Saturday, October 20, 2012

Boz by Request

photo by John Sandel

Yesterday, Dive gave me license to indulge when, regarding the blog, he commented, "As long as Boz appears on a regular basis it definitely has the right stuff in it."

So here is your Weekend Pupdate:

These days, our old pooper gets pooped a lot easier than he used to. Some days he seems "tetched in the haid," as my country relatives used to say. I don't think he's senile. I think he just needs to take his time to ponder things, like whether to walk all the way to the curb, or which way to turn at the end of the sidewalk. Maybe no turn. Maybe just stay right there.

For a while he was getting me up in the wee hours to go outside. But he sleeps through most nights now, and through most days, too. He's tired.

Getting old wears a person out. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Abstract

This photo reminds me of those word verifications on Blogger, with the blurry numbers. It's an example of a product created by a company that doesn't care about the user's experience. Like printers that drain the color cartridges when you print black and white copies, or phone carriers that keep you on hold for an hour, or the only cable company we can get in Pasadena--the manufacturer just wants you to buy it, they don't really care about whether or not it's useful to you.

Well, I'm here to tell you, I care about User Experience! I want you to visit again and again, so I want you to have a good time while you're here. (I mean--if that's what you want.)

So, let's do a customer survey.

Um, lemme think.


How's the blog working for you?
Does everything open okay?
Does it have the right stuff in it?
Does it have the wrong stuff in it?
Can you get stuff out of it, or is it stuck?
Does it seem fresh?
Is it too loud?
Can you use it for anything?
What would you change about it? (If I would let you, which I'm not saying I would, I'm just asking?)
Does it fit? 
Where do you keep it?
Do your friends have one?
Where do they keep it?

Thanks for taking the survey, and have a nice weekend.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Commute, 13

Trying to raise my head above the proverbial water and catch a breath! I've been snowed under lately--proverbially, of course. It's actually warm and dry in Pasadena, and I don't believe there's been any snow here in the flatlands since the 1940's.

I took this shot in Los Angeles, along Beverly Blvd., on my way home from a recording session. There's no good freeway route, but I prefer the surface streets anyway. It's not far and there's so much to see.

Sometimes I'm pretty tired at the end of a work day, but mostly I feel satisfied. I'm fortunate to work at what I love. And when I'm as tired as I was yesterday, I'm happy to take my time on the way home and just wander.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Guest Author Kitty Kroger: Dancing with Mao and Miguel

I met Kitty Kroger at my writers group, where instead of critiquing each others' work we talk shop. Kitty mentioned her novel, Dancing with Mao and Miguel, and after the meeting I read the first chapter on her website. Now that I know it might be autobiographical, I'm even more intrigued. Please welcome guest author Kitty Kroger.

Although I’ve lived in NELA for 25 years, I spend more time in Pasadena than in Eagle Rock (especially at Vroman’s, the Laemmle, the New Delhi restaurant, Pita Pita, Sabor2 before it closed, the YMCA and Grassroots in South Pasadena, and with Altadena friends). But my novel is set in Jersey City because as a first novelist, autobiographical is obligatory, right?

Upon retirement I heard about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). When it began, I was in Las Vegas getting out the vote for Obama. Each morning I arose an hour before my roommates, cloistered myself in the bathroom, and wrote at the bathroom counter. 1600 words a day on my AlphaSmart keyboard. I had my subject—problem child raised by single mom; I had my outline; I was ready.

By Thanksgiving I’d reached my target of 50,000 words. Yeaaaaa! Then came the jolt: my writing group was less than overwhelmed by the first chapter, which finds the protagonist Jenny about to give birth. “We can’t relate,” they told me. “Start further back and show us why we should care.”

So I dropped back to write a chapter about Jenny meeting the father of her baby. Miguel is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who works in the same factory as Jenny, a communist organizer. (Autobiographical? I’m not telling!) During the rewriting I got so caught up in their stormy relationship, in his experience in the Dominican Revolution of 1965, in her painful re-evaluation of the Maoist organization she belongs to and her terror of intimacy, that the infant never did make it to the light of day. (Sorry, baby.)

Writing this first novel was a roller coaster ride! On one day I’d be convinced that my writing was dreck. The next day I would know that Harper Lee should step aside. Peaks and depths. “Aha!” moments followed by thoughts of suicide (well, not exactly). It took me two years to not take every critique as a verdict on my Worth as a Human Being. I read drafts to anyone who’d listen—friends, relatives, myself, even my dog. My dad, who was senile by then, was a valuable critic because he’d nod off when the writing became too introspective (I had to repeatedly curb my tendency toward interiority), and his eyes would glow when I painted a scene and created tension.

“Tension”? That was another lesson along the way: “What do you mean I need tension in every paragraph?”

You can read Kitty's blog, plus the first chapter of Dancing With Mao and Miguel, at
Her other blog is at

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Where Am I?

I mean it. Really, I have no clue.

I've been so wrapped up in Camelot & Vine that I haven't looked up from the computer screen, and honestly, I'm tired of myself. I haven't been getting out to take pictures lately, so this one's from the archives. I know I took it in Old Town Pasadena, on the south side of Holly Street, just east of Fair Oaks. But I can't remember the name of the store, and it's showing up as an empty building on Google Maps. So either I took this picture a long time ago and the building is now empty, or Google took their picture a long time ago and the building is now full. One is as likely as the other.

We have a guest author tomorrow, I'm excited about that! We'll have at least one more in November and maybe two.

How are you? What's new? Have you been getting out of the house? What have you been doing out there?

And if you know what store I photographed, please tell us in the comments.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Zen Monday: #216

photo by John Sandel

Here is your Monday Zen.

Now you say something.


We're taking a break from the Camelot Where You Are photo contest this week but we'll get back to it next week. Details are here.

Last week's winner is (drumroll)
Ann Erdman, with #19, the Knight in Shining Armor at Avalon Lake!
Here's how it all shook out:
Thank you all for participating. The winner gets a free copy of my new novel, Camelot & Vine, when it comes out (more on that this week). 
I want to come up with a prize for everyone who enters. I'm wracking my brains but bookmarks just don't cut it. Any ideas?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Altadena Crest Trail

The super-hot weather is over. It's hiking time again. Of course it was hiking time during the super-hot weather if you got up at 4:30 a.m., but you were not me if you did that.

I've never hiked the Altadena Crest Trail from one end to the other all at once. I've done different parts at different times. The trail is long enough that to do that at my pace I'd have to take provisions (lunch, dinner, and probably breakfast), and someone would have to drop me off at one end and pick me up at the other.) The trail's got exposed parts, rocky parts, precarious parts and disputed parts.

All of its parts are worth a trek. But you don't have to do them all at once.