February 25, 2006

After finding a whippet...

© Janelle Meraz Hooper
3-03-06-Just a quick note. I've been asked about some of the photos and watercolors that head up the posts on my site. I've decided to run an experiment: any watercolor or photo on my site can be purchased for a $5.00 donation. I'll donate all funds to a local charity--most likely our local food bank. Photos will be emailed--you can use them for any non-commercial project. Please mail checks to: Janelle Meraz Hooper, 6902-96th St. East, Puyallup, WA 98371
Questions? phone: 253-845-5793
I'm working on a way to showcase all the photos on a site of their own...it'll take awhile!
Thanks, Janelle
1-25-06-The above is a small section of a watercolor that I did during my mother’s visit some years ago. The whole picture is hanging above my bed table.
Vivi-The last I heard, Vivi is still missing and they’ve called in psychics. Don’t laugh! There’s a lot we don’t know about the universe. If they succeed in finding the lost whippet, let’s see if they can find bin Laden. After finding a whippet, finding a rat should be easy…
bin Laden- Seriously, Ole bin has done so much damage to East-West relations. So many people I know were beginning to reach out to Muslims, willing to give them a chance. Years and years of brainwashing by our governments were beginning to fail. All that is gone now. We’re back where we started. How sad.
Muslims- Speaking of Muslims, why is it that none of us knew that it was forbidden to draw pictures of Muhammad? Why didn’t someone tell us? Of course, I’d be more sympathetic if they didn’t hang our leaders in effigy every weekend, and burn our flag whenever they wanted to get on TV, but still, it would have been nice to know. I can remember my teachers teaching us about other cultures, but nothing about Muslims. Did they think we'd never meet one?
One more question- So why are Muslims condemning the US for the cartoons when we had nothing to do with it?! Their capacity for hatred is obviously greater than their capacity for spiritual peace.
On my bed table- Leap of Faith, by Queen Noor.
Whatcha Readin’? CF in Oklahoma City is reading Dorothy Garlock’s A Place Called Rainwater. The setting is in an Oklahoma oil town close to Tulsa.
Are the rest of you still reading The De Vinci Code? You're killin' me! The movie comes out next week, you know.
Sick leave- I’ve been sick. I’ll try to do better this week. (;

Quote du jour:
"Drinking makes some husbands see double and feel single." unknown

February 17, 2006

God must have been very amused...

Snoozin’ cat, © Janelle Meraz Hooper

2-17-06- The snoozin’ cat is one of my watercolors that isn’t impressive. Maybe it would be more so if the viewer knew it was painted while I was ill and flat on my back. To paraphrase Patti LaBelle, “I have arthritis, arthritis doesn’t have me!”
High winds today- Okay, listen up: we had winds so high that, at a nearby home, they uprooted a basketball pole and backboard, and threw the whole fixture into a fence. The fence lost. It wasn’t Katrina, but it’ll do.
LOL- A bad match: Most of you know that I’m in a wheelchair (thus the blog name: The Squeaky Wheels). Two nights ago, there was an urgent knocking at my front door. I went to the upstairs window and called down, “Who’s there?” No answer. More knocking, louder this time. Again I called, “Who’s there?” As I’m a very patient person, this went on much longer than it should have. Finally, the person at the door looked up to see me in the window and signaled that he was deaf. He signaled for me to come to the front door. I pointed to my wheelchair and shook my head. He insisted that I come down. I held up seven fingers and pointed towards my stairs. He held up a little card the size of a playing card—of course, I couldn’t read it. Finally, he became annoyed and gave me a hand signal that said, “I give up,” and moved on. No one saw this little scene except God, who must have been very amused. I still don't know what he was selling. I can imagine the man going home and telling his wife that he met a stupid woman at work who could only count to seven.
Dick Cheney-Our vice-president got lucky. The guy didn't die (thank God!). Do ya think that he'll ever go hunting with Dick again? Psst: Whoever convinced big men with heavy firearms that killing a defenseless, dumb quail was manly?
Writing tip- Good marketing is as important as good writing nowadays. The last writers event I went to, I wore black. Oh, it was a beautiful outfit, but I blended right into the shadows. Next time, I’ll wear orange—or at least red. You want to be seen from across the room at a book-signing.

Quote du Jour:
“The trouble with bucket seats is that not everybody has the same size bucket.” unknown

February 15, 2006

The State Rock of Oklahoma

Whatcha Readin’?

2-15-06-It’s a great day to buy a book!

Dick Cheney- Let’s not go there and pretend we did. What a loser!

Custer and His Naked Ladies- I’ve been working on the last turtle in my turtle trilogy. I really get bogged down in the research, most of which I’ll never use in the book. It’s sort of like my cutting a piece watermelon—the piece is never big enough. That’s okay when you’re eating watermelon, but in novel-writing, you have to make choices. For instance, in my case, no one will care about the barite roses and how they were formed when the shallow seas drained through the red sandstone rocks millions of years ago. I know I’ll end up cutting it…but they are The State Rock of Oklahoma, you know…

Writers tip-In the movie Wonder Boys, in which Michael Douglas plays an English professor, there’s a wonderful line by one of his students when she reads his latest manuscript. She says he didn’t make choices. And it’s so true. It takes discipline to make the right choices for a book, you shouldn’t put in every idea you have. Make choices. If it doesn’t move the plot along, cut it! In my case, I asked myself, “Are you writing a novel or a science report?”

The OWFI (Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc.)- There's an excitement in the air that can't be blamed on spring. It's the yearly OWFI's annual book contest. My writer friends are holding their breath and the email chatter between us rivals a nest of baby birds waiting for breakfast. What did you enter? Who do you think will win? What will you enter next year? Are you going to the conference? Who cares if it's sunny outside?!

Books at the top of the page-
A Three-Turtle Summer, the first book in the turtle trilogy
As Brown As I Want, The Indianhead Diaries, the second book in the turtle trilogy
Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories- (short stories)
Custer and His Naked Ladies-The third book in the turtle trilogy, in progress
Quote du jour:
"My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being, hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint." -Erma Bombeck-

February 09, 2006

Surely, American business isn't this stupid!

Janelle and Tim Tingle, © Dick Hooper, 2004

2-09-06-Here's a photo from the 2004 Oklahoma Book Awards. Tim Tingle was there with his short story book, Walking the Choctaw Road. It's a wonderful book, buy it! I was there with my As Brown As I Want, the Indianhead Diaries novel. Next year, I'll probably enter my new novel (still in progress), Custer and His Naked Ladies. It could be my ticket to a great party! This year, I entered my Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories book in the Oklahoma Writers Federation book contest. They have a party too!
Sun!- We have sun! Even the birds are wearing bikinis…
Pepsi-I got an email this morning claiming that Pepsi has new patriotic cans. From what I’m reading, they have printed the Pledge of Allegiance, but have purposely left out “one nation, under God.” Let’s forget for a moment the ruckus this will cause among the Christian Right Pepsi Swigglers. Let’s look at this from a business angle:
What were they thinking? I can’t believe a big corporation would shoot themselves in the foot this way! If this is true, they are all beyond idiocy! Have they not been watching the bleeding Muslims on TV upset over a cartoon? Have they not monitored the Christian Right’s push to have prayer reinstated in schools? Faced with a design dilemma on whether to include God or not, it is said they didn’t want to offend anyone—so they left God off the can. What I am understanding is that they really didn’t want to offend Muslims. What’s happening here? If we are afraid to offend a Muslim with a can of Pepsi, what next?! But I digress (as I often do). If the guys on Madison Avenue discussed the choices—God or no God—why didn’t they realize that this new can design was going to cost them money? Why didn’t they ditch the whole idea and put the words to America the Beautiful on the can? Still too offensive? What about Take Me Out to the Ballgame? Or, roses are red, violets are blue? Or Mary Had a Little Lamb? ANYTHING! I’ll be so relieved if I find out this new can design is a farce—surely American Business isn’t this stupid!

Quote du jour:
"I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man, I keep his house.."-Zsa Zsa Gabor-
note: Younger readers won't remember Zsa Zsa, but she was a treat! Always beautiful, always rich, always funny!

February 08, 2006

Ya know what's missing here?

Montana fence, © Janelle Meraz Hooper
What’s this? It seems James Frey is not alone in his deceit. Now, it’s being murmured that the “JT LeRoy” books on the life of a purported 25 year-old male prostitute were really written by Laura Albert, who is neither male or a prostitute. Add to the list the supposed great Navajo writer Nasdijj who, it turns out, is said to be a white Timothy Patrick Barrus.
Ya know what’s missing here? An apology from the arrogant and greedy publishers who packaged the lies and sold them as the truth. Realistically, it could be that waiting for such an apology would be about as useful as waiting for Barbara Bush to apologize for her comments about the Katrina victims. So I think I’ll sit this one out. Besides, I should stay off my feet--wearing a smirk this big could throw my balance off.
Opening lines-
“Are you still there?” Aggie asked as she picked up her slipper and beat the metal bed frame underneath the mattress. “Well, you’d better get out from under there and go home—wherever that is—I’ve got company coming and she’s going to need the bed.” Aggie leaned way over the edge of her mattress to peer at the woman who was stretched out underneath her bed. “And while you’re at it, take off those goofy red socks. It’s the middle of summer, for Christ’s sake!” Aggie and Her Surprise Visitor, a short story in Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories by Janelle Meraz Hooper

Quote du jour:
"What I have written, I have written." Pontius Pilate

February 07, 2006

Who is designing our children's clothing?

Sleeping raccoon , © Janelle Meraz Hooper
2-07-06-Two raccoons slept all day Sunday in my big cherry tree. The picture above is no thing of beauty, but it does document the event. There’s only one critter in the picture—the photo with both of them was worse than this one.
Seattle lost the Super Bowl on Sunday. I coached them all I could with advice like, “Run faster!” “Get him!” and “Hold onto the ball!” but all of my worthwhile advice went unheeded. Well, at least the hot dogs were hot—we made them in our own kitchen.
Summer styles- Here we go again! The new clothing styles are arriving. Do you ever wonder what depraved minds design children’s and teen’s clothing? One of the ads this week had the word SWEET appliqu├ęd right across the back end of a girl's pajama bottom. What’s that about? I’m starting a file of offensive clothing because I’ve seen lots more, but I’ve forgotten exactly what the messages were, and I don’t want to be unfair.
This is not a new problem. When I was raising a daughter, the swimsuits for teens were so skimpy that none of our young girls would wear them. Sympathetic lifeguards finally broke pool rules and let the girls wear tee-shirts over their swimwear.
Let me explain. I am not some right-wing fanatic who goes around labeling everything from music to television obscene. I guess I got lucky when I purchased my TV because it came with an off button. So did my radio, and I’ve put both buttons to good use.
The clothing issue concerns me because it is redefining and accelerating our children’s attitudes on sex and focusing on our children’s sexuality for profit. Shame!
Writer's tip-Do you have a popcorn file? I do! In it I enter bits and pieces of information that I have no use for now but may use later. Mine is so old it has multiple folders. One is labeled future book titles. I should live long enough to use all the title ideas!

Quote du jour:
“Happiness is a place between too little and too much.” Finnish proverb
Courtesy of Real Simple magazine

February 03, 2006

Just another rock collection...

Montana pickup, © Janelle Meraz Hooper

2-03-06-I found this old pickup tramping through the woods. Maybe it was stolen years ago and stripped, I don’t know.

Writing-I’ve had a request to say something about writing…
Writer’s tip-Use your camera as a scrapbook. Your family may wonder why you took some of the pictures they see, but you’ll know. In Alaska once, I took a picture of a child’s box of rocks that he was selling. The sign was so cute. The picture is lost, a victim of poor organization, but the memory of it still plays in my mind. Did I buy a rock? Of course I did! I’ve always loved rocks and that box of rocks brought back memories of my childhood. Back then, I used to sell seashells and geodes. Well, I didn’t really sell very many, but I tried! I like to tell my husband that my jewelry is just another rock collection. He would prefer that I rekindle my interest in geodes!

Book excerpt-
“The sky overhead was ultramarine blue and held in place by a sparkling brooch of blazing sun. Below, a canopy of apple leaves was so thick and lush that the apples hanging profusely underneath looked as if only the denseness of the leaves kept them from being able to float up into the hot, dry air.”
A Perfect Slice of Wenatchee, from Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories by Janelle Meraz Hooper

On my bed table-A History of Russia by Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, I’ve always been interested in Russia. At one time, I tried to go on an archaeological dig in Russia. It didn’t work out (I couldn't pass the physical), and I felt very cheated!

Quote du jour:
“It’s easy to know where your heart has been,
but how can you know where it’s going?” –Kate Rockwell,
Mush On And Smile, Val Dumond & Babe Lehrer

February 01, 2006

Our little canary in D. C.

Washing rhubarb, © Janelle Meraz Hooper

1-01-06-The watercolor is of my husband. I got the idea from the perspective I had looking down at him from our deck. For you Southerners, a deck is like a porch, only we usually put it on the back of the house instead of the front. We seldom cover them, because we’re heavily into fantasy. We just leave the whole pile of expensive cedar to the weather, hoping—foolishly—that maybe it won’t rain on it.

At last! February!- We’re moving ever closer to the first day of spring training. “Play ball!” just may be two of the most beautiful words in the English language. After chocolate, of course.

Cindy Sheehan-Poor Cindy, she’s a victim of her heart and courage. I felt so bad for her last night before the State of the Union Address. I’m on her side (now don’t say it’s the left side. Just because someone doesn’t agree with our President doesn’t mean we’re on the left side.). There’s not much I wouldn’t forgive Cindy for. I just wish she hadn’t worn that anti-war tee-shirt to the State of the Union Address.
But she’s not alone. Lately, I’ve wondered if it is too late to dig up Emily Post. Everywhere I look, I see lapses of etiquette. First, it was those women athletes who wore flip-flops to the White House. Then, it was the President’s daughter going braless in a tight dress with no stockings to a state affair. And then last night. I love Cindy, but that was not the place for an anti-war tee-shirt.
Everywhere I go, I’m surprised by our tackiness. Do we do the same things when we go abroad? People! It is not proper to walk down the street with your fingers latched onto your girlfriend’s bra strap! We do not exchange deep throat DNA at the mall. At least, I wish we wouldn’t. We do not floss in restaurants, and then leave the floss on our plate. All right, I made that one up, but you get the idea.

Back to Cindy-She has a right to protest. She has a right to be in the audience of a state address if she’s invited. But in those situations, she should show respect for the presidency, even if she doesn’t show respect for the man. That means no tee-shirt! An occasion like a state address demands dress attire. Besides, she didn’t need the tee-shirt. Just her presence drowned out the president';s speech. I was glad to see her there. She's sort of like our little canary--if she ever disappears, I'll be afraid that free speech has gone with her. Remember, Senator Fulbright's "Dissent is an act of faith."

Quote du jour:
“Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the backyard and shot it.” Truman Capote, courtesy of Ginger Foglesong Guy