Sunday, October 31, 2004

Halloween Happiness

I love Halloween. What a wonderful holiday. I grew up in North Dakota and I have Trick or Treated in blowing snow. Who cares if you need a parka and boots? People give you candy for showing up at their door. I don't discriminate against the older trick or treaters, either. A kid is a kid as long as their heart is in it, so if you ring my bell, I will give you candy.

I buy a lot of candy. It would mortify me if I ran out and had to turn off my porch light early. But the children don't show up at the door like the old days and I always have candy left over. For that reason, and because I'm kind hearted, I buy good candy. None of the super cheap stuff that kids just leave in their bag until they are desperate for a sugar fix; there has to be something chocolate in the handful each child gets.

Sometimes I dress up to answer the door. It depends on how I'm feeling and the weather. Today it is warm in Houston - high 80s I'd guess - and I am already stifling from staying in my church Halloween clothes all day. I wore black slacks and a black, long-sleeved shirt with a sleeveless, bright orange summer top over it. It actually came off very well, but it is too warm and I should have changed. Oh, well ... I'm just lazy.

Last night we went to a fabulous Halloween party at our friends Joanna and Tom Crawford's house. The Crawfords host a party for Halloween every year. The food is luscious, usually hot and spicy to match the season, and the drinks are plentiful. Children are welcome if they are with parents and almost everyone wears a costume.

Michael won't go, but Tori and I went with Alix and Adam. Tori was some kind of dark princess, not a "name" character, but very cute. Alix wore her Renaissance Festival costume and looked perfectly "middle-aged." Adam went as his Mormon "cousin" Magenta from Ogden, Utah. Pretty funny to see him in a dress. I went as Parvati Manners, the Eurasian daughter of the main characters from "The Raj Quartet." If you look back in my archives for August and September, you'll find a number of references to those four books - I really liked them. Anyway, I accomplished this by wearing a sari.

The sari is a wonderfully comfortable piece of clothing. Imagine seven yards of silk wrapped around you with a few folds (actually eight) and tucks here and there. The tail of the fabric flips over your left shoulder and you're dressed. Of course, you wear a shirt. The Indians have special shirts with matching petticoats that coordinate with the sari; I bought a shirt at Target that matched my sari's color and wore a long slip. It worked for me.

I got a quick lesson in how to wrap it from the man who sold it to me and then I looked on the internet for a refresher. According to one internet site, Indians consider it very immodest if you bosom shows, even though you are wearing a blouse.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Audioblogging on Candy (A Test)

this is an audio post - click to play

NaNoWriMo -OR- NaNoBlogMo: That is the ?

November is National Novel Writing Month -or, alternately, National Novel Blogging Month. If a person commits to doing this, the object is to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30, 2004. This is the equivalent of a 175 page book. I am thinking about doing it.

Thinking. About. Doing. It.

Do I have a novel in me? I have started a few novels. I have had LOTS of ideas for novels. I have written a couple of short stories. I am much better at playwriting. When I think about plays, I think of them as novels with everything but the dialogue removed. Of course, stage directions are somewhat like the non-dialogue details of novels. But novels intimidate me because there are just so many damned words to write.

Enter my blog. I have been regularly clocking between 750 and 1200+ words in a blog post. That's not bad. I would need to do 1600-1700 daily to get 50,000 words in a month. But I think writing this blog has shown me that I can do that.

Next problem is a plot and characters - something to write about. I have a lot of "stuff" but is any of it ready to coalesce into a novel? I just don't know.

Cat Aside: My cat Jack is up on the desk trying to distract me from writing. He weighs over 20 pounds, so he can be a distraction. Especially when he walks on the keyboard, purrs in my ear, nibbles on my neck - hell, he's as good as Michael at that ...

If - and it's a big if - I do this, should I blog it? That is a little daunting, to let people see my possibly fumbling efforts to write a book on-line. It's likely to be awful. The theory the NaNoWriMo people go on is "Quantity, not quality." Polish it up later. So it would be raw stuff.

Also, I would have to suspend this blog for a while, because I don't think I can write a 50,000 word novel and keep up regular posts besides. (Although I might be surprised.)

I am seriously thinking about doing this. I could use feedback. If you've been reading my blog at all, you have a sense of me as a writer. What do you think? Should I go for it? Would you want to see any of it along the way? Would you be upset if I suspended my blog for a month?

Your opinions count, so let me know.


Sunday, October 24, 2004

Twists and Turns

"Twists and Turns," the collaboration show sponsored by WIVLA (, opened last night at the Museum of Printing History in Houston. The air crackled with excitement. Beautiful women and their debonair escorts enjoyed delicious food, sipped wine and viewed a roomful of captivating art before retiring to the theatre for a round of provocative and moving readings. The artwork paired with each manuscript flashed up on the wall of the theatre during its respective reading. Each attendee received a chapbook of the collected manuscripts to read while viewing the art on exhibit and to take home as a souvenir.

For me, the evening offered pleasure after pleasure. For one thing, I had compiled the twenty-five manuscripts into a chapbook which my colleague,Kellye Sanford, designed and laid out. I had not seen it until that evening; it turned out very professionally. I must re-emphasize my comments of the other day about the efficacy of chapbooks. I'm thinking of producing at least one chapbook myself, "The Crone of Taos." More on that another day.

I felt terrific about myself. In fact, I channeled Frida Kahlo for the evening, dressing in my red, off-the-shoulder peasant dress, with my hair French-braided and a large arrangement of colorful ribbons at the nape of my neck. I wore a bright red necklace of graduated wooden beads and some lovely red ceramic earrings I bought for my 50th birthday party. My tan leather "flamenco" shoes graced my feet and I finished it off with a red, fringed silk shawl featuring a multi-colored design. Did I mention I felt terrific about myself? That's because I looked terrific!! (It's the same dress I have a picture of in my August archives, although that day I accessorized it more informally.)

Many of my friends attended. Not just my friends from the organization, but invited guests: Bertie, Cheryl and Dan, Faye, Bill and Isabel, Carolyn and Tom, Sam and Howard. And all my children. Really, all of them. Tori came with us, of course, and Alix and Adam joined us there. But the biggest surprise of all? Nick and Julia drove in from Austin just for the evening as a treat for me. Delightful. I was sitting in the darkened theatre listening to the readings when I heard a "Psst," from the back. I turned and saw Tori next to a tall, thin shadowy figure with a very large, bushy hairdo. Nick!! The hair gave it away. Nick's hair is very curly and full when he lets it grow out, as he currently is. (Someone walked up to him during the evening and said, "What kind of artist are you? You look like a sculptor.")

After the event, the family went to dinner, along with Bertie, and ate good cheap food at the West Gray Cafe, laughed and talked, then said our sad good-byes. Poor Tori wept when Nick and Julia got ready to drive back to Austin. She loves Nick so much and it kills her that her big brother doesn't live at home anymore - or at least near by. But I just felt happy and touched that so many people I care about came to see the show and hear me read.

About the art. Compelling, provocative, intriguing, funny and fun, poignant, frightening. Those adjectives and more. Because the show used a theme with so much room for interpretation, we had 27 very different entries. But I just love the two pieces that my collaborators did. I've already described them in earlier entries, but let me add that seeing the finished, hung work left me agape. My words just seem puny in comparison to their images, although I know the artists don't feel that way. Perhaps because I am "fluent" with language and writing, I take it for granted and don't give myself enough credit for what I do.

I often wish I could draw or that I had real artistic talent. I do piddle with watercolors and otherwise entertain myself, but I am not an artist. I have a similar desire to be musical, which I am not despite nine years of piano lessons as a child. I want to be able to do everything: speak Spanish and French fluently, travel in Europe and Asia, live in the Caribbean, sail the ocean, take a cottage in Ireland for a summer, sew well, keep house, cook like a gourmand ... well, all in good time, all in good time. After all, I'm only 54.

Last night's magic lingers.


Saturday, October 16, 2004

Just Say No to Puppies OR Teens 4, Lane 0

Dogs 'r not us. We have tried, usually because of the pitiful pleas of our children. Michael had a dog - Scottie - when we met, and once it was, admittedly, me that made the pitiful pleas. That resulted in Blitz, an Afghan hound we never should have owned. But the other dogs we have owned "belonged" to our children, at least until the novelty wore off and ownership passed on to Michael and I. This is not a new story. Most families with dogs (or cats, for that matter) can relate to it.

Tori managed to pull a new one on me yesterday. Tori and her friend Kristen. Picture this: your doe-eyed young teen daughter appears at your front door with her friend and says, "Kristen needs your help." Immediately, the mom-hormones surge and you prepare to tackle a serious problem. I expected Kristen to be locked out, to have forgotten a desperately needed book at school, to be ill, injured or broken. Knowing her mom worked, I expected, at the least, to offer her a free telephone call. What Kristen said was, "I need someplace to keep a puppy until my friend's birthday."

This led to a long list of sensible questions from me. "Why couldn't she take the puppy home?" They have three other dogs. "Why couldn't she wait and pick the puppy up later in the week?" The owners were going to sell it to someone else if she didn't buy it right away. "How did she know her friend could have a puppy?" Oh, it was fine, the girls had asked. "What was her mom going to say about her buying a puppy?" Oh, it was okay because Kristen was spending her own money. Now this should have been a tip-off, because she didn't actually answer the question I asked, but I blew it and didn't make the connection. Score one for the teen-agers.

I expressed my severe doubts about the whole proposition. I didn't even say I'd think about it. But I didn't say it was out of the question. Score two for the teen-agers. They told me they'd be right back and took off around the corner of our street. I didn't think too much about it. Ten minutes later, Tori appeared at the door - sans Kristen - with a puppy in her arms. Score three for the teen-agers.

Puppy aside: This puppy was so tiny I could hardly believe it had been liberated from its mother. Obviously the product of larger dogs by it's coloring and conformation, it barely made a handful and was a slack handful at that, practically non-responsive. Apparently, because I asked, the owners had had a bunch of puppies out in the yard, in the hot sun, on sale even though they were patently too young for separation from mom. Some people are just jerks! And who sells mixed breed puppies? Worse jerks.

Well, not knowing that Kristen had purchased said puppy already, I strongly suggested that she take it back to its mother for a few more weeks. The story unraveled from there. She couldn't take it back, she couldn't take it home and she couldn't give it to her friend until later in the week. If the dog had been conscious, three pairs of doe-eyes would have been looking at me pleadingly. Score four for the teen-agers.

Honestly, I thought it was a goner already and that we were going to have a dead puppy on our hands momentarily. Had it had its shots? Shrug. What was it going to eat? Kristen would bring puppy chow. And then Kristen disappeared, because she wasn't supposed to leave the house until her mom got home from work.

I was skunked by the teen-agers hands down. We dug out the cat crate, made a bed and put the puppy in it. Hours later, she did rouse and I managed to get her to drink some milk and eat some puppy chow, but she wasn't very good at eating the chow. Tori took her into her room for the night and (very reluctantly) got up with her in the middle of the night. I spoke to her from my bed, but didn't get up. Bad mistake. The next morning I went to get her up for a long drive to Kingwood to take her Girl Scout safe boating and Red Cross swim level tests and found her asleep, a lot of very yucky puppy poop on her rug and no puppy.

Yes, you are reading correctly. No puppy. Tori didn't lock the puppy back in its crate after the middle-of-the-night potty trip. Her bedroom door had been closed all night, though, so there should have been a puppy. Looking around the horribly piled up mess in her room, I suddenly realized the puppy probably WAS there. I yelled at Tori not to move when she started to climb out of bed and began digging through piles calling the pup. I now understand what rescue workers feel like digging through rubble after a natural disaster.

Natural disaster aside: Actually, I already knew that feeling because we lost a home in a catastrophe 25 years ago. That's another story.

Tori spotted the puppy first, wedged between the bed and a pile consisting of clothes, books, broken toys, make-up and lord knows what else. Tori shifted the bed and I extracted the puppy. She literally couldn't move because she had dug herself into a hole she couldn't back out of. But the puppy was still breathing - she started crying as soon as I retrieved her.

Did I tell you this puppy was really, really young? She reminded me of about a six-month-old baby who can sit up, but not reliably, and topples over at unexpected moments. The puppy would sit down, try to scratch itself with its back leg, and roll over into a somersault. If she had to pass a drunk test, she would have gone to jail because she couldn't walk a straight line.

When I took Tori to her swim event, we saw Kristen and her mom (they are in the same Girl Scout troop). Of course, I had a long talk with Kristen's mom about the puppy - which makes me the WORST mom in the world, BTW - and, naturally, she didn't know a thing about the puppy. It's a good thing the girls were in the pool and unavailable for the next couple of hours!

The upshot of the whole event is that we kept the puppy until Sunday, when Kristen's family picked it up and returned it to the original owners. (The double jerks, remember?) I do know they got a refund. I don't want to know anything else, including where the double jerks live. Tori is depressed, dejected and miserable even though I told her over and over that we were not keeping the dog. I doubt she learned any lessons, but I had a potent reminder of the parental cardinal rule: Just say NO.


P.S. It is actually Monday now, not Saturday. We went to the Renaissance Festival yesterday and I'll try to write about that soon. It was medieval!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Writing Art (Punctuate That!)

Writing art. Writing, art. Writing; art. However you punctuate it, it is exciting to participate in the collaboration between a writer and a visual artist. And I am currently involved in two collaborations for the upcoming "Twists and Turns" show sponsored by WIVLA.

This morning I visited my collaborator/friend Kay Kemp ( and saw the painting she is finishing as part of our collaboration. It is just beautiful. The title - which is also the title of the meditation I wrote to go with it - is "Walk With Me." The central images are a labyrinth and a guardian. The words of the meditation are inscribed on the painting. I can't begin to do justice to the delicate, intricate detailing of this painting. I'm imagining Kay with a three-hair paintbrush in her hand! Kay teaches creative process, which is what is mostly on her website, but there is a page with some of her paintings. She is a very good teacher ... I've had the pleasure of taking one of her creativity workshops. I recommend them.

Then, this afternoon, Roberta Sajda, my other collaborator/friend, sent me a file with the digital art she has been creating for the same collaboration show. Oh, my. Another gorgeous piece of art - entirely different, soft and flowing with bold lines and lovely pastel colors. Her piece doesn't have it's final name, but the poem I wrote to accompany it is called "Singularity." I don't think Roberta has a web site displaying her art, but I hope she gets one soon so you can see what fine work she does.

I would love to share both these pieces of art and the writing, but I have to wait until after the show opens (and get permission, of course). Anyone who lives in Houston should attend the opening or stop by the venue to see the show while it's up. It is sponsored by WIVLA, which regular readers know is a great organization (Women in the Visual and Literary Arts - The show will be at the Museum of Printing History in Houston from October 21 - November 3, 2004. The opening is on October 23 at 6 PM.

FYI, I am currently reading Annie Dilliard's "An American Childhood." This is a memoir about her childhood in Pennsylvania and it is as raw and edgy as childhood, unabashed, abandoned, cuttingly honest. I really admire the work and it has made me think a lot about my own childhood - what I noticed and how it touched me, what I missed. She has some wonderful passages about the unconsciousness of childhood, about being "asleep" to the world as a child and, when you finally are awake, you've left it behind. This is not a new book. It's been on my bookshelf a long time, but I recently moved a bunch of my books into the new bookcases (see August archives) and decided to read things I haven't looked at for a long time. Annie Dilliard also wrote "Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek" and probably more stuff. I guess I'll have to check on her recent work if I'm going to tell you about her. OR, you can tell me about her if you've been reading her more recent work.


Saturday, October 09, 2004

Blogger's Block

I face a blank post box and panic sets in. What to write? What will be snappy enough, interesting enough, compelling enough to keep people reading my blog? It is like writer's block in quick-time. Writer's block occurs in private. I sit at my desk and fiddle - piles of paper need straightening, pencils needs sharpening (or, in the electronic age, the keyboard needs cleaning). I suddenly remember a burning desire to Google the results of the presidential debate to see if the pundits agreed with me that George W is a loser.

Anything will do, just as long as I can avoid sitting up straight and looking at a blank Word doc on my monitor. And I can manage to do this for a quite long time, believe me. If nothing else, there is that cheesy little "vow" I make to play Spider Solitaire just until I win ... except that I play the variety with four suits at a time and my win ratio is currently 1%. Yeah, I'll be working on that masterpiece in no time ...

The point is that no one else knows about it. Even if Michael or Tori are in the house, I can usually fake them out and look like I'm doing serious thinking just prior to writing, or serious research about my writing, or, seriously, taking a well-deserved break from the punishing work of writing. Now, when I blog, the blank post box is just a stand-in for the expectant reader. I'm looking at empty white space and seeing the impatient, bored and never-returning faces of readers who are tired of checking my blog and finding the same old stuff is STILL THERE.

It is demoralizing. I can't always be charming, thoughtful, inventive or otherwise brilliant. But I want to be. I have not been away from my blog the last few days due to blogger's block, however. No, I have been busy, busy, busy. I am working on the chapbook for the WIVLA 2004 Collaboration Art Show "Twists and Turns" which is going to open on October 23 at the Museum of Printing History. You should come. The writing is fabulous; the art work will be, too.

This is my first chapbook. Did you know that chapbooks were collections of poems and stories sold by chapmen (peddlers) wandering the countryside in merrye olde England? It's true. And now chapbooks are little books produced by people that don't have enough work (or time or a publisher) for a "real" book. Poets produce a lot of chapbooks. I don't think this is a bad idea though. As my friend Zoe reminded me Friday on the way home from writers' group (we carpool): books used to be privately produced in small quantities for friends and family and were rare and valued.

Perhaps all of us writers should be producing chapbooks of our work and sharing them around with the people we know, who, because they know we need the money, will pay us real money for the work, instead of paying a bunch of money to Bruiser Bookstore, thus triggering a chain of events that results in the author getting 40 cents. Did you know that? Did you know that when you pay $30.00 for a book at Bruiser Bookstore, the author gets CENTS, not dollars, per book? And that if you buy it from Amazon, the author gets NOTHING, not dollars?

Writers work really hard producing strings of words that amaze, astound and madden us, and they hardly make any money at all. It's a shame really. I don't say this for myself, because I can't make money. I'm disabled (it's the lupus) and if I make a penny over the limit in any given year, they will take away my Medicare. Well, needless to say, I am uninsurable in America and therefore can not get healthcare coverage at any price (except through my husband's employer, which, since he got laid off, shows you the hole in that safety net). And therefore I can't risk losing my Medicare and therefore I can't make money, etc.

So actually, I am the perfect person to be a writer. I'm pretty good with words and it's in my best interest to stay poor ... and I am the perfect person to blog, which is writing for the whole world for the sheer joy of it. Which is how I conquer blogger's block.

Now, I have to stop for tonight. I am tired - lupus tired, which is more tired than you can imagine unless you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The cells of my body are tired. My forehead is getting tired from being furled. My lungs are tired from breathing. My fingers are tired from pushing keys, especially because I'm making a lot of mistakes and I keep having to go back to fix things. So I need sleep.

Ciao for now.

P.S. I wish blogspot would fix the glitch that is keeping the post statistics from posting accurately and I truly hope someone besides me reads this blog.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Peter Pan-demonium

Peter Pan-demonium broke out at the Wortham Theatre tonight as the Houston Ballet twirled and swirled amidst special effects of all kinds. This is the second time Peter Pan - choreographed by Trey McIntyre - has been performed in Houston; it premiered two years ago. Repeating a program in two years is rather a short interlude considering all the fine ballets that we regulars would love to see performed, but looking at the full house, consisting of many families (even on a Saturday night) and seeing that they had to run an extra Saturday matinee tells the reason why.

Three weeks ago, when the Houston Ballet ( presented three smaller works with little child appeal, the audience just didn't show up in strong numbers. The programs were terrific, especially Lila York's The Celts, which I wrote about at the time. (Look in the archives for September 11.) But the organization needs box office and the story ballets that draw families mean box office. As long as that makes it possible for the Ballet to present serious, adult, or cutting edge work other times, I don't mind. If there is too much story-time ballet in one season, I get frustrated.

I have been attending the ballet for more than ten years. Well, let's count. I guess I could accurately say 13 years. Last year I did not have a season subscription and I missed it terribly. The reason I didn't is that my daughter Alix is my ballet partner and her job hours interfered. This started the previous year and I always had to find people to go to the ballet with me. That shouldn't be too hard: a free ticket and good company, too! But it got to be a drag always calling around looking for someone to attend with me and it seemed like an expensive indulgence to pay for a friend's ticket every time. So I took a pass last year and only bought tickets for programs I couldn't miss. Fortunately, they had several repeats that I didn't miss not seeing and I did get to see the new work.

I am so glad that Alix's new job allows her to have weekend's off again. I really like to spend time with her and the ballet is a shared joy for us. Tonight we took Victoria along as a special treat . See, even I am susceptible to family programming! Victoria is all jazzed about Peter Pan because one of her teen-aged heart throbs appeared in the recent movie remake. I think she was expecting him to dance out on stage tonight! She seemed disappointed when we arrived and she saw the program. Who was that old guy dancing Peter Pan? (Remember, she's 13. Old is anything over 18.) But once the lights went down, she was hooked. (Oh, did I say that? Sorry, sometimes I just can't help myself.)

The special effects were FX to the max. People flew. Stars shone all over the theater. Ships sailed. Movies rolled. Crocodiles lurked in the depths. And there were fish and mermaids! I liked the bogeymen especially well - they were creepy - and the shadow play effects. Tinkerbell's glowing appearance and then her shadow dance were very effective, as were the explosions during the third act.

The parents provided a very touching element in the performance. (I am not biased by the fact that Lauren Anderson - my very favorite ballerina - danced the Mother. She also danced the kidnapped mermaid, by the way.) The parents were portrayed in a very stiff and rigid way, wearing partial masks that kept their demeanor obscured. You could only interpret their emotions from their movements, which were very formal and very stilted. This meshed perfectly with the Victorian sentiments of the time, when parents were distant and formal with their children. I remember my own mother, whose Grandmother was a bonafide Victorian, telling me she was raised to believe that after a child was a toddler, it was not appropriate to hold them on your lap anymore.

Back to the dance. That the parents had formal and stilted choreography did not in any way mean that it was not gracefully and masterfully danced. The performers created just the atmosphere they were supposed to of loving, but remote, parents who learn, too late, how much they really love their children. And the joy they express on the children's return is much less reserved and more open, demonstrating the changes that the temporary loss of the children has caused. There were two family portraits, one in the first act and one in the third act, with the five family members. In the first act, everyone is standing and people are not really touching each other or interacting. In the third act, the mother is sitting, the children cluster around her, the father has his hand on someone's shoulder. It's just a very different feeling. Which, I think, is what the choreographer intended.

Wendy also has a family portrait in the third act - with her future husband and child. That moment touched me quite a bit, admittedly maybe in a knee-jerk way, but I got teary. Just a nicely done performance.

Couple of side notes. One: J. M. Barrie wrote Peter Pan. He was an Englishman from the late 19th - early 20th century (1860-1937). He also wrote the play The Admirable Crighton, among many other things, and I wrote the book for an adaptation of Crighton as part of a musical theater collaboration class two years ago. Had a great deal of fun with it although we never got to the point of actually taking it on the road. We did do a local performance at the University of Houston, though.

Side note two: At the beginning of the ballet, the Darlings have 4 children, including baby Peter. He falls out of his crib and is accidentally swept away with the garbage, later to appear as Peter Pan. It is an odd storyline, don't you think? I think so and I have tried to think of reasons for it. So here are my top three. 1) It's just a quirky story that adds to the fun. 2) It's a reflection (criticism) of Victorianism in that parents could be so distant from their children that they wouldn't notice one gone missing. 3) It's a reflection of the high infant mortality rate of the times and Peter represents the "lost" child in an all too sad way.

So there you have. Peter Pan-demonium and my opinion of it all.


Friday, October 01, 2004

In Praise of the Trick-Cyclist

In Paul Scott's book quadrology, "The Raj Quartet," his characters have several conversations about the "trick-cyclists." This is a reference to psychiatrists, ala 1943. I had never heard the term before; however, a little Internet research informs me that it is Cockney rhyming slang from the style in use since the 17th century. Which accounts for why I found an online study group for psychiatrists using Trick-cyclist as its name. The lists of Cockney rhymes were fun and I recommend them to you at .

Back to the trick-cyclists. I have one, Dr. M. He's great. If you have lupus, you need a trick-cyclist to help you deal with the central nervous system (CNS) symptoms it causes. As a writer and inveterate crossword-puzzler, my brain is keenly important to me and sometimes the lupus interferes with my cognition in very specific ways. In "lupin" circles, we call this "fog." It is kind of like having your brain wrapped in cotton, muffled. One year, when I was very ill, I missed a whole quarter. When I got sick, it was winter and then, one day, I noticed that the trees had new leaves and the Astros were in spring training. That is so depressing.

Depression is another good reason for seeing a trick-cyclist. In lupus, the depression gets you in more than one way. First, it's organic, or caused by the disease process. Second, your life is depressing due to the effects of your illness on you and on your family. In my own case, I had to give up my business career - which I loved and which I had great success in. Giving up my career meant giving up our large home and moving into a much smaller one. (Well, the fact that I couldn't climb the stairs anymore either did add to the need to sell the big house.) It snowballs. I have had to give up roller coasters, too, for example. After the third fractured vertebrae, my husband just drew the line. I still love rollercoasters, though.

I am not complaining. Especially not now. Ten years ago, I didn't walk independently and I am able to walk now, thanks to several years of water aerobics to strengthen my muscles and also thanks to Victoria. I had to shape up enough to watch her, after all. Many people don't know that I have lupus. I look perfectly healthy to the untrained eye. This is typical of lupins. Partly, it is because I don't go out when I am not feeling well. Partly it is because lupus mainly affects internal organs and tissues, causing lots of pain and fatigue, but not necessarily external manifestations. Lupus arthritis, for example, is non-deforming arthritis, which means it hurts like hell but doesn't twist your bones the way rheumatoid arthritis does.

It's a tricky disease. And that's a good tie-in to my trick-cyclist friend.