Saturday, February 28, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Write About This Photo

This is the fourth week of my writing class. We're given daily prompts, and sometimes the prompt is a photo instead of a phrase. Every day, no excuses, we write for 10 minutes–12 minutes max–and hit the send button. Our writing partner changes every week. This was my piece today. Photo by Jane Underwood.

"If you keep giving me that sour expression, your face is going to freeze some day."

It happened on December 27, 1965.

My grandmother was nagging nagging nagging that I had to run a comb through my hair and wash my face before I would be allowed to sit at the table. I gave her a dark scowl. Then later in the meal she said I couldn't have a crescent cookie until I ate my carrots. I stuck out my tongue and glowered–and suddenly my face froze.

It hasn't been easy living 43 years with this face.

When I was twenty-one I tried plastic surgery. But when the bandages came off, the frozen face was still there.

I've tried Botox to try to get the muscles to relax, but to no avail.

I can't really interview for a job with this face, so I work at home by myself as an illustrator.

My voice is pleasant enough–it sounds a little like a chipmunk–but that part's OK. Problems arise when a client wants to hold a conference call over Skype. I have to turn my camera off and apologize that it's malfunctioning again.

My husband is legally blind, so that helps.

With the advent of the internet, friendships have become easier. Facebook has been a Godsend. I can use a cute smiley face icon for my profile picture.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Not The Brightest Day But Still ...

Isn't it beautiful? After 3 days of being housebound, I escaped to the beach. It was a little windy, especially headed in this direction. When I got to the end of the dunes–ready to turn around–it started raining sideways. But the rain and wind were behind me now, pushing me, so I didn't care. I had my Beatles/Aretha Franklin station going.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rainy Day Kitchen

White bean soup; arugula with tangerine and hard-boiled eggs; baked pears with pecans, brown sugar, raisins. Dark chocolate. Leftover coffee.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Write About This Photo

This is the third week of my writing class. We're given daily prompts, and sometimes the prompt is a photo instead of a phrase. Every day, no excuses, we write for 10 minutes–12 minutes max–and hit the send button. Our writing partner changes every week. This was today's write.

Jane Underwood

That's our marriage counselor, Eugene Alexander! Except Gene wears socks. He's one of my favorite people in the whole universe.

One time I asked him, "Gene? Do you ever tell your wife you love her?"

"All the time!" he roared.

"Well ... when?"


"When do you tell her. Like, do you tell her you love her first thing in the morning, soon as you wake up?"



One time I asked him, "Gene? Do you think everything that happens, happens for a reason?"


I said, "Well what about that movie, 'What the Bleep Do We Know'?"



One time Gene met Tom and me coming up the steps.

"Do we have an appointment today?" he asked.

We stepped into his office and he consulted his calendar. "Huh-oh," he said. "I screwed up."

We said it was OK. He said, "I feel terrible about this. I've never done this before."

I said, "I know how you can make it up to us. Next time we come, tell us a great movie we should watch."

Next time we came he handed us a yellow piece of paper filled with movie titles. "I felt so bad that I made you a whole list of movies," he said.

Here's what was on his list:


The Five Obstructions

Red Beard

Breaking the Waves

Take My Eyes

The Life of Others


Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring

You, Me and Everyone We Know


Andre Rublev

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Importance of Skin Care

Linda Davick

Whether or not you know it, your face says volumes about you. Maintaining clean and healthy skin leads to positive self-esteem and confidence. Fortunately, healthy skin or even rejuvenating skin that has suffered neglect does not mean having to purchase expensive skincare products. Indeed, natural skin care products are available, cost less money, and are better for our skin.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A group of women (prompt)

This is the third week of my writing class. We're given daily prompts. Every day, no excuses, we write for 10 minutes–12 minutes max–and hit the send button. Our writing partner changes every week. This was my favorite piece from last week.

Walking by Neiman Marcus one morning after my doctor's appointment, I had to work my way around a group of women outside the door. Big deal, I thought. So what. Give me a break. I found myself having to walk out into the street in order to turn the corner.

That's when I heard one of them mention 3 words: "Garnier," "Ultra," and "Lift." I turned in my tracks and glommed on to the group. The night before I had received this email from my friend Jamie, in Berlin. Jamie is a boy, but I'm finding that sometimes boys know the best tricks:

From: jamie
Subject: new project
Date: February 10, 2009 1:32:00 AM PST
To: linda

New project: Do you know about Garnier Ultra Lift? Not that you should, or would. But I picked up a tube of this during the last trip to New York. The package is green, and it's designed like a caulking tube. According to the directions it targets deep wrinkles. That's exactly what I've been looking for; a product to target a certain area on either side of my mouth and around my eyes. And under my eyes. I think it's working, or targeting. Pics TKTKTK.

Much love,

Subject: Re: new project
From: linda
Date: February 10, 2009 9:06:19 AM PST
To: jamie

Help! I'm trying to find Garnier Ultra Lift but keep getting:

Currently unavailable.

We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock.

Not that you should, or would know: but do you happen to know if it works on jowls?


From: jamie
Subject: Re: new project
Date: February 10, 2009 9:32:00 AM PST
To: linda

I am researching for jowl problems of my own and will let you know what I find out. In the meantime, try wearing three different turtlenecks in succession. (Fine now, but not sure what to suggest come warm weather.)


When the door opened, the group of women moved as one giant mass to a white counter piled high with green packages designed like caulking tubes. I felt myself being squashed and carried along upright–I didn't have to move my feet at all. I was tense. Would I get a tube? Would there be any Garnier Ultra Lift left?

It turns out I wasn't one of the lucky ones. I walked outside, took a deep breath, and assessed the situation. I headed over to Ross Dress for Less and bought 21 different colored turtlenecks–enough so that I could wear 3 a day for a whole week.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gifts From the Sea

It's been raining all week. I hadn't made it outside for a long time and was starting to feel really strange. Today we decided to be ready to zoom down to the beach in case the sun came out. Guess what happened around five o'clock!

We raced down there. I took off, and halfway down the beach I realized I had forgotten my camera. I did what I always do when that happens: I tried not to look at anything. Because inevitably when you forget your camera, you see all the best stuff.

I tried and tried not to look at anything. I looked straight down at the ground as I jogged. It didn't work. So I rolled my eyes and dug out my phone. These are phone photos.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Great Discovery

Say your sister drove up to be with your mom on Valentine's weekend while you played on your computer and drank Margaritas and read your Alexander McCall Smith book. Do you think she would deserve one of these necklaces? Which one?

They're made by Mark Poulin and you can see more here.

p.s. My birthday is May 31.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Only Have (Googly) Eyes For You

I made a card for Tom and gave him an orange baseball cap to keep in the Nebulous. He gave me a bottle of margarita mix from Tommy's and a bottle of tequila. We took naps and had dinner: salad with blue cheese, and tomato soup. Then we watched a movie on our HUGE new Toshiba 22" HDTV.

22" may not sound large to you, but compared to our old 13" it's a monster.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Phone Call

My phone rings. It's 6:32 a.m. I see Mom's face on the panel. Should I answer? It could be an emergency.

Me: Hello?

Mom: Hi, Hon! How are you?

Me: Oh, fine, Mom! ... It's a little early ... How are you?

Mom: I'm curious. Do you know where the Mojave Desert is?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Thursday, February 05, 2009

What Happened to the Moon?

© Linda Davick

From: Our Franklin
Subject: Evening star scene
Date: January 29, 2009 4:28:24 PM PST
To: Marie, Linda, Elaine

Be sure to view the western sky at and after sunset.

From: Linda

What happens?

From: Our Franklin

The new moon (barely waxing) and the planet Venus put on a free show.

From: Linda on February 2

Venus is still up there and really bright but the moon has disappeared. What happened to it?

From: Our Franklin on February 4


Regarding why the moon is in a different place from one night to the next:

The moon orbits Earth every 28 days or so, circling in the same direction as Earth's rotation (to our East).
Because the Earth is constantly rotating toward the East once every 24 hours, the moon appears to move across the sky toward the West along with Venus and all the stellar objects, "rising" in the East and "setting" in the West. This apparent westward motion is rather like the way we perceive the tops of trees and telephone poles seeming to race backwards as we lie in a moving car gazing up through the windows.

Like the trees and telephone poles, the stellar objects are relatively "stuck" in space, and it is we who move with the spinning Earth.
In reality, the stellar objects move along their own paths, yet since they are so terribly far away, their motion is practically undetectable to us. But unlike the stars and planets like Venus, the moon actually circles us. And since the moon is circling Earth much slower than Earth spins, the moon appears to lag behind by a few hours every night. (Actually, the moon, as seen from our perspective on Earth, is getting ahead of the other stars and such.)

If you observed the moon on a clear night for several hours, you might be able to notice this lagging behind the other background objects (Venus and the stars). And, as you have recently observed over several days , the moon definitely seems to be falling further "behind" the other objects.

Imagine your animated mouse friend on a carousel rotating counter-clockwise.
Surrounding the carousel is a circular train track.
On this track is a slow train called the Lunar Express, traveling the same way the mouse travels on the carousel.
But the carousel goes around many times while the Lunar Express makes only one full circuit along its track.
The mouse glimpses the Lunar Express briefly each time the carousel goes around.
Now across the track (on the outer side of the track) are a series of randomly placed "stellargraph poles" with stars on thars.
The train chugs steadily yet very slowly by these stellargraph poles.
The mouse sees the stellargraph poles beyond the Lunar Express.
To the mouse, both the Lunar Express and the stellargraph poles appear to be moving "backwards" as the mouse whizzes around on the carousel.
Each time around, the mouse notices that the Lunar Express has moved away from poles that were near the train last trip around.
Given enough cheese and a steady carousel ride, our mouse friend could easily imagine that the "outer world" of trains and poles is moving (clockwise) around her seemingly still carousel. And the stellargraphpoles would appear to be going around the mouse a bit faster than the circling train which really was going around the carousel in the other (counter-clockwise) direction.

Surely by now our mouse must be sleepy, or gone for more wine.
Good night.
RFL is Susan's husband, R. Franklin Landis (also known as Our Franklin)

Monday, February 02, 2009

My Writing Class

Jane Underwood

I was a little hesitant to register. So just to play it safe, I waited until the class was closed to sign up. As luck would have it, a former student asked to be put on the waiting list, too. Since the class is based on exchanging writing with a partner–and since the former student's request created an even number (36 total in the class)–Jane let me in. It turns out that I had a great time at our meeting yesterday.

Here's the idea: An e-mail exchange of short, daily, timed writings with your partner. A new partner is assigned every week, along with 7 daily writing prompts (words or photos).

Writing time: 10 to 12 minutes. NO MORE.

You receive your partner's write and send it back to them the next day, with your brief responses, along with YOUR next day's write.

Reasons for partnering:

1. To get in the habit of writing every day -- that is, to PRACTICE writing.

2. To continually generate new ideas for your writing. Most ideas come
while you are actually in the process of writing.

3. To feel the difference between writing only for yourself, and writing
for someone else (an audience), and to notice how your writing changes, depending upon who your audience is.

4. To practice (and risk) being open and honest for an audience

5. To get an immediate, daily "response" to your writing (so that you
feel less like you are writing into the void–less isolated)

6. To indirectly learn about your own writing through the process of
responding to someone else's. It is often much easier to see what works
or what doesn't work when you are scrutinizing a piece of writing that
isn't your own. You will begin to develop a more "objective" eye, and
eventually you can learn to use that objectivity when looking at your
own writing.

7. To capture your "natural" voice (innate tone, style, personality),
before you have a chance to: snuff it out, smother it,tidy it up, hide
it, correct it, polish it, soften it, or otherwise stomp the life out of
it, all in the name of "improving" it.

Doesn't this sound perfect? You can sign up for a class here.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Note to Sally and Jane

Sally, thanks for helping me with the code so that my Graffiti now squeezes into my blog format.

Jane, thanks for squeezing me into your writing class at the last minute.