Green's Hill-Amy Lane's Home - News

Saturday, July 31, 2010

And Some More Squishie...

So Mate took Squish and Zoomboy to the park and gymnastics while I was home, hosting the 'chat'. I always feel a little silly at those things--but there were around twenty visitors, and everyone was really sweet, so I think it went well. Anyway, when it was over, first I walked around the block barefoot (hard to explain, and I burned my tootsies, but it was very necessary for my life as an earthling as opposed to my life as a cyberbeing.)

Anyway, Squish was TUCKERED OUT--tuckered enough to be a whinging nightmare by around seven o'clock, so her dad decided to play hide and seek with her. It went something like this:

Dad: "Ready or not, here I come!"

Squish (loudly, from behind the pantry wall: "I'm hiding, Dad, come find me!"

Dad (shaking his head): Next time, Squish, howsabout you don't yell at me, and then I can find you, okay?

Squish; OKay. You seek. I'll hide. Go count.

Dad (after a suitable interval of him counting and Chicken and I getting Squish to hide under a blanket and in the corner with the stuffed animals in the living room): Ready or not, here I come!

Squish: I'm in here under the blanket, Daddy!

Chicken, Dad, and I: *laughing until we cough, cry, and wet our pants* Squishy! Next time, don't tell him where you're hiding!

Squish: Okay, Dad. Go count again.

Dad (after Chicken and I have directed Squish to sit placidly under the kitchen table as a good hiding place): Ready or not, here I come!

Squish: *sings loudly and tunelessly under the table* Daddy! How did you know where to find me!

Dad (putting face in hands): Squish, do you mind if we play another game?

Squish: It's okay, Daddy. This time you hide, and I'll seek. That'll be good, okay?

Dad: Sure. You go count and I'll go out and get a soda--I mean hide in the garage.

Squish (ten minutes of fruitless searching later): Daddy....

Anyway, it was high entertainment for the whole family. An hour later, we went looking for Squish and we found her: Asleep dead center in the middle of our bed, hands splayed out at her side and her legs spread, like a red-headed starfish.

Four year olds--there is NO vaccination for the cuteness.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Squishie Hat Trick

Okay-- this is me, doing publicity for, well, myself. (Thrilled? I thought so. Me too--pass that cyber-valium now, baby, I'm too charged for words!)

So this is Squishie, and that thing she's holding is NOT a hat. It is, in fact, a silk-ribbon purse I made for my daughter's friend's Quinceanara, but we haven't had a chance to give it to her yet.

Anyway, tomorrow (Saturday, July 31st) I'm doing a Facebook chat for Dreamspinner press at THIS LINK. from one to six EASTERN TIME.

Now, even though it's Facebook, I promise not to try to get you to do any farmville or mafia stuff, mostly because my farm is dead and my mafia is at peace. It's just gonna be me (under the Dreamspinner logo) chatting about me ('cause I'm vain like that) and the whole plethora of shit I've released in the last two months. There will even be a contest-- and that's where Squishie comes in.

Sadly, since it's DSP, there will be no yarn involved, but there might be some e-books. Three e-books, actually. As long as you have a DSP account, I'll be able to give away three of my own Dreamspinner Press releases--winners choice. All you have to do is participate in the chat, and we'll throw your name into the knitted purse (one entry per person, cause I am really math-disabled and counting multiple posts would make me crazier than I am already) and then I'll have Squish pull them out! (Okay--I realize that a random number generator might be less trouble and more legitimate, but I like the Squishie-hat trick myself. And lemme check... Squishie hat trick it is!)

Anyway, just to remind you what sorts of things I've done that you might not know about, I've got a link and a big long list. All of these e-books can be found at the Dreamspinner Website and I set that link to the page with my own books.

Now this contest includes my brand new release, Making Promises and my upcoming release, Bewitched by Bella's Brother as well as Truth in the Dark, Litha's Constant Whim, Raising the Stakes, Phonebook, or If I Must. It also includes Keeping Promise Rock.

It also includes talking with yours truly, although I can not promise to be more entertaining than a cat stoned on foot odor--but I can promise to be more entertaining than a sleeping dog emitting gas. (I have one of those and I know I'm much better company--I figure that's a safe bet.) Anyway--I hope to chat you there, and for my regulars whom I adore?

That purse Squish his holding is pretty cool, ain't it? Uh-hm. And Squish ain't bad either:-)

(Ariel wanted me to tell you that if you don't have a DSP account, all you need is an e-mail. Dreamspinner Press will not contact you unless you want their newsletter--which is awesome--and they will NEVER feed your name to a spam crapping alligator or any other list that's just as mean and disgusting, because they are a class act and they wouldn't do that to a reader. So anybody can enter--you just need to sign up to DSP to get your prize!)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Ins and Outs of White Trash Parenting

So yesterday, my friend and I took our children to Fairytale Town.

This is a little park/playground with fairy tale themed play places--Old Mother Hubbard's shoe (which is really a slide), Owl's house (which is really a slide), Old MacDonald's farm (which is a big barn with chickens, mice, a big tarantula... and a slide), a 'Crooked Mile' which is a raised maze-like pathway, fiberglass giant's feet, fiberglass pumpkins drawn by fiberglass horses, a real garden populated by real rabbits, the occasional real sheep, a real donkey named Eyeore, a pirate ship over a tetchy moat leading to a bamboo forest, and a room to eat your lunch in that's shaped like King Arthur's castle.

Now Fairytale Town is interesting in that kids grow out of it by about age five. Jenny's daughter, Flynn, and Zoomboy, are both six. Squish and Flynn's sister are both four. We had something of a conflict of interests-- Zoomboy and Flynn were running from thing to thing with the concentration of a coke-snorting weasels, and little sisters were trotting after them, whining about how they got left behind. All of this put a SERIOUS crimp in Jennys ability to work on her crocheted blanket (I was helping her with the instructions) and my ability to knit.

And then a wonderful thing happened.

Boredom set in.

Flynn grabbed a stick, Zoomboy did too, little sisters plural grabbed their own, and Fairytale town will never bee the same.

It was not safe. It was not "good parenting". It was not even "overly supervised."

But those kids... man, they ran from one side of the park to the other, and they were everyone from Captain Hook to the alligator, to Mr. Smee to Peter Pan. They hunted pandas in the bamboo forest and fought sword fights on the stage in the middle of the green. They called out things like "Alligators aport!" and "But I'm the captain!" "Well come ON captain--we're going to go catch some fish in the moat!" They tried to involve other children in their game, and the other children were like, "Why is this child telling me that he is the captain of this ship. Mother, everyone knows this is a toy and I get my turn!" and after I told them to leave the little boy alone, he didn't understand their game, my children said, "But he could play with us too!"

They took off, and the mother looked disdainfully at Jenny and I, who were knitting serenely through the chaos and calling out moderative things like, "Get out of the moat, Flynn!" and "Zoomboy, let Flynn lead the expedition through the swamp! It's her turn!" and, "Squish, wait for little sister--she wants to go find pandas too!"

Jenny and I returned the woman's look serenely, and I looked at my friend, my fellow writer, a survivor of the NHS wars, an animal rescuer, and one of the sweetest women I've ever been honored to know.

"Let's hear it for white trash parenting!" I said with a grin.

We fist bumped over it, and returned to our knitting.

I know, I know-- if the park had been more crowded, if our children had been more inclined to poke each other with sticks instead of waging Star Wars epic battles with them, if other children had been hurt in the ensuing adventures exploring, we would not have been so sanguine.

But as our little knot of kids went tearing across the green, staging new frontiers and taking over the world, I couldn't help but wonder if what they were doing wasn't what the little park was meant for in the first place.

Monday, July 26, 2010

OKay... if the video thing doesn't work...

(The video worked, but I apologize for the crap resolution. Squishy is the one waving at the camera--you can hear Zoomboy in the background going, "Squishy waved at me!" and Dad saying, "Yeah, now stop waving at her and let her dance!" or something close:-)

So while you watch that, I'll entertain you with the story of Ma and Pa Kettle go clubbing.

Okay-- I've made it abundantly clear that I am large. Not healthy large. Mama-is-a-Volkswagen large. And while I'm always on a quest to NOT be a Volkswagen, and have developed some habits that I hope may reduce me to, say, the size of a Mini-Cooper, I am not necessarily all excited about putting on my hot baby clothes and going clubbing.

But Mate took me anyway.

Mate's friends--who, aside from being AWESOME, are also YOUNG and PRETTY-- were celebrating the birthday of one of their own--a very sweet guy named Mike, who rented out the corner of this, like, premiere nightclub in Sacramento.

Mate was going to go alone. I made the little pouty face, and he said, "Well, you could COME!" but I didn't quite grasp the entire situation. The situation was, that I was going to be ten years older and a gazunga sizes bigger than everybody FOR A TWO BLOCK RADIUS!

I put on my sausage shirt (so called because it has an inner layer of tight webbing that acts as shrinkwrap to make me seem slightly less like a Volkswagen and more like a Mini-Cooper) and my fancy black pedal pushers and made up my face and we got our club on! (Okay-- we stopped to see Inception first--which I loved, mostly because it was an allegory for the group creative process and I go for that sort of shit.)

We got to where we were going, and I felt... well... let us just say, supremely out of my element. I was not big on clubbing when I was a size nine. (Back in the dark ages. Before dirt and dinosaurs. Mate as my witness--I SWEAR!) But two things happened to make me feel better about the whole thing.

A. Mate's friends arrived, and for some reason they love me, and I adore them, and when two guys were talking about running from the bulls at Pamplona I looked at the one guy's girlfriend (who was so uberhot and adorable that I might have fallen for her if I swung that way whatsoever) and said, "You know, I think girls have enough of things poking them around the ass. We just don't see the charm of getting on the street and doing it with a bunch of guys when death is involved." The fact that they laughed at that joke just confirmed that Mate's friends from work are TRULY his friends, and infinitely cooler than most of my friends from work. (Emphasis on MOST, but still!)

B. The only reason I had the courage to crack that joke and then dance with that big group of people was that Mate got me ROARING FUCKING DRUNK.

Now, I don't really get drunk a lot. There are a couple of reasons for this, some of which you know.

1. I'm weird enough already.
2. I don't like being out of control of my weirdness... it may take over a large corporation and I'm not ready for that sort of responsibility.
3. (And the most important one!) I always seem to get drunk in front of THE most unfortunate of people.

To witness? The time I went to a friend's house for a party (Mate drove) and came home three sheets to the wind. My grandmother was babysitting. I can barely remember the conversation I had with her when we got home, but I'm hoping she's gotten old enough to completely forget it. And that was MILD. Most of the time, (like the 7-10 times I've ever been intoxicated since I've started teaching!) I either run into students or run into a teacher who will report me to students. And man, that's just embarrassing. About ten years ago, right after Senior Project (which I was running at the time and had just built from the ground up at great cost to my health, sanity, and some relationships with my colleagues that it took me a while to repair) I went to a bar with my co-project coordinator and got shitfaced in the extreme. Falling off my stool drunk--so drunk, that I found myself staring earnestly into the eyes of a student who had come into the restaurant and saying, "I neber get sdrunk. Snever. Shwear. Thish ish shoooo out of chracterat for me. Swhear." Or something to that effect. And why, you might ask yourself, was a student in that bar/restaurant in the first place?

Oh yeah-- because half the senior class worked there that year, and it was payday. And yes. They ALL came in for their check.

But you know, I thought I was safe. I mean, I put on the sausage shirt, got the courage to go into that club where everyone was a size six (or smaller) and smiled nicely at the security guys with the ear pieces, who were nicer than nice to me, and smiled sweetly when I needed directions to the bathroom, to get by the drunk patrons in the way of the bathroom, or to get me another drink. I mean, it looked like the drinking gods were smiling on me, right? (Someone was--after about eight vodka and cranberries, *I* was certainly all smiles!)

So the party ended, and Mate guided me happily down the street, and there we were, standing at a crosswalk on the way to our car, when one of the bouncers from the club on THAT corner says, "Ms. Lane?"

I turn around blearily.


"Yeah! You remember me? You taught me Sophomore English!"

"Omigod, Josh! I still have that picture you drew for me--the one that said "Wingnut!"

"That's awesome--I remember you. You were great!"

We talked for the few seconds it took for the light to go, and then I got a hug, and the whole time I'm thinking, "Really? REALLY? WHAT ARE THE FUCKING ODDS?"

And then, to make matters weirder?

Apparently the time limit expired for fat chicks walking downtown unmolested, because someone actually MOOED at me as we got to our car. I giggled for the next ten minutes, and when Mate found his way to the freeway, he asked me what was so funny.

"Someone mooed at me!" I told him, and he was not pleased. I was.

"But seriously! It's two in the morning in the clubbing section of town. If these losers are MOOING at the fat chicks, odds are good I had a better night than they did!"

And I'm still convinced that's true!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Swear It To Be True

First of all, Making Promises will be available at midnight tonight-- WOOT!

And second of all--this is the part you'll have trouble believing...

I have ACTUALLY been too busy to blog!

Squish was performing in the fair (like her brother a couple of years ago and her sister for nearly ten years before her) so on Friday we took everybody to the State Fair. It was 104 degrees.

We slicked everyone up with SPF Flannel Shirt (which was not good enough for Mate--apparently he needs SPF Steel Plate--we shall remember that in the future) and took off for the dusty convection oven that is Cal Expo.

Parts of it were GRREEEAAATT! The animation display--GREAT! The room full of Guinea Pigs--GREAT! The dinosaur display--GREAT! The twenty foot dragon in the handcrafts exhibit--AWESOME! (Okay, there was knitwear there too, but frankly, most of the stuff you guys put out could dust most of the first prize stuff from California. We're not exactly the handcraft capital of the world.) So far, lots and lots of great. But, uhm, the two humping tortoises in the reptile display? (Yeah, you heard me.) HI-FUCKING-LARIOUS! No lie.

There we were, crossing the big bridge between the expo buildings, a jazz band playing below us and Squish just OWNING that jazz-dance-strut, and we happen to look down into the reptile display.

And there, for all the world to see, is tortoise porn. I swear, the expression on the do-ers face was just like that poor turtle in the youtube video, the one where he's humping the shoe? And there, up in his grill, are a zillion fair goers who want their pictures taken with the humping turtles. I hope it was worth it to the poor guy to get his quickie in, because, really? The whole affair lacked dignity. No lie.

The petting zoo was pretty awesome, and so was the 'corn box'-- a box of feed corn for the kids to play in like sand. It was especially nice because it was in the shade and I was a dork and wore my flip flops instead of my tennisshoes, so I was enjoying the sit down on the bale of hay before going to our ultimate destination:

Squish's performance on stage. (Of which we have no pictures, because Mate took all video. If I ever figure out how to post video, I'll show you!)

Poor Squish-- she looked hot, and uncomfortable, and generally puzzled. Much like her brother two years before, she couldn't quite seem to believe that the whole reason we'd taken her to the fair and let her pet the goats was really so we could throw her up on stage and let her wander around butt-lost.

I made it up to her--as soon as we picked her up, we greeted her with strawberry cream funnel cake, and TRUST ME, this is a food group that was developed especially for Squish. It made it all worthwhile.

On the way out, we actually went INSIDE the reptile tent and checked out the little snakes and the big snakes and the (now somnolent) tortoises, and the... oh gods... I can hardly say it. The BABY SNAKES!

SERIOUSLY-- they had a whole terrarium of little king snakes emerging from their clutch of eggs. I looked at the wriggling pink nightmares and tried to pull myself together. I mean, I could deal with the big yellow boa and the anacondas and the pythons-- I actually LIKE snakes--I think they're pretty cool. But when I was seventeen and my unbounded hair hung to my waist--in a two foot halo (dudes--not lying--it's a rabid squirrel unless I amputate it and sedate it with gel) my step brother tried to freak me out with a tiny red racer snake wrapped around his wrist. "Do you like my snake?" "Piss off!" "Do you like my snake?" "Yeah, if you'll get it away from my face!" "Do you like my snake?" "Seriously, Todd, where the hell did it go?"


So, as I'm watching the snake wriggle out of their little egg clutch, I'm trying not to have a 25 year cumulative attack of the fucking oogies, right?

The woman next to me was unimpressed. I try to share the weirdness, and she just looks at me. "Snakes are really not that scary." She said disdainfully. I look around for Mate, who will pat me on the shoulder and assure me that I'm not a big pussy when, out of the corner of my eye, I catch her husband.

He's having a full body creep-out-shudder, complete with the sound effect, "OOWWAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAA!!!"

His wife ignored him. I think the relationship is doomed on that basis alone--but it's none of my business. Mate patted my shoulder and said, "Yeah, I know. Creepy. Want to see the dinosaurs now?"

And we did.

We came home finally, tired, goofy, and hot and sticky--but I still don't know if Squish knows why we went. It's okay. I got to see humping tortoises and eat funnel cake and watch my goofy squishy little red head, up on stage, pink from the heat, looking at me and her father as though we'd lost our everlovin' minds.

Ah, the fair.

And that's a pretty long post--especially without pictures... so I'll save "Ma and Pa Kettle go clubbing" for the next post. Not quite as much to tell--but it's all sort of surreal, so, you know, you have that to look forward to.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bits and Pieces

And TODAY'S songworm is...

Now, for anyone wondering what makes my songworm hall of fame, it's usually anything that comes up on the iPod and I find myself singing out loud--for the next 24-36 hours. This one's special. It showed up on the iPod and Chicken and I started singing it together at the top of our lungs. *sniff* Good mother/daughter bonding, right there.

For the record, Chicken and I have a plan. In fifteen years, we're gonna grab my stepmom and Squish and go on an all-girl cruise. My stepmom's gonna play tennis and go rockclimbing, because at 75 she'll still be quite fit. Chicken and I will lounge on the deck with sweet alcoholic drinks and read every book we've wanted each other to read forever. Squish will be nineteen-- she'll be in the high roller's bar, finding a sugar daddy that she can A. outsmart, B. make richer, and C. who will support her in the manner which will require her to carry small dogs in purses. Right now, that seems to be her thing.

It's been a busy couple of days--I feel bad. Everybody who's used to me visiting the blog, I've been THINKING about visiting and commenting, but even though I've been at the computer, I've been proofing Bella and, just seeming to take care of business all day. I admit to being seized by the dragon, but that's been more of a luxury than the time suck, and I can't even put my finger on one thing that's got me busy! Just... stuff! Surfing the stock photo archives to help find a cover for Talker--that sucked up a couple of hours. (Not complaining-- also got to cruise a very lovely gallery of a talented artist and say, "Hey--I'd like to write a story to that!") Various and sundry stuff... frustrating stuff. Stuff like, we took pictures a month ago, and I have to pick them up, but I have NO EARTHLY REASON TO VISIT THAT WAL-MART EXCEPT FOR THE PICTURES! Stuff like, taking the kids to see a movie because they're driving me apeshit! Anyway-- busy stuff, and I hates it.

I miss my buddies!

So I'll probably be by tonight for a quick update, and in the meantime, I've got a couple of short-takes from my weird neck of the woods.

This starts with me--having one of those weird conversations with real people, when I'm ACTUALLY on the phone with Mate!

Me: "Omigod-- Big T, is that your KARATE UNIFORM?"

T: "Yeah, so?"

Me: "It's pink!"

Mate: "What's pink?"

Me: "T's gi!"

Mate: "T's what?" (You have to remember that we actually CALL T, 'T'--the only kid we don't call by the blogname is Zoomboy. But he's starting to request Zoomboy now, so, seriously-- tees jee... just sounded hella funny!)

T: "Pink is the new manly color."

Me: "Good. You're the man!"

Mate: "How pink is it?"

Me: "Easter egg pink. Squish has dresses less pink than that thing!"

Squish (from other room): "I HEAR YOU! STOP LAUGHING AT ME!"

Chicken: "We're not laughing at you! We're laughing at T's pink karate pajamas!"


And I don't remember much after that... I was laughing too hard. It's possible I lost consciousness for a second or two.

And Squish was overtired tonight. We got her a cheap toy at Wal-Mart (because I was in Wal-Mart, that's why) and it was (you guessed it!) a little stuffed dog in a tiny handbag. (She has lots of these toys. Something about a puppy in a purse just tickles her little squishy soul.) Anyway, she came out looking for it. I told her to look on the couch, and in her room, and... well.. whatever. And then, while she was aimlessly wandering, her brother taunted her with a juice box she couldn't open and the whole thing ended with her running to throw herself on the bed wailing, "ALL I WANT IS MY DOG IN A BAG!"

I found her dog, put her to bed, and thought seriously about putting that on a bumper sticker. I mean... damn. So random-- and yet so totally hilarious. Me likey.

And finally? I was giving Chicken a hug and I noticed an anomaly.

"Holy shit, Chicken-- are you holding your bra together with a "Swatch first!" button?"

"Yeah, mom. And good on you for knowing why that was there!"

Yeah. They're mine.

And finally? Bella's on the Coming Soon page. In case anyone wanted to read the blurb or anything...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Days...

And today's songworm is...

Okay-- what I really wanted to show you was the two minutes of video that Chicken took of Squish playing... but, alas, there is a degree of technical knowhow involved in downloading Chicken's camera that I am... well...

Shit. For someone who blogs and publishes e-books, I am frighteningly ignorant of the ways of technology.

Some days I despair of this...

Some days, I am acutely aware that, if I had any more technology at my fingertips, I would get no writing done or knitting or kid snuggling or book reading or protein/carbohydrate assimilation for consumption--and those of you proficient at that last one would know it as "cooking". Alas, I am not proficient, which is why, when Mate comes home he says, "Is there any food?" And not, "What's for dinner?"

It's summer--it's the good days of summer for me, and the crap days of summer for the kids. It's the days of, "I've got nothing to do except write and I like it that way!" for me, and the days of, "Oh for the sake of fly crap, can't we find a better way to spend our summer than this?" I'm thinking that tomorrow? We try the dollar theatre. It's crappy and sometimes it smells like pot, but, hey, it's a movie for, like four dollars, and it's in the mall--what's not to love?

Anyway-- obviously, sitting around and writing has left me (per usual) as the world's most boringest human, but I do have a "Squish list" of adorable things you may be interested in.

* At the ball game, Squish reached around her brother TWICE to mug me for my cell phone--it has plants vs. zombies on it, and girlfriend wanted to get her video game on.

* Tonight, I went to write something down for one of the mothers at Squish's dance class, and couldn't find my pen. I went out to the car, where I found it. In Squish's purse. You may remember, the little thing knit out of ribbon that stretches a lot and that she can't possibly go without? Yeah. Remember folks--she's four.

* When I read, Zoomboy is the one I have to make pay attention. Squish is the one asking questions like, "The kangaroo is unfairly prejudiced against Horton. Why is that mommy?"

* At the end of dance class, the kids have free dance. Part of this dance involves stuffed animals or barbie dolls. At the end of TODAY'S dance class, Squish was on the floor with three other girls, actively engaged in a tea party.

* Squish has gone up two shoe sizes in the last year.

* When Chicken was this age, she often got into fights with me or her father about what she wanted to wear. She was a "Mix your stripes with your polkadots and let the chips fall where they may unless I can wear my brother's hand-me-downs and then all bets are off," sort of dresser. Squish and I have the same fights, except, she's a, "Obviously this outfit does not go together and is inferior to the outfit I would have chosen, why can't you get your white trash ass away from the computer, dammit, and find my perfectly suitable black skirt which would to swimmingly with this magenta tunic, and we all know I look smashing in magenta, but not fuschia!" sort of fight.

Uhm, I have to say that while the result of the fights with Squish are both charming and fashionable, I don't recall the fights with Chicken resulting in quite as much of an inferiority complex. Just sayin'.

But that brings me to my closing statement. I've got to find an outfit for tomorrow--we're going to the dollar theatre to see "How to Train Your Dragon!" and I hate to think of poor Squish, forced to endure the matinee with an embarrassing parent wearing an oversized T-shirt and gym shorts.

Oh, the shame of it! She couldn't look her peers in the eye after that.

Of course she can't now--they're all over five feet tall, and are attending some sort of seminar that her mother can't pronounce... but should probably learn in the next fifteen years or so...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Okay, so, Friday morning, we were all ready to go, right? Everyone in the car? "Mom, dammit, get out of the bathroom, let's go!"

So, ready to go. I get into the car and put in the iPod and say, "Chicken, you ready for the song?"

And Mate says, "What's so special about this song!"

"Are you kidding? It inspired "Bewitched by Bella's Brother""!

And Mate (who has started the car by this time and is pulling away,) says "So why is it important for THIS trip?"

"It's all in this line here! Listen!"

We listened.

"See?" I said. "Did you hear it? That line right there! San Francisco's calling, the Giants and Mets will play! Cause, you know, we're going to go see...unm... why are we turning around?"

Mate gives me one of those looks--you know, those, "I'll give you three guesses as to how I almost fucked this up but you're only going to need one," looks.

I howl with laughter. "Oh. My. God. You didn't?"


"You didn't!"

"Sure did!" As we pulled up into our driveway and Mate ran inside to get the TICKETS I realized that the song really WAS good luck.

Because, as you can see, it sure would have been a shame if we'd missed the game.

Above: A little known overlook over the Golden Gate bridge--notice that Big T and I are sweater-less and the short people are not? It got colder as we walked!

Above: While Mate bought a clam chowder sourdough bowl for me, I bought the kids fish and chips. A seagull mugged me for the fish planks (no lie--fucker swooped out of the sky, and STOLE MY FISH) and when I got back to the table, guess who had my sourdough bowl?

Above: We bought the Panda hats at the game, and Zoomboy REALLY loves his. Notice the tooth? Yeah... first he lost it, then, after he showed it to me, he LOST it. The kid does not give a flying shit about the tooth fairy. Good for our pocketbook, but, well, which kid doesn't give a shit about a buck under his pillow?

Above: Mate, looking proud (as he should) that he brought us all to the baseball game and we had fun. Big T doesn't get the point, but then, it was a mile and a half of hauling ass on foot to get to the game. (And this after a long walk down at the pier.) T was sort of tired. I 'respectfully requested' a cab for the trip back, but alas, it was not to be. We wandered back through some very dodgy streets of an alien city... but it was sort of cool. If nothing else, the bouncer at the club we passed got to hear the game score, and was grateful that we could give it to him.

Above: Mate and I--isn't he dreamy? Twenty-one years so far--not nearly long enough.

Above: Okay-- this is the morning AFTER the game--but don't they look cute in their panda hats?

Above: Squish-- she never stopped moving, never stopped talking, and never stopped convincing people that she WAS the world's cutest child and WE just didn't appreciate her mojo!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Do Not Open Until...


But seriously-- the picture was SOOOOOOOO purty. I mean... just... ADORABLE! And, well...

Suggestive as all hell.

Now I realize I write a certain kind of book. Where certain kind of things are going to happen. And pretty people are going to make naked music. I get this.

But I sweartadog-- SWEAR-- that the first two options I gave for this book were... well...


The blonde guy? With the braid? He's almost forty. He's got a kid. He's like, quiet. Grave. Sober. And six feet, six inches tall.

So one option I gave for a cover was... well... I can't really say. Because it was hilarious. And for once this is a comedy, and I wanted it to be known it was a comedy, because so much that I write just grabs the heartstrings and yanks. But they didn't go with that one. There was another picture--this one of a kid (his kid) staring at a butterfly chrysalis with absolute attention, and the two adults behind him looking at each other with a completely "WTF?" expression. (Another funny scene. Trust me. It'll have you rolling.) And I thought that might be a cute option.

And my third option?

Yeah. That was the option featuring the raw sex in the shower.

Guess who went with Option C.

I'm not complaining, mind you--because, well, IT'S HELLA FRICKIN' PURTY! But, well...

Mate was looking at the original sketch as I babbled about it being, you know. Hella frickin' purty. And we had this conversation (Some of you may have heard this before--sorry. My need to babble like an idiot won out over my need to be discreet about Mate's lack of awareness about what it is I do in the wee hours of the night on my computer.):

"That's a very nice picture, Amy. But why does the one with the dark hair have his eyes closed?"

"Because the guy with the blonde hair is fucking him blind below the cut off point in the picture, dearest."


"Well, they seem to think so."

"I'm out of here."

And then it was just me, looking at the picture, in awe, and wondering how good that picture of the blonde guy naked with a baseball bat scaring the bejeebers out of the dark haired guy in front of the refrigerator really could have looked.

So, anyway...

The story has a lot of ties to the song "Piazza New York Catcher" by Belle and Sebastian The only reason I mention this is because one of the lines from the song is "the Giants and Mets will play..." and the song is VERY suggestive of San Francisco and baseball. This is important because...

That's where we're going tomorrow.

And yes. I'm getting away from the computer--and for a little while, it will be a real vacation!


I'll tell you all about it on Sunday... in the meantime, enjoy the hella frickin' purty picture--and don't forget to vote for If I Must!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gambling Men Part Six

Guess what's out tomorrow!

No, not Making Promises,

although it IS available for pre-order and is on the Coming Soon page!

No, no-- this is a much smaller release, but it is still sort of special, because,

A. I just finished another shorty in the sequence, and so you know it's not the last one.


B. It's the first couple I ever wrote for DSP, Jace and Quent, the two guys who showed up in the shorts in Curious.

You may remember these guys-- they're the ones inspired by this video:

and I still feel sort of an affinity for this vodka, btw, even though I don't often drink.

The story is short, it can stand alone (but it's always nice when you've read the backstory) and, well, my guys are sort of a friend favorite. (i.e.,I have friends who will be appeased for almost every sin in the book if only I continue to write another Jace and Quent story. Since one of these friends Littlewitch and another is Lynn, my editor at DSP, I think they'll keep showing up every now and then.)

And it's Raising the Stakes the next "Gambling Men" installment, and only a few people may read it, but I, for one, am pleased:-)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Feeling a little bookish...

(Okay-- Truth in the Dark is getting LOTS of attention... I thought I'd point out that it wasn't the ONLY thing I released in June. You know. In case anyone was wondering if there was something out there that I'd written and maybe, uhm, they hadn't read? Well, this is probably that work. Just, like, if you were wondering or anything:-)

The Quinceanara was lovely-- truly lovely.

For those of you who have never been, a Quinceanara (sic!) is a fifteenth birthday party--except, well, bigger.

Try thinking "Debut Ball" with a religious ceremony to start with, and you'll have something of an idea.

The birthday girl has attendance, and she walks down the aisle of her home church and dedicates her life and her womanhood to God--some lovely symbolism, if, really, something I'm wary of teaching my daughter for reasons of my own. It didn't stop me from appreciating the sentiment and the beauty of it, and, of course, the reception was wonderful.

There was a buffet and dancing and entertainment-- part of the entertainment WAS dancing, including an ancient South American (Aztec) dance and that was pretty amazing--just watching the dancers MOVE was pretty amazing. Of course, when the shonalen (and my phonetic translation is HORRENDOUS, jsyk) was given gifts and then presented to the four corners of the earth-- male, female, elder, younger--my pagan-o-meter went off and I thought "A-HA! *THIS* is how Chicken and I survived the ceremony!" I am aware that many coming-of-age rituals are fairly pagan in origin... you just don't always have them confirmed for you with big beating drums, four foot pheasant-feather headdresses, and hot South American dancers with ab muscles that could etch diamonds! (Okay--only two of the eight were men. But those two really counted!)

Then, when that was over, the Quinceanrean and her attendants danced a traditional waltz (danced to a lovely Mexican song that will simply have to be a haunting memory, I guess) and then a hip/hop song that the kids played up with a flare for the dramatic. There was supposed to be another performance by a group of traditional Mexican dancers (think the colorful skirts and big sombreros) but they got there late, and by then, we had to leave.

About having to leave...

See, the thing is, Squish's day care provider is Dominican--she speaks Spanish, she cooks traditional South American dishes--lots of homemade beans, flavored rice, and broiled meats--and listens to Spanish television. We didn't realize how much Squish really missed her other home, until she came in from about an hour of dancing (because when there were no performances for her to watch with open mouthed fascination, they played traditional Mexican music and the short people RULED the dance floor-- she did the dance moves she learned in class for HOURS, much to the delight of many of the parents, and, of course her father) and, sweaty and breathless, demanded MORE FOOD.

"More food?"

"Yes! The food is delicious, mommy. I would like some more, please."

Okay--she was just CHOWING down on that plate of beans, rice, and meat (and she used no tortillas, because she doesn't in day care) when it hit us. She really DID feel like she hadn't eaten in six weeks. Apparently, mama just does not cook like Brenda, and that is Mama's fault. The corn dogs she had today for lunch were a SEVERE disappointment.

Anyway, she was KNACKERED after four hours of dancing, eating, watching performances, being polite... and it was time to leave. She sobbed, all the way out the door. It was the BEST PARTY EVER--and Goddess bless her, I could already see her planning her own. I didn't have the heart to tell her that, along with dancing, running, and singing in public, there was nothing in either her bloodline, financial disposition, or inherited tradition that was going to get her a fifteenth birthday party--or a sixteenth or an eighteenth or even a twenty-first--like this one.

Her older sister had a more practical take on her upcoming birthday, though (sweet sixteen, for the record). "I want two weekend passes to Sacanime, and a LARP costume from Vampire Knight. Can we afford that? Awesome. I'm the happiest girl in the world!"

"You don't want a Quinceanara?"

"Are you kidding? Do you know how many people's faces would get ripped off if you had to throw one of these things? I want my mom HAPPY for MY birthday!"

And so her mom shall be!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Shopping! (Not on a budget!)

I took the kids to the pool today, which means that I go to my water aerobics class, then get the short people (and Chicken to help) and play for another hour. I came home and slept. I was supposed to take Chicken shopping for a dress for her friend's Quincinara (sic) and I went to get myself something to wear. Now, this was the second time i went looking for an outfit expressly for a specific occasion, and for a moment I was a little disgusted. Wasn't it possible I had something to wear that would cover a trip to church (where, Goddess be with me, the saints won't weep as Chicken and I walk our pagan asses through the door) and a reception with dinner and dancing.

As it turns out, nothing that I've purchased in the last six years would actually fit that bill. I had plenty of dark stuff, going out on a night out stuff and that was nice. I had lots of jeans and work-shirt sort of stuff. I even had that nice outfit I bought to go to the class reunion. But none of it was good for a religious celebration for a fifteen year old girl.

Who knew I'd actually get the nuances of fashion, finally, at age 43 (two sir!) 42?

So, there I was, alone in the changing cubicle with my fat and sorry ass from three different angles, and I threw on my first dress choice, and came to two conclusions:

A. I'd burnt the shit out of myself--I looked like a big, fat, juicy lobster tail, complete with sweat.

B. No part of my self awareness of either my size or my bodily composition had prepared me for the gi-fucking-normousness of my biker-bitch body in a turquoise flowered dress. That thing had to fucking go, or people would be fainting and calling for God as I walked down the aisles to sit in the pew.

I put the dress back and got a salmon colored fancy T-shirt (the better to match the color of my face, thank you!) and a black cotton skirt. And now I've officially spent my limit in clothes--the next thing I can purchase is the plotbunny T-shirt for yaoicon--and only if I skip a trip to the yarn store between now and October. Oh yeah- and maybe a bra that doesn't have clasps that extend backward.

But that didn't mean I didn't spring for some luxuries, like, say, a trash basket for the FUNCTIONING BATHROOM! Okay-- functioning is sort of an overstatement. I bought the trash can because we can't afford the vanity--we might have, but we shot too much money on killing the cat and buying clothes for a birthday party the size of a medium sized wedding. But, as soon as we can afford the vanity, that puppy's going in--and right now, we're a two toilet, two shower household, and, cannyagimmehallelujia-amen, that shower has a bathtub. Yeeha! And let's hear it for avocado green! (Which, I swear, did not look avocado green when I chose the color three years ago. And, will probably not look like avocado green when we add the dark lavender trim. I hope.) Anyway, let's hear it for Mate and home improvement... he missed the four year mark by three months!

And besides forgetting my wallet at home for our first stop (Bath & Body Works, for Lily's gift--because Chicken and I have NO imagination and I started knitting the ribbon-drawstring bag too late to finish it tonight) and feeling like a total dork--that's all I got. Oh yeah-- I went a little nuts with the tester while I was in there--but I got to tell you... that White Cotton body spray really does flip my switch... mmmmmmmmm....

I'm gonna go pass out and smell myself--it's a big day tomorrow! Us pagan girls is goin' to church!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Good bye, buddy.

You all saw this coming, didn't you? I mean, we blew a royalty check on the fucking cat, and all it turned out to be was a pathetic gamble with more money than we really had that maybe, he'd get to live the full cat allotment and not have to check out early.

But it was not to be.

That thing on his face got really big, and then it had some sort of internal explosion, and I don't care how much that beastie is horking down, when he's literally weeping blood, it's time to call the game.

I called it, but Mate was the one who put a gentle hand on my shoulder as he left for work yesterday and said, "The cat?"

"Yeah. Fuck. The fucking cat."

We prepped the kids--I mean, you all were hear last year, right? I mean, surely this post left a wee bit of a dent. So you know how it goes. Part of the wonder of having sentient quadropeds in your domicile is that you teach the cycle of life and death the children without, say, the trauma, of a family funeral, right? So we've done this before. We know the drill.

Yeah. Still sucked.

Watching your seventeen year old ginormous boy-child come completely fucking unglued--to the point where he practically knocked a proffered box of Kleenex out of your hand sucks. He clutched that cat to his chest and sobbed great gulping sobs that shook the house, and the little kids looked at him with big eyes.

Chicken tried to compensate by mothering everyone. The little kids, her big brother, me. She woke up this morning and found one gray cat on her bed without his orange buddy, and cried.

Zoomboy... Zoomboy sobbed. Zoomboy sobbed on Chicken when I left the house with the cat in the carrier, and then I brought the box-o-death home, and Zoomboy laid face down on his bed and shook with sobs that threatened to tear his body apart. He spent half the day siting in a deck chair and staring out into the back yard. It was very Women's Network--but then, we got that cat especially for him.

Zoomboy was a holy frickin terror when he was a year old (you remember the days we called him 'The Cave Troll'? Yeah. He earned that.) We wanted a new cat--but one that could defend itself from holy frickin' terrors, and one that would only scratch when a kid was hurting him and one that was, in the family parlance, bomb proof. We went to the adoption center, and as I was looking for a three-legged mommy-charmer that we had seen the week before (she'd been adopted--I'm not joking about the 'charmer' part) the older kids ran in and said, "Mom! Mom! Mom! We want THAT one. He looks just like GARFIELD!"

And there he was. Chicken wanted to call him 'Danny' from her favorite poem about cats ("A Day in the LIfe of Danny the Cat") and T wanted to name him Dennis Quaid because he'd just seen Flight of the Phoenix, and Quaid was his mancrush. I picked Dennis Quaid, figured Chicken could call him Danny if she wanted, and that, since Mate was on a zillion business trips at the time, if he wasn't home, I'd get to sleep with Dennis Quaid. (I love this joke, btw--and you will see a version of it in large scale in Making Promises. Well, this cat was the beginning of all that.)

He was big and orange and placid, and about two years ago we chose a trip to Disneyland over a $3000 operation to make the cat feel better, figuring whatever it was would work itself out. It did, but only to a point, and really, we just had some borrowed time.

It was good time. Every morning for the last year, I would sit on the chair with a kid on either side of me, and Dennis Quaid would come up and sit on my chest and purr in my ear. His breath was putrid--but he really liked that back hollow under my hair, and I didn't have it in me to refuse him. Who refuses a purring cat, right?

So yesterday morning, after Mate shored me up to pull the hammer, I stood and stretched and went to where he was on the back of the couch and pet him as he purred. At one point he reached out his claws and made me do a nose-to-nose--I was his human. He needed to mark me. I cried the whole time, but with dignity, because he was a dignified guy, right?

And as the kids were saying goodbye, Squish and I had this conversation:

"You're going to take the cat to the vet, and he's going to die?"

"Yes. So say goodbye now, because he's not coming back."

"He's not coming back?"


"Are YOU coming back?" (a little bit of panic here!)

"Yes, Squish--Mom's definitely coming back."

"Oh. Good." She could definitely deal with the cat being gone, as long as Mom was coming back.

Okay, I thought. There you go. Insta-perspective. The men in the family are sentimental (hence Mate bailing from the whole scene so it would hurt less) and the women are practical. There you go.

His heart stopped before the second syringe was fully in--he was just that sick, and just that weak, and his heart was just that ready to go. He could have been anywhere from twelve to sixteen years old, and it was just time.

So there I was, driving home, with the ominous box in the back of the minivan, and my vision was clear enough to drive, and there were these horrible, soft, helpless, mewling sounds coming out of my throat and I couldn't seem to stop them, because apparently my sons get it from somewhere, and because that fucking cat was not going to be on the table when I got home, and he wasn't going to wake me up to feed him, and he wasn't going to sit on my chest and goddammit, when would I learn?

I took the long way home, drove to McDonalds, got myself a coffee drink, and got home with a brave face and helped the kids bury our buddy in the flower beds in the front yard.

Come Halloween, maybe he can chase the ghosts of all the rats in there, and maybe bat around the guinea pig's zombie for fun.

Goodbye, buddy. Maybe I'll see you then.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy 4th... now stop touching me!

lolol! Okay-- for some reason the title tickles me, even though it sort of blends a couple of things about my weekend.

On Sunday, we cleaned the house. (Pauses for cheers and applause.) Yes, you heard me. We sort of had an agenda-- company for Sunday night. Probably THE most boring 4th of July ever-- but we liked it. My goal was to have friends over and watch brain candy movies. I know, I know-- 4th of July? Barbecues? Swimming? Anyone?

Okay-- our back porch is nice for kids to play as long as it's NOT 102 degrees. Once it's hotter than 95 degrees outside, inside is IT, and it WAS 102 degrees, so, you know, screw outside. We watched Die Hard 4, The Mummy, and Men in Black. (We wanted to watch Independence Day but we couldn't find the copy. Oh well, c'est la vie!) Anyway, my friend and her SO were right on my page. We ate ice cream, went outside to hand Chicken an existential dilemma (reduce carbon footprint, or blow shit up? She opted to blow shit up. I think that was a good choice.) And then fell asleep, really tired and VERY happy.


Today I snuck by the yarn store after water aerobics (although it's hard to hide your trail for a foraging excursion when you drop a chunk of change using your bank card) and then we went to visit Mate's grandma and (huzzah!) see a movie. We saw Last Airbender. There were some glitches, but overall, I thought it was true to the cartoon, and since I loved the cartoon, I was pleased. (As a critic for someone else's work, I can be an absurdly simple soul. As a critic for my own work? I'm an insane bitch with a poison pen and an axe to grind.) But during the movie, Zoomboy couldn't stop fondling me. "I love you mom." "I love you too, watch the movie." "I love you mom." "I love you too, keep your hands to yourself." "I love you mom." "I love you too WOULD YOU STOP TOUCHING ME!" *sigh* Yeah. How to sound like psycho mom in five little words...

Anyway, besides that, I almost skipped blogging today, because really? Once again, our family is making like the most boring humans EVER! Oh... wait. There was this and it totally kicked ass. I mean, you know. TOTALLY. So, maybe you should listen to someone else's take on The Last Airbender-- I spent my day surrounded by rose critical glow.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The dark small hours of the morning...


One of the sad things about my hours in the summer is that I'm still up during the dark, small hours of the morning, doing writing business (as I call it) and often writing as well. Of course, one of the not-so-sad things, is that I often go back to sleep around six-thirty in the morning!

Thank you, everybody, for your good wishes about grandpa. I've seen this a lot on Donna Lee's blog--sometimes it just seems like the Time Bitch is running us down at a dreadful rate, and I think grandpa's death was one of those moments. But then (as was OFTEN stated at grandpa's memorial) Grandpa lived a long--and fairly blessed life. (Four plane crashes? Two brain tumors? And he passed away at ninety? I mean, yeah. SOMEONE thought he was a hell of a guy!)

I had a chance to guest blog in the last couple of days, and I had so much fun chatting with Mikhail that I decided to invite some other characters to come chat. They were mean to me. Seriously-- seriously mean. Remind me not to have Cory from Vulnerable come chat--she'll fry me as I sit.

And thanks to Chris, who sent me this video, which is proof that the nice and funny woman in it has either been reading my mail or just totally gets the whole bad review thing--this made my kids laugh until they fell down. They were like "omg omg omg...MOM! That's YOU!" Especially because I'd just gone off on a long rant about Nicolas Sparks that morning. (Apparently he ran track with my aunt's boyfriend's son--he came up in conversation.)

Of course, Chris got this video from this website and if you scroll down you'll see a lovely review for Keeping Promise Rock there. I love blog reviews (as opposed to, say, reviews) because they are usually much nicer to me than the people--and even if they DON'T like the book, they maintain some objectivity and some professionalism, and that's always nice. (That one woman who felt compelled to share her verbal gang-rape disguised as a review on four different websites being the notable and painful exception.)

And we're having company over for fourth of July, and street fireworks (which I only get because the kids like. Seriously--I'm not really a fan and neither is Mate.) This is important only in that I'm going to be NEAR the computer but unable to ACCESS the computer for nearly two days.

Let the withdrawal symptoms begin!

Happy fourth, all... Not my favorite holiday, no--but any excuse to get together with friends and family is a good one:-)

Oh yes-- and I'll leave you with this story, because it made Big T and I crack up for at least five minutes.

We went to the movies yesterday-- Big T was not here the weekend we saw Toystory 3, and felt that this was a wrong in the universe that must needs be made right. I took the kids to the movies, and Chicken and her friend went and saw Eclipse while we were watching T3. (BTW? You know a movie is good when your four year old is trying to warn you that the big pink bear on the screen is BAD and Woody and Buzz shouldn't listen to him!) Anyway, Chicken has LONG ago outgrown the Twilight thing--and if you want proof, check out her blog. (I especially like the first two frames of this one. I'm so proud!) Anyway, she feels that the characters are flat, Bella's a ditz, Jacob needs a spine and Edward needs a personality transplant and she's through. (She thinks my books are much better--but she also thinks they're too intense emotionally to read. "You're so MEAN to all your characters! Even a happy ending isn't happy!")

But the person she was going to the movies with LOVED the books AND the movies. I was not aware.

So we all get into the car, and I say, "So, Chicken, how was the movie?"

"It was AWESOME mom. It was pretty, and well choreographed, and it was really excellent."

"Don't you mean well directed?"

"Nope. I mean choreographed."

Well, that should have set off little alarm bells in my head because she knows the difference between these two terms and 'choreographed' suggests something artificial in the action on the screen.

But still, she waxed poetic about the movie for a couple of minutes, the conversation moved to other things, and we took her friend home and dropped her off.

As soon as the door slid closed behind Chicken's friend, Chicken burst out with, "Oh my GOD! Mom that was the lamest movie in the history of LAME!" And followed with a five minute impassioned rant on the follies of filmmaking especially to substandard material while her brother and I gazed at her in shock and tried not to wet our pants laughing.

"What?" She said when we were laughing too hard to respond to her.

"I'm sorry, sweetie," I told her. "I'm just trying to put my mental pants back on after that one-hundred-and-eighty degree mindf*** you just pulled!" (I actually don't 'say' the word, either, when I'm talking to them--just open my mouth and fill in the blanks. I'm not sure if this is good parenting or a hypocritical way to whitewash bad parenting, but it's a technique I'm fond of and I'm sticking with it.)

She laughed then, and then continued her rant, and her brother filed the expression away for later but when we got home, I showed her Franklin's take on the movie (mmmm... Malabrigo...) and she heartily approved! (And thanks Chris for the link to that one too!)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ken Chaney

Look at him-- I mean, you know... *Jesus*! Doesn't he look like a Dashiell Hammett hero?

Yeah. I always thought so. And if you read his obituary you'll see that Dashiell Hammett had nothing on Grandpa.

There has been some argument in the family as to where I got my eyes--are those Rau eyes or Chaney eyes? There has also been some argument as to where I got my ability to tell a good story. Is that a Pete Rau thing or a Ken Chaney thing? But there are some things that I got from grandpa that will never be disputed.

My parents split when I was six or seven, and by age eight I found myself arranging visitations with my mom. She wasn't up for the job, so I needed to get on the phone and call my grandma or grandpa and decide who was taking and who was dropping off etc. One family one way, the other family back.

Grandpa almost invariably drove.

I remembered this during grandpa's memorial for a couple of reasons.

One was that for a man with such a stainless-steel-scalpel precision with words, my grandfather was also known for his silences. Long, thoughtful silences. Brooding silences. Frighten-your-children's-friends silences.

I, on the other hand, was not.

I imagine those rides now, and it was me, buzzing like a bumblebee (which he could kill with one smack of his massive hand--I watched him do it once and was very impressed) and grandpa: foreign correspondent and war hero, looking at me during stoplights and wondering if you could damn a torrent like that or if it would maybe slow up to a trickle sometime if he let it run it's course.

But he never complained. My dad and stepmom did (things were complicated) but for grandpa, coming to get me and let me knock around the house like a bored marshmallow was never in question. Apparently, for all the fact that his children had a hard time getting friends to stay the night (Is your dad going to be there? He is? Oh, well, no then. I have to feed the dog!) grandpa was all about that silent, probably happy drive, to be there for his family.

He wasn't a martyr by any stretch of the imagination--he could be gruff, and sometimes sharp. His favorite expressions were things like "Confound it!" and "I am surrounded by incompetence!" I think, like my husband, he wouldn't have questioned the subject matter of my books--but he might have asked me if I knew other words. He was known for a Sahara quality sense of humor--I seem to remember a family legend, (among many) wherein Grandma got so frustrated at my mom and Aunt Carol that she threw up her hands and snapped, "Ken! Come here and speak to these children!"

Grandpa raised an eyebrow, walked into the room where his young daughters were dripping with warm breakfast cereal, raised an eyebrow, and said, "Hello, children."

And then walked away. (One of my favorite stories as a kid. For some reason, it just confirmed the awesomeness that was grandpa.)

One of the artifacts (and there were many) at grandpa's memorial was a homemade target for target practice. I remember this thing-- he had an extensive back property and he'd set that out on the back porch and shoot at it with a bb gun. I did not, as a child, reflect on how awesome it was that he made this thing out of a small motor and a piece of canvas and some other stuff he had in his workshop (although it was awesome) but I do remember that it wasn't the only thing he shot at. Apparently he shot at magpies and when asked why that particular bird would reply that one of them had attacked me. Since I don't remember the incident, I think the consensus was that it was a good reason to give people so he could shoot at a creature that annoyed him by it's very drive in life (which was, in his opinion, to annoy the hell out of him.)

Like I said, I knocked around that house a lot as a kid. I lived for the visits of my aunts and uncle (they weren't that much older than I was, but they could do grown up things. And they TALKED to me--a thing I will always treasure!) Grandpa was always up for taking mom and I to the movies, or letting me talk to his friends. He and grandma had many--and for all the weirdo shit that could come out of my mouth (a direct result of me reporting to the world everything I saw without the filter of tact, discretion, or anything resembling common sense) to their credit, they didn't lock me in a room like Boo Radley and pretend I didn't exist. I imagine they gritted their teeth and hoped for the best sometimes, but they introduced me every time, and I always felt so grown up!) And on Sundays, if I was lucky, we'd get to play games.

I sucked at jigsaw puzzles (still do) and he tried to teach me chess. I was fascinated by it (still am) but I suck at it for the same reasons that Cory, my heroine, sucks at chess. It requires subtlety, planning, and an understanding of the overall workings of the game. My approach to chess is basically my approach to computers or politics or anything else in life: Make thing go. Thing not go? Fuck thing. MAKE THING GO!

Grandpa was smarter than that (his sharp intelligence was legendary) and so I quickly frustrated him here.

"What the hell are you doing?"

"Well, I thought I'd do this and this and this and this, and you know then I'd..."

"Lose. In two moves."


But Scrabble? Oh *that* we could play. It was playing Scrabble with Grandma and Grandpa that I realized I really *was* proficient with words. It wasn't my imagination, and it wasn't actually a handicap, in spite of that talking problem. To my memory, Grandpa was the first person to make me feel like being good with words was important. (My dad and stepmom were very practical--I sucked at cleaning my room and washing dishes, and I seemed to spend an awful lot of time day dreaming, and school smart was nowhere *near* as important as street smart so there was obviously something lacking in my personal makeup. If only I could be more like my stepbrother, I'd be able to make something of myself.) He worked in media (had, in fact, earned awards for his documentary film making for the California Water Board) and I remember that he was involved in some way with a news show put on by children.

"I would put you in there for an audition, but they're already accusing me of nepotism because your aunt works there." (I'm pretty sure she got the job without his help.)

"I'm too fat to be on television."

"You can string two words together in a sentence which is more than half the kids there as it is."

I remember discussing colleges with him, and being told under no uncertain terms that I was not to go to Cal-Arts Valencia.

"Why not?"

"Because the only thing you'd learn there is..." *mimes inhaling*

"Oh, Grandpa, I could do that here if I wanted!"

But he was adamant. It's not like I could have afforded to go anyway, but it was, to my knowledge, the only time anyone ever suggested that there was a school out there that was not good enough for me, instead of the other way around. I remember telling him as a kid that I was in ALPS-- Advanced Learning ProgramS, and he was less surprised by the fact that I was in it (which was sort of a miracle in itself... my second grade teacher assumed I was retarded because I forgot to brush my hair in the morning and she didn't believe that there was no one there to remind me. The fact that my fourth grade teacher put me in ALPS was awfully damned cool) than by the fact that the acronym was better than the one his kids lived with.

"Yeah, your aunts and uncle were in MAL. I was like "What the hell is that? Something bad? Mal-adjusted? Mal-formed? Mal-icious?" Turns out it stood for Markedly Advanced Learning. ALPS is much better."

He simply assumed that his children and grandchildren were bright and could succeed.

Family legend has it that Grandma and Grandpa had four girls because they were trying for a son, so when Phil came along, they could stop. One of the things that I pointed out at the memorial was that the truth is, if ever a man delighted in his daughters and rejoiced in his sons, it was grandpa. For all the fact that he was a big man with a gruff voice and a sharp sense of humor, his children could bring about an amazing tenderness. I saw him tear up at my aunt's wedding--and my uncle's too, truth be known. I remember him comforting my aunt Monica after a bad break-up and realized that girls would never get too old to cry on their dads. (Something I kept in mind as I grew up.) The birth of his grandchildren or great-grandchildren brought out the shiny eyes and deep emotion. I remember with Squishy, in particular, he was extremely grateful to have the chance to hold her. Of course Squishy came along late in his life, and his second tumor had been diagnosed--he truly felt blessed to be around then. (I remember walking him and grandma out to their car and him saying, "Well, as busy as you're going to be, we probably won't see you until Thanksgiving. When we'll be thankful if I'm still around!")

Grandpa was a writer--my son has one of the war stories that he published, hammered out on an old manual typewriter, and it's one of Big T's prized possessions. The story was about how, after his transport plane had been shot down off the coast of Greece and he'd swam toward shore with a broken leg, he'd been taken in by Greek fishermen. They'd rescued him (and taken his wallet) and he'd been stuck on the island of Greece for six or so months, listed as MIA, but, at the time, helping with the Greek resistance. It was during this time that he was awakened in the middle of the night to deliver a baby in a house right next to Nazi headquarters because apparently, the locals assumed that just because he was an American, he could do anything. He delivered the baby, and when the S.S. came knocking on the door to see what all the fuss was about, the family hid him in a grain bin. Eventually he got out, and the family was so grateful, they named the baby after him. Poor kid--I bet she took crap for that name her whole life. So did grandpa, judging by the closing line of the story.

The story was all true--most of his published stories were, and it's extraordinary. One of the most extraordinary things about it (and about most of grandpa's writing) was the juxtaposition of the terrifying (like, say, being forced to swim with a broken leg) and the mundane (like after all that, you get robbed by your rescuers.)

Now THAT is the thing that I got from grandpa that will never be disputed. That was part and parcel of who he was, a way of looking at life, at people, that will always be a part of me, and I'm grateful.

One of the things I remembered for the memorial was that I had to do an interview once with my grandparents, because they were survivors of the Great Depression. I remember that Grandma was full of praise for That Man, and I assumed that Grandpa would be too. And then he told me that his family had done pretty well during the Great Depression, until FDR's farm acts had made making a living as a farmer a little more difficult.

"Oh," I said with surprise. "So you must not have been as impressed with FDR as Grandma."

"No," he said mildly, "It was okay. It helped the country get better, that's what mattered."

Now we had just finished watching a rather terrifying documentary called Gaslands this weekend, (watch it if you like--but buy plenty of bottled water first) and I had despaired for a moment, watching our country's natural resources being pillaged for mindless greed. I thought, "Where are we going to find people who actually think of the world first, and themselves second? How do we get human beings to not be such stupid bastards and start giving a little to get back a secure future?"

And then I had to prepare for the memorial, and I remembered that moment with Grandpa. I realized that I had grown up and married a man much like Grandpa and that my sons were like him, and so were my sharp-tongued, clever daughters. I realized that my uncle was like him, and so were *his* sons, and so were my aunts and my aunt's sons, and that this sort of attitude--this sort of, "Of course we can win the war/save the world/deliver the baby next to the SS headquarters but do it with our tongue deeply implanted in our cheek" sort of attitude is still here. It lives on.

That sort of thing gives me hope.