AmGen Tour of California

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The AmGen Tour of California's fifth stage (Visalia to Bakersfield) passed about half a mile from our campus today, so I walked a group of 7th graders over to watch the race. It was about twenty-five minutes each way, with another thirty minutes wait once we got there, for about 20 seconds of bicycles, preceded by three minutes of police cars and followed by three minutes of team vehicles. If someone can recognize or label individual riders, I would appreciate it. I'm told Lance Armstrong is is wearing #2, but I couldn't see any numbers, and he certainly didn't stop to chat. They were about seven miles into a ride that will go about 125 today, and finish on Sunday. After the racers blurred past, my students asked, "Is that all of it?" I tried to tell them ahead of time it would be over pretty fast, but it may be one of those things you have to see to understand.

Now we've seen it.

Breaking the winter hiatus

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The poppies are telling me the Capers winter hiatus has extended unbecomingly into the spring. That leads to a problem of surface tension. How does one return to blogging after a twelve-week absence without unleashing all the stored up thoughts? This, in turn, becomes self-perpetuating. When one does not know where to start, one rarely gets started.

I did not mean to leave-off posting. Life happens. Weeds infiltrate. Laundry accumulates. I spend my days teaching junior high: six performances a day in the center ring. Stare them back to their seats, find new ways to entertain them, keep records of everything, hope they don’t call one’s bluff, grade the papers, and pray they’ll somehow pick up what they need for the state tests. Whistle while you work. Collapse in front of the computer screen when the kids go home. There may be energy for Facebook, but not for much else.

This year’s distraction is that a third of the teachers at my school got lay-off notices, me included. I expect that most of us will be hired back by August, but it is one more example of amateur-hour at the highest levels of California government. There are other current events I want to write about, most noticeably the issue of immigration reform. I attended a Tea Party on Tax Day, but I am a party of one, searching among strange bed-fellows for someone to whom I can feel comfortable granting my vote.

I attended the four-day Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference over Palm Sunday weekend. I had attended twice before, and was accompanied this time by my daughter Rebecca. We took a ten-hour class in writing narrative non-fiction from Lynn Vincent. I appreciated Lynn’s work during the ten years she wrote for World magazine, and her recent books have included NY Times bestseller The Same Kind of Different as Me, and Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue. She taught an excellent class, and it has seeded much of my thinking over the last month. Some of those thoughts may turn up here on Capers over the next few weeks.

I also renewed friendships from previous conferences and made new ones. Among the former was Randy Ingermanson, who taught the workshop I participated in two years ago. Among the latter was Dale Cramer. Referring only to the “L word,” Randy pointed Dale out as an author who writes in the same Literary Fiction category where my stories seem to fall. I came home from the conference with a tall stack of books to add to the stack I’m picking up at the Perspectives course I’m taking Sunday nights. Is it just a coincidence that I stopped blog-posting right when the Perspectives course began? I tend to read several books simultaneously and finish a bunch at the same time. The next few weeks may see a slew of Capers book reviews.

I also hope to get back to a series I was running two years ago, on the history of my novel. I posted fourteen episodes and then got interrupted. Fortunately, in the interim, I have made significant progress on the novel itself, and I came home from Mount Hermon with some encouraging feedback from a couple of well-respected agents. If I’m not teaching in the fall, I will be busy finishing the current novel and starting the next two. Capers will also stand to benefit. I wouldn’t expect to see a three month winter hiatus next year.