Monday, May 27, 2013


Northern California I-5 photo by Dot 2012

I've had conversations about the creative process and time with writers, artists, my therapist, others who are interested. Off and on the concept of percolating comes up. There are other words for this process but I like percolating.

I think I like this word because I like coffee. Maybe. Or maybe for other reasons like the fact that it's a movement word. It doesn't just sit there on the page and stare at you and, for me, it doesn't bring my brain to rest. It moves like bubbles, like what it does.

And when I use percolating in conjunction with creativity - right now, with writing - it reminds me that it takes time to get to the good stuff. I like my coffee strong, powerful flavor. If you've been following my posts you probably know I switched to decaf coffee (98% of the time, anyway) so percolating is even more important. Some people tell me they can't taste the difference between regular coffee and decaf, that it's all in my mind. It isn't; or maybe it is but that's my perception. So a weak, under-percolated cup of decaf is, as Jasmin in "Bagdad Cafe" says, "brown water." It has to brew and broil and soak in the flavor, the essence.

Okay, I'll stop with the metaphor though there is more; I'll save it for another time.

My point is that percolation happened. I don't even know if that is a word and I'm not taking more time to look it up. But the process of letting input, inspiration, thought, new information sit in my head an soak up the juices and mix with what is already there, works.

It worked yesterday and I wasn't even trying.

I believe we each have our own way, our own process, of getting to the good stuff.

Mine is definitely time and attention mixed with appropriate diversion - such as driving.

Wait! Let me explain.

I am a very good driver. But sometimes driving provides my busy brain - my contemplating, curious, analytical brain - a nice focus so that creative things can, well, percolate. Because driving requires attention : to the road, to cars, to lights, and weather and temperature, and being alert - being "on." So for me, when I'm struggling with a piece of writing or working on a creative idea and I feel like I need to get into it and reason out a "correct" path or approach, I often need to step back and do something else. And doing something like driving - especially driving on the freeway in minimal traffic for an hour or two or three provides just that type of analytical distraction which lets my creative energy float and gurgle and metamorphosize into the thing which is there but my rational brain doesn't see.

And that happened yesterday.

The ride back from Port Townsend, from the intense and wonderful and power filled workshop with Lidia Yuknavitch, was long but I wasn't alone. Much good had happened in the workshop, around the workshop. And driving home, with my partner and with my friend Deb, we were talking about creativity. About topics from the workshop, our own processes (my partner is an artist, in case you didn't know!), and for Deb and I we talked about our writing before the workshop and after the workshop and plans. So we spent a lot of time talking about creativity and the energy around it.

And more than halfway home I started to get an idea about something I struggled with in the workshop. It's something I've struggled with on the memoir pretty much since I started writing it - since it became "the memoir" which was not at all what I was intending to write. I've definitely struggled with it the past two years and have been repeatedly asked questions like: "what's the point?" "what's your platform?" "what's your throughline?" - things like that. I've come up with flat answers or partial answers but nothing has been right. Including three versions I came up with this weekend, only one of which I shared and I didn't like it at all.

But there I was driving home, with two other people in the car. And as our conversation dwindled, my partner was reading and Deb was thinking and I was driving-thinking, it came to me. I wanted to shout it and I also wanted to be silent. I did smile to myself in the dark and repeated my thoughts several times and wanted to wait until I could put it on paper at home, look at it, see if it still felt right.

And I did. Not a word except to myself.

Clue one that is was correct is that I still remembered my throughline - and my end point (my telos, thank you to Lidia Yuknavitch for that label) - when I got home. Retaining the information is a good sign. We unpacked the car, transferred Deb's belongings to her car and she drove home. I unpacked my bag and put things away then I sat down. And wrote the two phrases.

And they were still "just right." They looked good, they felt good, they felt right.

They had percolated and all of my digging in the workshop and over the past couple of years couldn't dig them up. They surfaced, while my busy bee brain was working on something else.


See? Percolating is a good thing. And I'm still smiling and the phrases are written in purple Sharpie on pink sticky notes attached to the front of my computer where I will see them every day. (And they exist in emails to Deb, my partner, and Lidia.)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Breaking Through

This was day one of a two day workshop with Lidia Yuknavitch. Her presence and her prompts and her encouragement are infectious. My writing is busting open a bit and my challenge will be to carry it with me. To continue.

I'm not ready to share any details at this point, but I think I have an inroad to where I've been stuck on the memoir. That has been my focus for this weekend so far (for me), although we've talked about fiction, as well - and poetry. I'm not feeling too stuck with the novel, except in terms of time and that is probably an easier solution than the blocks and blinds of the memoir.

Then tonight we got to hear Lidia speak and read at the bookstore which put on the workshop. Again, amazing. Her stories - to listen to her read her powerful words brings them even more to life. She is a strong writer, a strong personality, with stories to tell and I'm glad she has her voice. I'm glad I've had this opportunity to do this workshop with her. 

I feel lucky right now to have met several powerful writers and have had the opportunity to study with them, to be inspired by them, to be in their presence. (Lidia, Ariel, Bonnie; all of the Wayward Writers in the Literary Kitchen and the writers in this weekend workshop.)

And now, back to my homework: finish revising one piece I wrote to day to take to class tomorrow morning. Then more goodness and writing with Lidia - and all of the other amazing writers in the room. This is a powerhouse of written word who have come together.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Transition Day

My work week is not yet done - but almost. One job location is done until Monday and tomorrow I don't have any work, other than some paperwork. But Thursday brings my final interpreted play for the 2012-13 season: "My Children! My Africa!" atProfile Theatre, 7:30p at 3430 SE Belmont in Portland. (Pssst: if you don't need the interpreted performance, you can still catch the play this weekend. It is worth seeing - well written, directed, and acted. It is the final play for Profile Theatre in the Theatre! Theater! space since their lease was not renewed; rumor has it it is becoming a tea storage space for the Tao of Tea? Profile Theatre will start their next season, with the plays of Sam Shephard, in January 2013 in their new home in shared space at Artists' Rep in SW Portland.)

After the play on Thursday night, I'm going to go for another late night float. It's been over a month and I'm ready for another float session. I also believe the float will get my physically ready for the weekend.

Then it's Friday! I will be heading to Port Townsend that day, where I will be attending a writing workshop with Lidia Yuknavitch. I read her memoir (Chronicles of Water) and listened to her at a one-day mini writing conference in January. Her workshop sound exciting, fun, and a little good-scary. I'm looking forward to the workshop in a location I've really only passed through and with an author I've never taken a workshop from before. New adventures!

I'm looking at my writing plan for after the theater season is done. I don't have another play until late August, so I'm hoping to devote some of that theatrical interpreting preparation time to writing instead. (Although I just about have plans completed for a third theatrical interpreting workshop for this summer. More on that as it develops. But it looks like I might have a theatrical workshop offering for mid/late July - it will be fun!)

So - this is a transition day. No work per se - a little work tomorrow - and then three days devoted to writing. Sounds like a plan to me!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What a Great Week!

This has been a busy week - all in a good way.

I will confess that I am still not caught up on my "21 Moments" prompt writing yet. I thought I would be able to do it this week - get caught up and get back on track - but that hasn't happened. And I'm okay with that, because it's been a really good week. I'll focus on getting some more writing done tonight and tomorrow before work.

This week I had the pleasure of interpreting two plays. And not two performances of two plays - two different plays.

One play was "My Children! My Africa!" by Athol Fugard, put on by Profile Theatre on Tuesday. They've started a new program called Inside Out: Community and School Tour. The first stop was at Roosevelt High School, where Rich Hall and I interpreted the free performance. We had a good sized Deaf school audience and it was fun. The play is well written, well directed and well acted - I really like this play. The Deaf students, overall, enjoyed it and it was nice to see some of the kids I haven't seen for a while, and a few I saw not too long ago at a different production. This play is still running and you can buy tickets. And for signing audience members, Rich and I will be interpreting the play again this coming Thursday, May 23, at Theatre! Theater! at 7:30 pm.

The second play was "The People's Republic of Portland" at Portland Center Stage on Thursday. This is a one-woman show, comedy, and very funny. Lauren Weedman has done a great job of getting the people and things who really do "Keep Portland Weird" and she does it with humor and takes us on a fun ride. This was a challenge to interpret because there was no script, it's fast paced, and humor is a tough thing to interpret from English to ASL - but I felt prepared and I feel good about my interpretation. The play has a basic structure and some common stories - but the order and some content and even some of the stories are mutable - improv, stand-up comedy. So I prepared for this play by seeing it many times (I think 7 in all, including rehearsals). I had a blast interpreting the show and we had a large interpreted section - which was awesome.

I was able to do the two shows in one week for a couple of reasons. Normally I wouldn't do that - because theatrical interpreting takes so much time and focus. But with one of them being a one person show, that meant that I only had to juggle my own schedule for preparation - and with nine performances a week to choose from and because the rehearsals were open, I was able to prepare early and long for this play - on my own schedule. It was also made possible because Rich and I are a good theatrical team. We approach the work similarly and I feel our prep and theatrical interpreting styles are very compatible. He's  a good interpreter and and easy to work; I enjoy working on plays with him. This is the third Profile Theatre play we've done together this season and the plays are by the same author (that's what Profile Theatre does, if you don't know - they select one playwright for the season and present a range of the playwright's work) - so not only do Rich and I work well together, but we are familiar with the playwright's work and style. So theatrical interpreting this week was smooth despite being unusual in terms of interpreting two different plays in the same week.

This week I also had the pleasure of doing another job with a client I very much enjoy working with, and with another interpreter I haven't seen for a long time whom I also really enjoy. I can't and won't say anything more about that - it's all confidential. But I just wanted to mention that as another really positive and grounding experience this week.

Last night I also went to the opening night gala for "Artists Among Us" at Trinity Episcopal, where my partner is showing four cold wax and oil pieces. I love the four pieces she has hanging (the show runs through tomorrow). It was great to see all the different art and wonderful to see our friend Allan Oliver, a fabric artist, whom I haven't seen for awhile.

Then the final "great thing" was this morning. After talking to someone yesterday about the garden, I realized I really should harvest some of the spinach and lettuce and kale. I didn't want to kill off the plants and thought I should wait. But Betsy told me that the spinach bolts easily and I should harvest some - to not worry, it will keep growing more leaves. And in reality, it grows more if it gets trimmed! So this morning I decided to make breakfast with, guess what? Fresh spinach and herbs right out of the garden. I cooked them up with some Vidalia onions (my favorite!), added a little tumeric and sprinkled on some grated three hard cheese blend. Yum!

Oh - no - the actual final thing is that I also harvested some kale. We have two kinds growing and one of them has really taken off with the wetter and cooler temperatures (it was a little early for the plants when we had the 85-90 degree weather a couple of weeks ago). I had a bag of Tuscan (?) kale in the refrigerator and harvested a lot of ours from the garden this morning. So right now I have five trays of kale in the dehydrator. I'm making two flavors of kale chips - one made entirely from our garden. This will be fun and I'm excited to see how long it takes and how it turns out. The taste test of fresh versus bagged kale chips. And, yes, I did eat some kale as I picked it. We also have a big container of lettuce, kale, and spinach for salad from the garden. I do see that we will be eating spinach and kale three meals a day plus snacks, very soon.

A good week. And while not much writing happened, I did pick up a few inspirations from things I saw on my travels around Portland this week and I picked up some energy from all this goodness. That will have a positive influence on my writing and I'll be getting to that after a few errands and things I have to do to get ready for next week. Which will be capped off by an out of town writing workshop.

Things are looking good.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

NW Animation Fest this weekend!

Portland is home to the largest animation festival in the US. The NW Animation Fest is happening this coming weekend at Hollywood Theatre. It has over 150 films and is billed as "a variety show that celebrates the best new work from independent animators around the globe."

The clip below is a trailer for the "Best of..." showing which took place last fall. But it gives you an idea of the quality of the films. 

The festival runs for two days and three nights. You can click on the links for each slot below to see more information about the films. The Hollywood Theatre link includes ticket purchase - and there is a discount for buying a festival pass.

Catch them all, or catch a few. It will delight and entertain. Visual storytelling! ...and more, of course... As an example of the information available for each time slot, I've copied in the highlights for Friday night below. Each link will take you to that day and time's lineup.

Friday Night 7/17  
Opening night includes nearly 30 astonishing short films. Here's some of what you'll see: A thief who steals famous paintings, eats them, and is physically transformed by what he consumes… Two cavemen in search of a fabled mathematical dinosaur… A romance of amoebas, as witnessed through the lens of a microscope… A young New Yorker who finds the girl of his dreams with help from an army of enchanted paper airplanes… The death and rebirth of a flying piano… A mad entomologist, whose discovery of a strange horned beetle allows him to change perception of time. Featured films include "Pythagasaurus," from the makers of Wallace & Gromit - and this year's Oscar-winner for Best Animated Short, "Paperman."

Saturday Afternoon  

Saturday Night

Sunday Afternoon

Sunday Night

...trailer for the Fall 2012 "Best of NW Animation Fest" showing...


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Holding On

Last week - actually the week before last, now - I put in a garden. The first time in years. It felt good.

It was partly possible because I had some actual time off from work which wasn't filled with appointments and places to be and things to do. I mean, I had things to do - but I made the decision to put in the garden and to take some time to relax. That was good.

Not surprisingly, I did more writing last week, as well.

More rest. More puttering. More writing. Contentment.

Then this most recent week the pace picked up. Every day I had work and/or rehearsal and appointments. It wasn't bad, it was just busy. And working on two plays simultaneously takes a lot of time. One of them is a one-woman show and so I'm interpreting it solo - which does make it easier in terms of setting up rehearsals and preparation. But it is still prepping two shows at the same time. It was another week where I remember that I do less writing when I'm working on a play. On two plays, yes, my brain is steeped in theater and is holding onto those two worlds. Holding their stories and how I'm going to translate the text. Where the scene changes are and the characters' affects which I also have to incorporate into my interpretation.

Busy brain and not with writing.

Although... Yes, a glimmer. On Friday I met with a friend for dinner. We sometimes write together - although that has slid off a bit since our favorite writing space changed and has been pretty packed at the time we meet so we've been adrift for a healthy dinner, latte, and wifi spot.

But my point was: I was on my way to meet her. So I was not in work mode. I was not in theater mode. I was in meeting with a friend who is a writer mode.

As I was driving around looking for a place to park which was not marked as either a loading zone or for a one hour limit, I saw something which stuck with me. I'm not going to put it in this writing - but it was awesome. There was this perfect character sketch happening right there in front of me. My mind was present in that moment and I noticed.

After I was seated at the restaurant I sent myself an email. See, I have a special folder in my private email to which I send myself titles that pop into my head. Or snippets of writing. Character names which appear to me out of the blue. Or something like the sight I saw Friday late afternoon. Perfect. So I sent myself a note and the very beginning or a story - or perhaps just a character sketch for now. And with the code word I set up, that little gem of a visual experience goes into that writing idea folder and won't get lost in all the other electronic communications I have.

I haven't written that story yet. But I know where the sight and the idea is. And I will get to it. Later. Probably after the plays are done. But, who knows!

I am three days behind on the writing challenge I took on for this month. But it is 21 writings in 30 days so there is a little flex time. However, I need to not let it go further and try to get caught up in the next couple of days. I was five days behind and I did two writings tonight. By Wednesday I hope to be caught up.

So. Busy - good busy because of theater. And still, some writing is happening.

Life is good.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Gardening : Plants and Words

The garden in the ground seems to be doing well. The plants are adjusting. Some of them are in plant nirvana with the unusually sunny and hot days. We've had cloudless skies and temperatures in the 80s every day. The herbs are sprouting and reaching toward that glowing orb; the tomatoes are stretching their leaves and the spaghetti squash has grown in the few days they've been in the ground. The onions, well, I'm not sure. They're looking a little droopy but some of them don't. The spinach is wishing for a little cooler temperatures and definitely less sun. And one kale is thriving in its spot and the other is calling 'Uncle' on the heat.

Today I tried a temporary sun barricade for a few of the spinach and the drooping kale and they seemed to like it. Tomorrow before work I will see about doing something a little sturdier to protect them in these remaining few days of the heat - which we're supposed to have until Saturday, I think.

In my writing world, I am still writing the "21 Moments" each day. Usually after I get home from work. I'm working on some revisions of the book in progress, too, slowly, now that my critique group is no more.

But the new writing group I'm putting together seems like it's going to be a good one. There are four of us and we set a date at the end of May to meet up and talk about what we each want and how to proceed. This group will be more of a process group and we'll see what that turns into. I'm excited by the possibilities and the people in it.

Sprouting. Things are sprouting. I have to remember that because this is also a time of flux. There have been some major changes in a few areas of my life and, while they haven't been devastating or horrific, they are significant and have impacted me on several fronts. There are some unknowns and things are a bit bumpy. But not bad - just unsettled. And that can make me a little anxious and raise old issues. So I have to remember - sprouts. And maybe, like the spinach and kale which are adjusting to the heat and the sun and being out of tight little pots, it takes time to adapt to new conditions, but it will be okay.

Yes, I am okay.

It's just change.

photo from The POP Campaign


Saturday, May 4, 2013

A New Garden

I woke up early this morning. Very early, considering that I went to bed late. Not a good combination; but that's what happened. 

I was excited to go to the "master gardeners' sale" and so I decided to go ahead and get up, despite being short on sleep. I figured I could nap later.

First we had to go to the post office so my partner could mail copies of her book to people who'd bought them at the art retreats earlier this month. She had a huge stack of books in envelopes - all personally signed, and she needed help. So post office. Then coffee (I'm still only drinking decaf; but even that minor amount of caffeine was needed today).

And then on to the plant sale. They were out of a few things - but they had the primary plant starts I wanted: kale, spinach, tomato (large and cherry and pear), and a few other miscellaneous edibles. We also picked up some herbs for one of the half whiskey barrels.

We dropped the plants off at home and gave them a drink of water. 

After taking Dexter out for dinner and a walk, we returned home and I started setting out the plants where I wanted them in the beds and planters. And then we did it. All of the plants are in the ground, watered, the tomatoes covered with their cages.

It looks great and it was fun to dig around in the dirt a bit. I'm going to have to remember to water the plants every day this week before I go to work, since we have unseasonably warm temperatures predicted (hovering around 80; this is definitely more like summer weather and not our typical spring at all).

I just finished reading the "21 Moments" prompt for today and am going to write the moment as soon as I'm done here. Or maybe this is my response to the prompt. Yes, I think that's it. It's not what I intended it to be - but perhaps it is.

I think I am growing a new writing garden along with the veggies and herbs in the back yard!

Oh - and my food dehydrator arrived today. I haven't dried anything yet and it might be a couple of weeks now before I do. I have a couple of interpreted plays coming up in two and three weeks, so I probably don't have time to actually do it until after those two shows are done.  Or maybe I'll try something the weekend between the two shows.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Writing and Planting

No, I haven't bought any plants yet to go in my raised garden beds. But I will tomorrow!

Wait. Let me catch you up.

On Thursday I had an entire day off work and I had no appointments, or places to be. Wednesday night I decided I'd go to the store and buy supplies to make raised garden beds - which I did. I unloaded the supplies from my car at 10 pm, because I am a night person. On Thursday I turned over the soil, put down weed barrier, assembled the raised bed, and put the organic soil into the planting boxes. Voila! Garden space.

I also heard about a master gardener sale taking place midday on Saturday, so I will go see what they have and buy some plants to go into the boxes.

There's the planting part. Or the literal part, as in talking about real plants.


But there is also the writing planting part of my week.

I signed up to do the "21 Moments, Part One." This is a program where I receive an email prompt each day for 21 days and I have to write my response. I can write them whenever I want - it doesn't have to be 21 days in a row, though that is what I'm going for. For the most part.

So far so good - I've been writing every day. Continuing with the daily writing, from April's A to Z Blogger Challenge, now with the "21 Moments."

Planting seeds or moments. To write.


I like having time at home, without places I have to be. When I can get enough sleep, and exercise, and do projects. Time without work and without hurry. It's been a good three days.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day : It's a New Month

I made it through the A to Z Blogger Challenge. It was a fun little ride and kept me doing a little bit of writing every day. Which was my goal. Some writers used the challenge to work on longer projects or promote their businesses or focused on a theme.

Not me. I did a free flow through the month, so my posts were random and varied. If I do it again, I might go for a theme. That would be a different type of a challenge. I don't know.

But I was sitting here today, ready and waiting to head out for an appointment. And I was thinking - what's missing? Oh! I haven't written a post today. So maybe the habit is back on track - of writing daily blog posts. Or maybe not.

This is a slow week and it feels good. I've been very busy and have a couple - no three - very busy weeks ahead. Which means that I'm going to try and enjoy this quiet time. I had a couple of things canceled (and canceled one myself), so I have time on my hands. Which does make it easier to write.

But even that assumption is going to be looked at: the idea of when I don't have time to write. Some days it is absolutely true. Or it's true if I want to sleep. Those days when I work 10 hours and have the drive time before and after the shift, plus sleep, plus showering and getting ready for work. Then I have time to either
workout or write - or to work on the script if I'm in show preparation mode, or any of the other work related activities I have.

photo from camsushi Insights
So today I'm writing again. Here. Not profound. Not enlightening. But I am writing. Keeping that daily habit.

And it is the first day of my participation in Christina Katz's "21 Moments" part one. I've been following her blog and have heard a lot of good things about her. And this "21 Moments" writing adventure seemed like a nice way to get a taste of her style, although it's via email, it's not interactive (until the end) - but it is writing!

So here's a raised glass of ice water on a sunny warm May Day. To continued (dare I say) daily writing, to the raised garden beds I'm going to put in, to the food dehydrator I'm going to buy, to being present and alive and creative!