Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tall Ships Visiting Crescent City

As I may have mentioned, I grew up far from the sea, near Yellowstone Park, in the lakes and Rocky Mountains and High Desert of Wyoming. I loved that area, but even as a young child, the pull of the ocean and her beaches was always on me.  I would stroll the rocky beaches at Yellowstone Lake, following the waves and watching the gulls and dream that I was Gidget, with a surfboard to ride.

NowI have lived on the Redwood Coast for 23 years, and firmly believe that old adage that says, "If you are lucky enough to live by the sea, you are lucky enough."

Last year I wrote about the section in my second book, where a ghost ship is discovered adrift in Uhrlin,

That mystery in Duffy Barkley: Seek Well was inspired by a couple Tall Ships which I have been lucky enough to see almost annually since 1998.

The Hawaiian Chieftain and The Lady Washington are beautiful, and dock here and do tours and stage mock battles and welcome school groups.  And I love them.  You may recognize the Lady from playing the Interceptor on the Pirates of the Caribbean or from a holodeck scene in Star Trek.

This year it was especially joyful to welcome them back, as they had to skip our harbor last spring after the Japanese tsunami destroyed all of our docks in March 2011.

I know this is my writing blog, but enough words.  Let me show some pictures of the Ships

Watching the mock battle cruise

My son works in the building on the dock

Hawaiian Chieftain passes Battery Poing Lighthouse

Lady Washington

Crab boat in the foreground, Hawaiian Chieftain in the middle

The Chiefain

The Lady is Movie Star Lovely

The Chieftain's helm is a wheel

My pirate loving son in 1998

Me and son in 1998 see ships in Old Town Eureka, CA

The Lady's Helm is not a wheel, both my boys steering

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Writing about Violence When Writing for Young People

 When I was writing my first book, Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog, I had a hard time writing for middle school and high school kids, but dealing with bullies and handicaps and a school shooting.  The darkness was something modern kids live with, but still painful, and even though I knew I was working toward an ending filled with hope and renewal, I struggled with the brutal beginning.  So I tried to rescue Duffy from the immediate agony by throwing in a kinder memory from his younger years.

So, after the school shooting, when his younger sister is taken by ambulance but Duffy is still waiting at the school, I wrote the following scene

Waiting for the school to clear, Duffy had sat on the cement
steps and leaned against the scratchy warmth of the brick wall.
His teacher had glanced back reassuringly several times as he
moved among the students and the parents milling on the curb.
Duffy rarely moved. He sat tensely, with his crutches gripped
tightly and positioned so he would be able to move quickly once
they could finally go. He was holding himself just as tightly and
except for those hiccups he didn't even tremble.
Suddenly a large raven flew down and landed on the blacktop
where the kids played four square. It turned its glossy black eye to
stare straight at Duffy for a moment then it twisted its head to
check the sky before hop, hop hopping to snatch up a piece of a
bagel dropped earlier when the day had still been routine. The
raven and the smaller crows seemed to know which days had
popcorn sales and often only appeared just before lunch on
Friday. Could it still be so early in the day? Duffy turned his head
to watch as another raven dropped in and hopped about, trying to
get closer to the prize.
Ravens, here was something Duffy could think about without
crying or screaming. Here was an ordinary, safe topic which had
nothing to do with Izzy. Duffy wondered where the black birds
went when it wasn't a Friday. Did they come every Friday, even
during the summer?
Suddenly another day with ravens and Skull filled Duffy's
memory; They had been the second grade "big buddies" for a
class of kindergartners. Their class had the job of hiding colored
eggs on the playground for a hunt. As Duffy pulled his walker,
with a dozen bright eggs nestled in the basket always velcroed to
the crossbar, Skull rose up from behind a bush and barked wildly.
He had tripped Duffy. Unbelievably, only one egg had broken.
Duffy left it on the ground and walked resolutely away to scatter
the remaining eggs. The muscles in his back ached from being
clenched as he waited for another attack. A teacher called Skull
over and made him sit alone on the bench. Duffy watched him
out of the corner of his eye. "Odd," he thought, "He looks as
lonely as I am." Then Skull glanced up and met Duffy's gaze. For
a moment Skull looked vulnerable, then his face hardened and he
pounded the palm of one hand with his own fist. Duffy swallowed
hard, and quickly glanced away.
When the eggs were scattered among the bushes and swings,
Duffy's class had lined up to go in and bring out their little
buddies. The teacher suddenly pointed to a raven which had been
waiting for them to leave. It hopped calmly over and gulped down
the bits of broken egg. The class began to go in, figuring the show
was over. Duffy and Skull were among the last in line and both
gasped into startled laughter when the raven next hopped over and
picked up an unbroken egg. It then hopped up with wings
flapping to about two feet above the blacktop before letting the
egg drop. The clever bird then began greedily gulping this second
treat. Their shared laughter felt uncomfortable and Duffy and
Skull glanced at each other, then turned quickly away. Both
hurried after the class and never mentioned the sly bird again.
Duffy blinked and the two birds on the empty playground at
lunchtime grew tired of waiting for the crumb dropping children
who weren't coming. They flew up to a wire, then jumped up and
flew away. Duffy wished he could flyaway with them. He
shivered and turned his head back toward the nervous
adults on the curb.

I still think at times that the creatures out there are smarter than the people they share this world with, but Duffy reminded me that there is always hope.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rain, Money, Worries and Being Mom

 Today is Tuesday, April 3rd. I like today because our school is on spring break, but my husband teaches across the border, 22 miles away but in another state, so his spring break ended the day ours began. What this means is that I woke him up early last week, and his alarm gets my eyes open even though technically I can sleep.
We have had something like 6 to 16 inches of rain this week, varying depending on the part of the county, but still, flooding, roads collapsed or buried under landslides, redwoods falling into power lines because the earth around their roots more closely resembles pudding.
"How Snails hide from the downpour"
I have taken every dry moment to haul firewood, and that means I haven't hauled much, but got three wheelbarrow loads yesterday. Since that is my only means of heating the house, it has to be done and it is good exercise too.  A few years back I realized I needed it more than my boys and husband and asked them to let me do the wood hauling as I was afraid that if they "took care of me" I would not be able to do it by the time the boys moved out.
the day the Rhododendrons began to open, the rain attacked them

I wish that my mind did not slow down when the grey skies dominate, but I can feel that it does.  Depression is a fight to avoid and the momentum falters.  I walk around in a warm house with food and family in abundance, and yet the fear of lacking something we need.  The financial news and the bills I have coming in, combine to terrify me and make me wish I could re-do all my choices.

Go tell Aunt Rhodie
a young flicker searching for slugs and worms after the rain
If only I had stayed working full time instead of writing my two books (Non-money makers but oh so fun) and instead of being a parent volunteer, maybe I'd be in a place where there is black ink instead of bills?  I HATE MONEY!  But I have rarely been so freaked out by it.  I wake up at night worrying, feeling my heart racing and my face going numb from adrenalin.  Two kids ready to start their college or adult life, and Me wanting to give them an easy time, but all I can give them is a hug and a prayer.
If it is possible to force yourself to live happier, to expect plenty, and to manifest that plenty into your life by expecting windfalls, that is how I have lived my life.  I knew I would always have enough, not worrying from day to day, and sure enough, exactly what I needed would appear.  Why is it harder to have that trust for my sons?

But let me recommend the book which has helped me when times are darkest.  Pam Young wrote one about getting out of Debt and living joyfully.  It is called, The Get Out Of Debt Book (GOOD Book) and I listen to it again and again when I feel my hope fading, & I end up looking at what I have instead of living in my fears.

The rain creates waterfalls all through the canyon

Yes, snow.  The first I have seen in 12 months, fell on April Fool's Day