Sunday, October 27, 2013

LeAnne's Egg

Another chapter snippet:

One of the birds shot into her arms and clung there a moment, panting and cocking it’s head to peer up at her.  Strangely, it had a miniature woman’s face, much like Nettie’s, but without her characteristic smile.  LeAnne felt it was trying to convey a message to her that she was too dense to understand.  To LeAnne’s dismay, a hole burst open in the bird’s soft chest, but the blood that exploded forth bloomed into a large, red rose.  In an instant, the bird had dissolved like melted butter, leaving LeAnne gripping the rose in her hand, as she plummeted to the highway below.  

Dayna squinted up at her mother as she descended.  In her hands were several small blue eggs, like those from a Robin’s nest.  “Mom,” she barked at her mother, “You’ll be late!”

LeAnne, startled by her daughter’s words, flailed frantically, to prevent the inevitable collision with the asphalt.  I can’t fly!  This is how I die, isn’t it?

“You need to get up!”  

LeAnne sat up with a gasp, her damp nightshirt clinging to her body.  Dayna was leaning into LeAnne’s bedroom doorway, chewing a bite of toast from the slice in her hand.  “Your alarm’s been chiming for about 15 minutes, can I turn it off?” She marched over to LeAnne’s nightstand in her yellow knee socks and flipped the clock’s alarm switch, probably leaving jam on it for LeAnne to discover that night, and trudged back out, the ancient sweatshirt she used for a nightgown hanging off one shoulder. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Another Bit

Some more bookwork:

Finding a table big enough for five or six people suited LeAnne just fine.  Nothing too intimate.  She didn’t want Will staring her down with those cold, judgmental eyes.  Laying her purse and cup down, she slid into her chair.  A burst of laughter across the room amongst a cluster of couches drew her attention to a group of women who all seemed to be in various stages of knitting something.  Someone had shared a good joke.  LeAnne envied their light-hearted banter.  Then her gaze fell upon an older gentleman at a small table the other side of the pillar from them, and her heart flipped when she realized it was her father.  He was looking back at her, his hands wrapped around a cup of coffee.  Clumsily, she grabbed her purse, dropped it, picked it up, banged her elbow on the underside of the table, sloshing her chai.  Get a grip, LeAnne, calm down.  She flicked a meek smile toward her father, took a deep breath and moved slowly, casually, to his table.  As she slid into the chair opposite his, he quietly offered up his napkin.

“Thanks,” LeAnne said, wiping her wet fingers, “Hi, Dad.”

“Hello, LeAnne,” Will tugged one side of his mouth up slightly, snugging it around a toothpick.  This was a characteristic gesture she knew well from childhood.  He would talk around it, she remembered, moving it from one side of his mouth to the other with his tongue.  More communication could be conveyed with that animated stick of wood between his teeth than ever came out in actual words.  Sometimes she could read his thoughts entirely by watching the angle and progress of the toothpick.

“Sorry I’m late, Dad,” LeAnne stammered, “traffic was really...”

Will cut her off in mid-sentence with a voice so low and soft, she almost didn’t recognize it as his.  “It’s okay, LeAnne,” he began, “I needed the time to sort things out in my head.”  His hands rotated his coffee cup around and around slowly as he talked, like a gear wheel in an old clock, carefully marking the progress of the minutes of his life.  “I hope this is okay,” he said, glancing over his shoulder and around the room, “I mean, it’s kinda noisy, but close to where you can get home to Dayna when you need to...”

LeAnne reassured Will this was one of her favorite spots, it would do just fine.  Her heart was pounding so hard he must’ve been able to hear it, she thought.  Damn, she wished he wasn’t being so polite, it really was making her tense.  But then, Dad never was one to come off as anything but polite.  Mostly.  It was the toothpick that usually spoke volumes, wasn’t it?  Tooth pick semaphore, sending coded intentions.

“Well, let me just jump right into it, then,” Will continued.  “As I told you on the phone, there’s a bit of a medical concern.  Been having some pains for awhile, now, and my doc’s been pushing me to have a colonoscopy.  I hate those things.  Last one, five years ago, I swore would be my last.  Anyway, I did, and they found something I guess they didn’t like the looks of.  Snipped some and now we’re waiting for the lab results.  Won’t know til Friday.”  Will looked at his fingers, and they looked back at him.  The toothpick flicked from one side of his mouth to the other, then back again in rapid succession.  

LeAnne saw such a lost vulnerability in his eyes, such loneliness in the face of his unknown future.  Her heart began to ache for this man who raised her, but seemed so foreign to what she remembered of him.  His years hung heavily upon the lines of his face, the age spots on his balding scalp, the callouses and scars on his knuckles.  When Will lifted his eyebrows, there were now so many creases in his forehead, LeAnne observed, he probably could’ve screwed his hat on.

Monday, October 14, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different...

As some of you know, I've been pre-occupied the last several months with my novel, which for the most part I've been more comfortable calling it a "writing project".  I'm having a lot of fun with it, and though it's a long way from publishing at this point, I've made huge strides in filling my big file box with finished and partly finished chapters.  At a suggestion from my brilliant daughter this morning, I've decided to share with you bits and pieces now and again of what I've written.  Why is this so much scarier than sharing my sketches, or photos of sculpture?  I have more thoughts on that, but that'll wait.  I hope everyone seeing this will understand that this material is copyrighted, and honor that.

Friday’s sketching date seemed too ambitious for LeAnne, as the previous night a fast-moving cold had set up residence in her head.  It would’ve been so easy for her to take her day off from work and stay in bed.  Dayna had another three weeks of school left before summer break, so LeAnne would have the day to herself to soak in the tub and read.  However, the pleasure she had in the company of the other women and the commonality of their creativity on those weekly dates together had become more precious than a day alone in the bathtub.  

When she arrived at the day’s agreed upon site, Darce and Nettie were already engrossed in a humorous debate regarding Archibald’s ongoing skin condition.  LeAnne settled herself on her folding stool, and began assembling her day’s tools for her project as they talked, animatedly.  One of LeAnne’s chief complaints when she suffered from colds was her tendency to become slightly deaf until the virus began clearing up.  Voices around her were often muffled, so during those times people who spoke to her were met with puzzled stares. Dayna had compensated through the years by just yelling at her mother when she was sick. Often the yelling would go on beyond the span of her mother’s ailment, and she had to be reminded that it wasn’t needed anymore.   

“Spider dander?” LeAnne sniffled at Darce as she popped open her pencil case.

Darce turned and stared at LeAnne for a moment, then repeated her previous comment. “I said, ‘Archibald seems to be doing pretty well... despite her dander problem’”.  

“Are you alright?” Nettie turned to LeAnne, concerned.

“Just a head cold,” LeAnne whined,  “It usually clogs my ears.  Sorry.  You two go on talking, I’ll just sit here in my muffled cone of silence.  Throw a rock or something if you need a response.” 

Nettie tossed her tissue packet toward LeAnne, helpfully, before she and Darce continued their conversation. 

LeAnne quickly fell into her own thoughts as she pulled a series of strokes on her sketchpad with a new, solid-graphite pencil, a tissue dangling from one nostril.  The pressure in her skull from the cold darkened her inside dialogue and images, pulling her expression into a scowl as she tried to make sense of her random pencil marks.  She resisted the impulse to grab the eraser, as each line was making her angrier and angrier.  Before long she was sure that coming to the river today was a mistake.  She should go home and soak in a hot bath, lose herself in a science fiction novel. 

Glancing up to tell her companions of her decision to go home, a movement on the opposite bank of the water caught her attention.  It was rare to see someone or something over there, as she knew that on that stretch of river, the acreage was private property.  There were no paths on that side, and it was heavily overgrown with salal, right to the water’s edge.  Even so, she knew there was something, someone, that slipped out of view deftly as she looked up.  Focusing carefully, patiently, LeAnne caught sight of a jacket arm that nearly blended with the tree-branches.  Her heart rate picked up as she determined there was a man’s hand attached to that jacket sleeve, and unless she was mistaken, a pair of binoculars were gripped in that hand.  Then, before LeAnne could direct the attention of the other women, the arm melted into the brush and vanished.  Though she’d heard only muffled words of Darce’s and Nettie’s conversation, the sharp snap of a stick on the other side of the river confirmed for LeAnne she wasn’t hallucinating.  

“Quick, both of you, look behind you... across the river!” LeAnne hissed, stretching her arm in the direction of a distant figure, now retreating through the tall grass in the meadow.

Nettie twisted her torso to gaze in the area LeAnne indicated, holding her hand to her sun-blinded eyes.  LeAnne held her breath, waiting for Nettie’s comment.  The older woman pushed herself up on her knees, now obviously seeing the retreating figure.  By the time Darce dropped her pen and looked up, there was nothing to see, as the figure had moved beyond an obscuring line of trees by then.  All three stood up, one by one, Darce glancing back at LeAnne for further direction.  

As much as Nettie had been curious, she was just as suddenly unconcerned.  Dropping back down to her paints, she fell silent, engrossed in her work.  Darce remained standing, hoping to see the subject of LeAnne’s excited outburst.  

“Nettie, did you see him?” LeAnne asked.  “I think that man was watching us!”

Nettie made almost a dramatic display of swirling her brush in her water jar, and with a distracted voice, mumbled, “Maybe. Probably a hiker.”

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wine Display

One of the difficulties I have with doing a Sketch Crawl is the fear of trespass... even in a public place.  I usually feel that if it's a retail outlet, I should either be there to buy, or at least to be browsing.  It was as a result of being a two-some in our 'crawling' that emboldened me to stand in a narrow aisle at Joe Euro's Wine Seller in Port Townsend yesterday, whip out my little Moleskine and pens, and sketch away.  Still, I only got the bare outlines and basics, memorizing the way the light glowed and the difference between the green hues of two of the bottles as well as the brick's shadow tones, so to be able later to fill that stuff in.  I had some help with the foil and label on the Roederer bottle by checking a British Champagne importer's images online.  

I have to say, sketching on the fly, and leaving more to memory later, has certainly helped me to see the details of the world more comprehensively.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

An Inspirational and Creatively Expansive Day

Yesterday a new friend and I enjoyed a day together in Port Townsend, getting to know one another and seeing the town through the eyes of urban sketchers.  Our creativity worked well with each other, and after viewing a wonderful show hanging at the Simon Mace Gallery, we were inspired to find a bench across from the Mt. Baker building and draw with an expanded viewpoint.  Perhaps this is how  Antoni Gaudi might've viewed Port Townsend.