Wednesday, October 31, 2007

PandaBaby discovers the joys of being a camel, and adopts a Style

The joys of being a camel (PandaBaby - with 2 capital letters) are in the delights of being found. In the hide and seek of Internet blogs and boards, camels, it turns out, are more readily found (thus BookMooch, LibraryThing, BookCrossing, etc.). So we have become PandaBaby (although I don't know yet if it will be possible to morph our name in places we are already established with only one hump).

Truth is found in many disguises - (an old and well worn truth), proven in myths, parables, fairy tales, science fiction, fantasy and in the styles of authors I admire such as Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint. PandaBaby will from hereon be published in the category of Speculative Fiction (and some may think this announcement redundant, claiming it has already achieved that goal). Speculative Fiction embraces Fantasy, Science Fiction and horror genres. R. A. MacAvoy (a fellow camel!) is another Speculative Fiction writer I admire, most recently having read her Science Fiction work "The Third Eagle".

PandaBaby hopes that readers who stumble across her blog will enjoy her truths and lies and fiction, and not be confused as to which is which. PandaBaby will often be referred to as her, and sometimes as him, and once in a while with the royal we. Please note that there is just this one PandaBaby.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Brain Fizzle or Boring LIfe?

Neither, I hope. I've been busy, but not with things suitable for publishing (no, not that).

I can write when I'm happy or mad, but not when I'm sad. I need to learn how to express sadness - but first how not to let it overwhelm me. Translating sadness into anger works for some sadness, but truly sad things are just - sad.

But not today. Today, I'm thinking of which books to set free with BookCrossing tags on Amtrak when we go on our trip to Virginia. I'm thinking of going to the National Zoo and taking pictures of the pandas.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Celebrate! Have a mammogram

It is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month - celebrate with a mammogram, or give a mammogram to someone you love.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A rainy week

A rainy week here, reading and getting ready for our trip.

CC&R Update: I went to the second meeting of the CC&R committee, and brought up a couple of embarrassing facts: we were sending letters to homeowners for cracked driveways, but the homeowners association has asphalt paths in dire need of repair. We've been harassing residents who leave their trash containers visible from the street, but the association has left a trash can visible next to the tennis courts, instead of putting it inside an attractive structure. The association has two paths that terminate at curbs instead of 'let-downs' for handicapped access, which I asked them to have fixed, and the response was positive. Our front yard is much neater now, and I'm getting a load of bark dust to finish it soon.

I'm getting ready for our Amtrak trip back east, choosing which books I'll set free on the trains with BookCrossing labels. So far, I've picked "Mother Teresa: In My Own Words", "A Black Eye Isn't the End of the World" (panda photographs, of course!), and a two-volume-in-one travel book by Peter Gethers, "The Cat Who Went to Paris" and "A Cat Abroad".

Monday, October 8, 2007

A War Story

"The Zookeepers Wife", subtitled "A War Story", stands out in my book collection of science fiction, romance and fantasy - a different kind of book.

It is a true story, based the diaries of the eponymous heroine who lived through the Nazi occupation of Warsaw in the ruins of her beloved zoo. She continued to care for the surviving animals and her garden. She worked at her daily routine, baking bread, preserving food, teaching her young son, and playing the piano, while she hid Jewish refugees under her house.

Author Diane Ackerman melds a mountain of meticulous research into a riveting story of courage, not the courage that charges the enemy front with loaded rifles, but courage that faces the enemy unarmed except for ingenuity, wit and determination.

The details packed into The Zookeeper's Wife create a rich mosaic of daily life that contrasts sharply with her exposition of the Nazi philosophy and how it was implemented. It freezes the soul to read of the cold-blooded intentions of Hitler's high command - nothing less than the extermination of the Polish people.

Although the Zabrinksi family experienced suffering and loss, the remarkable aspect of the story is that they prevailed. They prevailed daily by keeping their love, joy and dignity. They prevailed in the end by surviving their oppressors and by keeping three hundred Jews alive in spite of the threats and violence surrounding them.

The Zookeepers Wife is a story of the triumph of the human spirit. Highly recommended.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Just Average

When Jaye Patrick published a link to Action Earth, I just had to go and see what our carbon footprint would be. I was disappointed to find it is just average for an Aussie or an American - 20 tons per year!

With our solar hot water, limited use of the automobile, and other factors, I had hopes we'd do better than that, not that I expected to come close to the 4.8 tons per year for Jaye's household, but really!

Then I thought about all the Air Conditioners and Air Cleaners we run to keep my husband's MCS (multiple chemical sensitivities) under control. That's the main culprit, but there are more things we can do. I printed the list from Action Earth, and expect to start working on it this week.

Sometimes I wonder if the polluters of the earth knew they'd be reincarnated as their own descendants, living in the chemical stew they created themselves, if they'd make different choices. Maybe. Maybe not. Perhaps they'd tell themselves they'd just "think about that tomorrow".

Well there's a safe philosophy, Scarlett, for as we've all noticed by now, tomorrow never comes. It is always today.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Crushed Daisies

"He loves me, he loves me not...he loves me, he loves me not"

A fun game, unless you're a daisy.

If you're a daisy....

A beautiful sunny day, a perfect little breeze, some industrious bees - and then! A ruthless hand swoops down from out of nowhere, and plucks you up, sundering stem and root. Ahhh, the pain.

But wait, you've been cautioned of this moment - and you know that now you will be transformed into an object of admiration and delight, perhaps a bouquet. Perhaps you will gain the ultimate honor, and a gentle hand will will weave you among you're siblings, and crown an innocent brow with your beauty.

You quiver with anticipation.

What is this? Petals ripped from stamen, one by one, a slow dismemberment. This is not how bouquets are made. A distant thunder mutters, "He loves me, he loves me not..."

Why? ? ??? ??????????

Because they CAN.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Heroes and Writers

Who is your hero? A political figure? historical persona? music idol?

Don't we all have our heroes? Someone who has accomplished the things we'd like to do? Movie stars and rockers are accustomed to screaming fans who mob their idols in public, create websites to memorialize their genius, and write gushing letters of adoration. Sports icons, royalty, the 'rich and famous' all have their fandom. Consider the pictures, documentaries, books, movies, songs and memorabilia inspired by Princess Diana, for example.

Kids who love to play cricket, soccer, baseball, basketball know who the greats in their sport are and what they've done that's exceptional. People of all ages know the words to their pop idol's latest songs, and collect their albums and pictures. We want to get close to our idols - maybe it will rub off!

So who pushes your buttons? Whom we choose to exalt says as much about us as about our heroes. We want to be beautiful, rich, sexy, talented, young and popular. Then we'd be happy, then we'd have all we could desire, or so goes our not quite conscious reasoning.

When girls my age were screaming and fainting over the Beatles, I was left wondering what was wrong with them. Sure I liked the music, but why scream and jump up and down over it? It was the same with the rest of the social icons - I couldn't see what the fuss was all about.

Then something happened that moved me, pushed my buttons, pulled my levers, touched my secret wishes. I got a book signed by one of my favorite authors.

O.K., so now you're probably laughing your head off, and I can't blame you. What kind of a person is indifferent to the Beatles, and goes off like a rocket for - a mere writer?! Well, obviously, a bookworm of course. I'm not alone in my particular passion. Every week there are lines at bookstores around the country where people wait patiently for the chance to have an author sign a book for them. So authors as pop idols isn't an unusual phenomenon. The difference is that bookworms are usually quiet, mild-mannered people who would never dream of mobbing an author and snatching a souvenir. Lines of bookworms are quiet, orderly things, and not the screaming, jumping mobs that surround pop stars.

sigh. I never did march to anyone else's drum. My husband knows what to expect of me, and was mildly amused to see me jumping up and down when a I got a signed early copy of a book last month. Most people would have been alarmed, convinced I was losing my mind. That behavior is reserved for the Beatles, you see, and just not the thing to do over a book.

So there you have it - my heroes are the writers who create stories that I love to read. Karen Traviss, S. L. Viehl, Nancy Kress, Robin Hobb, Holly Lisle, Anne McAffrey, Elizabeth Moon, Tanith Lee, Linnea Sinclair, Lisa Kleypas, Mary Balogh, Mary Jo Putney, Liz Carlyle, Nicole Jordan, Loretta Chase - these are women who write fantastic Science Fiction, Fantasy or Romance. They are my heroes, because they create magic with words, they create worlds with their books, and because a part of me would love to do what they do.