Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Joey and I drove up north to visit family and friends for the day. Thinking about the surroundings, it is strange how things have changed. The grocery store across the railroad tracks from the other grocery store has closed. Another store closed in the same location as how many other ventures before them. The bank bought a new screen to advertise the latest news in town. The theaters are still open with movies that opened the month before, and still cost only cost $5. Then there are the lack of recognition, trying to remember if there was a building there or not.

The strangest, but most impressive, new addition are the wind mills that stretch for miles along the highway. Before, it was just fields and shelter belts where usually farmsteads reside. I can see almost why Don Quixote might see the windmills as monsters, but they are much too tall (and metal!) for him now. On the other hand, I love their stark whiteness against the sky and their purpose gives me hope for the future. North Dakota needs more of these monsters, or angels, along the prairie. We have such wind here, so much we could power a fourth of the country alone.

Then there are the huge painted rocks on the way, announcing different celebrations. One of them was for the couple's open house we were attending. As a kid, I always searched for these along the side of the road, wondering if it was different event announced than the last time we drove by.

My mother gave me a bowl while we were visiting. While on the phone, she told me it had wheat on it. "You remember what wheat looks like?" I answered, "Of course!" How could she think I could forget? My father grew wheat outside of our own yard. There were acres of it that we would examine for scab or hope that the summer storms wouldn't flatten them. During our drive, Joey would ask me what was growing in the field after I pointed out sunflowers and corn along the interstate. We also saw pinto beans, wheat, barley, and potatoes.

I like to think of this weekend almost as an exercise, searching the landscape for details. It also gave me a good comparison of details, giving attention to what is, what was, and what could be. It could be used as an observer, a conversation between people, or even the difference between the city and the country. To me, during this weekend, it was looking back at long long details of my growing up and how I could use them to spruce up my own writing someday.

Not a bad way to spend a weekend, at all.


Monday, July 19, 2010


On Saturday, I went to the Red River Valley Fair. I sat underneath a canvas tent in a hard chair, holding my nook in my lap with a notepad that says From the desk of Natasha across the top. Open on the nook is one of the various books simply titled "Japan" that I downloaded from Barnes and Noble. It is one of the many old books that Google scanned from various university libraries and that the store offers them as free e-books. I am using them as research for KIN and have been trying to gleam as much information as I can from them. I have been doing most of my research at work on my lunches. This Saturday, though, I was watching my husband do an Iaido demo with his sensei and a fellow student.

Some of the information is outdated, or full of history that I don't need to use. I am not involving myself with the politics of the country at this time or that since they don't serve any real function in my story. I am mostly searching for the little every day details of life in ancient Japan. What kind of food did they eat? What are their customs for life changing events like marriage and death? What is the terrain like?

I did learn some facts that I found just intriguing to discover. For example, Marco Polo brought knowledge of Japan to Europe. I think it is easy to forget that Marco Polo isn't just a poolside game.

I am also very much interested in studying more of Japanese fairy tales. I think I learn more about their culture from reading them than some of the content written by long-dead British discoverers. I appreciate their efforts, but it isn't always the right tid bits that I want to read.

I am actually thankful for the research on the nook. It is easy to carry with me wherever I go, but also it gives me access to books I never would have had. To think, I haven't even looked at the Project Gutenberg yet!

I am really getting into the research to help fill in some of the blanks during my rewrites. I am hoping that I will accomplish bringing this world to life with some accuracy, even if it is based on Japan and not actually in Japan. It is something I am quite passionate about, and that is always such a wonderful feeling.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Catching Up

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That's why its called the present."

(Kung Fu Panda)

I am catching up and readjusting a lot of different things in my life. Talking to old friends. Finding the time to exercise again. Digging out short stories that need an edited polish. Rewriting chapter by chapter. Buying lots of fresh vegetables and fruit. Balancing paper books, e-books, and audio books. Enjoying picnics in the park, walks along the river, and a balcony garden.

I don't know what has gotten a hold of me, but I feel more focused. Then, on the flip side, I am still as unsure as ever. What will become of all of this? I do know, over the past ten years of my life, it keeps growing into something more with each passing day.

I am hoping the focus will remain and that the growing will continue.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Wonder for a time

Music goes through phases in our lives. Sometimes we forget about their existance until they appear out of nowhere, and then it is like time travel to the past. We are transported to a memory.

I had that happen to me last week. I was listening to Pandora and the Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" came on. At that moment all I could do was watch flashes of graduation sitting in the high school gym looking up at a slideshow of our class from babies to our senior picture. I forgot how much I liked that song and that turning point in my life.

Right now I have three songs stuck in my head. I don't know what memories they will serve, if they will at all.

1) Hey, Soul Sister- Train
Your sweet moonbeam/The smell of you in every single dream I dream/I knew when we collided you're the one I have decided/Who's one of my kind

2) Home- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
I follow you into the park, thru the jungle thru the dark/Girl aint never loved one like you/Moats and boats and Waterfalls, Alleyways and payphone calls/I been everywhere with you/Laugh until we think we'll die, barefoot on a summer nigh/tnever could be sweeter than with you

3) Say You Don't Want It- One Night Only
Talk all the talk with a poet’s style/Tongue like electric, eyes like a child /Eye on your wives and the classic cars/Live like a saviour, live like the stars

Feel free to share what you are currently listening to!


Picture: I used to use a turkey baster as a microphone as a kid.

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