Monday, September 24, 2007

Hurry - these won't last long

I made a trip to Cache Valley via the ever lovely Sardine Canyon on Saturday. At around 8:30 a.m. the canyon was so breathtakingly lovely, I could scarcely keep my eyes on the road. The mountainsides are literally awash in autumn colors.

This was before all the rain, and I don't know what effect that may have had now, but if you want a real autumn treat, take a little drive to Cache Valley. If you're smarter than I, you'll take a camera.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thyme Marches On

Stumbled across a sale of perennials, 3 plants (gallon-size) for $10. I picked up eight woolley thyme and one pink chintz thyme (I think). The pots were so full, they were easily divided into three plugs each. That's 30 starts for $30- excellent! I managed to place them all between my checkerboard-arranged patio tiles that cover part of my back yard. They will do fine there and will fill the blank spots between the tiles. I already have pink chintz elsewhere and just one year of growth can fill each spot. Perhaps eventually I'll remove the tiles and have a complete lawn of thyme, soft lush, low water required, and no mowing. We'll see. For now I'm happy just to have them in the ground.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Working From Home: Part Deux

I like this so far. People are keeping in touch just fine. I am getting a lot done. I am handling rush jobs okay. When I stopped for lunch around 12:30, I walked by my patio doors, and there was a doe just five feet away. She walked down the hill by my deck where she joined the other doe and two fawns eating apples that had fallen from the tree. Working is about working, I know. But it's so much more pleasant when you can enjoy a lovely interlude with wildlife visitors. I will keep the camera handy for future visits. These four are regulars now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Author: Lisa See
Rating: *****

This author was recommended to me by two friends -- sisters and avid readers. It seems they actually liked another of the author's books even better, but this is the one I happened to pick up first.

The story itself is intriguing and entertaining indeed, as well as terribly tragic and sad. But I found the back story about the ancient Chinese practice of foot-binding to be fascinating. The story was told from the viewpoint of Chinese women who embraced the concept that their beauty and desireability to a man depended on the successful creation of "golden lilies" feet. The process was described in painful detail.

"As the eldest,I went first, and I was determined to show how brave I could be. Mama washed my feet and rubbed them with alum, to contract the tissue and limit the inevitable secretions of blood and pus. She cut my toenails as short as possible. During this time, my bandages were soaked so that when they dried on my skin, they would tighten even more. Next, Mama took one end of a bandage, placed it on my instep,then pulled it over my four smallest toes to begin the process of rolling them underneath my foot. From here she wrapped the bandage back around my heel. Another loop around the ankle helped to seure and stabilize the first two loops. The idea was to get my toes and heel to meet, creating the cleft, but leaving my big toe to walk on. Mama repeated these steps until the entire bandage was used. Aunt and Grandmother looked over her shoulder the entire time, making sure no wrinkles saw their way into those loops. Finally, Mama sewed the end tightly shut so the bindings would not loosen and I would not be able to work my foot free . . . by now growing daggers of pain were shooting from our feet up our legs."

This takes place when a girl is just six or seven years old. Bones are broken repeatedly and the bindings are adjusted to create the perfect lilies. The story goes on to describe life for the cultured Chinese women, doing embroidery confined most of the time to an upper room, having a husband selected for them, with very limited walking as a result of the foot deformities--and the sometimes tragic results of this practice. Apparently, Chinese men found especially erotic the cleft in the foot formed by the toes being bent back to meet the heel.

Lisa See weaves an entrancing story, beautifully written, with wonderful characters and scenes from Chinese history. Her book is well researched and is said to be quite accurate historically, though the characters themselves are fictional.

Just after I read this book, someone forwarded pictures to me that could very well have been the main character in the book in her later years. I don't know where the pictures are from or who to credit for them, but they speak for themselves.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


As of today, I'm working from home full-time. A sudden and stunning development. But we are just out of space at the office and teleworking is a good option for some. Writers can certainly work just as well from home. Might get a little lonely, but I do like the environment. And we are connected electronically all day. And just think: no commute, no gas, no driving in snow, no lunch expense, no dress code -- today I worked in shorts and a t-shirt. I still have a small cube for when I need to be in the office for a meeting, etc., but small is fine with me. No problem. This will be a major change. May take a little getting used to.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day

It's the end of summer, time to get the yard ready for winter. Today we drove out to Farmington Bay and watched birds for awhile. Still too early for migrating flocks, but we saw a fabulous great blue heron, pelicans, Canada geese, a white-faced ibis, and a small bird we have tentatively identified as a grebe. The wetlands are peaceful. Hot today, but still so nice walking along the water's edge with someone special.
It's the end of some things and the start of some other things. The future is as uncertain as ever, but the present is lovely and it's enough.

It has taken five games, but I finally beat him at Scrabble. I think he let me win.