Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Oktober Sky: Changes in the Air, Part Two

here the boys moved in their uniforms, moving inside them, if you could see close enough, moving inside their cold-clogged minds and hot tiny young bodies under the shoulder pads, moving through meaningless drumbeat yells into the field, burrowing into their white pants and cups towards a hope of safety...

 She saw the warrior through a gluey patch of mucus that covered both aged eyes. Her instinct was to wait, but her desire told her to fly, now, fly above the danger and away. She acted on desire, and was hit with a missile twice her size.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Oktober Sky: Changes in the Air

 Walking beside the water just before sunrise, her soft shoes barely disturbed the sand. Her footprints were subtle and hard to read, for she had learnt a pattern of stepping that caused little sound and less imprint. It worked with sand, with dirt, with grass, even in the underbrush of a forest, and her muscles were long since trained to the peculiarity of those movements. The slight ache she might feel after a day of travel meant less than travelling free of followers.

 Though she avoided being tracked routinely, today it was a conscious choice. Her plans if known could call up trouble of a serious nature, and she had built towards this day, this working, for several months in order to avoid notice. The gathering of materials, the choice of a meeting place, the precise wording of the envisioned spell had been pieced together with a seeming randomness, a delicate embroidery of many hands moving at scattered times. No loose ends had been left, she was assured repeatedly, and she'd verified each assurance. Now, on the day itself, a sense of watchfulness filled her like an omen of pain.

 She had been very careful indeed, was still approaching her point most carefully, and yet the sky had filled with ominous clouds, grey edged with yellow; the wind had died to a damp stillness; the normal, gentle sounds of the sea and shore ceased; all the world seemed to wait with indrawn breath.

 Her actions, and perhaps intent, had been noted, and she paused to let that knowledge settle in. To carry on might mean death, or worse... to stop meant the end of her mind's peace, perhaps insanity.

She breathed deep the dank air around her slowly, tasting the clammy tang of her own indecision, then gathered her skirts and ran full out, unmindful of the clear path left on the sand behind.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Oktober Sky: Changes in the Water

 To work strong magicks effectively, the practitioner must prepare in many ways-- she must cleanse herself of dirt, and of cares, clearing mind and body to be a proper conduit of the energies she will use. She must prepare the area wherein she will cast her spells-- this may require cleaning, adding objects to an altar, oiling candles or other special preparations; the practitioner must, in every case, be aware of each mote of dust, each dim corner, each sunlit leaf, each crawling ant that lies within the space where her spell will be built. In this way, she retains as much control of the spell's result as possible.

 Total control is not possible. To keep your spell tight, you must work hardest before the moment you conduct the pure flow of energy, then let it go freely, with a calm and clear mind. Some will say this isn't so, wanting to save themselves time in the beginning of a spell, but all such haphazardly approached enchantments end up weak in effect, or worse-- they may turn against the spellworker. The clearest, strongest, best magick is made by strong and deliberate actions taken by careful, patient spellcasters. A lazy individual, a careless magician or one who seeks haste in the working, will get little good from their indifferent attempts.

 A good spellcaster takes her time in all things. A good spellcaster watches her tea even as it steeps, noting the changes in the water. Thus informed, all her deeds are well done, and life tastes sweet.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Oktober Ski: A Night at the Overlook

 The reflection in her eyes tipped him off-- the man behind him, as he lifted his arm to hit Mack, showed as a blurry glitter of movement-- Mack slid aside, kicking out as he went, dropping the surprised attacker onto the floor. In a flash, the edge of Mack's hand came down on his throat, and he was out of the game. The girl didn't stick around to see the results; she turned and made for the door as fast as she could, scattering her scarf and cheap bag in her hurry, and Mack let her go.

 He could have caught up at the elevators, maybe, but it didn't seem important. He knew who'd sent the pair, and he knew why. It was the ring, again, always that damn ring. Sitting in a safe ten floors below, it had managed to call trouble to him, for the third time. A cursed sapphire, not technically the legal property of anyone for over two centuries, although Mack's employer claimed hereditary ownership. His own short guardianship made Mack wonder why possession of this weirdly cut stone in its old-fashioned setting was so hot on everybody's list. Each day since he'd acquired it had brought some new problem, and he had five days left till delivery-- a meeting he'd begun to wish was happening a lot sooner, despite the luxurious accommodations he'd been paid to enjoy.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oktober Ski: The Miso Diary

Day 6 of the diet that can't possibly miss--

 I have to pee every five minutes, all day long. Not sleeping for more than two hours at a time and my skin looks like hell. Forget sex. Forget watching a movie. I may have lost some weight just from all the running to the bathroom.

 My supervisor hates me now, for the constant up/down/up/down during her big-ass meeting yesterday morning. I left 5 times to urinate. She spoke to me afterwards and pretended to understand, then told me to see a doctor if "my problem" doesn't change for the better-- immediately. She's not going to let me do that again-- looks like it's adult diapers during the morning training montage.

 More later-- I have to pee again.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Oktober Ski: Cantrip Castle

In my first novel, I wrote a throwaway line about a book two characters had read, called Cantrip Castle. I've worked on the real book since, but never finished. Here, I begin again, adding from the middle.


 Lil dropped the frog onto her bed.

"You're not going to stay there for long," she warned him, "so don't get comfortable."

He hopped over her pillow and onto the nightstand, looking around him. The room was full of pink things. Pink, and frilly, and dry.

 "I'm amphibious, baby. Cotton percale duvets aren't exactly my idea of cozy. Can we get a basin in here, with a couple of stones in it, maybe?"

"What's a basin?" Lil asked.

The frog sighed.

"It's a big, deep bowl, preferably with some water in it."

 "Oh! We have one of those."

 She jumped up, heading for the pink-on-pink door.

"Not too cold!" he called after her. Her head nodded as she skipped out, and the frog found a place on the nightstand to wait, and ruminate on his options. Clearly, this relationship wasn't going to be easy.

---Mari Kozlowski


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Oktober Ski: Fiction, Fiction, Fiction

After many beginnings in September, most having gone unreported here, we are into Oktober, which is always reserved for instant fiction. This year, the plan is to alternate between a few prospective books, adding some new work to each. The first is a fanfic I've just dreamed up, a gathering of stories that may or may not become interwoven, called:


 His wife was trying on earrings now. She'd picked up ten different pairs so far, holding them near her head in turn, assessing their effect against her perfect coif.

 Brennan sat heavily in one of the Overlook's leather club chairs, realizing he might have to wait another half hour or more just for the jewelry to get picked. Then she'd need to decide on shoes, and last of all, a wrap. All of this to go downstairs and mingle with the richest scum in America on a cracked ballroom floor under aging chandeliers, while they ate dried out canap├ęs and lobster that was sure to be overcooked.

 He grabbed a newspaper, bored already. His wife turned from her vanity mirror, hands on hips.

"What do you think about these?"

 He lifted his head from the sports section just as the first bullet ripped through her middle.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

September Essay Cafe: On Beginnings.

 On this first day of my favorite, or nearly favorite month-- September has been a month of high changes and great starts since childhood, when it meant the first days of school, cooler weather, earlier bedtimes, new TV shows, and for me, my mother's new semester too (she was a college student back then)-- I have begun yet another course of study. The forward-looking energies of September make for a good time to start any project, and I often use them to get myself going on something new.

 This is in addition to the makeup artist certification I've been working on steadily, the online songwriting course I let languish and want to go back to, the guitar study I've put off recently, the liner notes for three CD's that I am supposed to finish writing for a musician friend, and the ongoing self-training as a pastry chef that I give up during hot weather and crave to go back to when Autumn comes around again. Not to mention my less important side projects, drawings, songwriting challenges, singing performances, the novel & Kindle books and short stories I'm working on, keeping up with my blogs, the cat's new daily dental regimen that I must administer, and oh, the new gaming podcast my hubby-man and I are trying to create together.

  You may see that I don't follow through on everything, and it may seem to others that I don't follow through on anything, but it isn't so-- I just take my time, generally. In the end, stuff gets done. This new beginning is a course of what could be called Creative Healing, or Healing for Creatives. It's meant to unblock us from whatever is keeping us from getting ourselves going or keeping ourselves going.

 Clearly, I need the latter. It wasn't so long ago, though, that I was crazily tentative about starting projects. Worry and fear of success (or failure) kept me from dozens of opportunities. The chances I took, moved slowly. I mean, I had a subscription to Walking Magazine for a year before I got into walking and hiking like crazy. I read about baking yeast bread for several years before it became my normal daily grind for a decade. I thought about vegetarianism from age seventeen on, but didn't go full veg till about 29. My college career didn't start till 26, though I had my GED at 17, months before my old class had graduated.

 I was taking my time, getting used to the idea of big lifestyle changes or little ones that needed to be taken seriously. Also, working though the baggage of childhood, teenagehood, love's first mistakes, etc. Like many women, I spent my youth feeling like a talented incompetent, my twenties roaming around searching for guidance, and my thirties claiming my competence. My forties have been a slow reclaiming of life goals and skills, while I try to heal from a disease I may never fully throw off.

  Being blessed or cursed through my heritage to have a multiplicity of talents, I had no smooth path to follow, to get where I wanted to be, or even find out where that was. When you have no easy template for life that fits you, decades can be wasted just looking for parameters that don't cut you up in the middle. I searched, I honed some talents to a fine point and left others for later. I worked like crazy, to prove I could. After getting sick at 41 and becoming unable to work regular jobs, I've been opening up those closets of unworn talent, reaching out in many directions. In doing so, I found a fantastic asset, one I had all but lost-- the Beginner's Mind.

 Beginners have hope, joy, and excitement. They carry an easy confidence that they will learn through the challenges; they have a false bravado that becomes calm acceptance of the known, in time. They can be persuasive, engaging, intoxicating to be around due to the energy they give off-- fun people. They are, most of all, willing-- willing to try, to focus, to create space for the new, and to make mistakes and learn from them.

 The Beginner's Mind carries you through the fears of the first moments, through the financial rearrangements that new projects call for, through the cleaning out of old junk (metaphorical or literal) that has taken up room better utilized for that new beginning, and through the first realization that you might have more work to do here than you had thought. If you can hold on to it, you find it carries you through the harder, later stages of learning/trying as well.


(He is wrong, BTW).

 I'm writing all of this just to tell you, for my sake and yours, that it's okay to start ''too many'' projects and to let some of them lapse for days, years or forever. It's better than okay, it's fucking great-- because beginning means effort, and motion, and willingness to try. If you begin well, it means learning and accomplishment aren't far away, either. Beginning does, often, lead to a finished creation, or situation. When it doesn't, you're still closer than when you were afraid to begin.

 Not to go all new age-y on you here, but focusing solely on end products kills much creativity. There is a middle ground between constantly flaking out and soulless "success" that feels as bad as total failure, but only beginners have the chance to find it. The more beginnings you make, the more chances. Whether you're beginning to learn how to play an instrument you've never picked up before, or beginning a better health regimen for the twelfth time, start it up. Find out what it would take to do it well, and prepare-- but not too long. Some things you can add on to as you go-- take it from a perpetual beginner. 

 And lest you think I'm fooling myself, soothing myself with fantasies of Someday while I tote up a million false starts, let me tell you what I've finished lately:

 Since November 2008, I've finished the first drafts of four novels, written hefty amounts of several other novels, dozens of short stories and poems, something like 300+ songs, many of which I've collaborated on with musicians from all over the world and some of which I've performed with my band; I've donated some of my precious time to care for children from several families that couldn't afford full-time daycare; I've become the organizer of a great critique group and helped bring it back from a very low point of participation; become a consultant for a young writers group in a local high school; been published in an anthology; I've helped talk a person dear to me out of suicide; I've done artwork and voiceovers for a successful niche podcast; learnt to make the best coffee ice cream on the planet and a perfect cherry pie; learnt to play Happy Birthday on the ukulele; kept my household together through agonizing financial difficulties and illness; and had some of the best writing experiences of my life.  

 Those are just the big things.

 I could have focused hard on one dull task, and made enough money to buy a new couch, maybe. I could have spent all of my time working on my figure, trying to heal my body, or writing bland internet content I wasn't proud of. Instead, people I respect speak of my work with respect and occasional awe. Children I love have been an intimate part of my life, and I know I've influenced them in at least a few good ways. I have turned the sad death of a friend into 2 good songs, and the death of a friendship into at least three songs and a short story. I've gotten better, very slowly but through effort. I've kept myself from getting sicker, too. And screwed up thousands of times, and learned a great deal. To boil it down to one truth, I have lived and thrived after utterly losing my hard-built career status, my dreams, my health and all of my former plans-- and it was all because I started a crazy writing project in a rush, on a whim, throwing myself into it with my whole will, and immediately finding that it sparked dozens of other ideas for projects.

 These lists of accomplishments aren't meant to glorify myself, but rather to glorify and rejoice in the idea and practice of Beginning, which has gotten some bad rap recently. By now, people are tired of the whole Resolution thing each January, and the Western World seems to willfully misunderstand and mock the Eastern ideal of revering a  process, no matter how far ahead the Eastern world gets through actual production following this reverence. We shame those that make a good try, and we ignore what we could get from trying again and again. Instead we focus on the end result to the exclusion of any beginning without solid guarantees for immediate or substantial profit.

 Good beginnings have their own immediate profit-- excitement, the joy of discovery, a shaking off of old habits, the prepping of our minds to receive instead of produce. It's worth more than you'll ever know, if you don't jump in and start something you might not be able to finish on schedule-- but then again, you might.   

Happy September! Peace, Mari


Thursday, August 22, 2013

September Essay Cafe

 As always here at Oktober Ski, the writing changes month to month, season to season, with some months deliberately left quiet. I use this space to experiment and play around with forms I may not have approached before, and also to push myself to do more with the work inside my comfort zone-- which can make for unfinished bits, but makes for more bits overall, for which I am grateful.

Each month has a theme.

 Starting early (soon) September will see me attempting the essay-- personal or topical, any subject is up for grabs. The ideas have been swimming around for weeks, and I hope that when I dip my toe into that water, it won't go suddenly cold.

 See you soon. Peace, Mari

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Promptly This June: Unplugged Poems

    Googling 'poetry prompts' brought me this, from Writer's Digest.


Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 221

Categories: Poetry Prompts, Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog, What's New.
Over the past weekend, I took Friday off work and “unplugged” myself from nearly all my electronics (except my phone, which I barely used) until Monday night. So four days and four nights (if including Thursday night) without e-mail, social media, blogging, websites, etc. As a person constantly immersed in media, it felt liberating to pull the plug.
For this week’s prompt, write an unplugged poem. The plug could be attached to computers, but maybe it’s a metaphor for relationships that need the plug pulled. Or a phase of your life. Or a way of thinking. Or a toaster. Just a toaster.


I'm going to have to do this with pen and paper first, to remember being unplugged. When I took my first poetry courses in college, it was all pen and paper.

The Cool Lamp

Our cool blue lamp broke in transit
One item from a household of goods
Chairs and antique platters, movies and crystal and hope
Driven here in a POD and set in the new driveway.

We unpacked ourselves less carefully than we could have.
We rushed into a larger space than we knew, going in.
Sharp pieces hid in many corners.

Unused but not discarded
The strong metal base sits in a closet
Dusty and dim as the hopes and crystal, now
Disconnected from our energy.

© By Mari Kozlowski, June 18, 2013


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Promptly This June! June 12th, The Man in the Park

Here's one I picked up from WD's online prompt source, http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts.

The Man in the Park

You get back to your studio to develop pictures from the hour you just spent in the park. All of the pictures turn out well, except for a select few. In six photographs, there is a man in the frame. Something seems slightly off, and rather strange about each picture. Who is he and what is weird about the photographs?

500 words or less.


Neela laid out her afternoon's work, smiling-- the colors, the action she'd captured on film, were the makings of a fine collage, a set piece to be bleached and stained, in parts, hung against other finds from the park like the twisted twig still adorned with half a cocoon, or the heron feather, her prize of the day. Four hours of shooting & gathering, and another two in the darkroom, she considered well spent. She walked around her craft table pushing pics towards or away from each other, as a natural arrangement suggested itself.

 There was core of ten, she felt, the lynchpin of the piece emerging in her mind's eye-- each filled with movement from animals, wind-rippled leaves and a generous splash of sun-struck cityscape in the background. She slid the group of photos together and apart, testing her ideas. One of the core had an odd blue edge to it, on the right side. She swung her overhead light to a tighter focus, and noticed that several more of the core had the same edging of blue.



Sunday, June 9, 2013

Promptly This June

 That's my unsubtle play on words, since here it is, already my little sister's Birthday, June 9th.

 Of course I called her, hush now.

 If you've been keeping up with me, you know I've just had major surgery, a full hysterectomy. I've been home for over a week now; I went in on a Wednesday and came home that Friday. Normally I don't heal all that fast, so this amazing turnaround is heartening. Still, I've blocked out my calendar for June and July as Healing months.

 Healing is boring sometimes, though, when you can't go outside alone, or drive, and you don't look decent enough to have visitors that aren't related. So I've decided to use a new prompt here, every few days or so, to keep my head moving and the ideas flowing.

 I won't keep them to fiction alone, variety is Necessary right now.

First one, below. 'Night night!

From P&W, my easy source for prompts.

Ten-Second Essays

Read James Richardson’s aphorisms or “ten-second essays." Pick one that resonates with you, and use the aphorism as an epigraph or starting off point for a poem.

ll stones are broken stones.


Around the edge of the sidewalk, in the street or garden

stones are broken, pieces of hardness

not hard enough to have stayed whole

like your child's heart that still beats in two places--

a half-forgotten past and the idealized future

we were building with curved cast-off tiles 

when the moon came down and shattered us, too.

© By Mari Kozlowski, June 9, 2013


Friday, May 24, 2013

Story-A-Day May: Why Witches Won't Cross Water

I began this the other day, and will finish it when I finish it. But here's what I have.
 Three witches walked the long, high road along the banks of Mongee River, taking its twists and tussocks easily in their stride. They wore strong boots with thick, wide soles that helped them to conquer the uneven turf without so much as a turned ankle all the day.

 The youngest walked ahead of her older sisters, being the most sure-footed and the best navigator. It was always her job to foresee perturbances and find a path around them, whether walking miles of bumpy, muddy ground or setting out a perfect tea party for a wealthy family that might purchase the special services the sisters offered. She had been uprooting obstacles for 78 years now and it was second nature to her, never questioned or reflected upon.

 Till they came to the door in the water.

 It was 7 feet high, made seemingly of the shimmering live river water it swirled up from, and blocking their path at a narrow juncture between tightly grown trees on one side, and a rock formation on the other. The older two stopped several yards shy of the thing, and glanced to their problem-solving sibling.

“Well, Ruby, what do you make of that?” asked the oldest.

Her young sister stepped close to the door, without touching it. Within the set shape, the fluid moved rapidly, rushing and foaming; she watched as live fish swam about their business, apparently unaware of the odd change affecting their environment.

“Perhaps someone has cast a spell, Lu,” she suggested.

“Powerful spell.” Lu observed. Beside her, Jacklyn nodded, stroking her chin.

“Elementalism, I guess. But for what purpose?” she said.

 She stared at Ruby, and Ruby stared at the amazing door, lost in its beauty. Her sisters waited with some calm, expecting her to suggest a course of action, perhaps perform a counter-spell. But she did nothing for a quarter of an hour. The air was growing cold, when Jacklyn got tired of waiting.

 “Ruby! It’s chilly near this damned door. Fix it! We’ve got work to do in Kelfield early tomorrow. We have to go.”

“Don’t know what to do.” Ruby came out of her contemplation with no idea of how to get pas the door safely. Well, just one.

“We could walk through it,” she said. “It’s water.”

Jacklyn shook her head. “Could be more than just water. It’s animated, and who knows by what?”

“Or who.” Lu added.

 Ruby sighed and tried to think hard on the problem, but nothing came to her. They couldn’t climb the trees, as the branches were too thin to support them, but too closely set to push through. They couldn’t climb the slippery rocks safely, as they were too wet and steep. She knew her sisters hoped she could spell it away, but she knew she had no such power in her, and besides, she didn’t want to destroy it— she found it wondrous. There must be something else to do.

 Jacklyn stood fairly steaming in disapproval, yet Ruby couldn’t come up with a useful idea.

“Maybe we should turn back and find a way to go around this.”

Lu scowled. “After all this walking?”

“What choice do we have?”

“Always another choice. Just need to find it.” Jacklyn grunted.

 She scratched her head, and began to think on the issue herself, something she was unused to doing. The older sisters would happily put their full powers and concentration into any task, so long as they didn’t have to decide on the task; that was Ruby’s job. But there was work to be done elsewhere, and the daylight was going. Beams of red gold sunset filtered through the door, splashing rainbow shadows onto the wet wall of rock. It was beautiful, she’d admit, but probably dangerous, and damned annoying.

“Could we call our friend Havre?” she asked, and ruby shook her head.

 “He’s on a mission, remember? Rescuing that dragon egg he heard about.”

“That’s right.” Jacklyn said.  

Lu leaned against the nearest tree and rubbed her calf.

“We might have to camp here, if this goes on much longer.”

“Too dangerous.” Jacklyn said. “Can’t sleep near a magic door you didn’t call.”

“Then we'd better get past it!” Lu stood up again, angry and tired. Ruby could feel her frustration, and she decided to try the only way she had left.

 “I’ll go through first. I’ll find out if it’s safe.” she offered.

“No.” Jacklyn said, but Ruby blew her a kiss and stepped through the glistening clear door before she could change her mind, and disappeared. Lu stepped back from the door, a horrified look on her face. Jacklyn just looked angry.

“Damn!” she cried, “Why didn’t you grab her arm?”

“She moved too fast!” Lu said. Her voice cracked, and she sobbed. “Why didn’t she try a spell first?”

“We’ll have to try to spell her back,” Jacklyn said, “or else follow.”

Lu wiped her eyes and stepped back further. She had no desire to go through that door, even to save her sister.

© By Mari Kozlowski, May 24, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Story-A-Day May: The Tangled

If you saw the way she looked the last time I saw her, you'd never believe that she used to be pretty, engaging, have a sort of bright mind, and be the kind of calmly hip person to inspire a child. But she was.

 This girl, a slovenly, sad, mind-mangled creature, was once the fresh young thing that taught me to wash my hair properly. Three sisters I had then, yet it was a high school dropout that had gotten preggers at the age of 14, that showed me what I needed to do.

 It was like this: I had cleaned my hair, I thought, and was having trouble brushing it through. I think I was 9, or maybe 8 or 10-- somewhere there in the firm hand of pre-teen silliness and self-consciousness.

 S. saw me flailing around, and offered to comb me out. She was over to see my sister, her friend, but really to share our family's vibe, since hers was kinda more fucked up than ours. I think she had a crush on my oldest brother, too. And the first thing she did was tell me not to use a brush on wet hair, because it could tear it and cause tangles and split ends.

 This piece of advice made her an instant guru to me. She went to our bathroom and found a slim, long rat-tail comb, and began trying to fix my hair with it, but I hadn't gotten all the shampoo, and then conditioner, rinsed out. it was clotted in clumps and itchy as hell.

 "You have to rinse it better, Mary." she told me, and then took me into the bathroom and made me stick my head under the faucet. She rinsed me clear, then put a little cream rinse in, combed it through, rinsed it out again, and this is the brilliant part-- showed me what it should feel like when I had it really clean. That feeling against your fingers, that lets you know you're done.

 Then she towel dried my head and combed carefully through every single strand, starting gently at the bottom instead of the top, showing me how that would remove tangles without stretching, pulling and tearing my fine, thin straight flyaway hair. She must have spent 45 minutes or more helping me, which is approximately 44 minutes more than any of my brothers or sisters had spent with me since I left infancy.   

 She and my sister parted ways with much acrimony, amid suspicions of someone seducing someone they weren't supposed to; my kind mother, who was called Mom by at least 2 dozen more children than she had actually produced, kept in touch with S. for years, allowing the progressively misguided girl to call her and spill out her troubles from time to time.

The girl's son had been taken from her at fifteen, then returned, then taken again. She herself went in and out of mental wards and was put on nearly every kind of brain-altering drug that existed back then. Her intelligence dropped by degrees, and her judgment of men's intentions, never very sound, got her into all kinds of scrapes and heartbreak. the last time I spoke with her, she was barely capable of speaking a coherent sentence.

 It's one the saddest little true stories I know. I wouldn't want to see her, now, because she isn't that hopeful helpful girl anymore, but a piece of human wreckage. The sadness of her life depletes me, if I think of it too often.

 So this is for her, wherever she is: a small, useless, but heartfelt thank you for the attention and care she gave me one afternoon, long ago. Whatever others feel about her, I choose to remember that sweet chunk of time she offered, and her generous concern about something everyone around me had ignored. It made a big difference in my perception of myself, and my understanding of why I should take care of myself.

 I hope she has found some unexpected generosity, herself.

© By Mari Kozlowski, May 22, 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Story-A-Day May... slowing, but still going.

A week of being terribly sick has left me behind again. What to do?

 Jump in and stop worrying about what I didn't finish (four stories with no ending) and get into it NOW.

Summer land of WNY

 In a breeze from the lake, you can smell five things, or six, or seven. Lake Erie's beaches carry the scent of fish, of smoke, of seaweed (or lake weed, to be specific), of rotting logs, of clean-washed air, of baking sand, and the coconut scent of tanned teenagers sweating in the sun, displaying their golden greased curves to each other in hopes of hooking up around the bonfire later.

 Looking out from the edge is similar to looking at the ocean. It seems every bit as endless, but the weight of water you feel as you stare is less. In first morning sunlight, an unbroken wall of white gold shimmers too brightly to take for long; no visible division of sky and water exists. I have seen the Atlantic, and two of the Great Lakes-- the lakes are still stunning.

 There is a lovely coastal feel to the areas around the lakes, as well-- people buy cottages and spend two or even three seasons there, where the living is simpler and time has its own lake-set pace. You may have to get up early and drive in to town to work the next day, but if the stars are beautiful and the grill is going, it isn't bedtime yet. When you do lay head to pillow, you'll sleep the sound sleep of the profoundly grateful, hearing nothing but your own breath and the soft crick of a window somewhere, moving slightly as it holds against the low wind off the water. The waves are felt rather than heard, a rich slow hum that soothes and protects your dreams. Heroically tall pines sway and open onto a living darkness of indigo sky.

© By Mari Kozlowski, May 19, 2013

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Story-A-Day May: Hothouse Burdens

Lilly has a crown she will wear this morning, when her groom climbs the high hill and the players strum their green-stringed goldbedums, singing softly into the moist air of May.

The circlet is made of silver leaves, dotted here and there with water gems, the costly ones that look like emerald. They are fixed in the centers, or at the shiny tips of the worked metal leaves like dewdrops about to fall or evaporate. Many enslaved artisans helped in the making of this beautiful thing, an item of rare grace that Lilly will wear ever after only for the most special and sacred occasions.

It does not dawn on her that her people, who are starving, may look upon the jeweled artifact with resentment, wondering why she has the nerve to flaunt her stolen wealth at them. She has no fears that her countrymen and subjects might look with distaste or even disgust at the explicit show of expansiveness, might revile the largesse of her wedding feast, where they would not be welcome.

It doesn't cross her mind, because it isn't so-- the people, hungry and falling daily from sicknesses associated with inadequate nutrition, want nothing but the best for their queen. They would have it no other way, than that she should make them proud by looking as richly refined as the princesses of the three wealthier countries that border theirs. The image of their young queen, lovely as a blossoming tree as she speaks her vows, is what they wish for this morning, to hold in their hearts through the drought-ridden summer to come. Their crops will die soon, after stunted yields, but her glory will rain on them all.

 © By Mari Kozlowski, May 5, 2013

Friday, May 3, 2013

Story-A-Day May: In the Cut.

Today's story, in its own post.

  Her eyes had been closed for much of the surgery, but now she opened them and was immediately shocked and nauseated by the welling of blood and its hot iron smell.

 They had promised she wouldn't feel a thing, under the influence of this new drug, and she didn't-- her hands, her usually stiff back and her legs had held up fine. She didn't feel the slightest push as the sharp scalpel moved in and out of the appropriate organ like a hot knife in soft butter. Just the nausea, as fleetingly irritating as it was unexpected.

 Watching the progress of the operation with a happily disconnected interest, she felt her stomach lurch, wanting to heave, and tried to avert her head with a quick movement.

 "Doctor Lynch," the nurse beside her asked, " are you alright? You look green."

"I'll be fine," she answered, " just need to look at something else for a moment."

 © By Mari Kozlowski, May 3, 2013

Story-A-Day May: Two for the price of one!

I did write my story yesterday, before midnight even-- after I came back from my writing group. I was just too tired to post it, so here it is, with a little polish of editing to shine it up since I had the time. The second will follow later, so if you should happen to read this early Friday, please come back tonight for the rest.

Guava and Lime

 Under the sick white glaze of overhead fluorescents, her knife rocked in well-controlled pace, firm, a natural part of her hand extended over the onions being reduced to ever smaller particles. Minced so fine that their juice ran off the side of the wooden board, they gave surprisingly little smell. The cook had first halved them then steeped them in lime, before patting them dry for the final cutting. She used them for flavor, not bite; a trick she’d learned on an island paradise she had no intention of returning to, in this career-- in this lifetime.

 Meanwhile the hob behind her heated to smoking hot, and in a moment the tiny confetti of onion would be thrown into a dry pan over that blaze, to scorch and char briefly. Then the cook would combine them with chilled guava chunks, a sprinkling of spice and more lime— a salsa for topping her signature dish of broiled filet. The authentic recipe called for a cut that wasn’t available in the states, and even the guava was a poor stand-in for its island self, but few of her customers would discern the differences. They raved over the intriguing tropical tone of her offering, whose true origins she kept to herself and thought of only rarely during her daily prep.

 The fruits on that island were sweeter, riper, more complex in flavor than any grown on any large continent she had ever visited, and she had visited many. The meats, wild or farmed, had a tender lushness to them, almost a creaminess when the flesh was properly cooked, and the local rum was as freshly delicious and easily consumed as springwater. Its sweet urgings had contributed to an array of bold, thoughtless nights and rough mornings during her long stay. Those nights, if she allowed herself to remember them, could still make her blush, make her knife-hand shake as she used other lessons learned then to tantalize and tease, comfort and challenge the palates of her guests. Just as her own tastes once had been teased and challenged— but certain flavors, some exotic fruits, could never be had very far from their source. Some delicacies, you couldn’t bring home.

© By Mari Kozlowski, May 2, 2013.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Story-A-Day May-- The Drabble That Didn't

   I changed my mind (woman/prerogative) and decided to throw myself into Story-a-Day May with Marta, whose stories will be better, I assure you. This one proves it. As I'll be getting cut apart a little at the end of the month, I may miss the last few days, but c'est la vie!

 The writing prompt for the day, which one need not adhere to, is a Drabble-- a hundred word story that focuses on a moment, a happening, between two characters or less.

 And I blew it from the start, going over a hundred words without trying, and not wanting to abandon the intriguing Shan, who created the story around himself. It needs to be longer, longer than I've made it, and someday I'll re-visit the tale, but for now, here it is:

Baker Man

 Evening air had cooled the kitchen, finally. Shan went through the room closing windows with a satisfied smile. His baking adventure had gone well and his wife would be thrilled, come morning, when presented with perfectly golden tarts topped with a fine, vanilla-scented crumble, bursting with plums. She loved unexpected tidbits, and he had cleared the house of hints; not the faintest whiff of baked fruit or buttery pastry remained to spoil her surprise. He could picture her face, mouth open, eyes wide and hunting for a motive, then her lips stained with the dark juices as she bit into the treat.

 Fresh Plums were hard to find in spring, but Shan was a master at sourcing. He found sweet, melting strawberries in December, and the best oranges of the year in June. His skill at obtaining such treasures was part research, part charm-- when Shan tracked down a likely source, he schmoozed the point person mercilessly. Rolling his voice to a silken ripple, he’d flatter just subtly enough to make the person feel special and appreciated. It was a habit he'd picked up in the music industry, where artists and moneymen alike needed their egos salved regularly.

 Now, house-husband to a wealthy businesswoman, he found ample use for his sales techniques; and the commission was quite a bit more interesting than mere cash. Their time together was pleasurable but erratic, and often brief. It wouldn’t be true to say that he loved his wife, but she did give him certain satisfactions, along with freedom to pursue his interests as widely as he chose, and unfettered funding of any and all dreams. 

 Almost an ideal life, he knew.

© By Mari Kozlowski, May 1, 2013

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Reality Intervenes-- Day 30! The End of Daily Life as Blog Knows It.

 This last day of my daily-life blog experiment is a relief.

 My life always sounded more interesting on paper, but not when going day by day. At this stage of healing, when I am leaving the house mainly for writing group activities or shopping, what is there to tell? Do you care what I've read, eaten, thought? If I don't, why should you?

 Yesterday's phone marathon of evil made G-man sick, so sick I called him in sick for work today, knowing that his body would need time to return to normal. he's sleeping off the ill effects of dealing with NetSpend, and I'm only hoping he'll be able to eat some chicken soup later.

Meanwhile, I have things to contemplate-- on May 29, I will have my womb and a few associated girl parts cut from me, and that means a load of preparation is needed. With any surgery there are risks, and I can't let my lack of fear (so far!) keep me from making sure that I leave my house in order. Failing some horrible fuckup, I will still need care and help, and food and comfort. The fridge and freezer should be stocked, the laundry should be caught up on, the crack in the foundation should fixed-- that last will be hard to do, since our tax refund didn't come in in time (see yesterday's post).
Likewise, the garden plans I had aren't going to happen now, and I won't be getting my little country guitar restrung before recovery.

Let me say that, as someone living in recovery already, looking towards a new, weaker, more painful recovery period does not thrill me. The prospect of hobbling to the loo again needing help, does not thrill me. The worry that insurance and Medicaid might not cover every cost is my real fear.

 The only good part of this is, on one side, there is blood; on the far side of recovery, that will be ended. And maybe I'll channel some of that post-menopausal zest I've heard so much about.

 May, hours away, is still in fog; I cannot see what will happen here, but it probably involves fiction on a weekly basis. My original idea of joining the story-a-day challenge will, I can feel, be too stressful. A weekly short-short could work. I'll decide tomorrow.

Meanwhile-- if, for some crazy reason, you have some extra cash to throw at a good cause, here's the perfect thing:


"The family and friends of Marta are raising funds to help with bills during the recovery time after surgery, when she won't receive a salary."

 As of now she is dealing with chemo and its associated trials and losses. Marta is a writer, artist, and all-around superb person, and I urge you to check out her Etsy shop, her blog, her author page on facebook, and her Journey through the Carcinoma Wonderland page on FB. If you google her name, you'll see her mentioned in other people's blogs and shops, because her art is as tender and witty as she is; she's also wickedly funny and not afraid to stare into the eyes of a dragon. And as of now she is dealing with chemo and its associated trials and losses, and telling anyone who needs to know, exactly what that involves.

 Help support the arts in an absolutely fantastic way-- give for Marta, who deserves it. 

 And may your last day of April be green and growing.

 See you in May-- Mari

Monday, April 29, 2013

Reality Bites-- NetSpend vs The Little People

 Tax Issues!

 After waiting 25 business days for a refund check that was supposed to arrive in 20, we called NetSpend last Tuesday to find out where the hell our refund was.

 They hadn't processed it. Oh good. Because it wasn't bad enough that both TurboTax and NetSpend had misrepresented the so-called convenience of the tax product to begin, resulting in us having to go through three companies (and five phone calls) to have them promise to mail us out a check for the full amount owed, rather than us using the convenient little card they had sent. A card that adds to the ease of spending your needed refund from Uncle Sam by taking some of it as soon you activate the card; then again every time you withdraw any cash, use the card as a credit card, or complete certain other types of transactions. There are no free withdrawals even from approved ATMs, and you get to pay any individual ATM-assigned charges as well. Plus a monthly fee.

In other words, they aim to take at least 20 percent off the top, if they can. Which is not how their service was presented in brochure form, believe me.

We asked to have this process stopped and to receive our refund the old fashioned way, in a check, and they botched that up and never sent it. Now, having told us last week they would call us on Friday to discuss what they'd found out, they're telling us no, they've just processed our check and we need to be patient, and hope the damn check gets here by late May.

 This is what you call bad business. The hubby-man is on the phone now with the fifth person in an hour, after having been kicked off the system when he was supposed to have been transferred to a supervisor. They are giving him apologies and no help. There is no excuse for this kind of bullshit.

 And the worst part is, we get our refund done in February, no waiting, no procrastination. And here we're in the same boat as those poor bastards that did it last minute a couple weeks ago.

 No, the worst part is, we need that refund for house repairs and other important details that have gone undone, and we are facing accumulated excess costs and a lack of time, now, to get things accomplished before my upcoming surgery. They have jerked us around repeatedly, costing us time, money, stress.

And they don't seem to see that overnighting a check today is not a Herculean task for them, but a simple way to make things right. At this point, a decent company would seek not only to satisfy us, but seek to make some small form of reparation.

 I would suggest to all my friends and acquaintances, to spare yourselves the financial and physical headaches associated with this charlatan of a company. Avoid NetSpend, please help your friends and family to avoid them as well.

 As of this publication, they have not finished messing with us, or attempted ANY customer service beyond a lame apology. They should be ashamed of themselves.

 I wish them no peace.


Monday, April 22, 2013

A Day of Earth and Wine

   It's funny how doctors perceive time differently than we do-- when someone says, I want to cut you open as soon as possible, you think they mean Soon, not Sometime in the Next Two Months, but Don't Expect to be Notified in any kind of Urgent Fashion... so that you  can maybe plan your life, your food shopping, your recovery place and method, your caregiver's time off, your writing groups' schedules, your bills...

     So I'm waiting to know, still. But I did sign a note today saying that I understand that after my uterus is cut out, I won't be able to bear children. And now I'm free to work against the Z-pac I'm on by drinking a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and contemplate the slow-rising Spring, and the fact that I forgot to call my sister on her Birthday, just because I am sick. Bad, bad Mari.

Now I have to buy her a present. A good one.

    Enjoy the earth! We aren't here that long. RIP, Richie Havens, you were a magic man--- Mari


Monday, April 15, 2013

Reality Intervenes-- Day 15, Who Blew Up the Marathon???

Looks as if my surgery will be in May after all. That's as soon as the doc can take out my parts, but she did have more bright news than expected-- I don't necessarily have cancer. So that's encouraging.

 Still, with this cold and the running around I've had to do, I feel dreadful. Can't breathe and sore throat and bod and no voice to scream out "WHY?"

 Why would anyone blow up the Boston Marathon? What could they hope to accomplish?

 I'm mystified, and angry, and sad. No amount of angst could make me want to turn it so spuriously outward. What sick fuck needs to take innocent people down to make a point?

 Whatever bunch of assholes did it, I can only hope they have not passed on their shitty genes. Parenthood should not be open to such vile specimens.

Anyway, no news yet on who or why. The world is beautiful but some want to mess it up so it matches their ugly insides.

 Have a an evening with some sad spots in it-- I think we all will.

 Peace, Mari

Friday, April 12, 2013

Reality Intervenes-- Day 12

 Both G-man and I have had a filthy cold all week-- I started getting it last Sunday, when he'd had it for several days already, and we're both still sick.

 It's not good to be sick at the same time. There's no one to run for groceries, no one to sit at the Laundromat while towels dry, no one to pick up more Nyquil. G-man has had to work the last few days, too, so even though he was ahead of me in the getting better department, that has stalled.

 I'm not getting better, I'm getting worse, as is my wont. The head cold that was focused mostly in my throat is now moving down, no doubt to become a nasty respiratory infection as usual.

 Today I woke up with G-man to get him ready for work, and then took a half dose of Nyquil and went back to bed, without setting the alarm. I woke up at 1:30 pm! Clearly I needed rest, and I could have stayed there cozily all day-- what's to keep me from it?-- but I know I have to muster the strength to go out for groceries and to deposit G's paychecks, or we'll end up spending a hundred dollars we don't have to spend, on takeout. I need to pick up more Dayquil, too.

 Let me say this about store brand medicines-- they work well most of the time, but the real Dayquil works better than store brand. I love old school yicky licorice-tasting Nyquil best as well, and I am more likely to splurge on that than on the day stuff; but G-man has to work on the meds, so that is where I'm likely to put down the extra $2 when I can.

 The stuff has gotten very expensive-- $12.50 for a combo pack of 2 12-oz bottles (a few days' worth if two people are using it) of Walgreen's night/day cold & cough fluid. And you still need cough drops, and sometimes throat spray.

 And I like to get Traditional Medicinals tea, too. But it's not enough for G-man to work on, just using tea therapy. I got through colds in college using it, though. Great stuff, if you're not on your feet all day, and have time to occasionally blow your nose.

 An aside for anyone that is reading this (ha! I'm sure no one is, and if you were, it's too boring to have made it this far) and doesn't know me enough to have the background, but I spend most of my time in the house, since I have a debilitating, incurable disease called Dermatomyositis, which has caused me to be unable to work for the last 6 years running, apart from unpaid childcare I did for some close friends and family members. And I'm just about to be diagnosed with some kind of gynecological cancer, which will require surgery.

 So if it sounds unfair that I get to stay at home while you get work, it is, for me. I prefer working, and started when I was 13. I worked 25-35 hours/wk during the first several years of college (as did most of the students I knew). I would love to be working now, at a job that uses my body and gives me fat cash! But I can't manage it. So I'm home, poor but brilliant. Why the hell else would I have 4 blogs?

This whining has been therapeutic, if nothing else. My online pal M. is dealing with 2 kinds of breast cancer, and the aftermath of surgery, (and still making the most gorgeous artwork!) while my first mammo came out clean. So I feel lucky, in lots of ways. But I did count on having this past week to prepare, housework-wise and mentally, for what my gyno will tell me on Monday afternoon at 2:15pm. So I'm pissed off, and have low energy, and the piles of books I took out of the library aren't drawing me as they should-- will a hot shower renew my will to Be?

 Stay tuned.

  Peace, and clear sinuses, Mari 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Reality Intervenes-- Day 5, A Day of Remembrance

Writing group last night was excellent, for me at least. The work shared was fun to hear, there were enough people commenting that I was able to lay back and let it run, (good, because I was tired), and I realized as soon as I got there, who would be the perfect person to take over for me during the meetings I will likely have to miss during my impending surgery/recovery.

 And she said yes!

 What a weight off my mind. Now if I can find someone to stand in for me with the Oracle group, I'll be golden. Might be easier to think about if I could get two good night's sleep in a row...

 So it's just past 5am, and I've been awake for two hours, up for one. I'm craving strawberry-rhubarb pie, and have none. Such pie is not easy to find at 5am in Kenmore, NY-- I'll be going without sleep and pie, and this post is the only writing I feel equal to, just now, though a story idea is macerating in my wine-soaked subconscious.

 Oh, yes-- today, the 5th of April, is a Day of Remembrance for lost internet friends. Just go to the FB page for this event:


 This was created by friend and fellow blogger, Casey Bee, (over in the UK, so in a different time zone) to commemorate those pals we make in the rarefied air of this nebulous place called The 'Net. Real connections do happen, and yet we are powerless when the emails or chats or updates stop coming. Often, there is no one to tell us what happened or how, and there isn't much sympathy for our 'cyberloss,' but Casey has rectified that, by inviting us to come together and share our stories, support and grief.

 We may not be able to cross an ocean in person to visit an online friend in the hospital one last time, or attend a funeral and pay our respects that way-- but we can gather in this ethereal place where we once met those lost friends, and remember that they were here, too.

 See you there, later-- Mari


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Reality Intervenes--Day 4

Writing group tonight. This means facing the dinner hour much earlier, and having to look human in public for several hours. My sister and her hubby are coming to check it out, too.

 Let's hope it goes smoothly, because the proprietors of the venue do not, anymore, look kindly on us.

We bring in some cash on an evening that is traditionally pretty thin there, but still, they've said inhospitable things to some of our members, and in particular, one member that often orders a full meal.

 What kind of business sense is that?

 I'm looking into several new venues, and hoping they will be accepted by the group. Our meetings have gotten larger lately anyhow, and we need more room to spread out. Plus, the chairs at our usual place are not comfortable, and they don't serve real lattes anymore.

  Wish us luck!!! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reality Intervenes-- Day 3

 Yesterday was not the downer I expected, as Doc Tyler, a fun and caring individual, set at rest my worries about the lump in my side, and cleared up a few things about the whole "removal" of women parts I am probably facing in the next month or so. He said I'm doing pretty well aside from those issues, which helps to know.

 Today, the abdominal/pelvic MRI happened. Not too bad, some calming techniques needed, and of course I had to forgo my morning coffee-- all food and water-- until the deed was done. They also shot some liquid metal into me for the last part-- it's called taking the picture 'with contrast.'

 I'd been prepped with a scrip for diazepam, but I only took half of one, and not sure it had much to do with my relative calm during the tests. At this point in life, I've accepted a fair amount of scary shit to get to necessary ends, and I'm certain there's worse to come. 

 On the lighter side, an online acquaintance equated paganism with immoral behavior, just by the by; and a friend screamed slanderous abuse at me over the phone, at top volume, because I gently suggested that he shouldn't rush to marry a woman who had very recently come back into his life. Note, I didn't tell him never to marry her, just not to rush into it, and I said it calmly and tactfully. But he screeched bullshit, so I hung up on him. My online pal-- a nice woman that I respect a great deal-- I asked her to notice the implied insult to all non-Christians, and I think it's leading to a potentially useful dialogue.

 The pasta I had for dinner, not so useful-- gummy and badly sauced. I didn't cook it folks, I heated it up, and threw most of it away in disappointment.
 Was it a good day?

 Hell yes. After not eating for 13+ hours, we went to lunch (extravagance!) and then came home and took a nap-- bad sleep last night. We're going to listen to Shopgirl on audiobook CD, read by Steve Martin, and snooze.

 Kenmore is dark, but still lively at 9:38 pm. Have a good night!


Monday, April 1, 2013

Reality Intervenes-- Day 1

 Inside and outside, I will have a lot of new, weird, and possibly unpleasant things happening this month. It starts out, today, with the anniversary of my sister Linda's death from cancer 17 years ago. (The year it happened I was reading The Wasteland for a class, too, and I knew the heart of that poem without being told by my teacher, believe me.)

 I'll experiment this month with a Daily Life blog, to capture the oddities of having my first MRI, and other firsts that will come after. And maybe some great things can happen too-- the writing workshop I consult for at The Oracle Charter School was on the brink of ending, from lack of participation, when one of the student writers came back and gave us a shot of new energy. We get to continue hearing from a group of kids that need to be heard, and should be heard from, for this month at least.

 Bringing kids into the power structures of their own organizations and activities, seems to me to be essential to honestly serving their needs. And now that my cohort in this venture has done that, we may have a chance to positively affect some young writers.

 It's not deeply important to me that the high school kids attending the workshop stay writers-- what's important, crucial even, is that maybe through having some recognition and affirmation of their work, they will want to keep presenting their creative selves to the world, and will seek out valuable criticism in other endeavors, too. If we can offer them an outlet for expression and build a little trust between us and them, I'll be happy.

In the meantime, my gyno doc wants to remove a now-useless part of me, and I have to find someone to stand-in for me at the workshop, should I need it in the next session or two.

Hopefully April won't be all about surgery and finding out if I have cancer; hopefully there will be good spots, spots of good news and good luck. Tomorrow my GP tells me what he thinks about the test results we've gotten so far-- that means today may be my last day not to know what is wrong with me. What wouldn't you give for a day like that, hmm?

I'm trying to prep for all contingencies, but doing one chunk at a time, so as to not be overwhelmed. Starting this month's blog theme has been a small bit crossed off my to-do list. Aren't you properly scared off for the rest of April now?

 If not, then here's my little tribute to Lynne, a song I wrote about her during my very first FAWM. Full of little true pieces of her, it may not make much sense to those that never met her, I suppose. She died at 44, and that makes no sense at all.

Hasn't been recorded yet but for a quick-take scratch vocal, that is not worth sharing. I am singing it as I type, though, and have sung it every year since the writing.

April Fool (The Linda Song)

C 2008 Mari Kozlowski

As your heartbeat was, for me
I still sing between the jumps
Recalling words you used to mispronounce--

Your voice, your voice is
A coarse melody that's faded
And your face has drifted
Down through layered time
But I still see

Your long black hair
Swinging down your back
You foxed around
In borrowed clothes you never did return

You've given me a wasteland
Of days that I can't share
But on your birthday
I will drink a cup of wine
And listen to Lou Rawls

Timeless was your scent
It was far too sweet and heavy
There's no logic in your bones
Through all these years, you're still
An April fool.

 Read a poem today!!! It's also National Poetry Month.

                                                                                         Peace, Mari 

Monday, March 18, 2013

What Happens, happens.

Or-- so many plans, so little time.

 Not strictly true. I have a fair amount of unscheduled time most weeks and months, but illness gives me less energy to complete what tasks I do have. No matter, my December blog idea centered around the inspiration of a wonderful photo from my pal Marta, and the only thing holding me back from posting it as a blog header here as I wanted, was the technical skill. My support staff was consistently unavailable (read-- busy gaming), and the whole cheery project languished along with the month. I stored it away for next year, and I'm mulling over ideas for this space, to begin again in April.

 Toying with the idea of a day-to-day life blog (gasp! shock!) such as every other person in the blogosphere has tried, or perhaps tying Oktober Ski in with some of my outside writing life: currently I'm the acting organizer for my critique group, and a consultant for a high school writers' group. That's a lot of feedback generated from little ole me. There has to be a subject or four in those experiences.

Extra detail: someone recently told me I'd make a good editor. I used to think that, too, but now that I've been living inside the process of other folks' writing so continuously, not to mention editing my own work, I can see a lot of lean spots in my understanding. No doubt, time and practice and would shore up those weak points. And there are strong points, too, which could mean the freelance editing idea is worth a try, and I'll need a place to practice, like, oh, Here.

 I'm up for ideas, too-- send me your thoughts.