This little guy was sitting on our front porch the other night. Ron narrowly avoided stepping on him. He obviously didn’t appreciate being captured and subjected to a photo op, but hopefully the experience scared him enough that he’ll be reluctant to endanger himself by sitting directly in front of the door in the future.

I thought he was awfully cute.

In other nature-in-my-yard news, the water hyacinths have been blooming like mad. Check out the number of blossoms we had one evening last week:

Here’s a closer look:

I know they’re an invasive non-native species, but Tulsa winters are cold enough to keep them from becoming a nuisance here, and my little backyard pond isn’t connected to any waterways, so I feel safe using hyacinths to keep down the algae and pretty up the yard a little bit.

Incidentally, I wasn’t trying to be coy with that last post. A friend of mine asked me to shoot some pictures to go with a magazine article about him, and this was the easiest way to show him the proofs. The publishing company involved is not crazy about using photos that have already appeared online, so I password-protected the post to keep the editors happy. Once the article comes out, I’ll be happy to share the images.


Go, me!

My grade on the calculus final wasn’t stellar (79), but it wasn’t a comprehensive final — just a chapter test, and I had to miss two of the lectures and then scramble to catch up on my own — and my other grades were high enough that I should end the semester with an A.

Now that it’s behind me, maybe I can focus on building some lesson plans for Algebra I, which I will be teaching (along with English II) this fall. I’ve been so swamped with calc and travel that I haven’t had time to do much of anything for my classroom this summer.

It was kind of nice to just sit back and waste this evening watching Firestarter on the horror movie channel.


Sorry …

… for the extended and unexplained absence. I plead calculus. And travel (Tuesday through Friday).

Overarching all this is the fact that a character in Greetings from Coldwater has just disclosed some rather disconcerting information that is forcing me to focus on plot rather than merely reveling in the joy of creating a town out of thin air and populating it with interesting characters. I hate writing plot. It’s difficult. It requires planning. It necessitates knowing things my characters don’t know and placing them in uncomfortable situations without telling them how it’s all going to come out. It’s work. Setting and character are easy. They are fun. They demand little of me beyond the ability to translate imaginary scenes into words. But plot? Yecch. It’s a necessary evil, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Anyway, most of my all-too-limited blog time has been focused on Coldwater lately, so I’ve been neglecting my real life. With any kind of luck, I’ll be able to pay attention to life in Red Fork a little more after I get through my calc final (and hopefully the really plotty parts of the novel) this week.


When the coast is clear

When I think of Jimmy Buffett, I don’t usually think of spiritual growth or renewal. This is, after all, the man who gave us such spiritually uplifting lyrics as “Why don’t we get drunk and screw?” and “wastin’ away again in Margaritaville.” But this evening, a televised benefit concert for the Gulf Coast provided the answer to prayer.

It hadn’t occurred to me until tonight, but the Deep Horizon oil spill is a pretty accurate metaphor for the disaster that my spiritual life has become this summer.┬áLike BP, I’ve been sloppy about maintaining the safeguards that protect my thought from the dark, messy contamination that invariably spews forth when mortal mind is allowed to operate unchecked, and like the sea creatures in the path of the spill, I’ve found myself mired in error, struggling to stay afloat.

This evening, as I was frantically trying to sort out a difficult calculus assignment, Ron turned on the TV, and out floated the Coral Reefers’ soothing steel drums.

All day, I’d been praying to remember how to let go of the fear, anger, and frustration that have been clouding my thought all summer, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when Buffett sang a set of revised lyrics to “When the Coast Is Clear” that included this line:

“We’re gonna have to work to see that the coast is clear.”

Work to see? That sounds like something that would come out of a practitioner’s mouth, I thought. I scribbled the line on the edge of my math assignment.

A moment later, he reinforced the lesson:

“Anger makes us doubtful, while fear can cloud the view.”

Heh, I thought. That’s got Mrs. Eddy’s fingerprints all over it:

“Let neither fear nor doubt overshadow your clear sense and calm trust, that the recognition of life harmonious–as Life eternally is–can destroy any painful sense of, or belief in, that which Life is not.”
Mary Baker Eddy

Apparently the voice of God sounds like Jimmy Buffett. Who knew?