My Old Wyoming Home

I don’t think about the old house much.

Which is kind of odd, because it once meant so much to me. Last week, when David and I went to Ten Thousand Waves to celebrate our anniversary by soaking in a private tub, he asked me if I thought the new people were using the hot tub much.

I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.

“Our hot tub?” he says. “The people who bought our house — do you think they use the hot tub?”

Ohhhh. The hot tub we used to sit in pretty much every night for five years. In the house we bought for love. For jts beauty and the sunlight. I just hadn’t thought about it. “They’re from California and it’s been a cold winter — I hope they’re using it!”

And then I started thinking more about how they were doing. If they figured out how to set up the pond heater so the koi in the pond will overwinter. The upstairs gets cold when it’s really chilly — I should have left a note telling them of my trick of closing the downstairs heating vents and turning on the upstairs ceiling fan and heating from the top down on those super-frosty days.

Last night I dreamed that we snuck into the old house. The person we were with — maybe a real estate agent? — knew they were out of town. So we went in to look around and all the windows were shaded so no light came in! Enraged, I went around opening shades and doors. I heard voices behind one door and there was a woman inside, reading to a little girl who was sick.


So I fled. Fortunately she didn’t see me. (How she couldn’t when I opened the door to the bedroom is silly, but that’s the great thing about dreams.)

Anyway, I think I’m connecting with the timing. It was one year ago now that we put our house on the market. I started to say good-bye then. I wasn’t sure of the date until I checked this blog post. Amazing to me how our subconscious notes and commemorates anniversaries, even if we consciously don’t.

Coincidentally, I wrote about that house (okay, that part isn’t a coinicidence – I write about every damn thing, like cats and New Mexico weather) and the essay appeared in Going Green.
Recently the Wyoming Library Roundup published an article on the anthology and they used a picture of our old house. (Look at page 9 – I can’t seem to get it to bookmark.)

So now it’s immortalized the way I liked it, for all to see. Which is a lovely by-product of writing. It doesn’t really matter if they use the hot tub, if the fish survive the winter or if they close the shades.

It’s their house now. Mine is in the book.

Muddying the Waters

We’re in this precarious season of freeze and thaw.

It’s a lovely thing, because it feels like Spring already. If we were in Wyoming, with all the snow that’s fallen, we wouldn’t be looking for it to thaw for months. In Santa Fe, the days warm up with gentle kindness, the birds swoop about singing with excitement and the road gets muddy as hell.

I’m talking deep ruts. That freeze at night.

But, aside from a filthy mailbox, it isn’t really that bad. I’m curious to see if I’ll have to wash the mailbox or if the Spring rains will take care of that. I’ve never washed a mailbox in my life.

I printed out my novel, Obsidian, yesterday. I can’t believe I haven’t used “Obsidian” as a label before, since I’ve prattled about it ceaselessly on this blog. What does it mean? Maybe just that I know the title could change (even though I think it’s a really good one). Now that Allison is hashing out her book deal, they’re discussing how to change her title. She doesn’t seem to mind, since Laurell K. Hamilton already stole the title she really wanted.

At any rate, I printed the whole thing out to send to a sci fi/fantasy author friend who (with incredible generosity) offered to read it and help me bypass the slush piles of a few people she thinks might like it.

It’s a huge stack of paper. Heavy.

It surprised me that I hadn’t printed out the whole thing before. And it put me in mind of the days way back when I first set my writerly goals. I was working with the concepts of visualizing what I wanted, but wasn’t sure what I was going to write. I knew, too, that I needed to be specific. (Be careful what you wish for!) So I visualized a manuscript, a stack of paper full of good writing.

When I printed out the final full manuscript of Wyoming Trucks to send to my editor at UNM Press, I experienced a moment of deja vu to see it looked exactly as I’d envisioned.

But with Obisidian, though I’ve sent out the full manuscript, I’ve always sent it electronically. Where paper, the post office and the mailbox used to be such a major part of my writing life — and least the sending it out into the world part — now it’s really all via email. Which is great in many ways: cheaper, faster, more green, less resource-intensive.

It’s also less weighty.

I saw this article yesterday, via the New York Times Science tweet. There have been a number of similar studies lately verifying this phenomenon of our brains, that what we think does have a physical effect on the world. This one is particularly interesting because they found that subjects assigned greater importance to things that were heavier.

You scoff? Go read the article. I’ll wait.

Isn’t that interesting? And you’re thinking the same thing I am, right: ebooks.

After all of the bruhaha over the Amazon/MacMillan tussle over how much ebooks are worth, I wonder about how our animal brains value something that has no weight. That, in some ways, has no physical existence. The publishers insist that a book shouldn’t be worth less because it’s not printed on paper. But all of us know that creating a document electronically and sending it via the ether is cheaper. No matter how you spin it, all of us who no longer budget for paper, toner and postage can tell you that.

Certainly the publishers add value, through selection and refinement of the work. As do the agents who bring it to the publishers. And the booksellers who bring it to the readers. I noticed that, in all of the opinions flying around, most were from the publishers, agents and booksellers. A couple mentioned the readers. Almost no authors have spoken up. An oppressed people, we.

But, if we’re to look at the core value, what people pay for is the story. Which has always been intangible. Which might be why the author’s contribution to the equation tends to weigh less heavily.

I’m thinking, though, for important submissions I might invest in paper. Thick stuff with a formal feel.

I might have to wash the mailbox.

Eldorado on Ice

This was yesterday.

We hung this suet feeder on the portal post, because a ladder-backed woodpecker had taken a liking to this spot and was hammering away at it. The Wild Birds Unlimited folks thought he might like this suet. He hasn’t been back, that I’ve seen, which is also a solution. But for two days in a row now, this flock of little birds descends on the suet like flies. We think they might be bushtits. They appear suddenly, feast for a few minutes and disappear again. Spooky, too, which is why I had to take this picture through glass.

It kind of reminds me of the twitter/blog bruhaha over the iPad, Amazon and Macmillan. Jackie Kessler, who’s a lovely person and who writes really fun books, has a good summary on her blog, if you want to catch up. I think it’s just the latest fat-rich tidbit and people are getting quickly hysterical over what will likely be nothing, but what do I know?

We had fog last night, so when we walked this morning, the moisture had condensed all over everything and left it frosted. Fog still hung heavy in the valley.

It’s funny to me to see the cholla cactus covered in frost, but they don’t seem to mind.

Maybe I’m saving words to finish the novella today, because I’m mostly just wanting to share photos from our walk.

These are worth thousands of words anyway, aren’t they?

After this, we went to eat breakfast. As we left, the hostess said “Thanks for starting your day with us!” It’s a new neighborhood place and David says they’re still trying to find their way to be part of our community.

But I thought it was funny, because my day already felt so full.

Living the Dream

It’s one of those dreamy snow-globe days.

As the week has been, full of snowfall, hot tea and time by the fire.

I’ve been sleeping well. No dreams of starving cats. Instead I’ve been having the long and deep questing dreams I love. Just before I woke, I dreamed that Isabel was sleeping in the arms of a black bear cub. I laughed at how adorable they looked.

This is a quiet time at work. The early part of the year is always slow for our project, which is welcome after the hysterical push of the end of the year. I don’t travel again until the end of February, which means I’m caught up and am keeping up with everything right now. I have fewer than 15 emails in both my work and personal In-Boxes. My In-Box used to serve as a sort of To-Do list, so an In-Box that wasn’t empty meant I had things to take care of. Over the course of last year, my In-Box swelled to over 2,000 emails at times. The oldest one was from 2/9. Just as we’re now unpacked, I’ve now dealt with most of my email. The oldest is now 11/11 — for a contest I want to enter.

It occurs to me, this is what it feels like not to be stressed.

I watch the tweets go by. The news and opinions. I watch the snow fall.

There are so many people to save. So many causes to take up. So many things to become outraged about. Then I think about the idea that, if you want to change the world, first change your own life. I like to think I’m doing my part by not contributing to the hysteria. I’m solving problems, making positive contributions, finding ways to feed people.

It might be trite to quote John Lennon, but this lyric hit me with unexpected force the other day: I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go ’round. No more riding on the merry-go-round — I just had to let it go.

I’m watching the snow fall. And I’m feeling fine.

A Time to Every Purpose, Heaven or No

It’s coming up on that time of year.

No, not Christmas, despite the rumored store displays. Fortunately I haven’t been to a Target or like store recently, so I haven’t been bombarded yet. I’m a strict holiday-orderist (yes, I just made that up). All holidays in their proper order. No Christmas activity of any kind until after Thanksgiving. No Thanksgiving discussions until after Halloween, All Saints Day, Day of the Dead.

Part of moving to a new place is learning the new rhythms.

It’s been odd to me that I haven’t wanted to get the Halloween decs out yet. Some of that is where my focus is, on finishing this revision. I haven’t done a number of things I normally spend my time doing. And being out of my normal patterns, feeling like this is a vacation house and not my usual life at all.

But a huge part of it is the weather, too. The leaves are starting to turn on a few trees now, but we haven’t hard a hard freeze. Certainly no snow. David and I are out on the patio in the evenings, having cocktails and watching the sunset, which would just NOT have happened in Laramie.

So, part of me — the Denver girl who had to wear a parka over her hula dancer costume one year (I wised up and picked WARM costumes after that) and the Laramie girl who associates high chilled winds whipping dead leaves around with Halloween — thinks it’s still summertime. After all, the flowers are still blooming.

But now I’m starting to feel it. Like a whisper in the air. The veil is thinning. The restless dead are teeming in the wings.

The coyotes yipping at night could be the first yelps of the Hunt.

Cats and New Mexico Weather

One of my very good friends, first and faithful readers and giver of really good advice gave me some suggestions the other day to make this blog even better.

I’m sure it’s really good advice, for me to stick to a particular theme. She thought I could focus here on one thing and have another blog for subjects like cats and New Mexico weather. She even threw in some flattery about how I’m good at adding whatever thematic frame I want to, to a given mini-essay/blog post.

The thing is: I don’t think my brain works this way.

The last few days I’ve been valiantly trying to follow her advice. Really, I have. And I find myself dreading composing my blog post. When I started doing this, I promised myself I could write about whatever I wanted to.

Which often includes things like cats. And the New Mexico weather. Cuz, hey, I’m a creature of my immediate surroundings. Also, in some ways, all things are alike to me. It all intertwines. Kind of the tesseract view of the world. Even though a cat sleeping on a big blue exercise mat and a full moon aren’t the same pattern at all, somehow in my twisted mind, they reflect each other.

And today, all the roads in and out of Laramie are closed. It’s Homecoming Weekend and there’s a foot of snow on the ground. The pic above is courtesy of Kate Stein. The Wyoming coaches were ferried from Cheyenne in a snow plow. It’s Rockies play-offs in Denver and it’s snowing away.

We’re to hit 70 today in Santa Fe. It’s sunny and clear. Which makes all of us happy. Including the cats.