Friday, April 29, 2011

Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice

Multnomah Learning Center in Portland Ore, is using Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice as a read-aloud book to accompany their special project about sheep, wool, and the construction of fabric. They are going to ask me to come speak to the kiddos soon. How do I make e-books available and how can I autograph copies?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for

XYZ which stands for eXamine Your Zipper - a coy way of warning that the barn door is open and the stallion's running free, or, to put it more prosaically, your fly is open.  Now this, frankly, is the sort of thing I want to be told, by anyone, as soon as it's noticed.  Do I have spinach on my teeth?  Has my deoderant failed me?  Is there toilet paper stuck to my shoe?  Please, please, tell me right away.  Don't let me wander around with my hem tucked into my pantyhose while the general public laughs and mocks me.

Assuming that other people would rather not flash in ignorance, I am quite unembarassed to walk up to total strangers and say, "Your blouse might have some slippery buttons.  Did you mean to show that much?"  Or, "Sir, your fly is open."  I also offer mints to people with bad breath. 

So what is the other side of this?  Would you rather not know?  Would you prefer that I politely ignore that shred of jerkey stuck between your teeth and waving at me each time you laugh?  Should I try to find a more tactful way of saying, "You have baby puke all down your back." 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for

Wool - early memories of

Sheep Drive

The Bye boys were movoing their sheep
Home to winter pasture or out to summer range
down the road past our house they flowed like dirty foam,
a bleating river of stupidity, rushing like rapids between the fences
eddying in the gateway, muddying the cold bright air
with their smell of wet wool, and their frantic, foolish cries.
Four thousand little hooves thundered on the asphalt.  The Bye boys
on their horses yelled.  I yelled.  Our hounds yelled.
the sheepdogs, fiercely silent, with eyes like amber flames,
with watersnake suppleness and speed, drove the idiot animals,
danced and chivvied, chased, commanded
outwitted, outran the canniest old ewes.
The flood of sheep poured past and away
in a nimbus of dust and ruckus,
leaving a sense of passage
and a road scummed with dung.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

U -s for

Urban spawn

With flick of foot
and subtle shift of weight
skatboarders glide across
sidewalks, sliding from shadow to
light, dark and dappled, darting
through the flow of trafficc
with flashing leaps,
graceful, quick as trout.

by Roxanna Matthews

Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for

Scylla - also known as woods hyacinth.
In Greek Mythology, Scylla was a sea nymph who was changed by Circe into a monster.  Circe was jealous about some guy who was chasing poor Scylla, so Circe, enchantress that she was, mixed up some herbs and spells and poisoned a little bay , ". . .where Scylla used to resort in the heat of the day to bathe her limbs."  When the lovely girl waded in  waist deep, "she found herself surrounded by serpents and barking monsters.  At first she could not imagine they were part of her, and tried to run away, but as she ran, she carried them with her, and when she tried to touch her limbs, her hands found only the yawning jaws of monsters.  Scylla remained rooted to the spot.  Her temper grew as ugly as her form, and she took pleasure in devouring hapless mariners who came within her grasp."

Or at last that's what it says in Bullfinch's Mythology.   So if you ever try to steer between Scylla and Charybdis, you might want to bring some meat for the monsters.

I have no idea why these pretty flowers  are named scylla -do you?

Saturday is going to be busy for me, so just in case I don't get back in time, here's a picture doing double duty for S and T.  Snakes on a Treadmill.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for

Reubenesque!  Let's hear it for gals with a little meat on their bones - Hoorah! 

Sarah Bernhart was the most beautiful woman of her day.  She was five feet tall and weighed 150 lbs.

 Up until quite recently, a woman was supposed to have plump, round shoulders -and collarbones were considered repulsive. 

In the novel, Lorna Doone the hero is telling about his cousin - the most beautiful woman in the area. One of the most appealing things about her were her beautiful round forearms.  She was so plump that the bone on her wrist did not stick out.

The high-fashion magazines want us to look like 12 year-old boys.  Well fooey on that!  Let's appreciate the beauty of curves.  Let's admire feminine roundness and softness. Let's enjoy our Reubenesque beauty!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for

Qiviut:  A musk ox that produces the lightest, warmest fiber commercially available.  You don't shear a musk ox.  You wait until spring when they start to shed, then follow them around the pasture, picking up the wads of wool as they come loose.  Due to the difficulty of accumulating and processing qiviut, it is one of the most expensive fibers available  It comes in very few shades.  Musk ox brown, musk ox gray and musk ox tan.  Some folks adore quiviut but it just doesn;t ring my chimes.  It's a wonderful fiber for lace, and I'm just not a lace-knitting woman.

But, if you play Scrabble, qiviut is a word you need to know!  So is qoph, and qoran.

P is for

Procrastination.  Eh, better late than never.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

O is for

On my morning walk I see nine
cats on the neighbor's porch, lined
up nicely, as if some designer
had arranged them with an eye
for form and color.  Plump gray Godiva
spreads herself, cushion-like
across the rocker seat.  Old white
Rocko, once her swain, trys
to take over but wins just a tiny
corner of the chair.  He sits straight upright
and scowls down at her.  Five
tiny anonymous red kittens lie
like beanbags in a pile,
their tortoiseshell mother, Jumble-ayah
by name, curls like a smile
around them.  And high
on the porch rail perches my
Rusty cat, copper penny bright,
and wondering why
he now sings soprano in the neighborhood choir.

N is for

Nature is no gentle mother in the desert.
Her children are few and spiteful:
Scorpions and rattlesnakes,
jackrabbits too tough for stewing,
brittle grey sagebrush
and ten thousand kinds of stickers.
Nature is a harsh mother
except in the spring.
Give her one good drink,
and she becomes a floozy
decked in garish flowers,
mating and polinating all over the place.
If you love her, make it a quickie
Her soft mood won't last and before you know it
she'll devour her young.

Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for

Mother's Repeating Herself Again.

Her brain's as full of holes as a doily - just lace
 unraveling a little more daily.
The things I tell her can't find a place
 to stick, so she asks, gaily,
(unraveling a little more daily)
"What's new?" I told her two minutes before
but it's gone, so she asks, gaily,
and I tell her again.  Sometimes it's a chore.
"What's new?" I told her two minutes before.
I'll tell her again, two minutes from now,
then I'll tell her again.  Sometimes its a chore.
Can I keep my patience?  I wonder how.
I'll tell her again two minutes from now.
She will not admit that her memory's fraying.
Can I keep my patience? I wonder how
 she feels, lost in a mind that keeps straying.
She will not admit that her memory's fraying.
She simply can't face the truth it implies.
She feels lost in a mind that keeps straying
and I can read the fear behind her eyes.
She simply can't face the truth it implies.
Her mind is erroding.  Her thoughts fall apart,
and I can read the fear behind her eyes.
She's slowly dissolving.  It's breaking my heart.
Her mind is erroding.  Her thoughts fall apart.
She's afraid to go to , ". . . that nursing home place."
She's slowly dissolving.  It's breaking my heart.
Her brain's as full of holes as a doily - just lace.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for


This was the week when all the leaves came in
When hills all went from brown and gray to green
And so the summer sweetly does begin.

I almost heard them bursting out. This dim
Subsonic shout - what does it mean?
This was the week when all the leaves came in.

The air is soft and mild. My senses spin
In wonder at the season’s turning speed.
And so the summer sweetly does begin.

The maple trees unfurl, in stylish whim,
Chartreuse cockades of tiny , tight-packed pleats.
This was the week when all the leaves came in.

The poplar’s brassy tint will quickly dim.
For three days only will that hue be seen.
And so the summer sweetly does begin.

Bird’s nests, once visible within the thin
And barren twigs now hide behind this screen.
This was the week when all the leaves came in,
And so the summer sweetly does begin.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for


 I am a certified Master Knitter.  I have passed all three stages of the Knitter's Guild of America's certification program.  I know more about knitting than you want to listen to.  This is my masterpiece sweater, designed and knit by me all by myself.

 I'm particularly proud of the neckline as it emerges out of the cables in a wonderfully knitterly fashion, and is integrated ingeniously into the body of the sweater, relying on the properties of the stitches and the material.

I am also quite proud of the way I used my side seams to create a horseshoe cable.

See those littlte lumps that look like popcorn?  Those are bobbles.  A master knitter must demonstrate proficiency in bobbles as well as in creating and arranging cables.  I hate bobbles, because they make me think of the tags of poop-sodden wool on the back of a sheep.  So I carefully placed my bobbbles where they are not likely to snag on anythin, and I minimized the number down to 6 on either sleeve.  There's yer frickin' bobbles!

Of course, while I was photographing the sweater, the supervisor had to make her suggestions: to wit, "Everything is better with a kitty.

Knitting is pleasure and therapy, exercise and meditation for me.  The process of creating fabric by interlacing loops of a single string of yarn using nothing more than pointy sticks and human ingenuity is an awesome act of magic every time it happens.  As I knit, sometimes I think of women just like me down through history who have made the socks and sweaters for their family, washed and spun the wool, created and innovated and discovered new ways to make the task lighter and more entertaining.  Ways to show off their expertise to other knitters.  Ways to improve the necessary garments to make them fit better, wear longer, look nicer.  Whoever figured out the strap heel was a freaking genius!!  When I knit, I know myself to be in the company of domestic goddesses. My knitting friends are included in that coterie.

There is a knitters' joke that one of us will be knitting in the Doctor's waiting room (or other place of waiting), and someone will say, "Oh I would never have the patience to knit."   Knitters then laugh because they know that without the knitting, they would be chewing on the furniture and harassing the fish in the tank. Knitting imbues patience.  The only time it requires patience is if you expect yourself to be perfect right off the bat with a completely new kinesthetic skill.  Knitting is like riding a bicycle,  You have to teach your muscles what to do.  Muscles learn slowly, but never forget.  Often, people who have had strokes can begin knitting again even before they can write.

When I knit in public, I also encounter people who think knitting is an archaic lost art, right up there with tanning hides and building buggy whips.  I educate the hell out of those folks, let me tell you!

Sometimes though, older gentlemen will ask to speak with me, and tell me how they remember their mothers or aunts knitting, or how they learned to knit themselves .  One fellow said that he was recovering from pneumonia during WW I, and his mom taught him how to knit bandages for the Red Cross to keep him occupied.  Another fellow told me how, as a sailor in the British Navy during WWII, he learned to knit his own socks to pass the time while they waited for action.  He told me about a clever heel that can be taken out and re-knit when it wears thin, rather than having to darn in lumps.

Oh, I told you I knew more about knitting than you wanted to hear.  And I'm scarcely started.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My inner Xena camae through

Thanks to the help from my friends, here's me on Amazon.

If you have read Sanna, and are willing to post a review, I am willing to show my appreciation.  Cookies, chocolate or backrubs are on offer at the moment, but bribes can be expanded as needed.

J is for


With this alphablog challenge, I write something passable, then the next day I realize that I should have chosen something else.  Yesterday should have been indolence.  "Had I breath of lillies and teeth of pearl I might call it indolence, but I must confess to being lazy."  Oscar Wilde said something like this.  The memory is the first to go.  I don't remember what happens next.

But, since I don't get the notion for what I should have done untill I actually DO something, here are a few of my favorite jokes.

 I dreamed I was hanging out with the great philosophers of history, drinking and laughing and having a grand time.  "I'm going to get anther beer."  I announced.  "Any one else want some?"  Renee Descarte said, "Oh, I think not." and disappeared.

If you trip over something that isn't there, is it an obstacle illusion?

So this group of Northern Spanish sheepherders came to Barcelona to make a political statement and were assigned a police escort.  Being very rural folks, the sheepherders were ill-equipped to deal with modern conveniences such as flush toilets, and escalators.  One fellow fell while trying to cross the road in front of a moped, and was injured, so the escort had the rest of them wait in a large doorway till he could get the accident victim to the hospital.  When he returned, he found his charges engaged in pissing contests, competing in harassing the paserbys, and fighting with one another.  The moral of this story is that you should never put all your basques in one exit.

How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb?  Fish.

Why did the possum cross the road?  No one knows.  There have never been any survivors.

Heard any good ones lately?

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for

Inspiration, Initiative, Integrity, Intrepidity!  Today, I am going to learn how to make links so people who want to read my book can go straight to Amazon and buy it.  And, when I review other books, people who read my reviews can find the books right away.  Today I am going to send my inner Barbie out for a manicure, channel my inner Xena, and face the unknown with fortitude.  I will wrestle with those demons of self-doubt and conquer them. ("But learning new things is hard." says Barbie.  "I can do hard things!" says Xena.  "Go decide which color polish you want.")  Saint Lisa will guide me (Thank you Mrs. Nowak) and Susan the Muse will smile on me when I am done.  I can do hard things!  Ayiyiyiyiyiyiyi!

Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for

Growth.  You just can't keep a Good tree down!  The old apple was pruned to within an inch of it's life last year, and yet it insists on persisting.  Sprouts and shoots emerge witht or without our encouragement.  In a few more years we likely will have a green tent in the summer, and in the fall, the ground will be cobbled with apples again.

Growth insists on persisting all around and through us.  If things aren't going the way you think they should, maybe you are just developing a good sound root system.  Then, almost overnight, you might leaf out and in time bear fruit.  You can't cause Growth, but you can help it along.  And unless you are a Bonsai person, you don't need to control the direction of the growth.  Espalieried trees and espaliered people are not hardy.  Grow where you're planted or Get the hell out!  It's your only life.  Have fun with it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for

If a picture is worth a thousand words, that's about four thousand on Flowers.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Eeeeeee! is the noise I make when the snow begins to fall and the carnivorous wooly mammoths descend from the north to tread me into the tundra and slurp me up like a pork-flavored snow-cone.  I don't like snow.  But really, Eeeeee, isn;pt much to blog about.

So I pulled out the 1947 dictionery from which my older brothers got my name (they needed a girl's name to go with Rick, my twin brother's name.  And they didn't like Rebecca or Rachel, so they had to do research.  The 1947 Webster's New Collegiate has a list of names and their menaings in the back.  Roxanna is from the old Persian word for Dawn of day.  My last name was Dahl, which is Norwegian for a dale or valley.  So my name translates as Dawn in the valley - sings: . . Dawn in the valley, valley so low.  Hang your head over, hear the wind blow.)

As I was sying, before I got so easily led astray, I opened the dictionery to E and the firts word upon which my eye fell was Ericaceous.  From the latin Erice or heath, from Greek Ereike. Bot. belonging to the heath faamily.  (Erricaceae)  Is it Ericaceous where you live? 

Of course, I then had to look up heath, and after that, wintergreen, and, well you wordsmiths out there KNOW what a time suck an open dictionery can be.

So if you are even in Ericaceous land, and it begins to snow, it is imperative the you immediately Errect an Edifice to protect yourself from Errant carnivorous wooly mamoths.

Does Legolass know the Elffabet?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Dauntless Swiftsure strode into one of my dreams one night and announced, "I'm deceitful and dangerous."  When I woke up, I knew she was part of Sanna's story.  Lisa develops her characters.  Mine come to me and yell behind my eardrums till I write them down.  They know exactly who they are and why they are and what they want to look like.  It's up to me to accomodate the details to fit them.  Oh, and they do what they want to do, and if the readers don't beliee it, then it's my job as a writer to convince the reader.

Dauntless Swiftsure is a member of Tribe Dauntless, of the Peoples of the Wide Skies.  The Peoples are nomadic and matriarchial.  The women are the core of the tribe, and the men come and go as it pleases them,  All the women in a tribe are related.  Unlike patriarchial systems, where the bride is sent away from her family and home and forced to live with the groom's mother and sisters, it is the sons that leave home.  Marriages last a year and a day and can be dissolved sooner if both partners choose.  Babies are a gift to the tribe, and everyone helps to rear them.  Men are welcome to travel with any tribe that they like, if the women of the tribe will accept them.

I don't know if I would like always being with my mother, my sisters, my cousins and my aunts.  Would you?

Monday, April 4, 2011

A-Z challenge.

I have joined the A-z blogging challenge.  I am nothing of not a good follower.  Lisa a t ,Susan at Wiggle Room (because every woman needs a room of her own) and Pat at doing this as well.

(They are also gifted authors.  Pat and Susan have e-books available on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.  Pat has a tree-hugger manifesto that even I, daughter of a lumberman and old school ravager of the environment, was able to enjoy and appreciate.  Unlike most tree-huggers, Pat has a sense of humor and gets her point across without preaching or playing the big guilt card. Kidnapping the Lorax is a damn fine read and lots of fun.

Lisa is bringing out a Young Adult novel with a Stock-car racing setting and teenager getting his sh-t together theme.  Again, laugh-out-loud sections.  Also make you cry sections.  Lisa is really mean to her characters.  She's a great writer.

 Susan offers a mystery called Blind Leading the Blind  that offers laugh out loud humor, gritty child-welfare procedurals, a blind woman and her useless but charming guide dog, and the female detective that falls in love with her.)
Since I am late to the game, I have to blog on three letters today.

A is for ambition.  I have an ambition to be a writer.  A writer is someone who writes.  I do not particularly have an ambition to be an Author.  An Author is someone who is acclaimed for their writing.  Acclaim is great stuff, and I suck it up like a greedy piggy, but it is not my Ambition to Attain Acclaim.  My ambition is to let the stories and characters in my head run out of my fingers, and onto the page where they can play with everyone.

B is for Biddable.  I have always been a Biddable kid.  I do what people tell me, at least until I get Bored.  So here I am, joining the Alphablog challenge, like a fish entering a Bicycle race.

C is for Challenge.  And Conscientious.  And Conforming.  All of them Concepts which I do not like.  They make me feel Constrained and Claustrophobic. 

And C is for Chocolate.  Pat wins the Chocolate!

When I was a kid, Dad used to play a car game with us, saying, "I'm going on a trip and I'm going to pack my anemometer."  The next person would say, "I'm going on a trip and I'm going to pack my anemometer, and my bear traps."  The next person would say, "I'm going on a trip and I'm going to pack my anemometer, my bear traps, and my coat."  And so on.  If you forgot a word, or couldn't come  up with one, everyone would prompt you.  No one was ever out, because then they would sulk and be sullen, and the point of the game was to keep the damn kids entertained in the car!  My brothers delighted in using big words, and dad would always explain them for us little kids, so the alphabet game is a long-time favorite of mine.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

So . .

This pirate walks into a bar with a steering wheel shoved down the front of his breeches.  Z"What's with the steering wheel?" asks the bartender.

And the pirate says, "Arrr, it's drivin' me nuts!"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

and so

this nun, this Scotchman and this Indian walk into a bar, and the bartender says, "Is this some kind of a joke?"

Oh, by the way, how many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?  Fish.