCBPDC particularly hilarious.  How tragic, should the editors at the time have decided to hack them away.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring, and a Man in Yellow

Yes, I know, I've been a slacker about blogging lately.  However, I have a perfectly viable excuse in the form of a rather nasty cold which has been plaguing me this week.  So basically I've been coming home from work each day to roam about in a fog, blowing my nose and grunting in a truly unattractive way, which doesn't really make for good blogging material.

We've had beautiful weather the past few days, and it really looks like spring is on its way at last.  For additional proof, when I went to pay our utility bill at City Hall I saw crocuses coming up in their flower beds.  The sight of them made bill-paying much more thrilling than usual.  Aaron and I have also been planning our garden... or rather, standing in the middle of the backyard pointing and saying, "we should put these over there, or maybe against the fence."  This is very exciting.  We moved into the house too late last year to plant much of anything, and before that we lived in an upstairs apartment.  I'm looking forward to getting my hands in the dirt again.

On the writing front, I'm still working on the new novel, though it has been moving rather slowly again thanks to the busyness of life in general.  I did send a (very) short story to the 100 Words Or Less contest, which is a first for me, so we'll see how that goes.  I haven't done much with short stories lately, but I'd been playing around with this one since the autumn.  I'll be a good blogger and paste it below.  It all started with an incredibly surreal moment last September when I was out for a walk.  I glanced down a side-street and saw a man dressed all in yellow (yellow pants, yellow shirt, everything) standing under a tree with leaves of nearly the exact same color.  Who knows where the rest came from.

Recurring Dream
In my dream there are three of us: you, me, and the man dressed in yellow.  Though he might have been a tree.  Might have been, but wasn’t.
We say we are looking for an elephant.  A small one -- or a kangaroo.
He says he saw an elephant once, in Portugal.  But it might have been a large dog.  Kangaroos now, he’s never seen those.
You ask, “Was the elephant in a zoo?”
He says, “No, it was on a street in Lisbon; playing a concertina.”
You take my hand, adventure in your eyes, and just then, my dream dies.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sylvie Guillem Manon First Pdd

I made mention some time ago about Kenneth Macmillan's choreography. This is a perfect example. I also love all of the music from Manon.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sewing Update

So, I know I've been saying I would post more sewing project photos soon, but I've been waiting to get photos of the clothes being worn by people other than me.  I don't mind having one or two of them with me, but it feels odd to have them all of myself, so the plan is to have some of the girls over one day soon for pictures.  However, I did finally open an Etsy account.  "Reanimated Rags" was already taken, so I (being in a rather odd mood at the time, and inspired by the fact that my sister referred to one of my pieces as "zombie-chic") decided to go with...  Fabricide.  It may be the dumbest idea I've ever had, but I'm getting rather fond of it.

Basically I think clothes should make the wearer feel good, regardless of whether they follow the latest trend or not.  I refuse to pay the price of feeling hideous in order to squeeze myself into a pair of skinny jeans, the return to popularity of which is as inexplicable to me as that of jumpsuits and rompers.  So, I've been having fun creating (or re-creating) my own sort of look.  I only hope other people like it as well.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Inspiration and a Guileless Confectioner

The weekend has brought with it fresh writing inspiration, which involves changing the era and setting of my current project completely.  Excited about the changes and where they may lead, yet peeved about having to actually go back and change everything, I move ahead at last after a too-long term of creative stagnation.  The story is changing somewhat as well, and things are a bit scrambled, as things will be after a sudden and extreme transfer over several centuries, but the characters are the same.  It's always rather fun to take the same basic personality and throw it into a completely different era, just to see how it will fare.

Aaron is performing in his first musical this month, The Drowsy Chaperone, as a gangster posing as a pastry chef.  I like to think his character is a nod to Great Expectations and the "guileless confectioner" briefly mentioned on Pip's arrival at Mr. Jaggers' office in London:

"The window indicated was the office window. We all three went to it, behind the wire blind, and presently saw the client go by in an accidental manner, with a murderous-looking tall individual, in a short suit of white linen and a paper cap. This guileless confectioner was not by any means sober, and had a black eye in the green stage of recovery, which was painted over."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

...with an apology for the longer-than-usual delay.

I did mean to post yesterday.  Then our internet went down for the last half of the day and my plans were foiled.  This weekend was strangely unweekendish, full of things that on their own are rather nice but crammed all together make a big mess, like trying to squeeze leftovers into too small of a container.  So now it's back to the weekly grind, and my brain feels stagnant and overwhelmed at once, full of things I want to do and write but too tired to do more than think of them.

We danced for a fundraiser Saturday night... always a good time.  Rehearsals begin in earnest next week for our show in May.  I'm also doing a fair bit of costuming this year.  Yes, it's piling more on the plate, but dancing rests my mind even while it wearies my body, and sewing for dancing is the best kind.

The weather today has been a mix of snow and sun and rain.  It mirrors my mood and helps to bring me back in tune with life.  It is people who muddle me the most.  Looking down at the world from my imaginary tower I can feel in harmony with all, yet set me down amongst them and it is a different matter.  Down on the ground they confuse and intrigue me, fascinate and disgust me, amuse and frighten me.  I long to hide from their staring eyes.  And yet I know I am one of them.  I cannot escape humanity until I can escape myself.  Therein lies the conundrum.