Two Views of My Novel

I found this rock on the first beach walk of my retreat, a sea-scoured nugget of quartz. It seemed to me a perfect metaphor for my first draft: a gem (or crystal, anyway) in the rough, all of its facets and inner beauty temporarily concealed. I probably won’t polish the crystal, but I will polish the novel. (In fact, I’ve made good progress on a couple of thorny problems while down here.) So, here are two different views of my work in progress:

And while I ponder the book, here’s the Landshark scanning the sea for signs of its marine brethren:

First Writing Retreat of 2014

I’m on Cape Cod for a few days, to clear my head and try to get some traction in the rewrite of The Reefs of Time. I’ve got the whole book loaded into Scrivener now, with notes all over the place, and Scrivener has already proved its usefulness in letting me move the chapters of different subplots around like chess pieces. I think I’ve got them lined up the way I want them, though of course I might feel differently as the rewriting proceeds.

Part of what I love about coming to the Cape is a chance to walk along the beach and the dunes, and refresh my brain with ocean air. Whenever I do that, I seem to see patterns in nature that somehow connect with what I’m writing. The tide coming in over the sand, for example, creates little ephemeral rivers that remind me of the starstream, a cosmic structure of my own imaginary design which figures prominently in the new book. (See From a Changeling Star and Down the Stream of Stars for more about the starstream, which was born of a supernova and a long cosmic hyperstring.)

I’m not sure what these vistas of sand dunes remind me of, but I felt strongly that they symbolize something in the story I’m writing. I guess I’ll find out what, later.

In case you think I just stole these pictures off the internet, here’s one of me standing where the dunes give way to the beach and the water. (Would you trust this guy with your daughter? Hmm.)

How about this guy? (He claimed to be rollerblading. But it was way too cold to be rollerblading. What was he really doing?)

I Wish I Were a Painter!

Home now from the writing retreat, but I thought I’d leave a last few images from Cape Cod. After leaving my motel, I went further out on the Cape to the National Seashore  and biked part of the Rail Trail out there. At one stop, I sat on the beach for a little while, watching the surfers.

I suddenly wanted a painting of this scene, but different. I wanted a night sky, and the ocean sloping out to the horizon and merging seamlessly into a liquid ocean of stars, with perhaps the spark of a distant starship or two streaking out toward the Galactic center. That thin white hump on the righthand side of the horizon would be undersea cities, perhaps the jumping-off point for intelligent sea beings setting out for the stars. I wish I could paint it myself, but that’s not my skill, alas. Just a dream…

Here are a few more parting images from the Cape:

Tomorrow, the crew comes to start installing solar electric panels on our roof!

Nature’s Reset Button

Amazing how the writing mind can bounce back with a little time away, and some exposure to nature.  The last two days have been great.  Here are a few pix I took of, and around, Quechee Gorge in Vermont.
That bridge you see way down is Vermont Rt. 4, but was originally the bridge for the Woodstock Railroad. 
Downstream of the gorge. 

Another shot downstream, but this one with accursed Japanese bamboo weed in the foreground.  I hope it hasn’t taken over by the next time I visit. 
Forest along the gorge.
This sculpture replicates the movement of an eagle’s wings when maneuvering in a steep bank prior to diving.   If you walk between the two bars and glide your hands along the metal with arms outstretched, your arms move in a reproduction of the eagle’s wing motion.
A cool wind sculpture near the nature center, caught in three different positions. 

And now I head home, with hopes that I can keep some of this lodged in my forebrain for a while.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

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Here’s hoping that you all have a wonderful day, and that you have much to be grateful for. If you’re outside the U.S., you might not have the day off, but I hope you’ll join us in spirit. Think of something to be thankful for, and share it with someone you love!

Oh, and if you happen to run a large retail corporation, and you’re thinking of starting “Black Friday” on Thanksgiving Day, how about thinking again? Why not treat your employees (and your customers) with dignity and respect, and let everyone enjoy their holiday before you throw open the doors with your sales? We can wait. Really, we can.

Hunkered Down for Hurricane Sandy

Like millions of others in the eastern U.S., we’re battened down, waiting out Hurricane Sandy. We’ve got bread and batteries up the wazoo, extra water in the basement and garage (I knew those big plastic cat-litter containers I’ve been saving would be good for something, someday), gas in the cars, and I even got a couple of the window air conditioners pulled for the winter before it started blowing. Where we are, outside Boston, the main concern is downed trees and wires (and I’ve already called in one of each from my earlier outings).

Here’s what Sandy looks like from space:

Interesting sequence of photos:

Edit: We came through it just fine. I wish the same were true of our neighbors down the coast!

Microburst Hits Neighborhood

My neighborhood, that is. At least that’s what people were saying it was. I haven’t heard an official report, and you know they’ll just cover it up like the aliens in New Mexico, anyway. But I think it was a microburst.

I was sitting in my third floor office, noticing with approval that it was raining a bit. God knows we need the rain (most of the country does), and we needed some cooling off. Then we got a couple of good cracks of thunder. Didn’t bother Captain Jack, but it made me jump. Then the wind started blowing and the house started shaking. I looked out the window and saw the big oak tree outside (just beyond our property line) whipping around, and I’m pretty sure I saw rain blowing horizontally. I was starting to think I should turn off the computer and get the hell downstairs to a more sheltered location. Being an idiot, I didn’t right away. Instead, I clicked to look at a radar map. By the time it came up, the storm was over. The map and my eyes both confirmed that the convective area was passing. It probably lasted two minutes, total.

When I went out a few minutes later with Captain Jack, I found the whole neighborhood out walking around. Our property was okay, but the neighborhood looked as if a hurricane had gone through. Here are a couple of pictures I snapped with my phone camera.

This one, around the block from my house, came down on the house across the street. Looked like it was being held up by the power and cable lines near the house.

This grand old tree stood right outside our town’s new off-leash dog park. A brand-new maintenance shed in the dog park is gone altogether. This is just one of many trees that came down right across our bike path, where I do my rollerblading. 

The force of nature is a powerful thing, isn’t it? 


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