Thursday, January 28, 2010

Being There

One difference between our old house and our new house is that we no longer have a dishwasher. Or rather, Hux and I are the dishwashers (mostly Hux - I do the cooking). Right after moving in, we hated it. It takes longer. Drying dishes take up all our counter space. It's more work in general.

A few weeks back, she turned from the sink and told me how much she enjoys dishwashing. "It's relaxing," she said.

Next time I did dishes, those words came back to me, and I realized she's right. Yeah, it takes longer. But there's something to be said for not putting distance between you and the thing you're doing. If your dishes need to be cleaned, you clean them, you don't prepare them to be cleaned by a device. You are more aware of the thing you are doing. You soap up the dishes. You scrub off the food. When they are clean, you set them down to dry. Nothing in the way. You do what you do.

Hux dries our clothes on a clothesline too. No dryer in the way. She puts up the wet clothes. She takes down the dry clothes. And when we wear them, we don't smell lint and fabric softener. We smell the wind, the pollen, the dew, whatever particular weather that was going on while they were drying. We are aware of the weather, aware of our clothes.

Admittedly, this is being said by a man who calls himself a writer, but almost never puts an actual pen to an actual piece of paper. The only time I handle paper is to put it in the printer. But I'm learning. I'm learning from Hux.

Thanks, Hux.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Out There

Here's a cool video of Jupiter in stately, silent rotation. All the way around in 10 hours, so it's spinning pretty fast. It was taken by the New Horizon probe as it glided past on its way to Pluto and the Kuiper belt. Part of the thrill of this video, for me, is that it was taken not by an Earth telescope but by a probe millions of miles away, out in the cold of space. I like to pretend I'm out there with it.

The video was posted by Astronomy Picture of the Day. It's a great site with which to start your day.

Got another story published. Two Cents, in the Oddville Press. An early version appeared here, during the halcyon days of Mona's weekly word. Mona, we miss you! I'll link to this one when it goes up next month.

Other writing bits: two agents looking at the novel now. And it's entered in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition. Plus I've got about 35 queries out. So If it doesn't get published, it won't be due to lack of trying.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rolling Rock

No, not the beer.

Irrelephant made an offhand comment on my last post about stones in the desert rolling by themselves, which I had never heard of, so I Googled and came up with these rather amazing images.

This is a real phenomenon in Death Valley. It is less well understood than the snow rollers of my last post. The explanation on the page where I found the pictures says "studies suggest a combination of 90mph winds, ice formations at night and thin layers of wet clay on the surface of the desert all help to push them along." The fact that the stones are rolling in different directions seems to pour some doubt on wind being much of a factor, but I'm no scientist.

Pretty cool, regardless. Sometimes it seems like nature is just fucking with us.

Thanks, Irr.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snowmen from Outer Space!

So these are pretty cool, huh? They'll called Snow Rollers and they're pretty rare. They show up on the northern plains of the US in the winter when conditions (snow, wind, temperature, moisture) are just right. Basically, the process is pretty straightforward: under strong winds, with sticky, fluffy snow, the wind rolls up the snow. Apparently gravity can make em too - the snow rolls down a hill and makes a snow roller. These were seen in Spokane, WA last year. They're about 2 feet high.

Of course, those folks who believe that crop circles were created by aliens (as opposed to stoned college kids with rope and 2x4s) believe that snow rollers are the work of aliens as well. Not sure what the purpose would be, exactly.

You'd need to ask them.

Monday, January 11, 2010


This looks, to me, like a close-up of human skin. It's not. It's a photo of sand dunes on the surface of Mars, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. So you could say it's skin, just the skin of a planet instead of a person. Regardless, it's gorgeous.

Thanks, yet again, to Bad Astronomy for the pic.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tiger Star

My favorite stars are out this time of year. Bright, colorful stars, with evocative names. Procyon. Sirius. Aldebaran. Capella. All of them are around the general area of Orion.

This one, Betelgeuse, is a gorgeous red giant in Orion, in the upper left-hand corner. It forms the top bit of Orion's left arm (Betelgeuse actually means "armpit of the Great One"). This picture, from Astronomy Picture of the Day, shows it not to be an even red, but rather spotted and striped in shades of orange and red and white. It looks a lot like a tiger to me.

Red giants are at the very end of their lives. So Betelgeuse is at the top of the list of stars most likely to explode soon. Soon, in astronomical terms, means it could be next week, could be in a million years.

Monday, January 4, 2010


I loved the fact that the old year ended and the new year began with a full (and blue!) moon. I've talked here in the past about how a full moon always rises just as the sun is setting, and the magic inherent in that moment. That feeling that you are balanced between moonrise and sunset, night and day, is just delicious. So to feel the old year and the new year caught up in that same teetering moment was gravy. We drove to the banks of the Arkansas, watched it rise, all bright and round and coppery. Just lovely. Wonderful way to end the year.

We told the girls they could stay up til midnight, if they could stay awake. They did, barely. Their first New Year's Eve. Or first one awake, anyway. We banged pans on the front porch to celebrate the moment. They were asleep by 12:05.

My only resolution last year was to write the novel.

My only resolution this year is to do my best to sell it.