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At Ian's Place - Part One, in which you may find a creature....

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At Ian's Place - Part One I got this house-sitting arrangement with Ian through a mutual. I live at his place when I'm in LA selling art and while he's on tour, which is usually. Like a hippie crash-pad with only two hippies, one at a time. I picked up his keys at one of Cosmo's parties; even then Ian was en route to the airport. "So you need my schedule? Should I email it?" I yelled a little over the music. I was super-thrilled about this arrangement, but the casualness and unknown variables perplexed me, especially in the middle of a party. Did my momma warn me about this? "Yeah, no, there's a guest room. Should be all made up, might be dusty." Ian seemed distracted, maybe feeling awkward, too. "That guy in the pink t-shirt is Jack. He's my manager. Get my address from him. Hey, take care, man, my ride's here. I gotta go. I like your boots." He handed me two keys, no keychain - one for a deadbolt, I assumed

Me-shaped hole* vs. Pandemic Exhaustion

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If my math is correct, and I'm not sure it is, I'm looking at four years since moving into my Tiny Cottage. Four years post-divorce. The years I've been alone are many more than that.  Through January of this year I was caught up in creative mania; just when I wasn't sure I could keep up the pace, we got locked down. Every aspect of my day changed into a new pattern I had to learn. Neuro-diverse people don't usually do well with change, especially when it's sudden and drastic and mandatory. Then there was that election that had all our hackles up, and now COVID-19 numbers are on the rise again . So much alone-time makes for so much introspection. More than ever, I'm cognizant of negative space, like that empty spot beside me where I'd thought a partner would reside. I understand that space - in fact, it's shaped like me. We take care of each other. I surprise me with flowers or rocks, sometimes make a good meal and don't trip if we eat it out of

The Bronze Star - A Posthumous Award to Alexander Curry Ewing, WWII Glider Pilot

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Family is a funny thing. For me, it's funny like a congealed salad mold, or maybe those tiny canned hot-dogs usually meant for babies. It's a novelty with dubious beginnings and we're not so sure we want to hand down the recipe. AC Ewing was my father's father. I remember meeting him once at his home in Kansas. He had two matching dogs and a dining room that was open at both ends. I remember being asked firmly to Go Sit Down, and stop going in circles like a train (which is what I was doing in my mind.) I remember leaving with the impression that AC and his second wife didn't like kids much. But this story really begins with my father. He took us to Oklahoma every summer to visit his grandparents, but not AC. He took us to Texas with his second wife, but ultimately lost custody. Eventually he severed ties with all of us, but I got his phone number through a genealogy contact. My dad asked me if any of his kids had graduated high school, and he sent me $50 for the ph

Forget the Bottleneck - John Timaeus on Amazon POD and other things...

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I recently had a conversation with ex-theatre board member John Timaeus about a lot of things. Adjunct to my role as blog editor at Igneus Press , I'd been researching publication fulfilment options and... Okay, I'm just gonna dive in and let you see how we ended up talking Linux , indie publishing, and cooking soup. JT:  This (pandemic) has been such a mind expanding time. It's been a PITA , but I think maybe we all needed the push to do something different. me: EXACTLY.  I've been frustrated with the big publishing bottleneck forever but not quite willing to go indie. New things are evolving and it's amazing to watch. JT:  Forget the bottleneck. Amazon self-publish works. me: It does, and yet it allows every level of quality through. Curation is still needed. I learned some stuff over the weekend. PAUSE: Turn the lights back on a minute. Let me tell you about The Author Encounter  and their #IndieAuthorDay, in which I learned about ISBN numbers; about how many edi

The Mechanic - a fable in six parts - Grand Finale

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Part One of The Mechanic begins here .  Against the side of the cabin leaned a pile of wood, once carefully stacked but now riddled with holes and falling to sawdust. Here is where the Designer found an axe, like the one in the OZ manual. He hefted it; there was an interesting balance to this tool. The Designer swung the chiseled edge against a tree, and it stuck there.  He pried loose the tool and found another tree, one that looked about to topple, and plied that with the axe until the tree fell to the ground. Then he cut the wood into similarly-sized portions and stacked them against the cabin.  The repetition of axing and stacking soothed him; it was nice to have a routine again. It was nice to create a routine for himself, rather than being handed a set of instructions, with no team members to monitor for glitches. A Manager? No, a Woodsman. A surge of energy welled up in him, the way he'd felt when his team had won awards. He decided to walk back to the road - to see with fr

The Best Birthday Gift Ever is a Story - guest post by Bill Goodell

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Songwriter  Bill Goodell is the originator of West Coast Folk Rock , meaning the genre title, and the owner of a Seagull 12-string guitar . Bill's also a fan of my blog, to the extent that he had a story for me. I'll tell it in his words. Sorry about all the caps, but it was my birthday and I was excited. Bill: Ok, I have a very odd*...but then that's why I think you might appreciate it...story for you. I'm sharing it in the spirit of a birthday gift, though it's certainly a paltry offering. I'll preface the long version with the short...I had a dream about you a few days ago...now for the longer, including back-story. Me: oh STORIES ARE THE BEST GIFTS! Bill: Back story...I used to go to Taiwan for two weeks every year on business, visiting about two dozen yacht makers. I learned a lot about the seedier, manufacturing areas of Taipei and Kaohsiung. One thing that stuck in my mind was that the concrete floors of some of the shops would be covered in purple stain

The Mechanic - a fable in six parts - Part Five

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The Mechanic begins Here . Rather than risk an accident, the Mechanic looked for other manuals to read when the sun came up. The best one was also archaic; it showed pictures of machines with parts that seemed impossible. This manual was labeled LEONARDO DA VINCI . The Mechanic found another manual of the same name, and this one took him aback. With his chest-plate lying on the worktable, and an  ubrrarnhil  sticking out of his midsection, the Mechanic sat on the padded bench to look more closely. This manual showed schematics similar to those he'd drawn in his manual, but the author of LEONARDO DA VINCI seemed to have disassembled a human . Each schematic was carefully drawn, parts at angles that surely would have been uncomfortable for the human. The Mechanic wondered if these humans had been put back together, and whether they functioned after disassembly. Maybe this was the purpose of drones , he thought. Maybe humans, when their glitches failed them, cannot be repaired. Ma

Cakes - a history of birthdays vs. mine, tomorrow, during pandemic

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Today, at the market, I almost cried at cakes. I circled the refrigerated single-slice section at the grocery store. I just wanted one slice, for celebrating my birthday. I didn't want to make my own, though I did that most of my life - traditional Angel-food, eggs separated; sculptured dragon made from a Bundt pan; doubled-inverted Bundt cakes dressed to look like a pumpkin. I was an ambitious baker in my teens.  I thought about a  multi-layer chocolate cake with thick, fudgy icing. But that's the Cake of Public Acceptance - the one you bring to potlucks. Everybody loves chocolate, and so do I, but no. I'm the only one at this party so I don't have to worry about impressing anybody. Red velvet  is the Cake of Sharing - I used to show up at my friend Meg's house with two red velvet cupcakes, because she liked the ones from the bakery near my house. But that's Meg's cake. German Chocolate - this is the Cake of Childhood Expectations, my mom's favorite; I

The Mechanic - A fable in six parts - Part Four

  Part Three can be found here . Inside the cabin, he found no sign of recent human or drone activity. A work table was in the center; that was familiar. The Mechanic's attention was drawn to other items inside the cabin, strange things that might give him a clue what it meant to be human. A device against the wall, a container of glass - did it pertain to human sustenance? A dark stain in the bottom like liquid settled into nothing. Storage cabinets at face-level held metal cans and cardboard boxes with their contents escaping through jagged holes. Cloth he knew to be  human coverings hung from pegs in the wall. In the corner he found a soft pad on a low bench -  is this where humans rest?  - with a manual lying on it.  A manual might bring comfort where everything is unknown , the Mechanic thought to himself. He lifted it carefully, in case it might fall apart. Its name was written large across the cover: THE WIZARD OF OZ The illustration on the cover of the manual included

The story of Debbie's Parking Spot vs. Bunty the Cat - an example of why I'm divorced.

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There are things you need to know before I proceed with this story: Bunty was a unique personality by cat standards. I was once gifted a sign that said  DEBBIE'S PARKING ONLY. All Others Will Be Towed.  We lived on the 2nd floor of a DC rowhouse converted to apartments. And my husband was a chronic liar. He lied about things there was no reason to lie about, like saying his parents were very tall. They were both taller than he, but in reality very average. He once avoided answering his phone for a week because he'd told people he was going to London for The Ashes test cricket series. He once kept me awake all night trying to convince me that his female friend wanted him to be a surrogate father but needed my permission. She did not appreciate being called at 3 AM to verify this shit. He was never happier than when he got someone all wound up. At the time of this event, I was house-sitting in Silver Spring and also working at the hotel in downtown DC. I'd stop by our house o

The Mechanic - A fable in six parts - Part Three

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Part Two is here .  "Meh, this bastard again. Ain't seen you in a while, eh?" Bits of oil-cooked particles sputtered out of the dirty human's mouth when he spoke -  this is how they feed themselves,  the drone surmised. "Hey, Yo, bring that chicken over here while I see what's wrong with'm. And my drink." The drone so badly wanted to shudder. The human called Yo came over, piece of chicken in hand, and peered into the drone's open interface. "Yer funny when you talk to 'em," said Yo with a giggle. "Ain't no ears nor any mouth. They mindless, them. Oops, I dropped a bone in there...you see it?" Yo let out a big laugh. "Lazy do-nothing!" The mechanic who had hold of the drone's faceplate was laughing, too. "Keep it up you're gonna be out there with'm. Fey that chicken bone - it won't hurt him none." And he put the protective plate back into place. Mindless! The drone was outrage

The Mechanic: an Interview via Facebook Messenger ***Spoiler [ REDACTED] Edition***

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skeletal crow I left in a parking space for no reason Thoughtful questions are the best, and they aren't easy to come by . These Thoughtful Questions came to me via Facebook, proving social media doesn't have to be evil. This interrogator has read The Mechanic in its entirety. He's a friend of my guitar player, and now a friend of mine. All three of us read the short story Exhalation by ****ing Ted Chiang, and you should, too. His book by the same title is exponentially mind-blowing. I have to keep putting it down because I can't take the heavy doses of reality. On the side, I'm editing Mel's amazing story Sum . I've been writing letters to her main character, and sometimes he writes me back. Her character and I discussed similarities between my little story and his. I have yet to meet Melinda Smith face-to-face, but we are friends and team members.  She fires my dopamine and oxytocin, too. This is not an endorsement of Facebook but a pulling-back of the

The Mechanic - A fable in six parts: Part Two

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Mussel-eaters ,  debora Ewing Part one is here.        The Shop operated overnight so the work chain wouldn't be interrupted.  M anagers rarely popped in to see what the mechanics were doing.  Thus, these humans didn't take steps to present themselves well. They were shaggy and disheveled; they were loud, and casual about their duties. While being casual was reprehensible from the perspective of work chain, the drone-to-become-mechanic found these humans fascinating to observe. "Yo, get me that hyperstereoscope...no, the other one," bellowed a mechanic who had a cigarette in his mouth and a tiny screwdriver stabbed into the drone's foot. Ashes fell between metal joints. "That can of air, too, heh. Thanks, Yo." Compressed air blew the ashes into the workspace - reprehensible by work chain terms. "Whaddaya think caused the glitch? You think he's trying to get out of work?" The other mechanic laughed at his own joke. "We better watch it o

The Mechanic - A fable in six parts - Part One

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In days long gone, which also could be called days of future yet unseen, a certain robot drone went missing from a local factory. News articles ran briefly on page four; people in coffeeshops and pubs speculated on who could have pulled off such a masterful theft, leaving no shred of evidence. These learned people agreed it must have been an inside job. The bot in question had a short file of maintenance issues: it was prone to falling out of sync, and sometimes Quality Assurance inspections found it to be missing some redundant part. Tech mechanics would either find a replacement for the lost hardware, or fashion one, or sometimes put the bot back together without the missing piece. Quality Assurance placed the mechanics on probation and ordered remedial training (if they were caught.) Eventually the missing drone's space in the work chain was filled with a newer model drone and an insurance claim was filed for the missing equipment. Page four went back to reporting power outages

If you miss me... Twitch vs. Live Guitar in my Studio

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Good News: One of the side-effects of social distancing is that we're learning internet savvy (hashtag amirite?) It's good for us old dogs to learn new tricks. Thanks to the DanFam™  I'm now visiting Twitch several times a week...     You: But that's a gamer thing... Me: Oh, but that's not all! Last night I watched @glassMoonman make glass pipes... I've been watching Dan Navarro live-stream from his living room on Saturdays. In an effort to convince myself that this is a gamer thing, I also found @Lauzeta Folk and visit them a few times a week for Garrotíns.  I also regularly leave @GuitarShreda practicing while I work - Twitch is a place where a lot of classical guitarists stream their practice. And then there's @JonComposer , who doesn't sing but composes live with his interactive audience. Right now I'm hanging out with @ThirdFretCapo  and it seems to be a holiday - everyone's gifting subscriptions to each other. I finally got what I wante

Yardwork Zen: Making Progress vs. Looking like Progress

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detail - The Typists - poison ivy lower left You take a few in-between moments to check social media,{current news/facebook rants/stats on Medium} to see if you're (still) relevant. It's readily-available dopamine. Over time, those stats equate to oxytocin synthesis if they continue to mount. I check my business email regularly while I seek a paycheck; I'm online to find editing clients, pimp out my illustration skills, work out logistics for another art exhibit. Between moments I tend the yard.  I'd do it anyway, but I'm compensated by a rent reduction and I am grateful. There's a lot of work that needs doing here. While the mower was out of commission, we received 2 weeks of rain and the grass got almost calf-high. I had to make several passes of incrementally closer shave to get it back to normal maintenance level. Some areas of the yard grew tall weeds, and these need to be taken back manually. I know there are boulders and stumps in those areas. And bees. I

Patreon vs. Learning to Read - A Trifecta.

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Sticky co-shenanigation by @but_I_tigress on Twitter I'm sinking in Blursday, y'all. I want to make the best use of my unemployed time; at the moment a lot of that is deprogramming from the last day job. I will be fresh and malleable by the time I find a new gig. I'm also trying to re-structure (because o-r-g-a-n-i-z-e is a scary word) the "projects" I hope will segue into respectable work: editing, painting, sculpting, writing poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. I've got a really big plate. Patreon is a great way to support artists if, as Diana Gonzalez says , you don't want or are unprepared to purchase their work. Going forward, my Patreon account will be family-friendly and focus on my creative endeavours. All the bullshit will be here .  Hey, mom! I'm learning to c-o-m-p-a-r-t-m-e-n-t-a-l-i-z-e. At least that's the direction I'm aiming the mower. All this juggling means my toggle is broken again; hence the blur. I know tha