Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Seattle’ Category

Between work, weddings, and assembling IKEA furniture, it’s been a busy week, but somewhere in there I also managed to wrangle an invitation to an “author appreciation” festival put on by a local independent bookstore (details below).

Kent is a town south of Seattle, and Page Turner Books is a used/new bookseller in the downtown area. PTB takes pride in being a “by the nerds, for the nerds” business, specializing in speculative fiction of all stripes, plus gaming, collectibles, and comics. They often have author and convention-like events, and next weekend they’re putting on their Fall Festi-Con Fair, with (so far) about a dozen authors and artists hanging out to sign books and chat with readers.

Now, anyone who knows anything about me knows that I heartily dislike public appearances and speechifying. Back when I did attend conventions, I went through a lot of preliminary psychological prep, and a ton of after-action recovery. Signings were even worse, in that I wasn’t sharing the stage with other writers; it was all me, and the (usually) empty ranks of chairs were a reflection of that.

Not that I haven’t done the occasional event in the years since then. I even got invited to a panel on writing historical fiction (also in Kent, if I remember correctly . . . hmm) that was a good day, but in general, no.

In short, as an author, I don’t get out much.

But sharing the venue with a dozen creative artists is definitely something I can manage, and so, if you’re interested (and in the PacNW), here are the details:

Fall Festi-Con Fair
presented by Page Turner Books
Saturday, 24 Sep 2022, from 2-7pm
314 West Meeker Street, Kent, WA 98032

Event Page on Facebook
(includes list of authors and artists, plus details)
Event Page at City of Kent
(details, map, etc.)

Bring your books or pick up a new one (I’ll have some from my stash), or just drop in to say Hey.

k

Read Full Post »

Most of all, he enjoyed pruning the Japanese maples.

They stood beneath the canopy of evergreens–spruce, pine, fir, cedar, cypress–the giants of his garden. The tall conifers took the brunt of the weather, snarling into the winds, sacrificing muscular branches heavy with sap and resined scent to protect the more delicate growth at their feet. There was little to prune on these living towers; mostly he just carted away what the ocean-birthed storms snapped off, trimming back broken stubs, fulfilling his custodial chores while they, aloof and inscrutable, heads in the louring clouds, faced the southwesterly winds, ready for the next gale.

The other maples, the vine maples, were not his favorites, being a bit too boisterous, sending up trunk after slender trunk, reaching outward with multiplicative hands, begging for alms of sunlight. Pruning these, even the eldest of them, was like wrangling twelve-year-olds on a class trip. Just retrieve the one and you find that two others have ranged away from the pack. He loved them for their fall displays, though; their sudden, explosive shift from simple summer green to riotous fires of autumn could happen during a single night’s slumber. He was especially fond of the precocious one in the back, tucked under the pendant drapery of the grandmother spruce, because that maple was always first to change clothes, eager for colorful sweaters and winter’s onset.

But most of all, he enjoyed pruning the Japanese maples. Not the winter’s pruning, but in summer.

In winter, when they slept naked beneath the grey blankets of somnolent skies, he would trim them for shape, for strength, for optimal overlap and layering, and with an eye toward the tripartite growth that would come in spring. This, though, this was straightening the curled hand of a sleeping child, tucking them in beneath the covers. It was the trees, and it was him; two species, separate, unattached, isolate.

In contrast, the summer pruning–he could think of no other metaphor–was making love. The leaves of the Bloodgood–deep magenta, finely serrated, with thin, questing tips–rustled as his hands moved through the branches. The Autumn Moon’s leaves–pale green, delicate, so sensitive to light that a week’s sun would make them blush and August’s searing gaze could shrivel whole branches–bent to his ministrations, be it to rub out the dried tip or snip off a sere frond.

The two of them, though they were as old as others he’d planted, were barely half as tall. Theirs was a patient habit, a measured expansion, with each branch testing the world in three directions: one twig right, one left, one forward and upward. As his fingertips moved down each limb, each branch, each twig, he could divine their logic. They knew their limits and worked within them: send out scouts, read the reports, proceed only if conditions are favorable. He loved their caution to the point of emulating their unhurried approach in his own life. Knowing that his eyes could sense things they could not, knowing where the dappled sunlight would be best, he would pinch here, pluck there, and encourage them toward the unseen goal. Of their failures, his gentle caress revealed the abandoned twigs, stiff and pale where successes remained supple and green, and he would thumb them off. The snips were a last resort, for each leaf was a gem in the rough.

For when Summer packed its bags and Autumn came home to do its laundry, the evergreens remained dark and disinterested columns and the vine maples played frat-boy pranks on one another. But between the constancy and the chaos was the slow flood of color of his Japanese maples. The Bloodgood’s leaves crept from maroon to red to rust to scarlet to a crimson so sharp it could cut, while the Autumn Moon caught fire, dropping green for chartreuse, adding dry-brushed pinks, until October’s cold hearth brought the touch of orange hearthfire to each leaf.

He was aging, now, knees creaking, back growing stiff, while for these trees their youth was barely begun. He wondered–frankly, he worried–about what would happen to them once he’d passed. “Scatter my ashes on my trees,” he’d often say, though he only dreamed he would die while still near them. For as long as he could, he would remain there, caring for them at the same tempo they lived.

Because, most of all, he enjoyed pruning the Japanese maples.

k

Read Full Post »

From waterfront to high market
the climb wends upward through the city’s memories,
from old brick painted with faded names
to new concrete laid at the feet of giants.

Gulls cry below, scudding along the shore’s hungry limit,
wings suspended on the taste of salt and kelp,
while above, the rumble of metal and power
and the chatter of caffeinated urbanites.

My breath rasps with each tread
as I climb the twisting caverns,
Orpheus returning to the light
through tunnels rank with piss and sorrow.

From beyond the turning, a note sounds,
pulled, tightened, anxious, lonely,
until another twangs in, rising too,
birthing tentative harmony.

The notes repeat, nearer as I climb,
others come to shimmering life,
intervals congealing out of tortured dissonance
as sympathetic strings pull into focus.

At stairs’ end, a cavern of poured stone;
a sunbeam paints harsh shadows of two men,
one seated, one who steps close,
beckoning, wide-eyed, his smile broad.

The seated man shifts,
and his guitar catches the light,
its varnish a Renaissance craquelure,
its strings twelve lines of fire.

I draw closer to the player, unsure;
his companion encourages me
and with beatific confidence instructs,
“Listen, and believe.”

When the chord is struck,
the world retreats, sirens stop,
pistons grow still, the machined ostinato
becomes a heartbeat bass.

We three form a tableau,
the creator, the disciple, and the skeptic,
as the divine is released by dirty fingers
and earthen hearts are lifted.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

—-

first light begins its
slow creep toward younger hours
dreaming of new life

—-

I wrote that haiku yesterday or, more accurately, I copied that down yesterday, as I awoke with it fully formed in my brain. All Things Natural have been “front of mind” lately, as this week we had our first real break from the rain, and I’ve been spending time outside.

Every afternoon this week, for an hour or two, I’ve been out in the gardens—pruning, raking, trimming, clearing, gathering—in a futile attempt to complete all my cold-weather chores before the season warms and the now-dormant plants awaken. While this is arguably less of a workout than time on the elliptical, I keep at it longer, so I’m calling that a wash.

One thing I cannot do while gardening, though, is watch a video (my go-to for indoor workouts). So, because I’m a over-achiever by training and cannot do merely one thing at a time if I can do two (or three), I indulge in the next best thing: I listen to podcasts.

I’m relatively new to podcasts. I’ve tried audiobooks, but since I have no commute and thus no regular activity where I must remain eyes-alert but idle-eared, I usually got a few chapters into a book and then didn’t have a chance listen to it for a month or more, disrupting the narrative.

Podcasts, though, are perfectly suited to this task, even the hour-long ones. Encapsulated, whole, pithy, geared toward the audible rather than the visual, I can set them up in a row and burn through them whilst puttering with ferns and maples, roses and lupines, listening and working simultaneously.

The two I’ve been listening to this week are both language-oriented, and I recommend them to writers and readers of this blog.

Science Diction:
This podcast is an offshoot/subset of the more well-known Science Friday podcast. I’ve never liked Science Friday, as the faux banter they use to tie together the various “articles” is—sorry guys—cheesy and painfully obvious. Science Diction is a subset of those “articles,” was hosted by Queen of the Vocal Fry, Johanna Mayer (at least through 2021), and focuses on the meaning, etymology, and historical context of science-y (and not-so-science-y) words. Ambergris, jargon, hurricane names, gene names, robots, mercury, these have all been topics of this 12–20 minute segments, and I’ve burned through them all, loving each one.

The Allusionist:
Helen Zaltzman hosts this language-centric podcast, with a voice that is the perfect juxtaposition of posh British tone and working-class American idiom. I’m only a handful of episodes into this (working from 2015 toward the present), but already they’ve covered the origins and history of words/phases such as “bra,” “going viral,” and the c-word. As with all good (IMO) podcasts, they spiral outward from the base topic a bit, to give a broader view of the surrounding context, showing the wider connections to the world at large. They vary in length from 10–30 minutes, and come out once a fortnight.

There are other language-focused podcasts out there, but I haven’t spent time with them so cannot recommend. If you’ve listened to any, please leave a recommendation in the comments. I expect I’ll be burning through a lot of them this season.

k

 

Read Full Post »

I was born in fog
welling from the coast’s cold waters,
mariners’ mournful cautions
echoing ’round my infant hollow,
earth-bound cloudbanks
tumbling over the ringing hills,
billowing down our mist-slick street,
infusing my new world with ancient distance.

I grow old beneath rain
birthed by distant, tropical seas,
cooled by winds scented with
salt and sand and sun-warmed kelp,
sped by sky-high rivers
to beat upon these tree-clad shores
and wash down to feed the tidal flats
with burbling, silted waters of myriad streams.

Between them is stretched a life
where my limbs grew fast as springtime rye
beneath shadows chased by auspicious suns,
where towering guardians of wood and stone
surrounded the humid masses or arid wild,
where my heart tasted honeyed love and sharp-tongued disdain,
traveling inland altitudes redolent
of mineral earth, verdant crops, and heady loam,
but never the cold, deep cradle
whose primeval memory flows in my veins.

Bound by water,
I have slept in many places,
but only near the sea
have I lived.

Read Full Post »

Today I am thankful for:
Two brothers, all bundled up in matching navy blue hoodie jackets, out on the cul-de-sac in the bright drizzle, playing a game.

The game is:
Proceed in stages from a starting point (the truck at the near end) to a goal (the far end of the block), by one player tossing a Frisbee ™ as far as they can but not so far (or wide) that the other cannot catch it. It must be caught, or the disc goes back for a rethrow.

Eminently scalable, simple and elegant in rules, it’s a beautifully cooperative game. They win together, full stop. There is no losing. There are only gradients of victory.

Looks like they’re going for a team best, now.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Read Full Post »

 

First, many thanks to those who showed interest in my new book, From the Edge (now available via Amazon). If you liked it, please  consider writing a review, as that helps drive its visibility.

Autumn figures strongly in From the Edge, as it is without doubt my favorite season (how’s that for a smooth segue?), so it should be no surprise that I’ve scheduled some time off for mid-October. We’re not going anywhere special—trips during the pandemic still carry too much anxiety—so we’re planning local activities and, as is our habit, we’re over-planning.

The kitchen white board now lists a few museums to visit and a couple of the bookstores we like to hit on stay-cations, but one category has grown out of all proportion to its fellows: Day Trips for Fall Color.

Seattle and the Puget Sound region are blessed in that we actually have four seasons. Much as we joke about us having only three—Summer (three weeks), Smoke (three weeks), and Rain (all the rest)—we really do have a distinct Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. And though we’re known as the Evergreen State, we have many areas of deciduous flora that make for stunning fall color vistas.

In combination, the region and the season have another advantage: variable elevation. Fall colors peak at different times at different elevations, so if (as has happened) our fall vacation arrives and the colors aren’t ready down hear near the Sound, we can drive up into the Cascades or the Olympics, where the colors get a two-week head start. Of course, if it is peak color time here at sea level, we have a great collection of parks and gardens from which to view them.

So, the Day Trips for Fall Color list on the white board includes the near (Kubota Garden, Washington Park Arboretum, Japanese Garden), the close and basically sea-level (the Mountain Loop Scenic Byway, the Whidbey Scenic Isle Way, the Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway), and the not-so-close and higher elevation (Stevens Pass Greenway, Leavenworth, and if we’re feeling adventurous, the Chinook Pass). It’s an embarrassment of fall-color riches.

More than just driving around to view the colors, though, we like to stop and enter the autumnal world, for there are scents and sounds that only come at this time of year, in leafy places when the colors rage.

There’s the crispness, a bit of sass, that thrives in the morning and evening air. There’s the urgency of chipmunks, seeking oil-laden seeds on which to grow fat for the coming winter. Birds, their feathers adapted for camouflage amid deep summer shadows or against dark wintry limbs, dart about in deep contrast to the bright riot of translucent hues. And the scents! The smell of moisture has returned after summer’s sere mien has passed. The earth-wood aroma of fallen leaves and rising mushrooms are the umami of forest glades. Rivulets and streams chuckle, happy in rebirth, and all around are the tiny paper-rustles of birds searching beneath leaves, the pit-pat of squirrels covering their caches, and the tentative steps of blacktail deer mincing along narrow, leaf-strewn tracks.

Autumn, to me, is a reward. It’s a reward for surviving the busyness of spring and the chores of summer. It’s the year’s twilight before winter’s somnolence. Autumn is the cognac by the fire before I turn in for the day.

And I intend to enjoy it.

k

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: