December 17th, 2011



The pretty good:

I bought an artificial tree this year.  Because I have one more piece of furniture in the living room than I should, tree-space is limited.  The choice was between buying a real tree and chopping off one side so it could be pushed against the wall, or buying an artificial one I could more easily manipulate.  I’ll miss the scent, not the needles.

The tree looks nice.  A little bland, because we didn’t unpack the more sentimental ornaments.  I think know Dev and I aren’t interested in any more emotional prodding than necessary.  So we had fun decorating generically and left it at that.

I put eucalyptus essential oil in my diffuser, and was immediately warmed by memories of Montana de Oro.  Maybe I’ll switch to pine tomorrow.

After sorting California photos, I’ve decided Dev has a pretty good eye for photography.  Some of the landscapes look like professional photos.  He also has a knack for photographing his mother in moments of extreme dorkiness.  He seems most proud of that.

The needs-work:

Ty Handsome the Wonderdog has slowed down in the cold weather, grumping about his hips.  I’m amazed this hasn’t happened sooner, since he will be ten years on in April.  Time to start Missing Link, the doggie supplement that added happy years to the life of Jake, our old dog who lived to be seventeen.

The sigh-worthy:

It’s rather depressing to awaken to news of yet another food recall caused by poop in meat.  Equally depressing is the default assumption that there is poop in all ground meat, hence the reason we’re warned against undercooked burgers.

Dear neighbor insists on walking two big and obviously untrained dogs on flimsy retractable leashes.  This means her dogs drag her into my yard if my dogs are out when they walk by.  Yesterday I had to get between snarling and snapping dogs because tangled leashes had wrapped around my dog, trapping him against her dog.  Dear neighbor then told me she wished my dogs wouldn’t bark when she walked by, because it made her dogs crazy.

The life-is-good:

I have a lead for a new teaching venue, though I can't follow up on it until after the first of the year.  Still, fingers crossed.

After December 29, I will have two to three hours of uninterrupted writing time almost every day!

Random Writing Thought

In thinking about this, and the fact I’d like to do what I can to avoid bumping readers out of the story…

Last week, I tormented my karate students.  After warm-ups, I split the class into two groups, one on each end of the mat.  I lined up the groups by height, then announced we’d be playing Red Rover and told everyone to join hands.  They did so with only a small hesitation.  Then I told them that if their name was called, they not only had to run toward the other line, they had to perform either a diving roll or flying sidekick that would sail over the joined hands and between the two people.  And if they didn’t make it that high, they’d have to do fifty pushups.   Ignoring the nervous glances—particularly ones from my newer adult students—I immediately added myself to the end of one line and asked who we should call for first.

I had ‘em, until I couldn’t keep a straight face any longer.  I lined everyone up to practice throws instead.

But why did they believe me in the first place?  The obvious is that I have authority on the mat.  I’m the sensei, and their answer to direction is supposed to be “Yes, Ma’am!”  The truer reason, though, is the fact I’ve led them down a similar road—and followed through

I've developed some rather odd teaching techniques, games the students play to develop skills and strength, get past the tension-barriers of attacking and defending, and foster naturalness in movement and mechanics.  They do joint locks and quick escapes with their eyes closed.  They fight sparring matches while tied to their opponent with a three-foot rope.  Some katas have sound effects such as “Shazam!”  I regularly make comments like, "Wonder Twin powers--activate!"  and "There is no charge for awesomeness!"  We play games called Swords and Shields or Eels and Piranha, and we’ve done a karate version of the Hokey Pokey as a warm-up.

Red Rover was close enough to what I’d already shown them to be a believable extension.  I didn’t ask them to make a leap of faith, merely a small step.

So there we go.  If we want readers to play Red Rover with abandon, we have to give them the Hokey Pokey first.

Alas, no one can protect us from those readers who adore Hokey Pokey and hate Red Rover.  For them, no amount of Hoking and Poking will make them want to go Roving.