Upcoming…and Going

It’s been a week of deadlines of various kinds.  I got through the initial editing for the short story collection, at least of the stories I had notes on from my editor/publisher.  I had three student stories to workshop and I finished those.  I had new photographs to order for the upcoming Archon art show and those are in.  This morning I have to go get supplies for that from Art Mart.

And, unusually, this past weekend was filled with parties.  Friday night with Jim and Maia, who are terrific people, wine connoiseurs and excellent cooks, who live in a terrific old house.  Neither of us have been up quite so late in a long time.  Then Saturday night over at Lucy’s new house for a pleasant evening with old friends, not quite as late.  Yesterday, I worked.

This morning I’m working here, and of course what I intended to do and what I’m ending up doing are two different things, but…

I am working on a new short story.  I had a terrific idea a few weeks ago and wrote the first couple of pages before having to attend to the Other Stuff in need of doing.  Isn’t that how it goes?  And now the dryer isn’t working right.  One more thing.

But this weekend is Archon and I have things pretty well prepared for that.  The only thing lacking is a Big Announcement about a new novel coming out.  I’ve become so accustomed to that state of affairs now that I don’t know how I’d react anymore if I did have news.

I’ll talk about the oddments and curios of Archon next week.  Meantime, an image upon which to contemplate my return.  Something…enigmatic….

 

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Updates and Such

I’m about to be a bit busy, so I thought I’d let folks know what’s going on.

I’m working on the edits for my VERY FIRST short story collection.  Yes, indeed, I will have a new book coming out next spring from Walrus Publishing, a local publisher, and I’m going through edits now.  I’m really excited about this because I’d been starting to think I’d never get one of these.  There will be about 10 stories, a mix of previously published and never-before-published.  For the moment, it’s called Gravity Box and Other Places.  If all goes well, I’ll even get the cover artist I want, and I’ve already got commitments for blurbs from some terrific people.

The other thing, after that, will be the third alternate history novel in the series that is currently seeking a good home through the marvelous efforts of my agent, Jen Udden.  So my winter is spoken for, as it were.

I also have every intention of publishing short fiction again.  I started a new story a week ago that I think might have legs and I have a number in the hopper that need work, but dammit, I used to publish short fiction, I will do so again.

Finally, I’m beginning to formulate some ideas for exhibiting my photographs.  I just finished putting together a set of new images for the upcoming Archon art show and in going through the work I’ve been doing since I went digital, I think it’s time I did something with all these besides just gaze upon them with self-satisfied pleasure.

So I have a busy fall and winter coming up.  This on top of what has turned out to be a most pleasant day job at Left Bank Books.

I will post here, of course, it’s just that you may find some rather long gaps between one and the next, so I wanted to explain.

So…

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Final phase of our trip involves two special people whose acquaintance with us is one of those improbables that make life so unpredictably fascinating.

I do not recall when I first met Peter Fuss.  I am sure it was through the agency of my friend Tom, who was taking Peter’s philosophy class at UMSL, back in the late 70s or early 80s.  Time has mushed together around certain things and I can’t pinpoint occurrence with the accuracy I’d like.  I’ve never been able to keep a journal (with the exception of this blog) so I have no notation anywhere of when we first met, but it was not memorable.

Gradually, however, a circle of associates accrued of which I became first a peripheral part and then later a more central element around informal discussions of philosophy, semantics, literature, and other related subjects.  Peter was always an anchor member of these groups.  These I can say with some accuracy that we began to attend regularly from 1986 on and they took many forms.  Membership shifted as much as interest, but always there was Peter and his colleague, John, with whom Peter had been working for years on a translation of the works of Hegel.

There were artists, lawyers, social workers, writers, and students.  We broke off from attending for some years, then rejoined in the late 90s at the behest of another acquaintance.  At that time, the group had settled into a long and deep reading of James Joyce’s Ulysses, which at first I thought would be drudgery, but turned out to be amazing.  We stayed on to do Dante—the Commedia—which we finished a couple years ago.

Peter had by then long since divorced one woman and had remarried, to Nan, with whom he now lives atop a four thousand foot hummock northeast of Sacramento on 20 acres of forested land.  Nan teaches tax law.  Both of them are urbane, sophisticated people, the last sorts I would have expect to embrace a rural life, but they’re thriving on it.

Peter In His Lair
Peter In His Lair

They’re building a nice house, they have two terrific dogs—Billie and Rikki—and are surrounded by right wingers.  This is a part of California much dedicated to a conservative view which we from the Midwest tend to think of as our own local, homegrown politics, but in some respects we’re amateurs.  Peter and Nan, plus one or two others, seem to be the sole torchbearers for liberalism in the area.

Even so, they’re happy there, and it is difficult to argue.  Where they live, you can see all the stars, and a drive to town takes you through great beauty.  They welcomed us into this retreat and hosted us for four days.  We took a drive with them down to Placerville where stands the Other Winery we loved (Boger) and spent a cool afternoon drinking good wine and eating a late lunch and discoursing.  (I suspect I have never just “talked” with Peter, we have always discoursed.)

 

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We met up with some of their neighbors for a short tour through part of the area, into more lovely scenery.  IMG_1990

Within this roughly fifty square miles we found a variety of landscapes and climates.  Donna took walks with Billie and Rikki, Peter and I caught up on whatever we found worth catching up on, and the four of us discussed everything from local foods, the economy, international law, and esoteric spiritualism  I burned through the balance of the chip in my camera and I now have enough images to keep me busy in Photoshop for months.

In some ways, this trip recapitulated our first major vacation together back in 1984.  We attended our first Worldcon, L.A.Con II (Gordon R. Dickson was the guest of honor and the Star Wars trilogy had finally been released in its entirety) and afterward, in order to cleanse soul of all that we went to Estes Park in Colorado and wandered around the mountains for a few days.

On our last day, as we were getting ready to go out to dinner, the dogs ran off.  Nothing that unusual, but their timing was terrible and we spent an hour or more trying to get them back.  They finally came to the house, Nan fed them, and we went to dinner.

IMG_1981 IMG_1977Upon our return, Rikki (to the left here), the smaller of the pair, didn’t seem to be doing so well.  Nan nestled the dog in her lap, but something wasn’t right.

Nan called the vet, who instructed her to keep a watch and if Rikki worsened, bring her in.  Hmm.  That would entail a drive down the barely-graded road, upon which there were no lights, at night.  It was a bumpy ride in daylight.  Well.

So we put in the movie we’d all decided to watch—To Have and Have Not—and about an hour in, Nan decided Rikki was worse.  The dog really was magnificently lethargic, barely responsive to what was going on around her.  Nan bundled her up and took off.

We finished the movie.

At one in the morning Nan poked her head into the bedroom to tell us Rikki would be fine, evidently she’d gotten into a thicket of wild marijuana and eaten…too much.

Day came, time to leave.  Peter took us to breakfast in town one last time, and then we headed for Sacramento.

This trip is too full.  We’ll be able to sort through the memories for years without running out of the wonder and pleasure.  All of which was prompted by the call to reunion at the beginning by our friends Nicola and Kelley, of whom I have written before and will no doubt write again.  (Today is September 4th and we received a notice from them a few weeks back that they intend to get married today, because, where they live, they now can.  They wanted us there, but it’s just not possible.  We were there at their joining ceremony 20 years ago in Atlanta.  So let me take a moment, as I write this, to wish them congratulations and as much joy and wonder in the next 20 as they had in the previous—more, in fact.)  The reunion was tremendous and the journey after was one of our best.

Life is good.

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