January 30, 2006

Underlying social significance...

Watercolor, pickle lady, © Janelle Meraz Hooper

1-30-06- The weather is still miserable. The watercolor is one I did several years ago. I’m just posting it because it has color! The woman is picking cucumbers on a pickle farm. During a juried art show once, a juror said it had "underlying social significance" and gave it a high score. Underlying social significance? In a pickle?

Rain-Still. I’m taking the day off to write.

Quote du jour:
"Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint." Mark Twain

January 28, 2006

Deadheading roses...

Sign, Anchorage Alaska, © Janelle Meraz Hooper

1-28-06-I took this photo. It’s for real. I was told that the wildlife department harvests eggs from the salmon for conservation purposes, then give the fish away.
Rain-It’s quiet here on Lake Puyallup this Saturday. They say we have at least two more weeks of rain, so I imagine everyone is in their basements, building an ark.
Custer-The quote today is from my latest novel, Custer and His Naked Ladies. Among the senior women in the book’s setting, one woman's failure to deadhead her roses is a serious offense.

Quote du jour:
“She doesn’t deadhead her roses, you know.” Mickey, Custer and His Naked Ladies (not yet published)

January 27, 2006

Googling turtles...

Door in downtown McCarthy, © Janelle Meraz Hooper

1-27-06- Here’s another shot in downtown McCarthy, Alaska. The weather has been so wet that I haven’t been able to get out around here to take pictures. Tomorrow, you may see a photo of my TV, because that’s about all I’ve seen this month.

Google- I’m still waiting to see who will win, Bush or Google. Once, I spent all day Googling turtles, so I’m in a sweat, LOL. Even so, I’m hoping Google doesn’t give in.

Custer- Custer and His Naked Ladies is taking up a lot of my time. Every time I think I’m about done, I decide to tweak it a little more. A lot of writers hate to rewrite, but it's my favorite part of writing.

Oprah- Oprah rocks! Her show yesterday where she grilled James Frey on his A Million Little Pieces was cathartic for all independent writers. Earlier this month, there was a New York Times article about publishers and editors in the mainstream end of publishing not being able to recognize a good paragraph when they read one. The truth is, I think they do. It’s just that they’re looking at manuscripts through their wallets. They saw Frey’s book and the sweet smell of money overcame the reek of lies. AND, they were sure they’d get away with it. Guess they didn’t count on Oprah getting ticked! (I did send Oprah an email saying she should have reviewed my book. It’s ALL BS, and she wouldn’t have had any trouble with it!)

Quote du jour:
"My main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably." George Bernard Shaw
(I was delighted to find this quote as another writer and I have a conscience about how we look during the day...so we wear our best jewelry with our sweats.)

January 24, 2006

The Silencing of America

McCarthy Hotel, © Janelle Meraz Hooper

1-24-06-You may have noticed that I have a lot of Alaskan photos. I was there for too short a period of time before and after the millennium. I expected to see gorgeous scenery, moose, bear, and other creatures. I was totally unprepared for how much of it I'd see. After the first few days, I gave up counting moose, it seemed that they would be in my kitchen if we weren't on the fourth floor. Talk about life on the big screen! Another surprise was the people. I've never seen a brighter, more engaging group of people in all of my travels. When we had to leave, it was like trying to catch a king crab with a bit of bacon on a short string. In an urgent voice, my husband finally explained to me that he'd had a good offer "outside" with more pay. Someday, when we retired, he reasoned, we'd be glad to have the extra money. So, here I am, "outside." It's not as if I'm in hell here in Washington State--it's pretty darn good. But somedays...

The Silencing of America-
As a writer, for the first time in my career, I am afraid. I have a long history of protesting peacefully. During the Vietnam War, Nixon said that “Silent America” agreed with him. I wrote to the White House and told him, "America isn’t silent because we agree with you. We are silent because we are busy praying."

I signed the letter.

I was not afraid.

It was a good instinct. I got back a form letter that didn’t even come close to responding to the contents of my message. Obviously, it was never read.
Things have changed. Now, whenever I protest, I wonder if the government--my government--will say I'm a terrorist. I never dreamed thatwe would someday have a president who makes Nixon look good. What have things come to?

(Please don’t make any copies of this posting—I am afraid.)

Quote du jour:
“It’s all good!” Canadian Olympic Committee (and others)

January 23, 2006

This is the worst day of the year!

Kennicott Copper Mine, © Janelle Meraz Hooper

1-23-06-I hate football, but I adore magic shows, and yesterday was pure magic. Our Seattle Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl! For years, I’ve maintained that it should be illegal to have that much grass without a home plate. But even I, a diehard baseball fan, loved watching that game! They won over the Panthers 34-14, That’s a good score, isn’t it? I think it is…I’m not a detail person (that’s why I write novels).

Republic of Georgia- Those poor people. Here it is the dead of winter and Russia has blown up its natural gas pipeline, leaving them with no heating oil or gas. We’re short on money right now, but maybe we could send them some of our politicians…

Worst day- A British psychologist has determined that this is the worst day of the year…he has invented a formula that has variables such as weather, debt, salary, time since Christmas, time since failure, and on and on. I’m a writer, and my failures (rejections) are many, so I stopped reading the article when I got to that part of the equation. I’ll just take his word for it.

Bedbugs- They’re back, they say. This would be a good one to blame on Osama. New York is calling for a bedbug task force. Now there’s a political committee people will be fighting—to stay off!
Mad cow- I see Canada has another mad cow. We'll blame this one on Osama too. Since we can't catch him , we might as well get some use out of him...

Quote du jour:
“The chairs are not pretty if they’re empty.” New Orleans restaurateur after Katrina.

January 22, 2006

A free keffiyeh with every book order!

Downtown McCarthy, Alaska, © Janelle Meraz Hooper

1-22-06- The photo is of a business in downtown McCarthy, Alaska that I took several years ago. It's right outside the Kennicott Copper Mine. The ore was sent to the Asarco foundry in Tacoma, Washington. A side-product of the copper ore was gold, but it was kept quiet for years. Maybe, I'll post a picture of the mine tomorrow.
Miss America- All right! Finally, some respect! Congratulations, Jennifer Berry, who was elected Miss Oklahoma 2006 last night in Las Vegas. Woo-hoo!
Leopard geckos-My morning paper had an ad from a local pet store offering leopard geckos on sale. Everything I know about geckos I learned from that insurance ad on TV. I love that little green lizard, but my enthusiasm for the new pet totally evaporated when I scanned down to see that gecko food was also on sale---wait for it---crickets and worms! EEEK! I’m looking for a pet that will grow and be healthy on a diet of unbuttered popcorn…
New York Times Best Sellers- Okay, some of you still haven’t read my books. I know that because The DA Vinci Code by Dan Brown is still near the top of the list. That book has been on the best-seller list for so long that the numbers are higher than our total population. What, are some of you buying and reading it for the 10th time?! Are you using it to steady wobbly tables? Read something else, will you? I promise you, the book ends the same way every time.
Osama’s Book Club- Since my books haven’t been tapped for Oprah’s Book Club, I’m going to see if I can get on Osama’s. I hear he’s giving away a free keffiyeh with every book order (put my name on a red one). William Blum’s book, A Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower is doing very well after Osama picked it.
Custer- Speaking about books, I’d better do some work on mine: Custer and His Naked Ladies.

Quote du jour:
"Garbage in, garbage out." computer saying

January 21, 2006

Teeny-tiny pucks

Alaskan birch bark, © Janelle Meraz Hooper 2006

Basketball season-I love soccer and basketball. If you invite me to a hockey game, know that I’m just going for the popcorn and beer, because my eyes can’t focus on that teeny-tiny puck. Why does it have to be so small…and black? Couldn’t it be bigger and bright pink? Huh? What would it hurt? And don’t tell me a pink puck isn’t macho. There’s not a person alive who would dare to question a hockey player’s masculinity. Unless, maybe, he’d already lost his front teeth and wasn’t worried about getting hit in the mouth with a wooden stick.
Quote du jour:
“Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.” Truman Capote

January 20, 2006

Plantin' peas in the basement...

Rusty nail in Alaskan goldfields © Janelle Meraz Hooper

Rain-I guess Seattle missed breaking its record for rain by one day, but where I am, it’s closer to the mountains, and we had rain yesterday—so I guess it’s 30 and counting where I am.

I kid a lot about it, and so does everyone else. Yesterday, I sent out emails announcing that Noah’s Ark had just floated past my cherry tree. Let’s face it, after Katrina, there’s just no real urge to complain about a little rain in the basement. I do have to admit though, that some people here have lost their homes, or else they have enough mud in their basements to plant peas.

Those of us without view property, miles from the shoreline, are resting easier. It’s kind of like a modern version of The Three Pigs, isn’t it? The first little pig built his home right on the water, and it floated away…the second little pig built his house on the flood plain, and the mud came in and gobbled it up. The third little pig built his house high on a hill, and was warm and dry(—until the earthquake, ha!)

Pakistan- So far today we’ve left them alone. Those poor people. First, the earthquake destroys thousands of homes, then we go in and blow up the few that are left standing. I do have to say though that the “event” reminds me of something Oprah said once, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” STILL, it is WRONG to blow up someone’s country without an invitation. How ruuude!

Quote du jour:
“Never give the devil a ride—he’ll always want to drive.” unknown

January 19, 2006

Waiting for s'mores...

Camp deer, © Dick Hooper
Photo-The above photo was taken by my husband when we were camping at Merand State Park on Orcas Island. He observed us from the edge of our camp for most of the evening. I think he was waiting for the s’mores…
Pakistan bombing- What do we think we’re doing?! Bombing other countries without their permission?! On top of that, they didn’t get the guy they were looking for. It seems we’re relying on intelligence for the information, and everyone knows how we stink at that. Whoops!
Someone in the White House said that there are no boundaries in the war on terrorism. I say there are reasons for laws respecting the boundaries of other countries. The phrase, “Turn about is fair play” comes to mind—maybe Pakistan or some other country, without warning, will bomb us next*.
This administration has not made us safer, as promised. What they have done is put us in more jeopardy than before.
*I know we’ve already been bombed several times, but it wasn’t by a country. For all of Bin Laden’s ego, he is not a country. He is just a desert thug wearing a dingy sheet. I’m convinced that the only reason we haven’t caught him is because we don’t want to. If he starting singing, I imagine the White House would start sweating! Remember, he used to be on our side. He knows more secrets than your husband’s ex-wife…
On my DVD player- The War of the Worlds-This script was beneath Steven Spielberg’s talents from the get-go. Having Tom Cruise as the main protagonist didn’t help the project. At any moment, I thought he might jump the couch.
Hollywood- Calling Hollywood! There’s no need to keep rehashing old scripts, I know of some books that would make wonderful movies (just a couple of them are mine). Email me, and we’ll talk!

Quote du jour:
“Corruption of the best is the worst.” The West Wing

January 17, 2006

A bra made from two tortillas...

On the road to Mc Carthy, © Janelle Meraz Hooper
1-17-06- Dear friends, I must be away from my computer all day. Please enjoy another piece of the first chapter of A Three-Turtle Summer. The first lines were offered here not long ago...
A Three-Turtle Summer by Janelle Meraz Hooper
Chapter one, A Sister in Trouble
As another card dropped from Gregoria’s dress and slid across the floor, Vera added, “We’ll strip you down to your rosary before we ever play cards with you again, Momma.”
“Yeah,” Pauline, chimed in, “the next time you’ll play in nothing but your lace step-ins and a bra made from two tortillas.”
“Well, at least I’ll be the coolest one at the table,” Momma chirped.
Vera reached across the table to gather all the cards and reshuffle them. “We’re going to start all over, and we’ll watch you every minute.”
Grace felt a sharp pain in her stomach when she looked up and saw her husband’s scowling face through the screen door. Why was he home so early? She didn’t have to look at him again to know his normally handsome blond features smoldered with disgust.
Dwayne hated for Grace to have her family over. There would be trouble once her family left, since the room was heavy with the smell of pinto beans and tortillas. When they visited it was bad enough. It irked Dwayne even more when her dark-skinned family stayed for meals.
“Gawd almighty!” Grace had mimicked earlier in Dwayne’s high twangy voice to her sisters, “A Texan breakin’ bread with tacos! What will folks be thinkin’?”
The minute Grace’s family saw Dwayne, their laughter died, and they quickly packed up their cards, crochet cotton, and magazines that had filled a hot afternoon with laughter and joy. One by one, they lined up to leave through the back door.
Grace said a quick goodbye to her mother and sisters and moved away from the narrow doorway as the women filed past Dwayne. She held her breath as Pauline and Vera passed the loathsome soldier. She never knew what her sisters might say. All she could count on was that her mother would deliberately say something sweet to him. Always gracious, she wasn’t one to pick a fight.
“Poor thing, you look absolutely beat,” Gregoria Ramirez said to Dwayne as she winked at Grace. “We’re going to get out of here so you can take a nap before dinner.”
Grace’s mother’s words were mollifying, but Gregoria didn’t walk around Dwayne to rush out the door. Instead, she stood her ground and looked him straight in the eyes until she intimidated him into stepping out of her way.
When Grace’s mother stepped onto the porch she leisurely adjusted the plastic tortoise shell combs that held her long, dark hair in a bun. Then she fished her clip earrings that matched her outfit out of her dress pocket and put them back on her ears. Grace gasped when she saw her mother nonchalantly slip another extra card that was also in her pocket into her purse before she stepped onto the sidewalk.
Pauline was next in line. “Dwayne, this heat’s too much for you, it’s over a hundred today, you’d better take it easy,” she cautioned. The sound of her high heels click-click-clicked on the shiny kitchen floor and made Dwayne cringe.
From the beginning of her marriage to Dwayne, Grace had been caught in the ferocious sandstorm that swirled around him and her sisters whenever they were together. Raised on a cattle ranch where his father’s booze bottles almost outnumbered the cattle, Dwayne didn’t know what to think of Pauline’s high-heeled shoes and frilly clothes. He just knew he didn’t like them.
For her part, Pauline never considered making any changes to accommodate the manipulative soldier her sister had married.
Dwayne clinched his jaw and refused to let himself look down at Pauline’s high heels as she passed him, but she knew that he knew that she wore them. Always playful, she did a quickstep on her way to the door.
The ruffles on her colorful full skirt moved to the music her heels made as she walked. Before she passed Dwayne, she adjusted her peasant style blouse with the elastic around the top to make sure her bosom wasn’t exposed. It was a subtle movement; only Grace noticed it.
Pauline lingered in the doorway as she said goodbye to Grace, then glided out the door and tossed her long, wavy black hair. The movement jangled her large, golden earrings as she crossed the threshold. “Adios, Muchacho!” she called to Dwayne, as she gave him a backward wave. Grace’s eyes flew to Dwayne to see if he noticed that her middle finger stayed up longer than the others. He didn’t. He was already looking at Vera.
“You look like hell,” Vera said as she passed a sweaty and wrinkled Dwayne, “and you could use a shower. Phew!” she added as she marched out the door. Grace saw her mother give Vera a sharp look when she got to the porch, but her oldest daughter just shrugged her chubby shoulders, as if to say it was the best she could do. This cowboy had used up all of his good graces with her.
Grace wasn’t surprised that Dwayne had remained quiet while her family left. She imagined that he had plenty to say; he just didn’t dare say it. Not with these women, who weren’t as meek as she was. She couldn’t tell which woman he feared the most: the mother, quiet but cunning; Vera, outspoken, tough, and fearless; or Pauline, who could cut a man to ribbons with her tongue and flirt with him at the same time.
As Vera reached the sidewalk at the bottom of the porch stairs, Pauline broke into a sprint ahead of her across the yard to Vera’s car and jumped into the back seat, still giggling. Pauline had given her first gringo salute when she held up her finger to Dwayne, and she was tickled with herself. Even her mother’s look of disapproval couldn’t dampen her glee.
When Gregoria opened the car door on the passenger side to get into the front, Pauline buried her face between her legs in her ruffled skirt, to muffle her laughter. Vera opened the door on the driver’s side and stopped outside the car to light a Kool and let some of the hot air out of the car before she got in. She waved a final goodbye to Grace just before she slid behind the wheel and started the old blue Cadillac.
Published by iUniverse, 321 pages, $17,95

Quote du jour:

"Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at with no result." Winston Churchill

January 14, 2006

Martha's closet

Montana Dock, © Janelle Meraz Hooper

Martha Stewart- Oh, no! Martha wants to start a new lifestyle magazine that will tell us how to dress. I’ll follow Martha into her garden. I’ll follow her into her kitchen. I won’t follow her into her closet, although there’d be plenty of room. She only has one brown suit in there, and she wears it everywhere. I used to think that the suit just didn’t photograph well, but she came to Tacoma wearing the same chocolate brown suit, and it is not the TV cameras—that is truly an awful suit, and brown is not Martha’s color. Why hasn’t someone told her? I tried to find the photo of her that I took after her lecture, but it’s been lost (read: thrown away). So, I put the boat photo up. But can't you just picture it?

Rain- We’re in our 27th day of rain. We’ve had over 12 inches during this period, and the ground was already saturated. So, you see, I wasn’t really sick yesterday, it was just that my keyboard floated away.

Whatcha' Readin'?- C. F. in Oklahoma City is reading Dorothy Garlock’s A Place Called Rainwater. The setting is in an Oklahoma oil town close to Tulsa. Sounds good!

Quote du jour:
“There is only one success—to be able to spend your life in your own way.” Christopher Morley, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, by J. Bartlett & J. Kaplan.

January 12, 2006

A moon gone missing...

Dock picture. © Janelle Meraz Hooper
1-12-06- Okay, don’t think of it as boats—think of it as a picture of a dock.
Rain- We are now entering our 25th day of rain. Basements are flooding. Rivers overflowing.
The rain can really be hard on people from the Southwest. I can remember when my mother and I first moved to Tacoma in 1962. It was winter, and it had rained for 21 days. One day, she came trance-like into the living room and announced in a hollow voice that she not only hadn’t seen the sun, but she hadn’t seen the moon for 21 days. I knew then she wouldn't be here long. She didn't know I was crawling out my bedroom window at nights to play in the fog with the other kids in the neighborhood. I loved the fog. I loved the rain!
That’s just the Northwest. So, bring it on. If we can’t stop the leak in the basement, I’ll buy some fish and one of those little treasure chests that has a lid that goes up and down.
Quote du jour:
Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a piece of paper until drops of blood forms on your forehead.” Gene Fowler
(Isn't this silly? Writing is like anything else people do for a living. There's no need to get so dramatic!)

January 11, 2006

Raising a son like Alito...

Cabo San Lucas, © Janelle Meraz Hooper
1-11-06- We are now entering our 24th day of rain, and they say we have at least 10 more coming. As if to make fools of the forecasters, the weather actually cleared for about 15 minutes over Puyallup this morning. But, here in the Northwest, it’s common for the sun to shine early in the morning. I say it’s God’s way of tricking us into getting out of bed.
The photo was taken in Cabo some years ago. You’ll notice it doesn’t look as if they’ve had any rain for a few centuries. Of course, it does rain there sometimes—I think.
Alito- If I were raising a son like Alito, I would worry. He seems to be one of those people who will go whichever way the wind is blowing. When asked about abortion statements, he said he just said that because he wanted a job. Some opinions he said were tailored to what Reagan wanted to hear. He sounds like the kind of person who will go whichever way the wind is blowing. This is the kind of flaw that concerns a mother. In the Supreme Court, under pressure, will he vote on the side of whoever puts the most pressure on him? Just wondering…

Quote du jour:
“I married beneath me. All women do.” Nancy Witcher Langhorn Astor
I picked this quote because it made me laugh—Astor was no slouch!

January 10, 2006

The Oregon Trail, only backwards

Bud, © Janelle Meraz Hooper, 2006
1-10-06- Bud and I are going nuts with the rain. He’s curled up with a good book, and I’m trying to write one. There’s more rain coming, we’re headed for a record, they say. There’s even a rumor that some people are getting up a wagon train to take on the Oregon Trail—only this one is going backwards, by way of Santa Fe.
Turtles-There are lots of turtle ads on my site. Today, they're selling box turtles with free shipping! Oy! How I'd love to have one, but for medical reasons, I'm not even allowed to have a goldfish. Drat!

Book excerpt- A Three-Turtle Summer by Janelle Meraz Hooper
It’s A Three-Turtle Summer—hot—and Grace has to dump a man who’s meaner than a rattlesnake and dumber than adobe.

1. A Sister in Trouble
Fort Sill, Oklahoma, July, 1949
It was too hot to play cards, especially if someone were keeping score, and Vera was.
“Ay, carumba! You can’t stand to go two hours without beating someone at something can you?” Grace Tyler playfully pouted.
Vera ignored her little sister, and began shuffling cards as she gleefully announced, “Senoras, the game is canasta, and we’re going to play according to Hoyle.” She began to deal the cards like a Las Vegas gambler while Pauline laughed and pointed at her mother, a notorious and frequent card-cheater.
Everyone was hot, but in her long-sleeved shirt and long skirt, Grace was sweltering. Sweat beaded up on her forehead and neck and she kept stretching her legs out because the backs of her knees stuck to her skirt.
“Gracie, for God’s sake, go put some shorts on,” Vera said.
Grace ignored her sister, pulled her shirt away from her perspiring chest and asked, “Anyone want more iced tea before Vera whips the pants off of us?”
Momma and Pauline both nodded and Grace poured tea over fresh ice cubes while Vera got a tablet and pencil out of her purse. The room was almost silent as each woman arranged her hand. Only Momma barely tapped her foot and softly sang a song from her childhood under her breath:
“The fair senorita with the rose in her hair …
worked in the cantina but she didn’t care …
played cards with the men and took all their loot … awh-ha!
went to the store and bought brand new boots … ”
“Awh-Haaa!” Grace’s five-year-old daughter Glory joined in.
Unconsciously, the other two women started to hum along while they looked at their hand. About the second “Awh-Haaa!” Vera abruptly stopped humming and looked at her sisters with a raised eyebrow. Something was fishy; Momma was much too happy. Barely containing their amusement, they watched as she cheerfully arranged her cards.
Finally, unable to suppress her laughter any longer, Vera jumped up, snatched the cards out of her mother’s hands, and fanned them face-up across the table.
“Ay, ay, ay!” She cried out, “Momma, tell me how can you have a meld and eleven cards in your hand when we’ve just gotten started?”
The fun escalated as Vera rushed around the table and ran her hands all around her mother and the chair she sat on to feel for extra cards.
“Stand up!” Grace and her sisters said as they pulled their mother to her feet. They shook her blue calico dress and screamed with laughter as extra cards fell from every fold.
“Glory,” Vera told her young niece, “crawl under the table and get those cards for your Auntie Vera, okay?” Grace moved her feet to the side so that Glory could scramble under the table. Her childish giggles danced around the women’s feet as she scrambled for the extra cards that dropped from her grandmother’s dress.
“Momma,” Vera laughed, “you’re a born cheater. How did you know we were going to play cards today?” she asked.
“I’m not the only one in this family who’s been caught with a few too many cards,” Momma said in her defense.
“Yes, but you’re the family matriarch. We expect better of you than we do our good-for-nothing brothers,” Pauline said.
“Huh! Matriarch, my foot. You girls never listen to a word I say,” Momma grumbled. “Maybe that’s because we can’t trust you,” Vera laughed.
President Bush-Will he survive the illegal spying charge? He’s putting on his best it-ain’t-no-big-deal-face, but I dunno. Is it true he’s sporting a tee-shirt that says “What happens in D. C., stays in D. C?” All kidding aside, this is serious stuff.
Quote du jour:
“War does not determine who is right—only who is left.” Bertrand Russell

January 09, 2006

"How could there be a turtle that big?"

As Brown As I Want, The Indianhead Diaries
1-10-06-The photo of my cousin and I that I used on the cover of my second novel was taken on an Easter morning. My coat was light blue. I’d wanted the red one, but the saleswoman didn’t hold it for us as she promised. It’s about 1953. A lot of this book is true. I’ve had letters telling me that the snake chapter was a little far out, but they liked it. That was one of the true chapters! Word for word! Well...except for the turtle. There are turtles that big, I just didn't see one that day.
Nowadays, it isn’t as rare for a father to try to kill his child, but when I started the book, it wasn’t so common. The difference seems to be that now there is sometimes a sexual angle. When I was a kid, my father just wanted to knock me off for the insurance money. The humor that emerged from this situation when I was writing the book has amazed everyone who knows me. Heck, it amazed me! Brown was a finalist in the 2004 Oklahoma Book Awards. I'm not supposed to sell anything on this site, but you know where to find books, don't you?
Brown As I Want, The Indianhead Diaries
By Janelle Meraz Hooper
(Back cover)

The summer of 1952, Lawton, Oklahoma… Eight-year-old Glory has a father who’s taken out a $50,000 accidental death insurance policy on her—now he’s spending the summer trying to collect.
In his first attempt, he throws Glory to the snakes, but a giant alligator snapping turtle scares the snakes away.
Glory writes in her diary: Well, Powwow Pete drove us home to talk to Mom, but we didn’t get very far. Mom thinks I just have a wild imagination. At least Powwow Pete believes me. I think it was the turtle that killed it for Mom.
“How could there be a turtle that big?” she scoffed. They talked some more and Powwow Pete got kind of mad and got up to leave.
This was one of those times when a kid thinks they’re talking about a turtle, but the grown-ups are really talking about something else entirely. In this case, I think Powwow Pete was accusing Mom of still loving my dad, but he never said that, he just kept talking about the turtle. Mom was doing the same thing: talking about the turtle but meaning that she didn’t want to get messed up with some guy who was a pathologgy liar (Glory can’t spell).

As Brown As I Want is the second book in the turtle trilogy. It was a finalist in the 2004 Oklahoma Book Awards.

Trivia-A mosquito has 47 teeth.
730 Easy Science Experiments by R. Churchill, L. Loesching, and M. Mandell
Quote du jour:
Henry Thoreau, the great American philosopher, was dying, when a priest asked him if he had made his peace with God. “I was not aware that we had quarreled,” replied Thoreau. “Frankly, My Dear…” edited by Katherine and Richard Greene.

January 08, 2006

Hey! At least it's not another boat!

Talking boxes, © Janelle Meraz Hooper
1-08-06- Hey! At least it’s not another boat! I’m not getting out much to take pictures lately. I’ve just never been into taking pictures of puddles. I know a lot of people are into them (read: desperate to fill space), but I have my trivia to fall back on (see below) so who needs it?! I have a lot of neat people shots, my real love, but you just can’t publish photos of private individuals walking down a city street in Army fatigues and pink curlers in their hair—they might get ticked. That’s why I stick to subects that don’t move—or hit.
Publishers-The email with a clipping from The New York Times that’s currently circulating among writers is causing a lot of discussion. The article, printed on January 4, 2006 is titled Rejected by the Publishers and lists famous books that were rejected by agents and publishers and concludes, “People don’t seem to know what a good novel is nowadays.” As a writer who has been often rejected, I don’t think it’s fair for me to comment…just ignore the smirks and cackles…they're coming from my cat. Wait...I don't have a cat...
Trivia- Scientists have determined that the common housefly hums in the musical key of F.

Quote du jour:
“He's testing us!” - from the movie Footloose

January 07, 2006

It's easier for me to look back...

Just another boat, © JMH

In the water
I see the
playing at
life with the

1-07-06- I know, another boat. I’m almost out of them, I think. Well, actually there are more, but I’ve misplaced them.

Anti-smoking ads-They’ve got some really gross anti-smoking ads out now on television. I expect they’ll work. For myself, I’d never get past the sticker price on a pack of cigarettes. A week’s supply of cigarettes is more than enough for a new pair of shoes. Now, if we were talking about chocolate, I could go barefooted...

Indian beading exhibit- I went to see an Indian beading exhibit today. My times as a docent at the Anchorage Museum and the Washington State Historical Museum has embedded a since of history in my mind that makes it more comfortable to look back rather than forward. The quote today was gathered at this exhibit.

Quote du jour:

"When the Bumblebee flies into a house and buzzes near the women, he is asking them to make baskets quickly, because the berries will ripen soon." Indian saying, Washington State Historical Museum

January 06, 2006

The Lou, Yves, and Elvis Heavenly Trio

Raindeck,© Janelle Meraz Hooper 2006

1-06-06-It’s still raining here. Can a goose drown? The one in my planter is starting to buckle. They tell us that the Hawaiian Pineapple Express is merging with storms from the north, giving us a double whammy. Out of respect for the sufferers of Katrina and the Pakistan earthquake, I’m not complaining. However, I have to admit that I’ve received several desperate emails from my fellow writers. Of course, some people think we writers are prone to depression anyway (I guess they’ve never read Erma Bombeck).
Research-My dampened mood is exacerbated by my confusion over my research. "I’m a bear of very little brain," (Pooh), and I’m having trouble deciding which research on the Permian Sea to believe. One scientist says the area I’m writing about was covered by shallow seas in prehistoric times, and another says it wasn’t. I’m still looking for answers.
Pat Robertson- Radicals in any religion are a bad thing. Pat Robertson has proved that. He’s the one example I can think of this morning as an argument against free speech.

Lou Rawls- We lost Lou Rawls today. The singer had a voice and music style that was unique. If I had to describe it, I would say it’s truly a Las Vegas sound. I’m using the present tense because his music will live on. For a distinctive sound, I put him in the same category as France’s Yves Montand. Do ya suppose that Lou, Yves, and Elvis will get together in heaven and form a trio? I’d like to hear that!

Quote du jour:
"Writing is licensed curiosity." Lesley Hazelton

January 04, 2006

Angel, Antie Roe, Vroom!, and Tic-Toc--oh, my!

Dinghy, © Janelle Meraz Hooper

1-05-06- If you have a camera and live near Puget Sound, you’re gonna have a lot of boat shots. This is one of many of my reflection shots. I think they’re out of my system now, but I still have a lot I haven’t used. Next, I’ll probably start taking shots of shadows. And film—I’m really getting into film, but you won’t be able to see it here.

Turtle trivia-Turtles have extraordinary anaerobic capacity—they have survived up to 33 hours in a pure nitrogen atmosphere…most reptiles cannot survive much more than 30 minutes without oxygen.” Cecil Adams, The Straight Dope

First lines-
The Getaway

Three old friends sat in a new, upscale Chinese restaurant and patiently sipped red plum wine while they checked their watches. During their long friendship, they’d given each other names that fit them much better than the names they’d started out in life with:
Pattie became Angel—because she sang like one,
Judith became Antie Roe—because of her feeling about abortions,
Catherine became Vroom! —because her glove box was filled with parking tickets, and
Maria was called Tic-Toc—because she was always late.
Angel leaned over to look at Antie Roe’s watch and asked, “What time do you have?”
“She’s almost fifteen minutes late.” Anti Roe answered.
“Ladies, take out your dollars.” Vrooom! said. “What’s it to be this time?”
“My money is on ‘My dog got out.’” Guessed Anti Roe.
“Put this buck on ‘I’m having a bad-hair day,’” Guessed Vroom! As she tossed her dollar in the middle of the table. An excerpt from The Getaway, Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories, Janelle Meraz Hooper

Quote du jour:
“You shouldn’t complain about aging for the simple reason that nobody gives a hoot.” Garrison Keillor, AARP Bulletin

Rose Rocks in Guthrie, Oklahoma

Shack at Alaska gold mines, © Janelle Meraz Hooper

1-04-06-The day we visited the gold fields in Alaska, the land was so moist it was saturated with green and even the gray sky had a green tinge to it. From near this shack, the gold miners arose every morning from barracks and climbed a steep, treacherous, mountain trail to get to the mine. No matter the weather.

On my TV-I’m mesmerized by the setting of the new house on HGTV. The home itself is obscenely beautiful, but the setting in North Carolina by Asheville is what captures my heart. If my windows looked out onto that lushness, I’d never get any work done. As it is, I’m too easily distracted by nature, and have always done my work facing a blank wall.

Research-I’m taking the rest of the day off to research Jurassic Oklahoma. One of the grass fires recently was in Guthrie, Oklahoma. One of the few places in the world (if not the only place) where rose rocks are found. They were formed when the Permian Sea drained through the sandstone. You’ve seen them in tourist shops. They are pinkish, sandy rocks that look like roses…When I was a kid, my cousin and I found a whole pile of them near Guthrie. I hope the grass fires didn’t damage them!

Quote du jour:
"Computers are built wrong, there's no neck to strangle". Anonymous

January 03, 2006

R-rated turtle trivia...

Tacoma mud, © Janelle Meraz Hooper
1-03-06-Today's photo is in honor of our rain. It always rains a lot here in the winter, after all, the West coast of Washington is a rain forest, but this week, even the slugs are wearing little snorkels.
06-How many days does it take you before you write the correct year on your checks? I’m so bad I have to pre-write in the year for the first five checks. Sometimes, in the middle of summer, my mind will flash back to the year before. Maybe I should just carry cash…or one of those debit cards my bank keeps sending me. How many flu germs do you suppose are creepily clinging to those keyboards by the check register? In case I forget my own pen, I carry a can of germ-killer to spray the store pen with. Sometimes, I spray the person at the cash register—can’t be too cautious.
Ole Trigger-Ole Trigger, my computer, is having a devil of a time keeping up with my Internet research. The cables for faster speed are just a few blocks away, and I’m checking on their progress daily. Yesterday, I was doing research on Jurassic Oklahoma, and I was beginning to feel like a fossil myself. In addition to my research, I run four web sites and have to coordinate with a fifth that is slow itself. Augh!

A good read-Dancing to War by Elfi Hornby, autobiography. At fifteen, Elfi signed onto the Molkow Ballet as an apprentice—just before Hitler sent the troupe to the Russian front! Here’s a story for Spielburg!

Turtle trivia-Some turtles can breathe through their—uh—how do I put this? Turtles can breath through their…oh, heck. Some turtles can breathe through their butts. There.

Quote du jour:
“Show me a sane man and I can cure him.” unknown

January 02, 2006

Spread your wings!

Alaskan fishing floats, © Janelle Meraz Hooper

1-02-06-I loved the Rose Parade. I wish we could send it all over the world to show everyone that we do something besides make war…

Resolutions-Oh, yeah. I forgot. I’m such a mess already, and at my age, it’s probably too late to see any impressive results. The one thing I want to do is get an email pen pal in France. I figure that would be a fun way to improve my foreign language skills. And I want to organize the glass vases underneath my bathroom sink. There goes 5 minutes right there...maybe I should forget the whole thing and just finish Custer and the other two novels I’ve started.
POD-I see on the Internet that more and more writers of substance are publishing through POD (Publish On Demand) companies and the mainstream publishers are starting to sweat. Good. This business needs a breath of fresh air!
Have you read a POD or self-published book? If not, why not?
Do you have any original art in your home?
Any movies produced and distributed independently? (Movies like these are shown at Sundance and Cannes)
How about music CDs? Have any independent CDs of your favorite musicians?
Hand-thrown pottery? Sculptures? Handmade Furniture?
I’m betting you do. So why on earth are you still reading the same commercial stuff on the front tables of major bookstores? Spread your wings!
Bud-Bud is going in soon to get a nose job. Nothing drastic, but he needs an orange nose for Christmas. He doesn’t believe in radical surgery, so the new nose will be attached by an elastic band during the winter season.
A good read: Val Dumond and Babe Lehrer's Mush On And Smile, a historical novel about Klondike Kate, Queen of the Yukon after she left Alaska and moved to Oregon. Aging and faced with a new love, she meets her 20-year-old self in the surreal Oregon high desert, where the past catches up with the present. 290 pages, $19.95, Muddy Puddle Press.

Quote du jour:
"Leave your imprint in the right sand," Dennis Stovall, Blue Moon Press

January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

© Janelle Meraz Hooper
1-01-06-Happy New Year!
Bud-Poor Bud--he needed a glitzier lampshade! But he did party-hearty with delicious treats from neighbors and an Alfred Hitchcock movie!
Quote du jour:
"A wrinkle in your stocking is worse than a wrinkle on your face." my mother