Preparing for tomorrow

Tomorrow will be the seventh annual Readergirlz Operation Teen Book Drop. Anyone who wants to can participate in promoting teen/young adult literature and literacy.

I did this in 2012 and 2013, and can’t wait to do it again tomorrow. In fact, Murder By The Book is holding Jeffrey Ricker’s new novel The Unwanted for me, so while I’m there, I can get a recommendation on other good young adult books to buy for Rock the Drop.

Click the Readergirlz link for more details. If you participate, be sure to share it on social media, especially if you take a photo of your contribution(s) out in the wild.

It always makes me happy to see a young person reading, and it’s not hyperbole when I say that I believe reading can save lives.

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Unsentimental Tea

As the narrator of Kevin Langson’s story “Brooding Intervals” explains his relationship with Mohsen, “We’d been meeting for sex, and increasingly, a bit of conversation and commiseration, for roughly six months.” So begins this tale of an afternoon told so deftly that it isn’t until the end that we’re sure whether we’re seeing a relationship taper into nothingness or flame into something. There is tea accompanied by conversation, affection, and anxiety, sweetened with humor, and tangy with sensuality.

Here’s an excerpt from this story that arrived in our mail just when we needed it. I’m so glad it’s part of the anthology.

[Mohsen] turned slowly toward me, as if trying to draw a connection between what was happening on the street and me, and I again caught a glimpse of the unfathomable in his eyes. Sometimes they shimmered with intimate promise; other times they seemed to feign vacancy so that I wouldn’t bother trying to penetrate his thoughts. I hadn’t truly tried. I no longer trusted my perception of profundity. I’d so many times swooned for some force or curled up beside some warmth that soon revealed itself to be illusory. San Francisco was a city of transient affections.

Mohsen listlessly ran a finger over the window ledge, and then seemed to scrutinize the sizable ball of dust that had collected at its tip… He looked down at the dirty windowsill. I thought, Why don’t I ever clean anything?

…Suddenly my thoughts shifted to what Mohsen was like with his other lovers. Was he safe? Was he rough? Did he tend toward domination, as he did with me? Was there the same complicated interplay of tenderness and sullenness?

He rose and walked over to the tiny kitchen in the right corner of my open square of a home. He opened a cupboard and sifted through my boxes of herbal tea, not seeming to find anything to his liking. Though it was the first time that he’d made himself at home in any part of my apartment other than my mattress, it seemed natural somehow.

I said, “When I was about eight and my sister announced that she was going to vet school, I was horrified, and I pleaded with her to choose another path and with my mother not to let her, much to the dismay of both of them. I had seen enough ratty guys by the highway holding cardboard signs that said HOMELESS VET that I figured she was fated to become a mistress of the streets.”

He turned the knob to ignite the flame of the back burner, occupied by my black kettle, and then turned toward me without looking directly at me. “I’m sure there’s a reason you are telling me this, but it eludes me,” he said without unkindness. He turned back to the counter to prepare his pomegranate tea.

“I’m prone to being concerned for people I care for, though it’s sometimes misguided or awkwardly expressed.”

I watched minute shudders ripple across his backside. I pulled down the burgundy afghan from the top shelf of my closet and draped it over his shoulders as he poured honey. Timorously, I kissed the spot above his collarbone where a few stray hairs sprouted. I found it strange. Moments earlier we’d been swept up in a brazen, wet sex embrace that was beastly and gentle, in turns. But now this gesture brought a tremble to me. I half-expected him to pull away.

You can read the rest of “Brooding Intervals” in Best Gay Romance 2014, on sale now in trade paperback and ebook format.

Excerpt reprinted with permission from Cleis Press. All rights reserved

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Blood Moon

I’m never any good at these, but I always have to try. I almost missed the eclipse and grabbed the camera a bit late in the game, but shot these from 2:10 to 2:36 a.m. (Central).

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A few images

My brain needs a break from numbers and words, so I was scrolling through photos and thought I’d share a few. First, though I don’t know where all of them came from, I do want to thank everyone for sending me bottle caps. They are being saved, trust me, and will be in paintings one day. In fact, I received a big stack of new canvases on my birthday (thanks, Brides!), so I have everything I need but more hours in the day.


I know this one came from one of the jaunts Marika and Lisa took when they were out and about in the Ozarks last fall. I always love a ram bottle cap.

The ram caps are from Shiner Bock beer.




I don’t know where these came from, but I’m thinking Tim and Tom. Or I might have grabbed a couple of them off the bar at my nephew’s rehearsal dinner.

This is a group from Geri and David. There are several here that I’ve never seen and didn’t have!

When Lynne was in St. Louis, she toured the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, and if you squint, you can see the logo on the shot glass she brought me from there. (I think a Clydesdale wouldn’t fit in her luggage.) I recently learned something new about shot glasses. This is a Basic Shot. The smaller ones are called Short Shots, and the thinner, taller ones are, you guessed it, Tall Shots. There are also Fluted Shots and Cheater Shots. The bottle caps aren’t from the brewery but are from her.

Speaking of Lynne, even though she moved from Green Acres long ago, I haven’t yet given her new home a name. But I’m crazy about the Fairy Garden she’s put behind her house.

Here’s a closer shot.

Enchanting, yes? Almost makes me want to get outside in my yard and–nah, probably not. The mosquitos would make it a miserable experience.

Finally, here are a couple of siblings who recently traveled to Colorado thanks to RPM. They had to go on different transports because one had the sniffles and was held back a couple of weeks. All the dogs have to be checked and approved by a vet before they can travel. By now, both may be in forever homes! I hope so. They sure are sweet.

This is Crumpet.

This is Croissant.

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Button Sunday

How refreshing it would be to spot this silhouette on a truck.

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Photo Friday, No. 390

Current Photo Friday theme: Glorious

Such a strange spring here. Things that always bloom haven’t. Things that never bloom have.
At least the azaleas were in fine form, though they were later than usual this spring.

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Throwback Thursday

I love seeing people’s TBT photos on Facebook and Instagram. Since April 10 is also Sibling Day, this seemed like a fun one to share again.

Debby, me, and David with Papa, our paternal grandfather.

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Quality Time

Monday afternoon Hanley came for a visit and had dinner with us. Of course I asked her for a drawing for Draw A Bird Day.

Just like with Lila, it’s so much fun seeing how quickly Hanley grows, and how her tastes and interests change over time. It’s also fascinating to see how kids absorb and learn about the world around them. Both Tom and I were a little daunted by the math concepts she’s learning in pre-K. Tom said as he recalls, that was fourth grade stuff.

When Tim and I received Lewis DeSimone’s story “Quality Time” as a submission for Best Gay Romance 2014, my interest was piqued by the concept. The narrator, Greg, has fallen in love and moved in with Victor. Victor has a five-year-old daughter (Hanley’s age now; Lila’s age when we received the story). I think Lewis writes Sarah exactly right for her age.

Sarah stays with her father and Greg on weekends, and Greg is learning the challenges and compromises that come with an immediate family and an ex-wife. It’s a timely story considering how common co-parenting is and LGBT parenting is becoming. And it’s a reminder that at the heart of all these stories and issues is one thing: family.

Here’s a look into the dynamic of Victor and Greg’s family.

Sarah’s excitement about the ballet carries her through the day. It’s all she can talk about over lunch, though Victor’s loaded her plate with the dreaded carrots she threw a tantrum over the last time. She squirms atop the Yellow Pages, a blizzard of energy.

From the beginning, Sarah has seemed to me more her mother’s child than Victor’s. Perhaps because she’s a girl or because, like Christina, she entered my life as an interloper of sorts—an outsider in the sheltered male enclave. She has Christina’s liveliness and curiosity—a willingness to ask questions of everyone and everything at any time—which particularly upsets Victor’s characteristic reserve. When he introduced us in June, the weekend after I moved in, Sarah scowled at me for a long moment, her nose twitching as Victor’s does when he’s angry. “Is he going to be here all weekend?” she snarled, still staring. “Greg lives here now, Sarah,” Victor said, causing her to spin around in shock. But by dinnertime, she’d become distracted by the truckload of new toys her father had bought to appease her (Victor’s nothing if not prepared) and insisted on sitting beside me—as if I, too, were one of her new playthings.

We take a walk after lunch to the Public Garden. It’s a surprisingly warm day for early December, but Victor still wraps a wool coat around Sarah. By the time we cross Beacon Street, beads of sweat are forming on her forehead. Looking askance at her father, she unbuttons the coat and puffs out a gentle sigh of relief.

In the park, she reaches her free hand toward mine, the other already clasped in Victor’s. Together, we stroll along the winding path, Sarah swinging in the air as we lift her over puddles. She’s unimpressed with the standard kiddie attraction, McCloskey’s ducklings, not even deigning to leapfrog the bronze figures with the other children. Instead, she pulls us toward the lake, frozen now, crowded with circling ice skaters. We stop on the bridge, Sarah peering through the pale blue grate to watch. Beneath us, a young couple glides along the ice, hand in hand, the woman’s light hair escaping from her hat in single strands. The man releases her for a spin and promptly plummets onto the ice. She helps him up, and they both laugh. As they hold hands once more and continue together, their movements seem all the more elegant, flecks of ice flying up in clouds behind their skates.

You can read the rest of “Quality Time” in Best Gay Romance 2014, on sale now in trade paperback and ebook format.

Excerpt reprinted with permission from Cleis Press. All rights reserved

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Bird is the Word

April 8 is Draw A Bird Day!

I first did this back in 2010, when the day coincided with One Day Without Shoes. I gave my bird shoes that day in recognition of the importance of issues surrounding children’s health and education.

In 2011, the bird was part of my Magnetic Poetry daily challenge.

I missed the date in 2012 and 2013, so there’s nothing in my Moleskine to photograph. =(

I’ve been enduring a migraine for a couple of days; thanks to meds, I slept about eleven hours. After waking up, for some reason, I was sitting here and wondered, When is Draw A Bird Day?, looked it up, and found out it’s today!

This year’s entry has my bird still in pink fuzzy slippers, up too late to bother with the worm, and the sun is in shards because when I have a migraine, the sun is no friend to my eyes. I’m glad it’s shining beautifully on this spring day, however.

Please let me know if you Draw A Bird today!

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Button Sunday

Speedee was so far ahead of my time that I didn’t even know he’d ever existed as McDonald’s first mascot. If you’d asked me, I’d have said Speedy was the little Alka-Seltzer guy. In fact, you can read here how McDonald’s gave up their Speedee in part to remove any association with Speedy.

You can teach an old dame new trivia!

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