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ralph robert moore


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ralph robert moore

Copyright © 2002 by Ralph Robert Moore.

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Return to lately 2002.

this glorious week of laziness
october 26, 2002

Last Friday, October 18, I woke a little past midnight, to the rattle of rain.

After a few minutes of steadiness, the drumming increased to that level of fury you rarely hear any more, where the rhythm seems to be coming from everywhere at once. The rain was so loud, it sounded like I was lying within a tent.

Earlier, Mary finished her final day at her speech rehabilitation center, the one she's been going to these past six months since her stroke. I picked her up at noon. We went to a nearby El Chico to celebrate, ordering their Top Shelf fajita platter for two, a huge, sizzling plate sending up smoke signals as it was carried to our table, people at other tables turning around, ribs, shrimp, charred chicken, beef piled in a steaming mass in the center, surrounded by grilled onions and green bell peppers, to the side a lidded circular container of hot flour tortillas.

It was delicious. There was so much left over we took it home, had it for dinner.

As I lay in bed listening to the rain, the wet breath of its decreasing, increasing intensity, Mary sleeping peacefully beside me, I realized I didn't have to go back to sleep right away, since it didn't matter when we woke in the morning. I could just lie here in bed, on my back, listening to the rain for as long as I wanted. All night, if I wanted.

Friday was the start of a week's vacation we took to celebrate Mary's completion of her therapy at the center. She's improved to where she'll now have speech therapy only three days a week, an hour each session, at a local hospital, which should start next week, on October 28.

This is all new to us.

Mary hasn't worked since her stroke, of course, although she has been going to the rehabilitation center for six and a half hours a day, almost a job. I've been working from home the past two years. Now we'll both be home, and even though we'll have things we'll need to do, my work, Mary's thrice-weekly rehab, it's going to feel like semi-retirement, so much of our lives now lived at home, something we've always wanted.

At first, for our vacation, we planned to make all sorts of day trips, visiting the Fort Worth Zoo, the Kimbell Museum, eating out at some restaurants we've always wanted to try, some old favorites, but as our vacation actually started, as it sunk in we were embarking, even past this week, on a kind of extended semi-vacation, we realized what we most wanted to do was lie in bed, play with Lady's week-old kittens, order home delivery meals, watch videos.

We saw Christopher Nolan's new movie, Insomnia, which many reviewers have criticized as not being as powerful as Memento, and of course it isn't as powerful, but it is a good film, better than most released nowadays, and it does get so tiresome to have critics reevaluate an artist's worth, each time the artist produces a new work, based on whether the addition is bigger and better, rather than viewing an oeuvre as an organic process, much like the stock market. Al Pacino gives a great performance, greater in part because of its restraint, unlike in Michael Mann's Heat, where Pacino bit off more scenery than he could chew. Speaking of Mann, we also saw the re-release of Manhunter, Mann's film based on the first of the Doctor Lecktor novels by Thomas Harris, the remake of which is now playing in theaters under the novel's actual title, Red Dragon. Although my memory of Manhunter was that it was a good film, seeing it again after all these years we were both struck by how old-fashioned the cinematography and editing seemed. Of all the movies we saw this past week, the one that impressed me most wasn't one we rented, but rather one we happened to click on early one rainy weekday morning, channel surfing, on the Independent Film Channel, Tom Tykwer's magnificent film, Run, Lola, Run (Lola Rennt). I hadn't seen it in a couple of years, and was even more impressed this time.

A wonderful lethargy fell over both of us during our vacation, to where we'd pull the covers up to our chins mid-day and just drift pleasantly in and out of sleep.

After six months of fighting rush hour traffic twice a day to go to the rehab center, visiting so many specialists, keeping up with the housework, paying piles of medical bills, there was an incredible luxury in doing absolutely nothing. When we wanted to, we worked on our individual projects for a while, but usually only a few hours a day. We ate a lot of doughnuts.

During this week I've posted a lot of material to SENTENCE, probably more than ever before in a single week.

The latest section of my autobiography, Welcome To Me, has been added, 7,500 words getting me from birth to the start of school. At this rate, I calculate the completed autobiography will probably weigh in at about 120,000 words. Talk about arrogance.

One project I've wanted to do for a while is share my thoughts on the writing process, in the hopes it might in some small way benefit other writers. I created the Our World Is A Word section of SENTENCE for that purpose. It's divided into two sections, Theory and Practice. I've now got it up and running, starting it with three articles on theory, one on the use of pronouns, one on using similes, and a third on certain empty words I think should be eliminated whenever possible. Future articles will focus on word arrangement in sentences, proper sequence in describing events (theory), and self-doubt, writing a novel, getting organized (practice).

Many of you enjoyed the Arnie Maddox columns I reprinted while I took six weeks' vacation earlier this year. The entire Maddox Family Home Page is now on-line. It includes not only the "Musings" columns Arnie wrote, but also his pages devoted to poetry, family recipes, his and Cindy's dog Rudo, and their Links page.

So what's next?

The new SENTENCE page Hollow has been getting a lot of hits, which makes me feel bad, because there's nothing on it right now. However, in the next few weeks I will be adding some material. What is Hollow all about? Do you want to know the truth? Hollow exists because when I first started SENTENCE, I was too stupid to know I should have ended all my pages with a .shtml extension instead of an .html extension. If I had been smart enough to use an .shtml extension for all my pages, I could have used Server Side Includes (SSI), meaning I could update only one SSI file for the left-hand navigational table, and that would immediately update the left-hand navigational tables on all the hundreds of pages within SENTENCE. Since I was so stupid, each time I update the left hand navigational tables, I have to update those hundreds of pages manually, page by page. That takes a lot of time. Each time I think I have included everything that I could possibly want on SENTENCE in the left-hand table, a new idea comes up. So now, rather than doing all that continuous updating, I'm simply going to put all off-beat material in this new, Hollow, section. Up first, in a few weeks, will be "Cat Head Remix", which will present the original draft of my short story Cat Head (currently in the Recorded Occurences section), with my edit of that draft. I think it'll be a good learning lesson for beginning writers, comparing the original draft to the remix. Other, otherwise unclassifiable, material will follow.

Within the next month I'll also be posting excerpts from my latest novel, As Dead As Me. This is another page that gets a lot of hits, and again, I apologize there's nothing there right now.

My novel Father Figure (you can read excerpts here) is moving steadily forward towards publication, in an entirely unexpurgated text, which is what I fought for, for so long, and should come out before the end of the year, in trade paperback and e-book formats. There'll be a general announcement in Lately when that happens. I am very, very excited about this, that one of my long form works will finally be available to everyone (almost every week I receive an e-mail from someone in the world asking how they can buy Father Figure. It gives me great pleasure to think the entire novel will finally be available. Those of you who have read the excerpts have only felt the elephant's ears).

Otherwise, in this glorious week of laziness, I haven't done anything. I haven't even mowed the lawn (even though, with all the rain, the lawn is bumpy with huge, chocolate mounds of fire ant hills, and violet clusters of wild asters, my favorite flower).