by wjw on April 16, 2024


Now that’s a word you don’t want to hear from your eye doc when he’s peering through his scope at the interior of your eye. And you really don’t want to hear his next line, which is:

“You really can’t catch a break, can you?”

The vision in my left eye has been deteriorating for a year or more, and last August I went to the doc, and I got dilated and scoped and the doc couldn’t find anything wrong. So I just went on using reading glasses, which worked less and less well as my vision continued to decline. I didn’t do anything about it because was busy getting radiation treatments for cancer and then trying to put my life in some kind of order while recovering from the radiation, and so it took this long for me to see a doc again.

I was prepared for his reaction, because first thing he had one of his assistants take pictures of my retinas, and I was able to look around the assistant and see the images appear on the TV monitor. My right eye was very colorful with many shades of red, but my left eye was . . . gray. As dead and gray as the surface of the Moon.

Turns out nothing was dead, the light just wasn’t making it in and out properly. I have two conditions.

One is posterior capsule opacification, or PCO. I’ve had cataract surgery, and I have artificial lenses. In about thirty percent of cases, the membrane surrounding the lens can grow cloudy. The condition can be corrected with a laser— Kathy’s had the condition in both eyes, and the laser worked fine on both occasions.

My second condition is an epiretinal membrane, otherwise known as macular pucker or cellophane maculopathy. This is a very thin layer of scar tissue that grows atop my retina. (Why scar tissue? Maybe getting kicked in the eye by the heavyweight kickboxing champion of North America might have had something to do with it.) The doc described this membrane as like Saran Wrap (hence “cellophane maculopathy”) in that it clings to stuff and pulls it out of its rightful place. There should be a dimple in the center of my eye, which is where the optic nerve attaches to the retina, but instead my retina has been Saran Wrapped into a little molehill in the center of my retina. Distorted vision is the result.

Fortunately the doc tells me this too can be improved with a laser, though not totally. The laser can kind of cut up the scar tissue so that it relaxes, but it can’t make the scar tissue disappear.

So now I have an appointment with an eye surgeon for June, and then presumably I’ll have to wait another few months for an appointment for the laser surgery, during which time my vision will continue to deteriorate. I’d really hate to have to do Taos Toolbox and read 400,000 words of manuscripts with only one eye, so I wonder if I can speed any of this up.

I mean, the first meeting is just for the surgeon to review the material and tell me a bunch of stuff I already know. Do you think it would work to call his office and say, “Hey, I’m going to do the procedure no matter what, so let’s schedule that now instead of waiting for the doc to see me first.”

Does that ever work? We’ll see.

Down the Gullet

by wjw on April 8, 2024

This is the best picture I got of 2024’s solar eclipse, taken by focusing the camera directly into the eyepiece of Kathy’s Astroscan telescope.

What followed was disappointing, because the actual eclipse was clouded out. Totality nevertheless remained impressive, as the moon’s shadow descended with amazing speed. If I were a neolithic tribesman I would have been terrified. The not-quite-night lasted less than four minutes, and then the rooster started to salute the new dawn.


by wjw on April 4, 2024

I haven’t been visible much online because I’ve been buried up to my eye sockets in submissions for Taos Toolbox. Because of the weeks of radiation and other treatments last year, I was late in getting notices out, and as late as a couple weeks ago I was wondering if we’d get enough applications to keep the workshop in the black. (I run this workshop for a lot of reasons, but losing money isn’t one of them.)

But with the 1 April deadline approaching, a tsunami of manila envelopes began to pour into the house, and along with Nancy Kress I’ve been reading myself crosseyed. There were many more applications than there were places available, and so a number of people will be disappointed, but Nancy and I will have a lot of talented new writers to choose from, so that’s all to the good.

Today was Freedom Day, as I’ve finally read the last few applications. Tomorrow Kathy and I will be heading east to view the solar eclipse, and Nancy and I will be in communication to decide who to accept.

Next weekend is the Jack Williamson Lecture in Portales, and as usual I’ll be attending. So I’ll be very busy the first half of April, and afterwards have a few weeks breathing space before the Era of Workshops begins.

No one can claim that 2024 isn’t a productive year for me.

La. La.

by wjw on March 26, 2024

The big residuals check from Hollywood came in! Imagine the fun I could have with all this money!

I can’t quite believe that Mariza is performing on a freaking talent show, but that doesn’t make her any less awesome.

Not Saving

March 21, 2024

So the other night something weird happened with Scrivener, my word processor. I finished my work, backed it up to Dropbox, and went about the rest of my evening. Next night, I opened Scrivener, and discovered that none of the new writing I’d done the previous night was anywhere in the file. I checked the […]

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Honor St. Urho!

March 16, 2024

It’s St. Urho’s day! Time to dress up in green and purple, and empty the bars of all contents before the Irish get in tomorrow!

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Shining, Darkly or Otherwise

March 12, 2024

Here’s a brand-new March release, and another in our survey of books by veterans of Taos Toolbox, the master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy. My Stars Shine Darkly is the first book in a new YA series, featuring a young heroine’s attempt to escape the dystopia into which she was born. Living […]

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Glassical Glass

March 9, 2024

Here’s another in the series of works recently published by veterans of Taos Toolbox, the master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy.. Dorothy Winsor attended the very first Toolbox in 2008, and has been publishing regularly in the time since. I’ve often felt that glassmaking and glassblowing was magical, and Dorothy liberalizes the […]

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Hail to the Chief

March 8, 2024

The mysterious, enchanting red-gold shimmer of an el presidente cocktail. Rum, dry vermouth, Grand Marnier, and a few dashes of my friend Terry Boren’s homemade grenadine.

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