February 20th, 2007


Howard Hughes sits and spins.

In defiance of Reason, the New Consolidated March continues apace. Yesterday, I wrote a very respectable 2,105 words.

Dreamsick this morning, and if I believed in such things as "souls," I'd say soulsick, as well. I would kick against the pricks, only it seems my legs have been firmly bound, and I can but continue to drag this plow forward.

Late yesterday, Vince sent a preliminary sketch for "Untitled 25" (the werewolf story) which is to appear in Sirenia Digest 15 later this month.

A very kind and somewhat intriguing e-mail yesterday from Jacob Garbe, regarding Daughter of Hounds

I have no idea what my opinion is worth to you (this is Jacob, I comment occasionally on your blog) but I wanted to tell you that Daughter of Hounds is the best I've read from you so far, and the best writing I've read for a long time from anyone. Your book was so good that anything distracting me from picking it up after a day of pencil-pushing was met with annoyance and many times outright dismissal. It's been a long time since I've been absorbed like that, and for that I must thank you.

Your characterization in this novel is easily its strongest point. Your attention to detail borders on the taxidermical, but critically rings that bell of truth for the reader. Amazingly, your writing is still rapidly maturing, which is wonderful.

It would be easy for me to believe you've put more of yourself into this piece than any before. I can draw pale conclusions based on your journal and the work itself: the fight between reductionist logic and scientific skepticism, your characters' struggle through a world constantly threading them along an unknown path, shadowed by events caused by forces just outside of their reckoning. For what it's worth, this piece struck a particularly resonant chord with me because of a strange period in my life punctuated by dreams of a pale woman with yellow eyes (others called her the Sphynx) and a grossly overweight, completely hairless man. The influence of dreams in the work, along with the descriptions of Esmeribetheda and the Bailiff, gave me a Jungian pause. Cool.

Thanks for the good art, and thanks for opening it up through your journal. As a writer myself, I appreciate it.

Thank you, Jacob. The opinions of intelligent readers are always of interest to me. And to everyone else reading this, if you have not already purchased a copy of the novel, I would ask you please do so ASAP. If your local bookshop does not have it in stock, they will order it for you. All you have to do is ask. It is also available all over the web. You may get it from Amazon.com for a mere $11.20 + postage and handing. In this blighted future of ours, we do not have to rely on the books stocked in any given bookshop. There's always the web. Anyway, I cannot stress enough how much my continued existence as a novelist depends on the performance of Daughter of Hounds. Please pick up a copy (or three).

We had a good walk yesterday, as far west as the intersection of Sinclair and Elizabeth, where we discovered the Inman Park Petworks, a very fine little pet supply shop that will help us stay clear of the big-box chains. There was still more of a nip in the wind than I'd have preferred, but the air was warm — 49F when our walk began, 56F by the time we returned home. Today is overcast, and we'll not be walking. At least it's warm (presently 52F, with a forecast high of 57F).

Late yesterday, when the writing was done with me for the day, I went with Spooky to Whole Foods (where shadows are permitted) to get stuff for dinner. First we stopped at Borders, to get Mitch Cullin's A Slight Trick of the Mind and Book Two of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, Fool Moon. As for the former, Cullin may be my new favourite author. As for the latter, the TV series has prompted me to give the novels a try, and there were no copies of Book One in stock, so I figured I'd just start with Book Two. After dinner and Heroes, we read more of The Terror, chapters 42-45, which gets us to an unknown latitude and longitude on 4 July 1848. By then Spooky was sleepy, but I needed something more to put me down for the night, so I read Chapter Nine of In the Wake of Madness ("That Direful Madness"), which did the trick.

But now it's time to march.

Ah, I almost forgot. The new round of eBay auctions.

Buy the sky and sell the sky and bleed the sky and tell the sky

One part of the source of this soulsickness, only one part but one significant part — the senseless murder of another tree in our neighborhood, a few blocks south of here and on the other side of Freedom Park. A strong and healthy tree. An oak that was probably planted long before my mother was born, and yesterday two yellow utility trucks showed up. I first noticed them when we took our walk, but I thought it was only the power company come to trim a few limbs away from the power lines. Later I learned that no, the whole tree was being taken down. I have yet to receive any clear explanation as to why. It is an immense and beautiful tree, a tree that has given me great comfort on occasion, a tree I have spent time with. Spooky and I have, in the past, marveled how the tree is it's own little ecosystem, providing a home not only for various animals (squirrels and birds, etc.), but also a wide variety of epiphytic plant life, including mosses, lichens, and ferns. It's magnificent gnarled roots create tiny pools when there is rain, and plants sprout around the pools.

My suspicion is that this action is being taken at the request of a new homeowner, as the tree is located in front of a house that was recently sold. And we have so many suburbanites moving in, and they want lawns — not tree-lined streets, and so the chainsaws come. I have listened all day to the goddamned chainsaws. The air outside smells of exhaust and sawdust. At this point, most of the limbs, which provided so much shade in summer, have been amputated and mostly just the towering, mutilated trunk remains. I suppose it will come down tomorrow.

Last night, we went out and lit a candle at the base of the tree, and I lit another on our altar. I laid my hands on rough bark, thinking about all the long decades of this tree's life, and stared up at the bright stars. I think I was wishing that I were the sort of witch who believes that magick can truly protect those things that so desperately need protecting from the ravages of man. Still, though I am emphatically not that sort of witch, I performed a protection ritual. It felt like it was the very least I could do. A sort of cosmic protest vote.

Today, I am thinking of the Lorax, and I'm thinking of Treebeard and the ents, and I'm wondering why this should hurt so much, the loss of this one grand old tree when fully one fifth of the world's tropical rain forests were destroyed between 1960 and 1990. When each year thousands of acres of Brazilian (just Brazil alone, mind you) rain forests are lost to human greed and ignorance. I'm wondering how I can mourn this one tree when, at the current rate of worldwide deforestation, biologists estimate that the world's tropical rainforests may all be gone by 2090 CE. And 23 million more acres of forest will be lost here in the US by 2050.

But it does hurt, a palpable, physical pain. Spooky and I have both cried for the loss of this tree. And I think the answer why it hurts is simply that I knew this one tree as well as anyone may ever "know" a tree. I have loved this one tree, and we breathed in the oxygen it breathed out, and it shaded me from the scorching summer sun, and made the world more beautiful. What am I trying to say? Maybe I've said it all already. Maybe this is someplace words may not ever adequately go.

And I'm still thinking of Treebeard, in the Jackson film of The Two Towers, coming upon the devastation of Fanghorn by Saruman's orcs: Many of these trees were my friends...Creatures I had known from nut and acorn...They had voices of their own.

There are photos, behind the cut:

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Photographs Copyright © 2007 by Kathryn A. Pollnac