I sleep, but I write all night long!

Notes from Alexis: The new book has a name, animals are funny, and secret erotica rooms amaze her.

May, 1985

Dearest Lex,

Yes, you most certainly can take me out to a birthday lunch! So very pleased that you are coming down, and so glad you told me ahead. I do love to check the days off. I quite enjoy that sort of thing.

We had a week of nice/bad weather. That is some part of every day was nice and some bad, but the cherries and plums went ahead and bloomed anyway. One apple, the Rome, blossomed out yesterday, and we are holding our breath for the McIntosh. Rain clouds are banking in the west, and the neighbor’s father is trying to make it rain by watering, so maybe we can get this storm out of the way before you come down.

I haven’t totally recovered from the last brain crash, but ‘I’ve begun tackling Reportstar’, again, I gave in. Whether I’m in there working at the computer, or not, my brain just keeps whirling, and gives me no rest, so what the heck. Better to conquer and forget, right?

Wow! Your news about a guy running a porno gig, boggles the mind. I once knew an old reprobate who collected porno books and statues, only he called it ‘erotica’. He was very proud of his collection and said he had built a secret room behind a bookcase where he stored it all. This was back in the fifties, when that sort of thing was illegal, back in the dark ages. What happens to the finest collection of secret erotica when shops open up downtown? When secret rooms are no longer meaningful and dangerous? Does it all turn to dust? (Sadly, as everyone knows – it went online)

We got to see a funny sight yesterday. The little girl across the street, was riding Buttercup (her horse) around in her yard, and over in our yard a big jackrabbit was watching the whole thing with such curiosity. Finally, the jackrabbit, couldn’t stand it any longer, and came over into the driveway and stood up on his hind legs, so he could get a better view. He just couldn’t figure out what that girl and horse were doing. Aren’t animals, funny?

I think I have come up with a name for my latest book, ‘If Wishes were Horses’. It is proceeding at a fast pace (Phase I), and I’m three or four chapters behind in writing, and two behind in typing. It is really important to get all these thoughts down as fast as possible, before I forget them, because this is all about the time sequence, the characters, and plot.

There will be time later to work them all up into readable prose, hopefully with style. I have fallen in love with all the characters, but I have some serious problems in being able to let the reader know what I know. This book is such a different book, in presentation, from EAB. I have to give a great deal of consideration to voice and person. Quite a challenge, causing me much loss of sleep. Well, not sleep exactly, but night rest. I sleep, but I write all night long.

Dad went back to work without a pain, and immediately got stomach pains and knee pains. Someone told him his stomach pain was not ulcers, but hernia, so he is going to the doctor and find out.

Will close for now and save all the rest for our visit. I have decided to make the grand gesture and clean the stove. I only got two windows cleaned but if the weather stays nice or gets nice, then I’ll make a stab at the others.

Love,

Mom

My Biological Unit has Crashed!

Notes from Alexis: We just watched the latest movie on Star Trek the other night, and I have to laugh; I forgot that we are biological units! But life with computers has not gotten any easier in so Many ways!

April 25, 1985

Dearest Lex,

Computer nerds say their system’s crash, and on Star Trek the other day, a person was called a biological unit, so this biological unit has crashed (meaning me). Almost six weeks to the day from when I brought the Kaypro home; you could bet the farm on it, couldn’t you?

I got up yesterday, and that was it. I crashed! My neurons and protons had all fused, not to mention all the other machinery that had melted. I went into town, just as mellow as a marshmallow. Somehow this must have communicated to others, for people were smiling and speaking to me all the time. I wish that sometimes I could see what I look like to others. Don’t I?

MORE ABOUT COMPUTER’S. Well, I now have Datastar in a simple-Simon sort of way. I can do elementary things, and I have a grade school comprehension of what I am doing. Reportstar is still out in left field, but I feel that I can get it eventually, which makes me feel good.

An interesting thing happened to me yesterday, and I will tell you, as I am sure you will appreciate it. I was whining around about not being rich and famous (to myself of course) and I heard, “Would you feel better if you knew it was all preparation for something else?” (Or was it somewhere else)?

Well, sure! Nobody minds putting in some time and effort for a reason. What galls me, is that it has all seemed for naught. I haven’t been able to get a hold on the reason for all of it. What’s it all about Alfie? That really cheered me up, and I got up this morning all full of vim and vigor.

You know what is so peculiar about my six-week crash program, is that I go down physically and mentally. My body feels like it has been out hoeing corn, and the mind…well, forget the mind. I have been going tooth and toenail at this computer business. It has actually been longer than six weeks if you count the time I spent in school, which I don’t, because the time that matters is since I got my own computer, right?

I have started organizing all my files on my books in the computer, and then it dawned on me what an extraordinary complex thing writing is. I have all these names and all these facts, putting them in order, has reacquainted me with them, drawn me into them once again, and I love it.

One of the things that has bothered me recently is I have a noticed a tendency in myself to be rather blasé about everything. I don’t like that. I definitely DO NOT LIKE THAT! I believe very firmly that things should matter. They should matter a lot, and to just sit around and not care, whether school keeps or not, just doesn’t seem right.

Getting that little message (above), brightened my day. I think that one of the reasons that I never could succeed with weaving and spinning, and art of any kind is that I really didn’t care. None of the things (with the possible exception of Frameworks) meant anything to me personally. The writing matters. I can’t actually get over how much the characters mean to me, and how real they seem to me. I don’t hold on to them, but when I am reacquainted with them, I remember how they affected me.

Now back to you. I would love a visit in May. The Sooner, Soonest, is Bestest. I have to admit that the visit with you surrounded by your hordes, didn’t enthrall me. I just decided that there would be no visit, and I had accepted that. Yeh! for not accepting.

Well, P. says she is definitely ‘preggers’ and is thrilled as can be. I just may have to stop going over for my little visits. I can’t take it anymore! They keep the house at about 90 degrees and filthy, and between P. and Little J., I am ready to scream after about 15 minutes. P. and J. really hate the fits Little J. throws, but instead of stopping him, or teaching him, they just throw fits themselves. I am fit to be tied, with all their fits!

The weather turned bad here a week ago last Monday, as Dad was out on the lake with J.B. and two other old farts, in J.B.’s boat. Dad said it was as bad a storm as he was ever in, and he was glad to get home. It stayed bad all the week he was off, which forced him to rest. God only knows, how hard he would have worked in the garden and so forth, if and when, the weather had been good.

He went back to work feeling like a million dollars; of course it was hell for me. He ‘gloomed’ around the house snarling at the weather, and feeling sorry for himself, because he couldn’t kill himself working/playing. Life is hard. Thank God for coffee. Oh, by the way, the new bakery didn’t turn out to be so wonderful. His bread definitely is not Metropole’s (in Eugene) and his second cake was plastered over with sugar and shortening. The first one had cream cheese frosting, but I suppose that was just for show.

Would you believe I have run out of anything to say? Will close -for now, and hope to see you in a week or so. Anyway, by then I have decreed that the weather will be good. Check that underscoring. Just one of the many things I can do if I set my mind to it.

Write soon and tell me cheerful things. Who knows, maybe I will even regain my sense of humor.

Love,

Mom

 

I’m not a complete idiot !???

Notes from Alexis: Computers are frustrating the heck out of her, gardens are coming in abundance, and life in general is tending to put her in a huff!

April 18,1985

Dearest Lex,

Well, this has been the most frustrating week. I finally got WordStar down, and started working on Datastar and Reportstar. Datastar is the database software, and Reportstar is the program to turn the data into some kind of readable or usable report.

I started off fine and finally figured out some of Datastar. I’m telling you those manuals are the shits. The worst kind of writing imaginable. I had to have four of them arranged there in front of me, and would pick up a word here and a word there, until a little bit of the picture would come through.

The thing is, I was trying to do the simplest thing possible, and the only reason I have persevered is because I could see that I could use it with my writing. Writing by the way, has gone to pot, while all of this was going on. Well, I did get the data entered and actually printed out, but not the way I wanted it, and I came just an ace of getting discouraged.

I decided to write you a letter and use the good old Wordstar, just to prove to myself that I’m not a complete idiot, and believe me there have been moments when I came up for air, that I wouldn’t have bet against it. I will just have to rewrite the manuals so that they are organized into some kind of sense, I guess. Boy, does it make me feel good to get that off my chest. Maybe Mount St. Helens felt better, too?

So how do you feel and how are you getting along? Dad took this week off and we were planning on coming up, but he felt so bad the first few days, that he needed the rest, and now it has clouded up and they are predicting snow. He isn’t very anxious to drive the pass in a snowstorm, so guess we won’t make it this time. The best plan would probably be to come up on some weekend anyway, I suppose. Needless to say, I am sorry, as I had hoped to get a visit. We are looking forward to you all coming down in June, though.

Dad took the loom down and I got one last horrendous headache from it. It was covered with dust and fuzz, and all of that swirling around in the air, really laid me out. The front room looks so big without the loom that I feel strange in it. In time, I am sure I will get used to it, but for now I wander around lost in there.

I cleaned the rug and washed the front windows, and it is clean for now. I suppose it will all be a mess by the time you come down, so just take my word for it.

You will notice that this letter is on the ‘El cheapo’ paper and that is going to be S.O.P. from now on. I will reserve the good paper for the books, but look at it this way, I can write longer letters for less postage.

P. thinks (hopes?) she is pregnant. I have nothing to say. Dad and P., too, for that matter, think that Little J. will be less spoiled if there is another child; but I can’t figure out how they think that will happen. They spoil him, and then they will have to un-spoil him, which they aren’t going to do, so how do they think he will get un-spoiled? They came out Sunday and I got fearsomely tired of them all. They would play with him and get him all excited, and then fuss at him because he was such a nuisance, you can’t have it both ways! But of the three, P. irritated me the most. She would yell at him or swat at him, and then turn around and give him what he wanted. Screech!

I have begun to think about ‘Frameworks’ again (the needlepoint show), and it has finally gotten through my little weavily brain that I am never going to hang that show. I may not even ever get it finished. Very probably won’t, eh? So what do I ‘do with it’? Do I try to give it to somebody who will finish it, or dump it, or what? I need some input (that is computer talk, (and if you think input/output is a simple concept, think again) from you. So do some serious thinking and don’t throw it back to me. See, I am grouchy. I don’t accept failure easily, and I am perilously close to having to admit defeat with that damned ReportStar and it tends to color my thinking.

Other than that, I am fine. Dad is beginning to get rested up, and is a little easier to live with. He tends to sullen up, as my grandmother used to say, when he gets to feeling bad, but then don’t we all? I am more vocal is all. I stomp around and swear, and he grits his teeth and bears it, which is almost unbearable for the rest of us. (I’m laughing)

I see by my counter that I only have three more lines on this page, (whoops went over), so I guess you get a four page letter, and I just might as well keep on writing, since I have all this empty space.

The other day, seven deer came and munched around for a while, then lay down out back of the sheep shed, and chewed their cud as if they were at home. Why such a thing would give us so much pleasure is a mystery to me, but it did. I don’t suppose many people have that happen in their yards. We started out with one squirrel and I saw two the other day. Two squirrels seen, means fifty or a hundred unseen, I suspect. The thing is, they dig holes all over the place as bad as the pocket gophers, but there isn’t a whole lot we can do about it, but enjoy them.

I have a recipe for dandelion buds and leeks, so I am waiting impatiently tor the dandelions to come out. Also, I want to juice some of them. I guess we will have to juice lettuce, as we have a bale of it in the greenhouse. Dad plans to plant alfalfa on the far side of the raspberries. That piece of land is so bad, and we could use the feed for the four lambs we are getting in a week from L. R., in exchange for the spinning picker. Before Dad took time off he went out and put in the new fence between us and J’s. He plans to move the other two fences, one of these days, when he has time and energy.

I wish he had that boat finished. He keeps faunching around about it, and he needs it to mess around on the river, but I am not going to help. The fumes make me too sick.

Well, will close for now and write more later.

Love,

Mom

Using Spell Checker to avoid the big ‘boo-boos’!

Notes from Alexis: We live in such an easy world today of “plug and play” with our computers, what a pleasure. I also remember when I had to do all this with first an Apple and then with Dos computers. Life is easy!

APRIL 9, 1985

Dearest Lex,

Well, I have spent the morning ‘PIP’ing. That means ‘Peripheral Interface Program’, but you knew that didn’t you? Of course you did. Just on the off chance you didn’t, I’ll explain. Disks, screens, and printers are all peripherals, and PIP lets me take something and interface from one to another. I can go into a software program and lift out this or that, and put it on another disk, or I can print it. Boy, is that a lot of fun, unless by some weird chance you end up doing something wrong – which is what I did this morning. (If you will notice the right edge is justified).

I went into my Wordstar software, and changed some of the defaults, and one of them was so that I wouldn’t have to check each time to see if the justification toggle switch was on or not. Then when I got ready to type your letter, I picked up the old disk by mistake, so you get this neat justification, because I am not going back and reform the paragraphs. I could do that if I wanted to, and I also have a spell checker which I will use after this is typed, to be sure I haven’t made any big boo-boos. I am writing this directly on the computer and it seems to be going okay, but I don’t know about writing books.

I finished the last of the blankets on the loom, and it was the hardest weaving I have ever done, except for the linseywoolsey pattern. I was using all handspun yarn and I was doing all the things that I tell my students not to do. It is done now, and I am not totally displeased with them. I still have to wash them and then we will see what they look like. There is no telling what will happen when they are washed.

Well, the L’s, across the street, are getting a divorce. M. kicked him out. I never thought I would see the day when she would get that much energy, or gumption, or whatever. Boy, that guy is something else. He has charged, and connived people, into doing things for him, until he has run up all kinds of debts. One of the funny things is, that your brother was the only one who ever worked for him, who got paid. Isn’t that funny?

We would love to have all of you come down and visit. I’m glad of the notice though, so maybe I can get this house cleaned up. Once we get the loom out, then we can clean the carpet and then all these windows have to be washed. They are so dirty that it is impossible to see out.

J. hasn’t put my column in the paper for the past two weeks, so I won’t give him anymore. If he publishes the last one I gave him, then that will be it, and if not, whatever he does will be the end. I am tired of him. I guess it is true that nobody appreciates anything that they get for free. It was a good thing for me though, and I’m glad did it, but I’m through. I am going to get busy and start looking to publish my books.

I have figured out three software programs Wordstar, Mailmerge, and Word Plus. Now I am going to start trying to figure out Datastar. Also, I got a tractor feed printer, and as you will notice this letter is written on computer paper. It is awfully nice though, don’t you think? Every time Igo to use the printer, I get a little nervous. Dad built me a stand for the printer, which is necessary with a tractor feed, and when I went to turn it on – nothing. Boy, did I panic. Then I tested all the plugs and sure enough one had come loose. Wow, what a relief.

I have gained a lot of weight, and you know what? I decided that I don’t even care. I will get me a lot of ‘mumus’ like the Hawaiian ladies, and forget it. There just has to be something advantageous about being over 50, and suddenly it dawned on me; now I can just forget about weight, or anything else I want to. I can just see you hitting the ceiling. You are a child of your generation. There is no way that you can bear a dab of flesh, but what I can’t bear, is to worry about it. I am sure that not worrying, will make me bloom and look lovely.

I have so little news, that I will quit for now, but sure did love your last letter, telling me all about your handmade tile work. I am dying to see them. Do you have your pottery set up again, so you can get in there and do things?

I have started cleaning out the barn. If you can’t get to your things, then you might just as well not have them, for they are as good as lost. It is a pleasure to be able to put my hand on things when I need them.

Will close for now,

Love,

Mom

 

 

Overcome with the Wonder of it all!

Notes from Alexis: Life is a ‘stage’ and we are just experiencing it one day at a time, sometimes with no clue what we are doing.

APRIL 4, 1985

Dearest Lex,

Well, we had three days of spring and now it is cloudy and cold again. ‘Squirrely‘ came out, so it is definitely spring.

I was fortunate enough to get to see them blasting down the bridge. One of the last times I expect, because all of the old bridge is gone except under water. A magnificent column of water shot up bigger and higher than I would have supposed. They have hauled in lumber and forms for the new bridge. All very interesting and fast!

Well, I have finally, finally learned Wordstar – the word processing software that came with my Kaypro. It took me two weeks, but I got it at last. Now on to the spreadsheet and database, eh?

The thing is, I have been overcome with the wonder of it all. Just imagine learning the computer! Nobody else is awed. Those who know computers think I’m a simpleton, and those who don’t, could care less. Dad and J. dismissed the greatest event in my life since babies, with an “I knew you could do it.” How smug. I appreciate the confidence, but I certainly didn’t know I could do it.

Let’s face it, I am doomed to never get any recognition for my achievements. There is no way I can ever impress anyone. How many years and how many times have I said that? You would think I would quit trying.

The thing is, that I never set out on a course with the idea of impressing anyone. I always have some other object in mind, but when I do ‘conquer’, I want laurels! I think that is unreasonable and illogical on my part, but there it is – I am unreasonable and illogical, I admit it.

Still, I treasure all my successes. When I was a child, I assumed everybody in the world knew everything, and I would have to run hard to catch up. Now I am a walking encyclopedia in some areas, and nobody cares, but me.

You must not assume from this tirade that I am glum. Far from it. Smug maybe, but not glum. I wouldn’t trade all my brain and hand smarts, for fame and glory. Impressing the C.’s would be a poor exchange. I am just showing you some of my frustrations, and I can’t decide which amuses me the most,  that I want to impress, or that everybody refuses to be impressed.

The book “No Name” (for lack of a name) is pushing me, it doesn’t like it, having to simmer while the computer pot boils. I awoke at six this morning with another chapter or two. I still have to write out the first draft by hand, but maybe in time I’ll be able to work directly on the computer.

Well, back to earth. I am enclosing a catalog I got because it might be what you want for your house. I vaguely recall you mentioning something about silk screening, or dyeing, or whatever, the cloth. The description in the catalog, makes my mouth water. Dad is anxious for me to get the stuff on the loom woven, and off, so he can take down the loom and store it. He brought home a huge box for it, and I realized that he was just tolerating the weaving. It was never been any big deal to him; so I will brave the head pain, and make it up this weekend. When the loom comes down, an era will have ended, sadly enough. First the hippies, then the “Outback Pottery” and now the “Spinning Wheel.”

I look at my life and I can plainly see all the stages, just like reading a map. It doesn’t do at all to mourn the passing of a stage; it is all inevitable, but we humans just cling to the illusion of ‘forever’. We refuse to see that all is ‘quicksilver’ in our hands. This is a most curious and most human trait, don’t you agree?

Well, enough philosophy and down to earth. A bakery has opened behind the Stevens Restaurant, and he has tables and serves coffees (cappuccino), and makes really good pastries.

We are eating lettuce out of the greenhouse finally. In the spring we just get so hungry for greens. Dad said yesterday that he didn’t have an ache or pain, and actually felt good. This is the first time he has said that in a year or more, so I believe the cabbage juice is working.

Will close for now,

Love

Mom

Making a perfectly sane person into a computer maniac!

Notes from Alexis: Well folks, here is a letter from my Dad. He is trying out the computer for the first time, and doing wonderfully, if you ask me.

 

March 30, 1985

 

Dear Lex,

 

Believe it or not, it is your ole Dad. I had to find out what this computer was all about, and why it can make a perfectly sane person into a computer maniac. Guess who?

Well, I have finally gotten my hands in the soil, in the greenhouse. I just about have everything planted, as far as bedding plants are concerned. We are eating lettuce and chives and parsley. It really feels good to get back in the soil again. This has been a long winter.

We ran out of cut up wood, so I am whacking away at the log pile. It is a little wet, but it burns.

Your letters make it sound like you rather enjoy living in your new home. How in the world are you going to be able to live without the mice?

I can’t remember whether or not I thanked you for the canoe paddles, but I really do like them, and can hardly wait to get them wet. Thank you. It’s going to be a lot off fun dipping paddles with you guys some day. Well, referring back to my first statement about computers. Maybe some day I will figure it out.

P.S. I can’t believe I’m doing this on a computer.

 

With all my Love,

 

Dad

 

People who keep their noses to the grindstone have very little information to pass on

Notes from Alexis: Laughing out loud about printer problems, and getting her first apology from my Dad. Now that makes you stop and think.

 

3-27-65

 

Dearest Lex,

 

Please notice the nice paper and the line spacing and all kinds of good things just like real typing. Have you noticed that the font is exactly the same as the Blue Rose (the typewriter)? That pleased me enormously because I liked that font very much.

 

How have you been? Fine I hope. We saw that you are getting snow, at least Eugene has been, but I don’t know about Paradise Hill. We got a dump yesterday and today of about 6-8 inches and then the wind blew and piled it up, but it is warmer today so it should melt soon.

 

I have been watching Star Trek, hoping to see the show that Leslie Parrish-Bach was in (Who Honors Adonis?) I call it research, watching one on Saturday and one on Sunday, but Dad calls me a Trekie. What you and I need is a transporter so we could beam over to each other and have lunch. Two hundred miles is a whole lot of miles to go for lunch, but once in a while I really need to have lunch with you. Like the other day, I was working with the computer and printer and what I was getting was really strange. The printer would print three lines on the paper, then shoot out about three sheets of that horrid yellow stuff and then three more lines, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what to do about it.

 

I told Dad about it, and I just about had hysterics in the telling. I laughed so hard, but Dad just sat there without any emotion and saying nothing. He failed to see the humor and boy, did my fun evaporate quickly. Then he said, “Well, it looks to me like you could have done it on a typewriter quicker and easier.”

 

That really burned me up so I told him, “You should be proud of me. Instead of having a nervous breakdown, I have been laughing and having fun. I know very well that I did something wrong, and as soon as I figure out what I did, I will remedy it.”

 

He went out and sulked in the greenhouse, and then he came in and apologized for being so cold about it all. I consider that a real breakthrough for him, and it is the first time in 28 years that he has done such a thing. He said it was just that he was so burned on computers. I told him that he was burned because what he is expecting is a whole lot out of people (as in me) when operating computers, when I don’t know what I am doing. (Of course, that is no consolation when he is the sufferer).

 

Little J. had an interesting experience. He got hold of a nose spray, and got some in his mouth, so P. called the poison control, and they told her that the brand he had swallowed was deadly to little kids his age, so she took him to the hospital and they (P. and Little J.) spent the night there until 2:30 pm the next afternoon. They said that the brand she had, caused high blood pressure in little kids, and that just two drops could be lethal. And to think we put that stuff in our noses. Gives one pause, doesn’t it? He is just fine now.

 

Tonight will he our last class in computers and I will get a certificate, which I certainly think I deserve, as this has been very hard for me to work on the computer all day, and then go to class. Of course, just going to class is hard for me.

 

Well, guess I will close for now. People who keep their noses to the grindstone have very little information to pass on. I expect to be able to get back to writing soon, and it will be about time. Chapters are coming into my head fast and furious, but they are not going onto the paper at all. Will write more, later.

 

Love,

Mom