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September 4, 2000

Shiloh and Aynjel

Finished the book this morning, just sitting out on the porch in the hammock chair. The mornings are good and cool enough to do that, now. Watch the neighbors, the folks that roam through the neighborhood, the horse across the street, and Fezzik doing his normal outdoors things as I read and absorbed the last of Whittaker's book. It was very good.

Breakfast was yogurt and cereal and chunks of good, local melon, juicy and soft and sweet as a kiss. It was also calm out, so I sat with Fezzik and burned Hell Money. The Chinese grocery store in Denver had the stuff for about half the price I get it for in Boulder, so I got a bunch more stacks. Bundled up some to mail to Geoff as he's having some difficulty finding Hell Money in the heart of the South. Funny that. The folks at the grocery store were pretty curious as to what I did with the stuff and the short form is just, "I burn it."

Dunno how to explain it, really.

Sean Stewart's The Night Watch and Resurrection Man had all kinds of intriguing bits of old Chinese lore brought back to life. What was safe, what was unsafe, how well fengshui really guarded your luck, and the gradual strengthening and waning of magics and superstitions as a basis for how things started to really work. I have to read Galvenston sometime. But some of that feeling goes behind the burning of Hell Money that I do.

Anyway... it was useful and the afternoon was reading other things as well and brushing Fezzik. We debated washing him for a while, but kinda gave up as time went on and we were doing other things. John was astonishing and baked a very huge batch of chocolate chip and macademia nut cookies. He did them beautifully chewy-crisp with the rich nuts and yummy Giradelli chocolate bittersweet chips. Yum.

Then I had to prep two chickens that we then did beer butt chicken with on the gas grill. I covered 'em in southwest seasoning, put some chopped onion and garlic in the cans along with a sprig of rosemary off the little bush I've been growin, and stuck 'em in the chickens. They went on the grill and smelled wonderful. Aynjel arrived soon thereafter with her pup in tow, or her in tow by her pup, I'm not quite sure which. Shiloh is a big dog, that kinda has Rotty coloring but is a big teddy bear who loves everyone he meets. Scares the heck out of people when he comes rushing up to them to play with them; but he's the sweetest pup.

He loved the huge yard and he and Fezzik rampaged everywhere. Fezzik sometimes had problems keeping up, but he'd trundle after the visitor determinedly. Good exercise for Fezzik. They roamed around and around and around while we sat inside and talked.

It was really keen to talk with her extensively, as she'd finished her stint at Clarion East, in Michigan and was still all bubbly and enthusiastic and still steeped in the details and the culture and the need to write it all engendered in her. I really enjoyed talking with her about the whole experience, what was good, what was bad, what was completely unmatched by anything else in life experience. I was completely green with envy that she went when Sean Stewart was one of the instructors. I hadn't known, at all that he was teaching and on the East school instead of the West! That bemused me, but Sean was obviously one of the instructors that she respected deeply.

It was fun and interesting to get her take on the bootcamp style of instruction and on the merit of the critiques and critiquing styles she was exposed to and how they worked. It was interesting to get back into that mindset, something I haven't even touched on for years and years, and to think in those terms again. It was like stirring old, rusty sludge back into motion again. Along with all the old feelings of wanting to do it again, and the whole feeling of, 'ah heck, I've already been through my bootcamp, I really don't need another...'

I was very glad that she had a really great time and got a ton out of it. I've had a number of friends, now, go through it and they all got a lot out of it. It's interesting realizing that I don't know if I actually think of myself as a fiction writer anymore. I try it now and again, and know that I don't have the touch for it that I used to have, even, and certainly not what I'd consider good anymore. Though sometimes my dreams still hit the sweet spot of a good story or a game touches something and for a little bit I dream.

Anyway... it was good to touch on all that again. Dinner itself was yummy. The chickens turned out really really yummy, tender and juicy and flavorful and the rosemary infused itself through the meat along with the onions. We talked and talked until it got dark and Fezzik was banging on the front door, the back door, and even a window to get fed. She wandered off with Shiloh, then, to feed her pup as well, and Fezzik wolfed all his food and then went back outside again, pretty much immediately. So much for company. I wonder if Fezzik gets tired of us being home, sometimes.

John and I settle down and watched Monday Night Football happily. Denver did much better than we thought they would do, though they weren't happy losing, we were pretty happy with the game as no one blundered badly and lost the game. It was a very pretty game in and of itself. They may actually be worth watching this year.

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