In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Powder


New territory, new land, new trail with boundaries only set in my mind.
Possibilities endless.
Life is like snow.

Learning to ski again is proving to be more of a challenge and more painful than I could of imagined. However, sometimes with great PAIN comes great REWARD.

Last time I went skiing I was a junior in High School and had no formal lessens. While visiting some family in Idaho, someone shouted out “Hey lets go skiing today” and off we went. It took us two hours to drive to Silver Mountain in Kellogg. Stepping out of the car and into that winter wonderland I felt pretty confident. I had just lettered in soccer, was on a touring softball team, I could roller skate and skateboard- this skiing stuff looked easy. Equipped with my big 80’s sweater, a cotton polo shirt underneath, rental gear and nothing even resembling Gortex, I was ready! The “adults” went on to the advanced slopes and left my brother and I to fend for ourselves on the bunny slopes. We were continually taunted by little ski brats as they zipped by us. One confronted my brother on his awkward looking technique, not realizing that those were the first two hours of his life on skis. “Well my parents aren't rich corporate bastards like yours, who can afford to take me skiing every year since I was two you little prick! Now f**k off!” …man I love my brother! By the end of the day we looked like we had been tortured by the Russian mafia- wet, cold and bloody! “Did you kids have fun?” Somehow through the frost bite, fiery darts shot out our eyes at our parents. “We thought you loved us! Now we’re not so sure”.

Fast Forward to 2010.
Moving to a new place located so close to Mt Baker, I had to learn- properly this time- how to ski! While getting ready, I discovered there are five different types of snow conditions for skiing and snowboarding:
Power is freshly fallen, untouched, soft snow. It is the perfect surface for controlling your speed, holding your edge and for landing in because it’s so soft.
Crud is the next phase of powder. As more and more skiers ride through the powder the snow piles up and becomes tracked out, creating uneven surfaces and slippery patches.
Crust is formed when the sun’s rays and the wind melt the top layer of power then the cold air makes it freeze into a harder icy surface. If the crust is soft you will punch through it making for a bumpy ride.
Slush happens when the air temperature becomes warmer than the freezing point.
Ice is the exact opposite of powder it’s hard & slippery. Its snow that has been melted and frozen again for a number of times creating a solid surface of icy compact snow.

Friends also offered up some advice:
“Don’t wear a scarf, it will pick up snow and be annoying all day. Plus its dangerous you could get it caught on something and hang yourself”
“Don’t wear a backpack, a kid was wearing a back pack while on the ski lift, got it caught on the chair, couldn't get off- was hanging like forty feet off the ground. He had to cut the strap to escape!”
“You’ll also need a helmet.”
“Why? I’m not snowboarding.”
“It’s not so much what you could hit; it’s more what will hit you.”
I joked it sounded like I need to carry a switch blade more than ski poles. When did it get so dangerous?

Finally my ski day arrived- a week before Christmas no less. Just that morning 12 inches a fresh snow had fallen; an early Christmas present! The day was full of enchantment and wonder. The instructors are so kind and helpful at Baker, and this time instead of a taunting, a close friend offered much needed encouragement. Thanks to a water proof/wind proof/falling down proof outfit this experience was much better than my first. Pain equaled great reward.

During lunchtime while watching the advanced skiers and snowboarders playing in the powder, I knew that could be me one day. Right now I live on chair 2 and the bunny slopes. Could I ever be good enough to go on a double diamond? I’ll do my finest. With the right equipment and attitude many things are possible. One day I’ll be out there shredding powder like the rest!

Wishing you all a brilliant New Year full of fresh, wonderful POWDER!

Make your mark this year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Poetry: Voices & Words


Long ride home
Dark road
The radio plays softy
The headlights illuminate
A road we have traveled many times
But never with each other

Communication?
No words, no voice
Communication?
A movement
Between two bodies
In accord

The veil of your spirit
Blows across my cheek
It says a thousand words

Your strength grows
Besides me wrapping me
Like a warm blanket

The bond of love
The ties of friendship
Invisible to the eye
Yet lighting the way
Traveling In the dark
Destination: home

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Housekeeper" Wins!


Was just informed this weekend that my poem "Housekeeper"(see below) was chosen along with six other poems in a poetry contest! The contest is sponsored by Bellingham Repertory Dance Company and Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater. The seven poems will be interpreted in dance while being read out loud in the popular annual event "Phrasings" April 1-3 2011. What an honor!


"Reunion and Back Again" by Scott Stodola
"Beachcombing" by Katelyn Hales
"World Cup" by Susan M. Schultz
"From Wire Fetters" by Katelyn Hales
"The Visitors" by Cathy Ross
"Taproot" by Carla Shafer
"Housekeeper" by Shannon Laws

****************
People of all types
Come and go to my hotel
The same room will house
Many different lives

Some stay for less than eight hours
Others for days
Each time I reset the room
Removing the evidence of a life

I know them now when they walk in
Not by name or by hometown
I know them by their stains
The marks left behind, that I clean

For you I’ll find wine rings
Dried on the tables
Some spills on the sheets
Bottles in the garbage

For you I’ll find diapers
Filling both waste baskets
Spit-up on the bed cover
A travel crib I’ll have to take down

For you I’ll find almost nothing
You made your bed before leaving
Your shower was too quick to dirty
Changing the sheets I’ll find a sock

I clean the room
The same room
Over and over
I clean you away

Washing the tub
Scrubbing off the ring
Removing the hair
Wiping down the mirror

Dusting the room
Making the bed
Vacuuming it all away
You are gone

***

Please follow:
http://chuckanutsandstone.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Poetry: Island Winter

Fall is over
Frost is setting in
Clear sky or cloudy
Ice will be found in the morning

Alone
Quiet
No birds
No visitors

The ocean is colder
The beach is empty
A gull stands watch
On a beach wood wall

Solitude
Peace
Breath seen
Waves heard

…it is winter


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Poetry: Evening Walk


In an evening walk
I’ll calculate my next move
Coordinate my conversations
Consider the risks
Conceive inspiration

An evening walk will
Tidy my head
Warm my heart
Make my nose run

Red scarf flies like a flag
Of freedom and life
Wrapped around me
Coiled across my mouth
That’s speaking only fog

Under the street lights
I travel across time
The sidewalk is my path
Street signs guide me

The alleyway home
Lights the runway
Motion detection working
At every gate
In MOTION I am

Night walking

Monday, November 29, 2010

Spirit Walk


The other day I saw something that blew my mind away. An eighty year old man was walking across James Street to get to his car without looking to the left. Left was the direction I was traveling towards this man at 40 mph. His body was slanted and traveling steadily towards an older model Toyota parked on the opposite side of the road. He seemed determined to get there, crossing this busy street of four lane traffic but without looking at what was coming towards him from the north. I slowed down trying to anticipate his move- was he walking towards a car parked on the left side of the road, or what? YES- this skinny little man moved steadfast towards his car despite the traffic volume.

Really this was an act of suicide from my perspective. To just walk out into traffic without looking, huffing it full speed and determined that you would survive to reach your car- amazing! And that’s what he did thanks to my quick reactions. Strangely enough this act of determination reminded me of our neighbor’s dog Blackie.

Blackie was a cute little terrier that seemed to wag its whole back side when he came up to great you. I knew this dog. It was a part of my childhood for a good decade then one day it was gone. When I asked our neighbor about it he said that the dog had walked in front of a car and committed “doggie suicide.” He continued to tell me that they found it in the street dead. Apparently dogs will do this and that it's common –when they feel the end of their life is near they will simply go out on a walk and let fate take its toll.

Well, this eleven year old had never heard of that and somehow the story stuck in my mind like a permanent marker flagging it for future review… fast forward to 2010 and this man crossing the road… What’s up with this guy just leaping out into traffic reminding me of a little Scottish Terrier?! I don’t think he really just needed to get to his car, I think he was testing fate; this guy was on a spirit walk.

Carolos Castenada, a Spirit Walking expert says, "A path is only a path and there is no affront, to oneself or to others in leaving it if that is what your heart tells you to do. Look at each path closely. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself one question. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good, if it does not it is of no use."

What does that mean? It means that a man determined to walk across four lanes to his car, will do so regardless of the risk, AND he will do it again!

This is beautiful. I slowed down and let him pass watching in awe as the cars coming from the south slammed on their brakes to avoid the collision. Would I ever be so old or desperate that I would try such an act of bravery? It’s not the age it’s the attitude. I’m certain of it. God bless ‘em all that go on this "walk" every one! It’s harder than it looks. –and watching it is nerve racking!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Marlene Dietrich



Falling in love again. What am I to do? I can’t help it…


My affair with the voice of Marlene Dietrich came about during a rather monotonous trip to the music department at Barnes and Noble years ago. While casually going through the A to Z pop/rock stuff that took up half of the music section, I found myself glancing over at the other shelves, “What’s over there”, I wondered. Looking for unique music I wondered over. There was a strange section dedicated to classic actors who recorded albums. Putting on the headphones I scanned through names like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, getting a 30 second sampling of their musical talent. When I heard Marlene’s voice for the first time it struck a chord with me, and quickly became one of my favorite CD’s.

Marlene was born December 27, 1901 in Germany and rose to fame in the 1920’s performing at Berlin cabarets. Her deep contralto voice mesmerized audiences with its seductive undertones. Hemingway said “if she had nothing more than her voice, she could break your heart with it”. When Paramount Pictures picked her up in the 30’s she became one of the highest paid actresses of the era. Her singing and USO work during World War II earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Légion d'honneur from the French government.

Like most new found loves, I played that CD over and over. However, my family didn’t care for the art deco/cabaret era music like I did, so I had to find creative times and places to listen to it in peace. Whether at night with some red wine after everyone is asleep, or the early morning hours on real low, her music is like the perfect soundtrack for a particular mood that passes through me from time to time. While moving three months ago I re-found the old CD and again the chord is struck and my mood is put to rest.

Whether she is singing in English, German or French, you need no translator to understand what she is singing about. Her voice spins a web of emotion that drips off every syllable; new love, old love, love gained, heartache, and love gone to war, return unknown. Although the only thing we have in common is that we share the same birthday, it feels like we've been friends forever. What a great find!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Poetry: September Wind


Remember the old days around a camp fire when each person took turns adding to the story? Well, what if two friends did the same thing but in the form of a poem? My island friend Peter and I did just that over the past five days.
The results? Read for yourself:


S: The wind combed through the branches and low lying bushes to grab up the dead and recently fallen, blowing them around in whirlwinds.

P: As the ripened thistle does as the Buck dashes through the field in flight

S: Your words, old friend, effect me this way, removing the dross from my character. Your whispers like fire, your love as rays of life, bring a renewing with every caress

P: That brings completion to the unfinished works, of an unfinished mind, while soothing the unfinished soul,

S: Oh you have finished me, the plate is empty
Bread brushes along in circles absorbing any morsal that remains
I sit in front of an empty plate
Thinking back to our time in September

P: The world is ignorant, but awakening. Patience.

S: The world is closed and knows it's time is ending. Patience.


Thanks Peter!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Poetry: Sunset




Before the sun sets
On this tired old trunk
I hope to of lived
A life full of Sunshine

Friends, family
Laughter, joy
Hope discovered
Mysteries solved

How wonderful that time will be
When it is Time I think on
But only if Living was
What was done

The most beautiful Sunset viewed
Is one by eyes that have Cried
Fulfillments, contracts concluded
A slow fade to black…

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Privacy Hedge

One of the many benefits of living in a neighborhood is getting to meet and know your neighbors. I was fortunate this week to run into our neighbor who lives directly next door. She is a lovely lady perhaps in her 70’s or 80’s whose son also lives just three houses down from her. He comes by and helps her out from time to time with the household chores including yard work.

Yard work was what brought us together this particular afternoon. The sun was out and the weather good for gardening; not too cold, nor too hot. It was mid October the perfect time to get the yard ready for winter. My neighbor, whom I’ll call Mary, came right over for a nice little chat when she saw me come around the corner into the side yard between our homes. I was dressed in my gardening attire: grubby pants, long sleeve shirt, gloves on, clippers in hand. She was sitting at her breakfast table, sipping on something, when our eyes met. Mary stood up, made a motion with her hands that she was coming out to greet me.

We stood there on the lawn, and got to know one another. Mary has lived in her home for over 50 years. She knew the original owners of the home I’m living in, AND knew about what was planted where and why. This information I found helpful, because there were a few odd looking bushes that I honestly couldn't identify. In addition to her extensive memory regarding the plants in my yard, she also had a strong opinion about the person who planted them, the former owner whom I will call Nancy.

Mary gave me the five cent tour of my yard:

“These are volunteers of some ugly bush Nancy planted. Those ugly things there, and there. They just won’t die. You’ll be OK to just pull ‘em out. Pull ‘em up good or they’ll come back!”

“Now these are nice. I have of those in my yard as well. That’s a good bush.”

“The trees. Do you see those two large trees along the fence there? Well as you can see they are so high, never been trimmed, they reach into the power line. MY power line. One year there was a wind storm and a power line fell. The firemen said they couldn't figure out HOW my house DID NOT burn to the ground! But the trees have never been trimmed regardless.”

50 years of pent-up plant aggression was unfolding before me! The corners of my mouth curled a bit thinking of Mary and Nancy talking to each other both hating each other’s yard, perhaps secretly, or perhaps not so secretly. Thinking I was doing Mary a favor I continued to walk with her through my yard just to see what she would say next. “Let it all out Mary” I thought to myself, “You've kept that in for fifty years! Get it out! I don’t know Nancy so you’re in a safe place.”



Then we came around to the enormous evergreen that consumes a fourth of my back yard. At one time perhaps it was an accent shrub that helped balance the yard between the rhododendrons to the left and the shed on the right. It is the oldest and largest shrub I have ever seen. It is hard to identify in its colossal form, perhaps a juniper, which typically grow 6 feet max. This bush however is over 15 feet high and over twenty feet in diameter. The trunk is 4 feet wide with many arms branching off of it, making a nice fort for my nephews. You get the sense that it’s the dinosaur of shrubs when next to it. As if staring into the back side you may find a portal through time.

“So Mary, what’s up with this massive evergreen here? This house was built over 80 years ago- seems like this bush could have been the first thing they planted.”

“Oh when Nancy and her sisters lived here, they wanted that shrub. Said it gave them privacy. Needs to be cut down if you ask me.”

I WAS asking and I agreed. A tree doctor needs to get in there. The branches towards the bottom are so heavy they are growing into the ground and rotting!

She shook her head, “Whatever made them think that ONE shrub could give them privacy? And from what? There’s nothing back here.”

The large evergreen grew to be wider than the shed, which doubles as a one-car garage, it stood in front of. When looking out the back porch window, the shed cannot be seen due to this mutant sized evergreen. But her comment got me thinking.


The Walls Between Us
We all value our privacy, and need buffers physical or not between relationships. When we go to the bank, we do business behind a counter. At work we may have a desk or a table between us and our co-workers or customers. In a taxi cab Plexiglas separates the two parties of driver and passenger. We need buffers, hedges when we interact with others. It seems to be a part of our society that is a comfort. If there are no buffers during a transaction, just a hand shake for example, we may feel like we participated in something unofficial or illegal.

Mary couldn't see the benefit of the shrub, but Nancy and her sisters could. The overgrown mammoth stood guard and kept them safer in a world of unknown dangers. And besides… whose yard was it anyways?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Poetry: Ghostly Eyes

Waking up always
Same time on the clock
Walk through my house
Lines on an unchanging track

I see you
A solid mass
Your feet touch the ground
grasp the earth

My specter form floats by
Unperceived by the blind
Ignored by the angry
Forgotten by the busy

I remember what living was like

I see you all
From my ghostly eyes
Orbs of mist
And compromise




Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cast Iron


September has brought many changes into my life. I’ve moved in with my brother who lives in Bellingham’s wonderful Broadway Park neighborhood, in my search for work. It’s a temporary situation that I secretly hope will last longer than expected because I’m falling in love with the area! Visiting with my nephews, all three under the age of ten, is also invigorating! Children bring out a young energy in us that as adults we too often neglect. Their sweet smiles and giggles warm up my bones!

Living with family members also tends to bring up some nostalgic feelings. During my first morning at my brother’s house, walking into his kitchen, my eyes immediately noticed the two beautiful cast iron skillets sitting inside of one another on his stove. They were black, bumpy and well seasoned. Many of my family members keep well seasoned cast iron skillets in their kitchens. Seeing the skillets reminded me of a evening from my childhood. Sitting on a kitchen stool watching “the adults” clean up after Thanksgiving dinner, talking and joking with each other in good holiday merriment. However, when it came time to season the cast iron the conversation got heated:

“It's OK to use a little hot water and soap to clean it now and then. Sometimes I give mine a salt n’ herb rub with some cooking oil.”

“NO! Water should never touch the skillet. Rubbed with olive oil on a paper towel while it’s still hot, inside and out. That is all it needs!”

“I use only bacon grease to season my skillets. It’s the only way. Sometimes I’ll heat up water in the pan while it’s still on the stove to get off any stubborn stuck-ons before I rub ‘em.”

Because it was my Aunt Joann's kitchen the skillets were seasoned per her method: an olive oil rub with a paper towel.

Cast iron skillets have several attributes that have caused them to be a favorite in many home and professional kitchens. When properly seasoned and maintained they have a natural non-stick coating, enhance the flavor of the food and last over a hundred years. It’s not too uncommon to find them in antique stores, although smart buyers snatch them up quickly. Talking with the owner of the store and asking to be on a call back list if a skillet comes in is one way to insure you get one.

For the past three weeks I’ve used his skillets to make many different dishes: scrambled eggs, beef stir fry, and caramelizing garlic and onions for spaghetti. “Man I love this skillet!” I thought to myself. However, I never purchased my own skillet. While wondering WHY I never purchased one, it hit me- people are seasoned skillets. You can’t deny the fact that life does season us up.

Life experiences good and bad have seasoned my mind and spirit so that when the trials of life come by I’m able to sauté them up processing them properly, the bad “stuck-ons” no longer sticking to my consciousness, following me around like a constant reminder of failure or shortcomings, the good left over flavor sinking into the pores of my very being. Just how my relative’s each have a custom way of seasoning their cookware, so do we season our hearts and minds. No matter what process we use preventing RUST is the main purpose of our efforts. Rust, given sufficient time, oxygen and water will convert any iron mass entirely to rust and disintegrate it. The toughest of metals iron and steel can get corroded. Rust in our heart can make us cold and callus.

During this time of transition I will try to keep myself “well seasoned”. Perhaps that means taking a good walk, having some quiet time with a book, or attending a play. Wiping off the day’s events with a good olive oil rub, preparing my mind for what’s to come.

***

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Poetry: Droplet


Sitting with a warm cup
sipping down the chamomile
looking up in awe
at the droplets fall

Abstract cutouts of dark trees
create the stage
so I can view you
descending from a silvery cloud

What of that one drop?
Where were you born?
You came from the sky
riding on a morning storm

Where do you live?
You go into the earth
watering a tree
Do you live in the tree?

Where is your home?
In the river as it
slithers back into the ocean
Do you live in the river?

Evaporated by the suns warmth
shrinking you down to mist
floating up to heaven
Are you dying or going home?

Back to the cloud you go
rising up and reborn
only to fall again
when a rain drop you become

Where do you live rain drop?
in the cloud
in the tree
in the river
...in me.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cell Division


Cell Division is an important part of life, literately, and it’s also a great name for a rock band. Every living thing is made from cells. Cell division is the process that cells go through in order to divide; division equals growth and LIFE. Sounds repetitive but rather simple, no pun intended.


Currently I am going through a cell division of my own. I’m not gaining weight, but rather experiencing growth of the cognitive kind. The little creative cells inside my id and imagination are growing and bubbling with life- to the point of division. It’s not that much different than giving birth. In the case of babies of course it takes TWO people to make one. In regards to the creative process, ONE person creates, creates and creates some more! Duplicating themselves into their medium whatever it may be. When an artist is not creating they are thinking about creating; it’s a love affair of sorts.

Each and every cell in your body contains a complete set of DNA, the double helix. Our bodies are just a collection of cells. “All DNA here on this planet is exactly the same, just put together differently. All life is not far removed from itself.” to quote my husband Christopher the Ecologist.

Cells may divide for several reasons, and there are two types of cell division depending on the purpose. The cell division associated with sexual reproduction is one type, called meiosis. The other type, the cell division associated with growth and cell replacement or repair, is called mitosis. In both types of cell division, the nucleus splits and DNA is replicated. Think about that moment, that moment right before division. Life bursting and bubbling up inside you, the cell, frothing out copies of bits of your DNA, until the fully cloned strand is complete, and then BOOM! Your brush hits the canvas; you type a word, or sing a note! Creativity is born!

Yellow Brick Road
In addition to dividing I’m also traveling; moving away from my Madrona Grove and into the medium size city by the bay that is Bellingham. Hopefully the ever powerful “luvs” that I get from my Madronas will be with me as I travel, much like the way the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Lion traveled with Dorothy on her venture to OZ. Will the love from the island help and encourage me while I travel into the unknown lands of lighted intersections and malls? Will the resident orca families remind me that it’s not ok to mix jeans with skirts, as so many B’ham women do? “Keep it simple, Shannon!” they might shout out to me as they swim away in their black and white attire. Will the Island Rock that I love so much help me to stand off the urge to have an affair with my yoga instructor or the McDonald’s drive through?
 …sigh… A new world full of new temptations and opportunities.


They say the first step is the hardest. Why? Because it usually involves a life changing decision. Change is stressful and a bit scary. I say the first step is the most exciting part of any venture. Taking a step, making a commitment, moving forward using all your breath, to steal a phrase, is refreshing. It is what life is all about- life is cell division!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Vicarious Vacation


The phrase “summer job” leads most people to picture a student making pizzas or serving burgers during the long three months off from school. If you live on an island it has a completely different meaning to a whole other demographic. A summer job(s) here is what the working class or retired folks do to make some extra money. Storing up cash for the economically slow months riddled with higher heating bills and expensive gift giving holidays, people in small tourist towns act much like ants gathering up food for the long winter. Jumping on an opportunity to help a friend with their tree pruning business, or ironing sheets for the Bed n’ Breakfast down the street are good ways to supplement your income. Being opportunistic is apart of island living.

Since I’ve moved to the island I have been fortunate to have summer job(s) that fill the week. I say fortunate because since the winter of 2008 one out of ten people in Washington State are unemployed. This summer I’m averaging 90 hours a paycheck and as expected, I find it difficult to do anything BUT work.

Writing has been pushed to the side, so has cleaning the house, and appointments are being moved into September. Instead of working on articles or my book, I am writing only poetry. My poetry however has not been of posting quality, but rewarding just the same. I write about how much my body aches, the way the sun shines through the trees, and about how angry I was at the moon; the crazy ramblings of an overworked woman to be sure. I DO think about my storylines, usually in the morning. Something will set it off. I’ll see an object or hear a phrase that ignites my imagination; it’s another refreshing creative escape, even if it only last a couple of minutes or so.

Until September rolls around I’ll just live my vacation vicariously through the other tourist. As I shuttle around the grounds of the resort where I work I pass and interact with all types of tourist. Three skinny boys in their tweens, bundled up in towels, dripping wet returning from a long swim in the lake. Seemingly numb to walking barefoot on gravel road, their only focus being “What’s next?” Planning up all sorts of things to do, see and eat. My feet hurt watching them walk on the gravel, but their excitement was contagious. Another day a sleepy couple, still in their flannels, come in for coffee and share with me about their wonderful yesterday of sight seeing, the super pod of orcas off shore, the kayaking, the hike. Just listening about their day tired me out! What a day!

Later that week I met up with a friend for coffee. She was as exhausted as I was but from friends and family visiting her. In one months time she had five visits, each time taking folks around the island, cooking, cleaning, and going out for dinner, seeing movies, then repeating it all over again with the next group. “It’s wears ya out having a good time” she joked. We both sat there exhausted and thankful for a peaceful cup and visit in a quiet house. I swear for a second our sighs were synchronized. We were situationally at two different poles but exhausted just the same.

Too much fun!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Friendly Lot

Princess following me on my walk
In my new neighborhood, just up the hill is an empty lot. I discovered it one weekend while taking my cat for a walk. We have foxes in the area and she won’t go far from the home unless someone walks with her. It’s a mutual benefit, she gets to explore and I get some exercise.

The main access road winds its way up a ridge just a few miles outside of town. All of the homes are built off that road with long individual driveways and dense woods keeping any passerby, weather on foot or in car, from seeing the house. It’s more like walking through a thick forest, than a neighborhood, with the only exception being the trail is a two lane gravel road. On this street people want to be hidden from the world, tucked away in their own little paradise, behind a curtain of evergreens. Unlike the suburban neighborhood I had just moved from, where every house is out in the open for all to see, but, I suppose that’s the idea.

About a quarter mile into my walk I pass by four large gates, evenly spaced apart, guarding driveways leading to a neighbor I’ll probably never see, unless they too are walking on the gravel road. The fifth driveway, however, was completely different. Standing out like a sore thumb is an entrance to this abandon lot. No gate or house numbers, no drift wood sign with a family’s last name to mark it, just some long grass and wildflowers.

Princess checking out the neighborhood
When I first discovered the lot, I was hesitant to trespass on it. Being new to the “neighborhood” I didn’t want to start trouble. From the gravel road I could see there was a clearing at the top of it, and thought for sure there had to be a view that was worth the risk. After a quick look for a No Trespassing sign or perhaps security cameras, or another human being, I decided the cat HAD to take a quick look and I couldn’t let her go alone.

This lot is friendly and open; it almost begs to have visitors! Why is there no house here? I learned from a neighbor the history of it: the owners will never build a house on it because like many areas on the island, it has no water. After three attempts digging for a well they gave up and are left with a very expensive piece of picnic ground. It’s unfortunate for them, but fortunate for suburbanites who walk their cats, namely ME.

There is something about this piece of land that holds my imagination. Perhaps it’s the same feeling that the owners received, who ever they are, when they first stood on it. The sunlight reacts to the trees in a dramatic way here. Even the grass and the little wild flowers carpeting the ground just seem to sing in the rays. The land has a natural driveway bending slightly to the left, nice and level branching off the main road. Walking down the driveway, towards the middle of the lot you notice a generous round lump of what I call “Island Rock” protruding from the earth like a gigantic beauty mark. This is the obvious location for the house. From the top of the mound of rock, turning towards the west, you get a wonderful view of the island, the straight and the Olympic Mountains. The land takes a downward slop forward like a ski jump leveling out into a flat grassy field. Madronas lace the outside edges with there signature orange bark.

I can see a beautiful modern home sitting on the rock, with large windows to frame the trees and mountains. Specters of people fill the empty space, living in the home I build here in my imagination. Family gathering together in the dinning room, a couple sitting out on the deck, kids running around exploring the little groves made perfect for gnomes.

The cat rubs up against my leg and sits next to me, bringing me back to our world, our world, standing alone on someone else’s land. With a heavy sign I take in the mountain range across the water. Now whenever I feel restless and need to stretch my legs, I travel up my road to the friendly lot that I’m sure awaits my visit.

The Olympic Mountains

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Two-Tone

Sometime around 2004 I won a prize. My sales efforts for the year earned me a gift of one item from a catalog titled “Copper Tier Winners”. It basically meant I place third with hundreds of others within the nation wide company.

This was during a time in my life when I was working so hard with my head down and nose to the grinder, that to receive recognition caused confusion. I didn't need a gift, I needed a vacation! Not really paying attention to my progress but just working like a dog, the numbers came in, and by years end, I was a winner! 

Suffering from lack of sleep, long commute and a stressful work environment, I felt more cynical that elated. “Blood, sweat and tears and they give me a crappy watch. Oh well it’s better than nothing.”


IT'S DEAD
So, six years later, the battery dies. My new job requires me to work on a timed schedule in an environment with almost no clocks. After weeks of unsuccessfully trying to use the suns position as a guide, I decided it was time to get a new battery. So out of pure necessity I drove the three miles into town to fix this issue.

“How long will it take?”
“Come back tomorrow morning. It’ll be ready by then. Ten bucks total.”
“Great!”
That was in May.

Months later I called in to apologize and let them know I’d be in that week on my day off.
“What name is it under?” I told them.
“We don’t have a watch under that name. What kind of watch is it?”

I suddenly realized I didn't know the brand of the watch that I had been wearing for almost 6 years.
“Ummm it’s a two toned ladies watch, like a cheap Timex or a Seiko.”
“Nothing like that here.”
I left them my name and phone number in case they came across it.

Feeling hopeful this afternoon, I walked in to the jewelry store to meet with the assistant in person.
“It’s been a few days. Have you found it?”
“What kind is it again?”
“A ladies two tone watch.”
“Is it this one?” In the clerks hand was my watch!
“YES, that’s it!”
Then the lecture started, with a smile, but a lecture none the less “Now, this is not some cheap Timex or a Seiko, OK. This is an upper end Citizen. The difference of about $300.”
“Really?”
“Yes. You had us looking for cheap ol’ ladies Timex the whole time.” The owner walked over and added, “So we found the cheap Timex owner, eh?”

We all had a laugh and I thanked her for correcting me. After wearing the watch for 6 years, probably looking at the face ten times a day, I didn't remember the brand. To me the watch was a big joke.


The whole watch battery thing made me think back to that time. I thought about how hard that year was on me, “How’d I ever do it?” I wondered.

Seldom do we ever pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. Sometimes, many of us who are performance driven belittle even the smallest achievements. 

I’m glad I lost my crappy Timex; because today I picked up a Citizen!
I’m a winner!  (you can tell because I'm wearing a nice watch)



...and I still need a vacation.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Grape Pop


My husband, Christopher, has a wonderful story from his youth about a time he would have given anything for an ice cold grape pop. I was thinking about his little adventure while working outside in the sun the other day, myself needing to quench my thirst. It brought a smile to my face and wanted to share:

One summer while visiting his Grandma’s house outside of Burney California, he decided to go for a short hike up a large hill anchored on the back end of her property line. Grandma Conrad’s land was nicely positioned up against Shasta National Forest. The pine filled forest is beautiful with an easy to climb terrain. His “short hike” ended up being a four hour episode in dangerous 100 degree weather! In addition, thinking he’d only be out for about an hour, he brought no water with him.

When he tells the story he honestly wonders how he found his way back at all. He had suffered dehydration and got direction turned. A twelve year old hiking alone in the woods, with no water or map was a recipe for disaster. Lucky for him, Grandma had a beacon in her kitchen. Like a lighthouse safely guiding ships to harbor, her fridge was full of his favorite Crush grape pop. All he could think about was that chilled purple drink as he tromped through the pine needle and dust covered trails. The bottles called to him, guiding him home. He says he remembers just thinking about nothing but grape pop, to the point of saying the words out loud as he walked “Grape pop! Grape pop!” When he walked through Grandma’s door, he bypassed his worried family altogether, making a beeline for the fridge, downing two pops before answering any questions!

Of course there are many times in life when we get direction turned. Either due to poor planning or being in new territory, unknown elements stifling common sense. Keeping ourselves focused on the goal at hand can also be like a guide to our “grape pop”.

That day while riding back to the lodge for my next assignment, I had no immediate crises on hand except thirst. “Grape pop!” I said to myself, verbally illustrating the level of my thirst. Saying it perhaps in a delirious state of mind due to the hot sun, or just out of respect for a courageous little boy who found his way by keeping his eyes on a dream.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Poetry: Housekeeper

Housekeeper

People of all types
Come and go to my hotel
The same room will house
Many different lives

Some stay for less than eight hours
Others for days
Each time I reset the room
Removing the evidence of a life

I know them now when they walk in
Not by name or by hometown
I know them by their stains
The marks left behind, that I clean

For you I’ll find wine rings
Dried on the tables
Some spills on the sheets
Bottles in the garbage

For you I’ll find diapers
Filling both waste baskets
Spit-up on the bed cover
A travel crib I’ll have to take down

For you I’ll find almost nothing
You made your bed before leaving
Your shower was too quick to dirty
Changing the sheets I’ll find a sock

I clean the room
The same room
Over and over
I clean you away

Washing the tub
Scrubbing off the ring
Removing the hair
Wiping down the mirror

Dusting the room
Making the bed
Vacuuming it all away
You are gone



***




Saturday, June 26, 2010

Abigail, the Short Story


In honor of my dad’s birthday I submitted a 72 page short story, “Abigail”, to the magazine Asimov’s Science Fiction. Isaac Asimov was one of his favorite
sci-fi writers. A small segment of the story is posted below.
Love you dad, rest in peace-

"One of the monitors detecting brain activity jumps up and down, setting off an alarm in Dean’s bedroom. The Doctor went to sleep just three hours prior, wearing nothing but his boxers and a t-shirt, his white lab jacket thrown over a chair. For five days now he kept a vigil at Abigail’s bed side, seeing to every detail regarding her recovery. It was after all HIS discovery. He wanted to be the one to revive her, to talk to her, and welcome her into the new world. Dean set up an office at the lab two doors down from the revival room, with a small bed and brought over some clothes. He and his assistants were not allowed to leave the lab. Ray had to be sent out to get some sensitive items that could not be beamed or generated in just the other day. “Hopefully he kept his contract of confidentiality in mind.” Dean thought, as he ran down the hall, white jacket in hand, “It’s the moment of truth…”


The doctor was thoughtful enough to redesign one of the lab rooms into an apartment for her. Hopefully it would help Abigail adjust to waking up in what is to her the year 5096. He brought up some of the paintings and furniture he found in the storage area of the underground vault; assuming of course that they were hers. He closed the shields on all the sections of the lab she would have access to so as to conceal the fact they were on a massive space station orbiting the Earth. He even had the simulator create clothes for her from some fabric and designs he found at the famous New York fabric warehouse site.

When he entered the control room positioned behind a two way wall made to look like a book shelf, he was shocked. Abigail was sitting up right and was in a daze. “Oh my God is there brain damage?” he wondered.

Pushing an intercom button he announced “Boys get over to the observation room now- she’s awake”

The twins rushed in, and were also speechless. For more than five days with little sleep, seeing their subject awake and walking was like a dream. “Is it real? Could it be she is alive?” Ray thought.

“Boys we are witnessing a miracle. She’s been revived! Now we need to pray her mind is still in one piece. The psychology of waking someone after all those years…” Dean didn’t want to continue his sentence; the words seemed too heavy to leave his mouth. He was prepared to interact with her. Rehearsing in his mind all week, since he first saw her, what he would say and how he would say it. Three pair of eyes watched her as she explored the surroundings.

“Look she seems to recognize the paintings. That’s a good sign.”

Abigail came around to the bookcase and reached out to touch a book. The vibration of the field tingling her down her arm. Compelled to join her, Dean got up and touched the shield on the opposite side of her hand. For a moment he could feel her.

“I’m going in. Set the visual document device on.”

“It’s been on.”

“Good. I’m going in.”

“You said that already.” Ray couldn't’t help himself. It was strange enough to see the doctor in his boxers much less around a pretty woman.

The doctor looked at Ray. “I know I just said that.”

“Sir, you need some pants.” Jay, always the helpful one.

“Yes I do. I need pants.”


...oh my goodness! What will happen next? Does Abigail have brain damage? Did Ray keep the secret? Will the doctor find his pants?
Hopefully by Fall 2010 you'll be able to read the whole story in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Frizz Control

The other day there was a rare moment at the local grocery store; both my teen-aged daughter and I were choosing a shampoo at the same time. My daughter has short, wavy, hair that she can wear straight or natural. I on the other hand have longer, naturally curly, thick hair that tends to be on the dry side. On this particular day we both were out of shampoo and thought to find one brand that would work for both of us. This proved to take longer than I could have ever imagined. How could we choose the right shampoo for our hair?

If you haven't noticed there is a new retail trend on the shelves called "customizing". The manufacturer makes a wide "performing" range of the same product with hopes of snagging customer brand loyalty, under the false content that they produced exactly what you needed. Making the same product seem “new and exciting” continually sounds exhausting to me, but that’s exactly what’s happening! It’s important to know, when it comes to shampoo that there are only four basic shampoo types: deep cleansing, conditioning, baby, and anti-dandruff. Despite this the manufacturers continue to display the illusion that there are MANY different shampoos. This style of marketing is also found in products such as skin care, make up, lotion and toothpaste.

We are both on a budget and decided to choose a brand that was on sale. A brand line we both like was, so we started to choose a set of shampoo and conditioner from the rainbow display of bottles, lined up like couples in a wedding greeting line. There were eight sets of bottles! When did buying shampoo get so complicated?

As we scanned down the line we discussed openly if that product would work for both heads of hair. To keep it simple we went down the shelf left to right. The conversation went something like this: “Color Treated Hair”, NO, neither of us had colored our hair recently, next- “Straight Out”, NO my daughter straightens hers I wear my natural, next- “Curl Up”, NO same reasons, reverse heads, “For Gray Hair”, no comment, “Big Body” neither of us needed to add any more fluff to our hair, next- “Deep Conditioning” in the dry, cold months this one works great but it was June, next- “Frizz Control”, our eyes met, “Could this be the one?” We thought. YES! We had an accord. Frizz Control worked great for both of us. Mission accomplished!

The art of shopping is often compared to the “gather” side of our human instincts, but that afternoon I felt more like a “hunter”. In the end we found a shampoo that met both of our needs and no more frizzies, at least until the bottle runs out. Remember the four basic types of shampoo, feel your hair and decide for yourself. Don't forget to change up your shampoo type once a month to avoid build up. When your hair looks good you feel good, and feeling good is worth spending a few moments reading labels.
Somewhere over the rainbow, is the perfect, specially made JUST-FOR-YOU shampoo, go get it!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Poetry: Blue Orange Green

Groves of madrona trees
Set up against the blue sky
Amongst other northwest evergreens
Moss dripping from your branches
Sways in the breeze

The orange bark peeling down your arms
Shinning green leaves
Open, basking in the sun
Blue, orange, green

Palo Verde tree giving shade
Placed in this orange desert by giants
Blue sky means no rain today in the southwest
Branches reach out like an umbrella
Dust Devils dance with joy

Green bark smooth and knotty
Needle shaped leaves move like
Ladies fanning themselves cool
Blue, orange, green

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bird Brain


There is a celebrated free concert available to anyone who lives near trees. Songbirds create a relaxing atmosphere, a symphony of background noise that only nature itself could conduct. The soothing effects are almost immediate; a lower heart beat, a happier disposition, and a smile on your face.

In the winter my yard is quiet, almost too quiet. I’ll find that I tend to turn on music or hum more during those dark months. Perhaps I hum more because I miss the sound of constant summer songs that seem to emanate from the trees themselves? Humans sing to their children, with each other, and to themselves much like birds do. Is there a correlation between the bird’s brain and ours?

Studies of the mockingbird have shown that there could be. Ornithologists have found that mockingbird species living in unpredictable climates, such as a desert, tend have more elaborate songs than those living in more stable climates. Songs are used to attract mates; a mockingbird has the unique ability to create, copy and “make up” variations of songs. It’s believed the female may choose a male based on the differences in his song, interpreting it as a sign of strength and intelligence. This is highly relevant to human behavior because some believe there is a connection between the development of the bird’s brain and our own. Human displays of language, the arts and music might have evolved through a similar process.

As I was considering the social pressures that might have caused the mockingbird to over perform, somehow my “bird brain” made the connection with humans surviving in unpredictable climates, and the artistic outcomes of those experiences. My mind wondered through the planets “hot spots” marveling at Russian painters, Polish pottery, hand painted beads of Ghana, and the woven fabrics of Peru. Just like I would sing to myself more often in the winter, the cultures that live in harsh conditions tend to have a more colorful lifestyle. Different levels of expression, but expression none the less.

Living in the desert city of Tucson, Arizona for example, I loved the painted freeways. What an unexpected surprise! Instead of a drab cement grey the corridors are painted pleasant colors of purple, peach, yellow, red and green. I also noticed a breath of life in the talavera pottery, jewelry, traditional clothing, and home décor. Could cultures that developed in unpredictable climates develop a richer more colorful environment? It seems that way. This summer I view the song birds with a new eye and ear. Is that a flock of Chickadees in the tree or a mariachi band? Either way it’s the sound of life!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The 48th Parallel

Living on the 48th parallel has some good attributes. You experience four seasons. However winter on the West coast involves more rain, the Midwest and East coast receives more snow. I believe it is one of the most beautiful stretches of the United States.

The 45th Parallel is a line which designates the longitudinal halfway point between the earth's equator and the North Pole. So those living on the 48th are just that much closer to the frosty tip of our planet.


One other attribute of living north of the 45th are the long days of sunlight during the summer months; sun rises around 5am and sets around 9:30-10. By Independence Day, July 4th it will not get dark until 11:30. This can make staying up for a firework show like staying up for New Years! Don’t get me wrong, normally I love sunlight. The other day, however, I was not liking it in any way what so ever.

Going to bed at 8:00p.m. is a new goal of mine. It allows me to get a good night sleep and rise up early to write in the morning, my most productive time of the day. Last night, I lay on my back looking up at my bedroom skylight. I was ready for bed, but sunshine was still streaming through the skylight, seemingly, directly into my eyes. Wondering how fashionable it would be to put tin foil over a skylight, I started to assemble my blankets into a teepee-like shape around my face to help shield the light.

View from my deck in the afternoon
As I fussed over the construction of my “blanket shade” I remembered there was a time when I had wished for a skylight in my bedroom, and now I have one. My mind kept up this train of thought and like checking off a grocery wish list I started to remember “things” I wanted that I now have. As I went down the list I realized there was a catch with each one; a positive and a negative. Always wanted a deep soaking tub, have one, but it is dark purple. Always wanted a grey slate floor, have one but it’s only in the bathroom, always wanted to live in the San Juan Islands, I’m here but the small town politics and water issues are equal to the island’s beauty, (incredible!), always wanted to work outside, I do now at a fantastic place, but it’s seasonal.

Examining the yin and yang of each wish didn’t cause a pity party, but a moment of reflection. It was interesting to see HOW something I desired materialized, the ITEMS wished for and WHY. With this in mind I’ve come up with a new wish list; a little experiment if you will: a wish for my career, health, family, friends, and the world. It will be interesting to see what comes of it. Number one on my list: shades for the skylights.

Sunset from the deck.
Good night all!



Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It’s the Little Things

A couple of months ago my young-adult son asked us if he could stay with us for a few months during a transition. He was going from “A” to “B” and needed a place to live just for a few months; of course we said “Yes”. He is our oldest and the first to leave the nest. It’s been wonderful to have all four of us under the same roof again. During his stay he has helped out with food and cleaning the house to lessen to the burden of his visit. We raised him well. *face glowing with pride*


However, After about two weeks of his stay I was starting to notice little signs, little clues into a past life that I had so quickly forgotten. Cleaning the bathroom one Saturday morning, I noticed that there was an empty roll of toilet paper on the holder. Now, mom’s everywhere know that there is no place on this beautiful planet, no matter how wonderful your kids and husbands may be, where we can escape from this sight: a lonely brown tube of cardboard with just the smallest piece of white tissue dangling down, the glue that held the roll together now exposed and vulnerable. A little sad really. Without blinking I went to the linen closet to find a replacement. Looking, looking, looking…
“Hey did someone move the toilet paper?” Odd looks are all I get in return. “Where’s the toilet paper?”
My daughter walks by, “Do you have it in your room?”
“WHY would I have toilet paper in my room, mom?”
“I don’t know that’s why I asked.”

Somehow, four times quicker than I could account for, we blazed through our toilet paper. Having that one extra person in the home made a big difference on the little items we all used in our daily lives. I would blink and *bam* out of toothpaste, blink- out of laundry detergent, blink- out of milk, blink- the car’s out of gas. My lord, I need to stop blinking!

My son had been gone a few years and honestly I had forgotten what it took -material wise- to keep a family of four going. On top of having to buy our toiletries in bulk again, I also started to get the big family packs of meat, rice and vegetables. Then it hit me, like a ton of bricks: groceries are freakin’ expensive! I knew this of course, but had forgotten how expensive it was to buy groceries for our whole family. The weekday meals were a little easier because everyone is out and about; the weekends meant breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner for four people for two days. Can you say crock pot? It’s been an eye opening experience to say the least.

Soon it will be down to just the three of us, and by summers end it will be only my husband and I. I’m wondering how our grocery shopping will change. Will I still buy in bulk? Will there be a 42 pack of toilet paper sitting in my closet for a month, collecting dust? As my kids enter and re-enter the world change is certain for them; exciting wonderful change! For me, it’ll mean more hot water, more gas in my tank, and… dusty toilet paper.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Poetry: Lookout


Fields of flowers
Rolling green hills
Sitting, wind at my back
In the distance ships sail

Snow capped Olympics
Needle tipped trees
Moss covered rocks
I spy a brown fox
In the a field of brown grass
Zig Zagging in sync with a rabbit

The other side deer
Emerge from the forest
Out in the open now
Gathering together for diner

The sun, the warm setting sun
Soon your heat will leave us
Yellow, deep orange, getting lower
Shadows stretching

At the Robert’s Redoubt sitting
Atop my lookout
I do just that
I lookout and see
I see and hear
The waves, the eagle,
The wind, the distant voices

Another day is ending
Leaving the promise of a fresh one
Today it is called “tomorrow”
“Today”- I will not forget you!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mom's Holiday Ham


OK, true story:

One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is her first time hosting a family dinner. Her mom is helping her with the ham. The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?” “Well,” answered the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.” “Why?”, asks the daughter. “I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”
They call the girls grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?” “Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother always cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”
The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the girl’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family. “G.G. I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn’t fit into my oven!”

Lesson:
It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, so that you don’t waste any ham. ;)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Gift



About eight years ago someone gifted me a bottle of eau de parfum Chanel No. 5. I purchased a small bottle of it in my early twenties and quickly burned through it; it was my favorite fragrance. How wonderful to find this old friend again or perhaps it found me? With kids, a job, and a fluctuating income, purchasing a new bottle of expensive perfume was not on my grocery list for many years.

Chanel No. 5 has been on sale continuously since its conception in 1921. It is a world wide favorite of woman everywhere. It is expensive. Because it is so expensive, I use it only when necessary. I’ve owned the same bottle for almost eight years and still have ¾ of it left! It’s used for romantic dates, important job meetings, special get-togethers and the like. Now I wouldn’t want you to think I don’t get out much, but like I mentioned earlier it’s used ONLY when necessary! One spray and the fragrance stays with me most the day and makes me feel strong, feminine, classy & clean!

Marilyn Monroe
Chanel ad
Perfume plays an interesting part in my life. I’ve only three –four different
bottles of it at a time on my bathroom counter but each has a specific purpose. There are my light and fresh days when I just feel like a body spray, other days when a little fun Victoria Secret’s “Pink” is required, and then some days when I need, and I use that word accurately, I NEED to bring in the big guns; my Chanel.

Today, however, I surprised myself. Not going anywhere, sitting at home writing, doing some research, cleaning house, all in what I call my “ratty-tatties” ie: favorite ripped up jeans and an old sweatshirt; clothes I wouldn't even go grocery shopping in. After my shower this morning, I found myself reaching for that magical amber liquid, hopeful and with great expectations. Spraying some in front of me, walking through the mist, I felt like a knight putting on his armor. It’s become an old friend I thought as I reflected on the times I've used it.

Thank you Coco for making such a fabulous elixir! Yes it is a THING, it doesn't give me love, but for a little while, less than a blink in the whole scheme of things… I am happy and smelling good!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jokes About Writers



Some of my favorite jokes about writers
(because we're so weird)

How many screenwriters does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Ten.
1st draft. Hero changes light bulb.
2nd draft. Villain changes light bulb.
3rd draft. Hero stops villain from changing light bulb. Villain falls to death.
4th draft. Lose the light bulb.
5th draft. Light bulb back in. Fluorescent instead of tungsten.
6th draft. Villain breaks bulb, uses it to kill hero's mentor.
7th draft. Fluorescent not working. Back to tungsten.
8th draft. Hero forces villain to eat light bulb.
9th draft. Hero laments loss of light bulb. Doesn't change it.
10th draft. Hero changes light bulb.

****

How many science fiction writers does it take to change a light bulb?
Two, but it's actually the same person doing it. He went back in time and met himself in the doorway and then the first one sat on the other one's shoulder so that they were able to reach it. Then a major time paradox occurred and the entire room, light bulb, changer and all was blown out of existence. They co-existed in a parallel universe, though.

How many publishers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Three. One to screw it in. Two to hold down the author.

How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Two. One to screw it almost all the way in, and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

How many screenwriters does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Why does it *have* to be changed?

How many cover blurb writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A VAST AND TEEMING HORDE STRETCHING FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA!!!!

****

A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell.

She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.

"Oh my," said the writer. "Let me see heaven now."

A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.

"Wait a minute," said the writer. "This is just as bad as hell!"

"Oh no, it's not," replied an unseen voice. "Here, your work gets published."