Sunday, May 28, 2006

Lazy Sunday

It's Sunday. It's hot. It's humid. Terry and I are both off work, and we are being lazy.

Inside, Katie enjoys Terry's new desk, which has a lot more room where she can play.

Outside, I think I found out why the finches are hanging around so much. This is in the awning over our back door.

Terry went stargazing last night, and called me to tell me that our picture was in Sky and Telescope Magazine. The July issue has an article about the Nebraska Star Party, which we have attended a couple of times. Right there on page 102, there we are.

What - you can't see us? How about this one, then?

That's Terry on the right with the cute legs, and me on the left with no face. Directly in front of us is Allen, who brought the photo to our attention.

Please, no autographs.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Groundhog census

I came home from work this afternoon to find Terry's truck in the driveway, the door to the house open, lights on, but Terry nowhere to be seen. After engaging in a little logical reasoning, I went out back to the camper. Sure enough, there he was, with a camera.

"Taking pictures of Chuckie?" I asked.

"There are three of them," he said, "at least."

He had already taken some pictures, so he gave me the camera and I took a few more.

One brave little soldier was sticking his nose out into the sunshine. Two others were sticking to the shadows on the side of the shed. See them there? I couldn't even tell it was two until I enlarged the photo and saw the ears and noses.

As with most of our Chuckie photos, these were taken through a screen window, which accounts for the ethereal glow.

Here's another picture of Woody.

It's getting hard to keep them all straight, especially when they all look alike. I think I will just call all of the adults Chuckie, and the babies Woody until they are big enough to be Chuckies.

At this very moment, Terry is attempting to post his own dueling photos on his own blog. If candid groundhog photos are your thang, go check there.

In other news, I read Jerry Seeger's short story last night before going to bed. I really liked it, but then, knowing his earlier work from the Piker Press, that doesn't surprise me. As I mentioned yesterday, I'm not really into science fiction. This story, though, is first a human story, with just enough SF to give it a twist. Well done, Jer!

Friday, May 26, 2006

One more thing to celebrate

At Borders tonight, I saw the July issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. This issue includes the first published-for-money story by fellow Piker Jerry Seeger. It always tickles me to be able to buy something that one of my pals has written and had published, and this was no exception.

We first encountered Jerry on the NaNoWriMo boards a few years ago. He was so witty and charming, I asked if we could keep him. He admitted that he would like being kept, and that is why he is listed as "Jerry the Keeper" on my sidebar.

Even though I am not a big SF fan, I can read Jerry's stuff without my eyes going all googly. (That's a compliment, really.) I even managed to give him a brief, but thoughtful, critique of a couple of paragraphs of one of his stories recently without once saying, "What the hell are you talking about?", and he seemed to appreciate my insights.

Also, he once wrote and submitted a poem that he knew I couldn't publish, but he thought I would enjoy it just the same. How can you not like a guy like that?

Which is my way of saying, if you buy the July issue of F&SF, turn straight to page 135, and read "Memory of a Thing That Never Was".

Rumor has it

Terry told me the other day, "We have to think of a new name for Chuckie," Chuckie being our name for our personal backyard groundhog. He has spotted a young 'un in tow, so he thinks Chuckie might be a female. I haven't even seen the baby yet, but I have already dubbed it Woody. Getting photos of the pair is our weekend art project.

Work has been a wild ride this week, and I'm not sure that has cleared up yet. I just try to remember, I get paid the same, no matter what I'm doing.

Terry got me a couple of items from my rolling gift list for my birthday Wednesday - a car radio adapter for my iPod, and an IngenuiTEA, a tea-brewing doohickey like they use at Gong Fu. My co-workers, bless them, got me two big bars of dark chocolate. Caffeine, chocolate, and music - yep, I'm good to go.

Happy birthday today to two fabulous Gemini chicks - awesome Amy of It Is What It Is, and lovely Lillian, the future overlordess of the universe. Mwah to you both - have a super day!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Our new neighbors, the Finches

These two have been hanging around our kitchen window this spring, taunting Katie with their sweet song and manageable size. She wants them in the worst way, but she is an indoor cat, and they are safely out of her reach.

They are house finches. The breed is relatively new to these parts, first seen in the state during the Reagan administration.

The male is a lovely rosy color.

I'm trying not to be a big ol' Broadway geek, but I know if he stays around, I will be calling him Ponty. What can I say? Young Robert Morse is hott. I have a bootleg video of Quick Before It Melts, a silly sex comedy from the 60s, that I have watched dozens of times because he so darned cute. I'll even watch A Guide For The Married Man - which I see is now available on DVD. To Borders!

But, ahem, I digress.

The female finch ("Rosemary"), in this photo shoot anyway, always has her mouth open.

Singing is good, though. I pointed these two out to Terry a few days ago, and lamented that I had not been able to get them to hold still so I could take a picture. Yesterday, he heard them singing, and dashed out with the camera to get the pictures he knew I craved. Thanks, honey!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

All rainbows end in the street

Tuesday evening, we went to the dedication of the Temple Chess and Poetry Garden. It is in the space between the Temple for Performing Arts and the new downtown library, what used to be the patio of Starbucks. It's just a couple of blocks from my office.

The garden came about because a benefactor wanted to have an artist design a chess table that could be placed in a park. Instead, they got three.

There is a table on either side, and one to the back of the picture. The wheels cleverly disguise the fact that the tables are bolted to the ground.

We went because the powers that be wanted area chess players to come and play. There's my personal chess guru, deep in thought.

There were speeches and stuff, but the fact that Mayor Frank Cownie was speaking did not deter two kids from their game.

That's the Temple in the background.

Did you notice that I said Chess and Poetry Garden? The Poetry is farther back from the street, and for that matter, so is the garden. The garden, in fact, is fenced in by the poetry. I can't say that I'm crazy about that symbolism, but no one asked my opinion. For what it's worth, no mention was made of the poetry aspect during the oratory. The copper wall in the background is the library.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Coming attractions

This is mostly for me, so I don't forget these dates, but anyone is welcome to join me. Here's what I plan to do with my weekends in the next month.

May 16: Dedication of the Chess and Poetry Garden. Terry is so excited about the prospects of playing chess in a park that he can hardly stand it. Plus, it is right next to Starbucks on one side, and La Mie on the other.

May 21: Jewish Food Fair at Temple B'nai Jeshurun. Food, entertainment, and a chance to tour their beautiful facility. I linked to the main page so you can see their series of "Eat like a ... " advertisements. I want an "Eat like a marxist" poster.

June 3 and 4: Greek Food Fair at St. George Greek Orthodox. My favorite culinary adventure of the year, surpassing even the reknowned Iowa State Fair. They used to just serve a plate dinner, but they have added a la carte dining. Wowee wow wow! And, it runs for two days, so you don't have to make a pig of yourself at one meal. They also offer tours of their lovely sanctuary.

June 10 and 11: Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival. It's not Maryland Sheep and Wool, but hey, it's only their second year. It was, however, reminiscent of my 4-H county fair days. Now that I know how to spin a little, I expect the shopping will be more interesting to me.

ETA Late addition: On May 29, my Piker pal Jerry will have a story published in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine. He's a terrific writer. Go buy the magazine.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I'm everywhere

Maybe not everywhere, but a couple of places.

I have a poem in The Piker Press this week. It came from a writing prompt that was tossed out at my NaNoWriMo refugees group a few weeks ago.

After I got my iPod, I casually mentioned in one of the Piker online staff brawls that "we should do a podcast." One of our code monkeys latched onto that idea, and as of today, PikerCasts is listed on Podcast Alley and iTunes. (You'll need iTunes installed on your computer to go to that one.) Which is cool enough, but the first episode out there is the poem I wrote last year for Mother's Day.

You don't need to have an iPod or mp3 player to hear it. If you go to the Podcast Alley page, scroll down and click on PikerCasts 01 to listen.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Many hands make light work

It was a pretty day here, sunny and just the right temperature. The Knitting and Handgun Appreciation Society teamed up on a project that let us get outside, get some exercise, and do some actual blood-pumping work. Tote that barge, lift that bale, push that broom, and where did I leave my latte?

So now my back aches, and I am mourning my inability to take NSAIDs (pharmacist's orders). Once you've spent some time with Aleve, Tylenol just doesn't provide the same thrill.

But our mission was completed. As with knitting, there is a wonderful sense of accomplishment when you see something physically transformed by the work of your own hands.

And I think I just might sleep pretty well tonight.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Still life with cat and shoe

The knitting project that is currently number one on my hit parade is a gift, thus, no progress pictures. It's about half done, though, and those who have seen it in person have pronounced it good and satisfactory.

So in the meantime, here's another cat picture. It was either that, or a picture of my dental work, just finished this morning. Even if you aren't a cat fan, I still think you will find this preferable.