Something special for NAKED EDGE fans

    The real Kat James passed me the link to this. You truly can find anything on YouTube.

    This series of videos highlights the Navajo-Hopi Relocation Act, one of the great crimes perpetuated by Washington, D.C., against Indian people. This is why I first went to the Diné reservation to report on Indian issues, and it's why I kept going back, doing my best to share with a disinterested outside world what was happening to more than 15,000 Navajo people.

    The relocation forced people who didn’t speak English and who’d lived their entire lives freely on the land as subsistence farmers and sheepherders into government housing where they had to pay rent, utilities and taxes — things they’d never been exposed to before.

    Imagine that you have the entire landscape as your home and that you migrate back and forth across that landscape with your family, herding sheep, growing corn, and drinking water from washes and springs. First, the water disappears, drained off to feed the coal mine's slurry line. Then the government tells you that you can’t have sheep because... well, they don’t want you to overgraze the land, even though you've been doing this without their help for centuries. Then they tell you that you must disappear and that your hogaan, the burial sites of your ancestors, and everything you've known is going to be off limits to you. They force you to sell your sheep, drop you in a government house, and force you to pay rent. You don't have a job. You've never been to school. You don't read or speak English. And your entire lifestyle, the rhythm of your life, is gone forever.

    So many Diné were heart-broken by this. Many became homeless. It’s such a terrible thing. Words can't adequately describe to you the loss that relocated Navajo feel. The Navajo I know in the Denver area are all victims of this forced relocation, and their carry the grief with them everywhere they go. What was done to them was a sin against humanity.

    I don’t often get gritty and political on this blog, but I thought you all might find this interesting or at least be curious as to why I ended up spending so much time with the Navajo.

Romain Barras - champion d'Europe 2010

Getting ready for surgery

    This weekend, I plan to finish Chapter 10 of Breaking Point, Zach and Natalie’s story. But I’m also going to be spending a fair amount of time getting things organized for my surgery and recuperation.

    I go to the hospital on Tuesday morning, and the surgery is scheduled for 1 p.m. MT. It should take about three hours, plus about an hour or so in the recovery room. I’ll be at the hospital for a couple of days and the home again, where I’ll be resting for the next eight weeks while the bone grafts in my neck heal. My mom and younger son will be here during that time, because I won’t be able to drive or do much of anything apart from walk and sit.

    While I’m in the hospital, I hope and pray to have sexy male nurses, like the one above. I think just having a nurse like this one would help me feel a lot better. I feel better just looking at his photo. Goodness! My temp is rising! Quick! Mouth-to-mouth!

    Okay, so that was silly. Couldn’t resist.

    I’m not sure whether I’ll have the energy to post, particularly during the first two weeks after the surgery, during which I’ll be pretty out of it. The doc said that post-operative pain peaks at three to four days afterward and then tapers off. So we’ll see. If I don’t feel up to it, I won’t do it. It’s so important to get the rest I need to heal.

    It was weird leaving the office today. The publisher and staff had filled out a get well card, and what they'd written was so sweet and encouraging that I got all choked up. The paper is in good hands while I’m away, so I don’t have to worry about that. I haven’t had eight weeks off from work... ever. This week was crazy-busy because I was trying to do as much as I could to organize things for the managing editor, who will be running the newsroom in my absence. He’s an awesome man, and an old friend of mine is coming in to back him up.

    Because it was so busy, I had to leave you with those wet men and their towels, and I didn’t even get a chance to comment on your very funny comments.

    I hope you all have a great weekend!

Selection 2010 - Nelson Ribeiro

Selection 2010 - Raphael Hildebrand

MTM — Men in Towels

    This morning, I find myself wishing for a stiff breeze...

    Or hoping that someone will drop the soap...

    Or praying one of these men will feel the need to towel dry his hair...

    Or hoping the fire alarm will go off and they'll grab their towels, ready to beat out the flames...

    Or that some random towel thief will run through the photos...

    Or wishing all of these beautiful men would just drop their towels and smile...

    Happy Man-Titty Monday!

My inner sanctum

    My new bookshelves

    This has been a great weekend. Realizing it was the last weekend I would spend with Benjy before I had surgery — he’ll be here for about 10 days after my operation, and then he leaves for college again — I decided to put my manuscript aside and focus on doing things with him that we felt were worthwhile.

    Kind of my accident, we got to work reorganizing my office and bedroom, and it was a day well spent. I never have time for this sort of thing, but with Benjamin’s muscle, it went quickly. Okay, so it took all day. It would have taken me a week by myself.

    With the help of a neighbor, he brought the new shelves my parents gave me into my office, carried the old ones out and helped me reorganize everything. Prior to this I had an entertainment center full of CDs and books on tape. So I spent hours digitalizing my entire music collection so that the CDs can go. We got rid of the entertainment center and the small set of bookshelves I had and replaced it with what you see above.

    Benjamin reorganized everything. On the left are my own books, organized by genre, with foreign language editions on the bottom. You can see some family photos, including a portrait of my boys when they were very little. The black obelisk-type object just to the right of that photo is my National Journalism Award. It's kind of hard to see because the drapes in the kitchen are dark and line up behind it. You can also see my Bose. The white box on the first shelf contains an exacting brass replica of a compass that was found by archaeologists in the cabin on Rogers Island that would have been Iain’s and later Morgan’s (and now Connor’s).

    All of my research is now organized by topic on the right side. The blue flag is the little flag they put on tables to designate RITA finalists at the RWA booksigning. Surrender was a RITA finalist, so I got to keep that lovely flag as a memento of a very special conference.

    This is the left side of my office facing in through the doorway. Forget the sprinkler on the floor. I must have brought it in, thinking I was carrying it out to the backyard or something and then put it down and forgot about it. The dry erase board in the foreground is where I jot out thoughts about the chapter I'm on. The notes you see on it now are dialogue between Zach and Natalie. If you want more detailed descriptions of the art and such, you can find these on Facebook, where I tagged different features. But picture here are my historical map of Rogers Island made in the 1750s and bought on Rogers Island (Ranger Island); an I Love NY poster featuring two F&I War re-enactors, one of whom let Benjy fire his Brown Bess musket while we were visting Rogers Island, and my print of Waterhouse's The Lady of Shalott.

    This is a view of my office looking straight in from the doorway. You can see the new bookshelves flat against the wall on the right. Next to The Lady of Shalott is a replica of a map of Rogers Island and Fort Edward dating to the 1770s. Lovely! (Or at least I think it is!)

    I still like the color I chose for the accent wall no matter what the realtor said about keeping all the walls white. (Boooring!)

    So this little space is where I live and where I dream up stories and where I write them. I just wanted to show off my shelves because I’m so excited to have an organized space now, and I thought you might enjoy seeing the whole thing.

    Benjy and I went to an antique car show today, and he taught me to tell the difference between ’55, ’56 and ’57 Chevy Bel Airs. I think we’re going to head to the Botanic gardens in Denver tonight if I feel up to it to look at roses.

    Hope everyone has had a great weekend!

When heroines get married

    It’s the end of the novel. The heroine and hero have been through hell, at least if they’re in one of my books. They’ve earned their happily ever after. Vows are made in the presence of loved ones. Rings are exchanged. Then the groom kisses the bride, and....

    Well, traditionally, the couple are introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Man’s Name. Etiquette says that if your name is Mary Ross and you marry a guy named Gary Jones that you become Mrs. Gary Jones. Get me a bucket, because I’m going to puke!

    Most people don’t do that. In most circles, Mary Ross Jones is often introduced as Mrs. Mary Jones. And for most people, that’s probably okay.

    But I’m one of those women who just cannot fathom why any woman should change her name because she marries some guy. I. Just. Don’t. Get. It. As a matter of fact, when my mother sent a card to me post-wedding and addressed it to Mrs. Man’s Name, I wrote “Return to send, no such person at this address” and tossed it back in the mailbox.

    As the old saying goes, “When a man and a woman marry, they become one, and that one is the man.” That is so not for me.

    I didn’t change my name, and my kids were given hyphenated names. I now regret that. They should have gotten my name because they came from me. (I’m only half joking.)

    Other societies, such as Viking culture, have managed the whole name thing without stripping women of their identities. Lars and Dagmar would have a son whose last name is Larsen (son of Lars) and Dagmar would have daughter named Dagmarsdottir (Dagmar’s daughter). In lots of places, such as among the Navajo, a woman keeps her last name, while the kids get their father’s last name (probably due to exposure to European culture). So why do we do this?

    It’s not a problem for me because, unless I married a guy with a super-cool last name, I would not change my name. It’s not about love; it’s about identity. But as an author, I have characters who get married.

    Kara didn’t change her last name. It didn’t even occur to me that anyone would expect her to. Tessa didn’t change hers, either — until one of my friends, who was reading the book as I was writing it, e-mailed me and said, “Isn’t she taking Julian’s name?” My immediate response was, “Why would she do that?” But in the end, because Darcangelo is the coolest name ever — I stole it from a friend — I gave in and went with convention.

    Sophie is Sophie Alton-Hunter now, and I wish I’d left her with her own last name. Kat is legally still Katherine James, though Gabe has called her Katherine James Rossiter. And Natalie? I haven’t even thought about it.

    It’s an uncomfortable thing for me. My heroine taking the hero’s last name makes as much sense to me as calling Julian Mr. Tessa Novak. It’s ridiculous!

    I feel certain that society will progress to the point where women routinely keep their own last names. But in the meantime, I am writing books for a culture that isn’t there yet.

    Do you expect the heroine to take the hero’s last name?

    Other news: I had my pre-op appointment today — blood tests, EKG, etc. I think I passed. They bumped my surgery back by one hour, so it’s now 1 p.m. on Aug. 3. I’m hopeful, but still nervous.

    My rose mallow and purple cone flower have gone nuts. They’re both so beautiful! Today, there was a swallowtail butterfly flitting from flower to flower for almost an hour. I watched it and photographed it. And here it is with my sexy car in the background.

    Sarita, Cheri if you’re reading this, please know I’m very behind on my e-mail. Getting the paper ready to fly without me for two months and getting things done around the house has eaten up so much time.

Selection 2010 - Ashton Kutcher

Meanwhile down on the urban farm...

    See that little peek of red amid the green vines? That’s our first ripe tomato of the season.

    There ought to be a celebration for that day. There’s nothing like a tomato picked ripe from a vine in your own garden. Tomatoes taste like summer itself, and I can’t wait to devour this one.

    High summer is here, and the greens that were so plentiful in early June — arugula, romaine, spinach — are history. They’ll be back in the fall, or sooner if I replant. But they don’t like hot 90+ degree days, which is all we’ve been having lately.

    I planted the greens, together with swiss chard and broccoli, while it was still snowing back in April. Brassicas and greens generally tolerate cold fairly well, producing when it’s still cool and surviving all but a truly hard frost. So, we’ve enjoyed some broccoli and swiss chard, and both are still producing despite the heat.

    Broccoli and greens

    One must wait, of course, to plant anything sensitive to cold, like tomatoes. So our tomatoes, green beans, peppers, corn and squash got planted in late May. Tomatoes do really well in Colorado, provided they don’t get beaten into the ground by hail — and you remember to water them. Corn, too, does well, and borrowing from Native tradition, we planted squash with them. Well, and cantaloupe...

    Tomatoes and corn plants, together with a glimpse of squash, and green beans

    Last year, we got a ton of green beans from two relatively small rows, so this year we planted a bit more than that, along with cucumbers, brussel sprouts and hot peppers. Mmmm...

    I swear, I could live off arugula, green beans, radishes, tomatoes and broccoli — and last year I did just that for a time. So hopefully we planted enough this summer to keep me and my mum fed. She'll be staying with me after my operation and taking over the garden while I read and write and rest.

    Green beans, hot peppers, brussel sprouts and cabbage plants

    I believe strongly in the concept of economic independence. Economic ups and downs have much less impact on a family that is able to supply a lot of its own food and labor — stuff like plumbing, repairs, car maintenance. Knowing how to do these things one's self is important, I think. Canning, sewing, darning socks, knitting — skills our grandparents had but which were forgotten in a single generation.

    Looking down the corn rows with hidden squash plants

    People have proven that the average family can grow most of its own food in the average yard, and that’s our goal. These garden beds take up only the small south-facing side of the house. The front and backyard, though home to three big trees, also have lots of room where there’s full sun or partial shade. If we were to plant crops everywhere we have plantable space, and include a few fruit trees, a couple of beehives and backyard hens, we’d have most of the food that we need, apart from meat. And if we hunted or went mostly vegetarian... Well, you get the picture.

    We won’t be able to accomplish all of this while I’m working full time and writing, of course. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. As it is, I work from the time I get up until dark either at the paper or in the garden — and then whatever time is left goes to having fun and/or writing.

    I should add that all of this is organic. We don’t use chemical fertilizers, but rather compost. And we don't use pesticides of any kind, which is why you all heard screaming coming from Colorado this weekend. Washed some romaine and earwigs came running out.... Man, did I shriek!

    I hate bugs... except for pretty ones like ladybugs and butterflies and dragon flies.

    In the flower garden, the moment really belongs to rose mallow, a precious flower that bees love. It grows about waist height and is covered with small pink flowers. I love pink, let me say.

    Rose mallow. Note the bumble bee in the center. I was particularly
    happy to snap a photo of this fat, fuzzy fellow.

    My roses are all rebooting. The big spring bloom is over, and now they've been deadheaded and will make another round of buds soon. All of our rose bushes are repeat bloomers. What’s the point of having roses that bloom once? Boooring.

    Unfortunately, four of our bushes seem to have caught something. It’s nothing they’ve had before, and I wonder if it’s from the cool weather and rain — a fungus of some sort. The leaves are dying and falling off, and it upsets me. I hope we can rescue them!

    In other news: Just trying to get ready to be away from the paper for eight weeks, and trying to prepare my mind for surgery. I’m almost looking forward to it, actually. Two weeks from this past Tuesday.

MTM — Greek god edition

    There's something beautiful about black and white photography, particularly when the subject of the photographs is the naked male body.

    I thought we'd dedicate this Man-Titty Monday to an appreciate of the fine arts — particularly the fine art of staring at sexy male torsos, with a nod or two to ancient sculpture, which I studied extensively in grad school.

    Our culture tends to idolize the young female body. But the ancient Greeks considered the male body to be the height of beauty. Who am I to argue with them?

    The photo above almost looks like a sculpture, complete with missing arms. Note the amazing obliques, the smooth slabs of muscle. This man is the sculpture of Doryphoros come to life.

    They used marble to immortalize the bodies of young male athletes, though I have to say they skimped when it came to depicting the penis. Men with bodies like Adonis were given phalluses that looked like they belonged to prepubescent boys. Tom Thumb, anyone?

    The business bits of the man above have been left in shadow, so we're free to guess whether this man is built like a Greek statue in all respects or whether he is luckier when it comes to his genitals.

    This one reminds me of a sculpture titled Laocoön (Λαοκόων in ancient Greek). Laocoön is writhing in agony in the famous sculpture depicting his death and that of his sons. I hope this man is writhing in pleasure — or just stretching and cupping his nuts because, well, he can.

    Here's a side view of another candidate for a modern Doryphoros. The ancient Greeks cleaned themselves by rubbing their skin with oil and then scraping the oil off with a tool called a strigil. I would volunteer to spend my entire day stroking this man’s skin, though it’s a bummer that he comes pre-oiled. I would have enjoyed that job, as well.

    I hoped this edition of MTM has brightened your morning and provided a measure of culture. One can never have enough art in one’s life.

    Have a lovely day!

Selection 2010 - Rafael Nadal

Blog Archive

Total Pageviews