Three If by River


You all know by now how much I love interesting changes in perspective.

I was in West Virginia this week for the day job, specifically the capitol, Charleston. It’s really a lovely little city, with the Kanawha River flowing at its feet. I’m told “Kanawha” is pronounced “Kanaaaaahhhh.” I suspect it helps to have a southern accent. At any rate, I love cities on big rivers. I grew up in the Rocky Mountain West where we just don’t *do* big rivers. Cricks and washes, yes; waterways capable of bearing traffic, oh no no no.

See, that’s the cool thing. The capitol building in West Virginia seems like it’s facing the wrong direction. It’s kind of away from downtown and it sits sideways to the big thoroughfare next to it. Kanawaha Blvd runs in front of it, but that’s not the main route to downtown from the interstate by any stretch. But if you walk along the riverfront pathway – which is a lovely walk – you can see it. The building faces the river. Steps and an esplanade run right down to the river and the building rises above it, greeting guests who’ve arrived by boat, not by automobile.

I recognize this because I went through an obsession a phase where I visited plantation homes. Many of those show their best faces to the river, because that’s how people arrived. Before everything became about the car.

I’ve been toying with post-apocalyptic scenarios. Especially since people keep bugging me that Feeding the Vampire is too short. It would be interesting to write about a string of communities that return to traveling and trading by the river that joins them, walling themselves off to all other avenues of entry. Everything would become about controlling and protecting the river.

Fun to think about.

Gifts Beyond Price

Look! Yes, it’s an obsidian necklace (with a bit of citrine). My lovely friends Marcella and Laura sent me this for my birthday.

My actual birthday isn’t until next Monday, but the timing worked out to open it yesterday, which was perfect.

See, Marcella lives on a sail boat and goes from harbor to harbor around Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands right now. She was trapped by bad weather in a harbor without WiFi for several days. And Laura is under deadline and has gone Walden Pond (staying away from the interwebs for August). So we had to find a window when the three of us could IM conference while I opened my present.

The gift is particularly poignant, because yesterday I also received the contract for my novel, Obsidian, from Carina Press.

Yes, that counts as the official announcement!

I am so blessed in so many ways.

And I plan to wear my necklace non-stop.

The Tao of Hummingbirds

This pic is from the same series of watercolor rain shots I posted before. This photo isn’t framed as well, but I love it for the hummingbird zooming in on the middle right, like a guided missile. (um, left to you folks)

We have about four hummingbirds in residence right now and they are practically part of our household. Every morning I wake to the sound of them whizzing past the open windows, squeaking at each other. They dive around the feeders under the front portal (pronounced pohr-TAL, for you non-New Mexico types), bulleting through at impossible speeds. Their game is intricate – one perches near a feeder and waits for another to come in, then dive bombs the interloper. They scream off over the desert, quickly becoming pinpoints against the sky, while another leisurely bobs in to have a drink. The other day I saw one, perched on the saucer of this feeder, wait while another screamed in at him, at a zillion miles an hour, then popped up, letting the other bird pass right underneath him. Hummingbird Tai Chi.

It’s funny to me to observe their busyness and compare it to my own. The emails screaming in, one after another. The phone calls and conference calls, an intricate dance of back and forth. And while you’re busy dealing, someone else slips in and takes a long drink of your nectar.

So it goes, eh?

I told David this morning that today looked pretty hairy for me and we talked about why. Then he said, “why do jobs have to be that way?”

It’s a good question. I suppose we should seek the Tao and be One with the universe. Then the politics, the pressures and deadlines wouldn’t matter.

I don’t know anyone who can do that.

What I do see is that the hummingbirds seem to glory in their games. They are beautifully vital, vibrantly alive. They make me laugh, to see them whizzing past.

I love that.

Alpha and Omega

I’m back from Oklahoma City today and, as always after one of my work trips, playing catch up.

It can be shocking, transitioning between my various lives. At home, it’s quiet. I like it that way. Sometimes I don’t interact with anyone else for hours on end. This level of concentration is meditative for me. I feel most at peace when I can do this.

I know. I know. My mother despairs of me.

On the work trip, I uproot myself from my lovely home, plunge into the semi-hysterical swirl of airports, luggage and rental cars. I meet up with my colleagues and work in a room where seven people are asking me questions at the same time. Or they say, “okay, after you answer those three people, I get you next.”

It’s good to be needed. (And paid!) But I get overwhelmed. I try not to get cranky.

(But – guys? – just because I’m smaller and female does NOT mean you get to overlap my airplane seat!)

Fortunately, I love the people I work with. The last evening, we all went out to Bricktown, in the older renovated part of downtown Oklahoma City. The heat had relented and we enjoyed a gorgeous evening on the rooftop patio.

I posted the other day that being in OKC reminds me of the past, of my family’s origins, of how cities rise and decline. This work project, too, has been like that. I worked on it for over ten years, sometimes at a crazy level of intensity. Then it got axed and we went cold turkey. Now, after an 18-month hiatus, it’s running again. But changed.

It seems that things rarely ever end. They just stop for a while and then start again in a new way, with a slightly different face.

There’s comfort in that.

Before I Put on My Make-Up

Still in Oklahoma City for the day job, in a hotel I’m really not thrilled with. What I get for letting someone else pick it!

As I put on my make-up this morning, I noticed that the nasty lights over the mirror made my skin look green. At least, that’s the excuse I’m using to explain the puffy bags under my eyes. But, suddenly, I had this memory of those make-up mirrors with the lights on either side, that you could stand up on your vanity table. They had something like four settings: indoor, outdoor, evening and office. You could set the lighting so you could craft your color scheme to look best in that particular lighting.

Office was decidedly green.

This says so many things about how the world has changed. Designing a cosmetic scheme for different events in the day is no longer a priority for most women. Not all offices are studies in green fluorescent lighting. (For verisimilitude, Mad Men really should have used it. But who wants to see people in that light?) And who really has a vanity table anymore?

Being in Oklahoma City turns my mind to the past. My grandparents met here, back in the 30s. My grandfather managed the Criterion Movie Palace, which is now gone. They left the high-rolling scene here in a scandal, exiled to the backwater of Denver. Now this city is a declining ruin in many places. One of my colleagues asked why it declined and Denver boomed.

I don’t know.

But this city has beautiful places, too. With lots of renovation going on. What goes around, comes around.

One day I’ll send the city all those photos of the Criterion. I keep thinking someone would love to see them.

Moving On Up

I just love how this storm made everything look like a watercolor painting. It reminds me of one of my favorite Renoirs, La Roche-Guyon. I have a print of it hanging in my house. Now I’d like to hang this photo next to it. Impressionism, Santa Fe style.

I’m off to fabulous Oklahoma City this morning and will be there most of the week.

For now, I’d like to announce that I have a New Website!!

It’s still at, but it should be a whole lot shinier and easier to, um, actually FIND stuff. Thanks to Liz and Sienna at Bemis Promotions for all the fabulous work on it!

So, please take a tour and let me know what you like and don’t like. I’m still giving them nitpicky some feedback on changes.

It’s a brave new era!