Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I WON the 2011 NaNoWriMo!

I wrote 50,303 words on my novel, Death Angel, in the month of November. The counter mangled a few and gave me credit for 50,280, but that's close enough! YAY!  I am tired now, but in the upcoming days, I'll tell you more about it!!  The last few days have been a real Marathon!!!

December 1, 2011 A Note after “Winning”

I am so happy. I cried when the NaNoWriMo teamed cheered for me at 11:30 last night.  I "won" last year, too, but this year was more of a struggle because I traveled and there were more conflicts.

I learned a LOT.  I learned about working efficiently, about structuring a novel, something you have to do in order to write efficiently.  And a lot more I may write about in the coming months.

Of course, I haven't finished the novel!!! I've only written the first 50,00 words. And it's very rough and drafty. But it has shape, plot, maybe a theme. It has characters, action and little suspense.

I'm not sure if trying to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month is the best way to do it. I'm not sure if I'll do it again next year or not. There are advantages and disadvantages to the big push. For example, I gave up even spellchecking in the latter third of the month, and there was no revising going on as I worked.

Yesterday, I wrote only scenes, not chapters. I worked from 5 AM until after 11 PM. So I have a lot of scenes to integrate into chapters!

However, I think I may proceed as if I were going to do one next year, because even if I decide not to do it, the planning will be useful for my NEXT NOVEL when I finish this one, whether or not I try to write most of the first draft in the month of November 2012.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Naked Lunch, Death Angel, NaNoWriMo

this chapter, which is as yet unnumbered, and is VERY DRAFTY, continues on from where the last post left off.  I have just passed 41,000 words.  9.000 more to go.

Chapter   Naked lunch

            When the police finally left, Silas offered Rune some lunch.  He started a batch  of homemade chicken soup with dumplings and a small salad.  He had wrapped a couple wool blankets around her while she and Harris and Wellington were filling out the paperwork.  He suggested she put on some of his dry clothes before she got a chill.  He turned up the heat in his apartment to help warm her.  It smelled funny, because it was the first time he’d had it on all year.  All the dust that had accumulated in the () was heating up.
            While Silas was cooking, Rune stripped out of her wet clothes.  Silas came in to get her some dry clothes, apparently not realizing she was already naked. 
            “Oh, he said, I’m sorry.  Excuse me.”  But instead of looking away, he looked at her, and instead of leaving, he walked toward her.  “You look like you might need to be warmed up.  The best way to warm up someone who I suffering from hypothermia . . . “
            “Is to put a naked person in a sleeping bag with them.  That sounds like a plan, but . . .”
            “I won’t touch you in an inappropriate way unless you invite me to, in which case, it won’t be inappropriate,” Silas said.
            “Maybe you should turn down the soup you are making,” Rune said, “and take off your clothes.”  She smiled.  She knew what was coming and was looking forward to it.  Her liaison with Bart the other night had cranked up her horniness.  She didn’t wait for him to make the first move. 

            After thoroughly but carefully warming her, watching for her injured knee, Silas brought her lunch in bed. They sat naked, eating together, laughing, spilling soup and salad into the sheets.
            “That’s okay,” Silas said, “I was going to wash them anyway.”
“They look clean.”
            “I want them to look clean next time you come back, too.  You can come back and visit whenever you want,” Silas said.  “But I need to tell you, I am not looking for a girlfriend.  I am leaving to go to Thailand ((or somewhere, check this)) at the end of the semester.”
            “What if I come tomorrow?”
            “I’ll be here.”
            “What if I come next week?”
            “I’ll be here.”
“What if I come tonight? What f I come late?”
“I’ll be happy to see you and careful of your knee.  The key is under that mat of the back door if I’m at class or Aikido.  I have no girlfriend and I have no lover, that is, no other lover, but I am not going to attach myself to you and mustn’t attach yourself to me.”
            “Okay, I can handle that.”
            “Good.  Want to go around again?”
            “Sure. Then I have to go.  I have a lot to do.”
            Silas was good in bed, slow, easy and sensitive, attentive to her needs, but not overhearing.  He was playful, smiled a lot, seemed to be having fun.  He was quiet, but not sullen or reticent.  He was incredibly muscular for one so thin.  He wasn’t thin, he was lean and muscular.  Rune wondered if it was the Aikido.
            “My brother does Aikido,” Rune said.
            “Oh, what’s his name, I might know him.”
            “His name is Mingan, which is Algonquin for Grey Wolf. Mingan Greywolf Carmichael But he’s up in Maine.”
            “Isn’t that like naming me Silas Silas or you Rune Rune?  Well, I may have met him at a conference but I’d probably remember that name—are your parents hippies or something, Rune and Mingan are not common names.”
            “Silas isn’t particularly common either.  But yeah, they’re a little weird, especially my Mom.  My full name is Rune Berkana Carmichael. Berkana is the Rune for Birch.  That Rune is, among other things, a fertility symbol.  I hope I’m fertile when it’s time.  It also means, “enjoys sex,” which I do.”
            “Were you conceived under a birch tree?”
            “My mother thought so.  My father isn’t quite so . . . um . . . “
            “Yeah, that’s it, he’s more left-brained then my Mom. All logic and science.”
            “Wait, did you say what you were studying?  Didn’t you say your were at ESF?  Is that a science school?  Are you dissing science?”
            “No, I like science.  I like science a lot, including the hard sciences, but I’m more drawn to the softer sciences.  I want to be naturalist, not a mathematician.  I like poetry, art and music, and I believe that we have, within the wholeness that is our human potential, a spiritual side.  We have both a left and a right brain, and a synthesis of the two, and above that a glowing spiritual self. I am not at all sure that that self continues on after we die, but I do think it exists while we live and that we reach our greatest potential and greatest happiness when we honor all of ourselves.”
            “Wow, that’s cool.  I like that, very well spoken.”
            “Thanks for lunch.  I hate to eat and run, but I ate, so I guess I’ll run—I mean, gotta go.  Can I borrow your clothes, I promise to bring them back.”
            “Yeah, leave yours hear.  I gotta do laundry anyway. When you come back, they’ll be all folded and ready for you.  You gonna be able to drive that bike home?”
            “Dunno, I’m about to find out, though.”

            It was still raining, but the bike did start.  Silas bent the front foot-peg back down and Rune waved and rode off. 
She went directly to the hospital to check on Eliza and McHaggerty.  ((No can do, since this is skipping ahead and we don’t know if they are still there.)))((OK, the people who were discharged in teh CDC write-ups were discharged 7 days after eating the mushrooms, and hasn’t been 7 days yet, so they are still there.))
She checked on Eliza first. She was still hooked up to IVs and a heart monitor and other equipment. Rune wanted an opportunity to talk to Eliza alone, but was glad to see that Peter was with her.  Her parents were there, too, and her mother was reading to her from Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke.  It seemed like an odd book, perhaps chose because it was so long.  Rune had read it because of her interest in magic, but it was not the kind of book she would have picked for Eliza. 
Rune greeted everyone, gave both Eliza and Peter hugs, and left.  She figured she’d check back later. At least Eliza was alive and seemed okay.  Then, she wished she’d asked for a status update on Eliza’s medical procedures.
            She ran down to see McHaggerty and found him talking to a strange woman.  The woman was wearing brown slacks , brown Patagucchi Mary Janes, a brown cardigan sweater, and a white blouse with a  circle pin on the collar.  Could anyone have looked more preppy.  Her hair was the precise color brown as her clothes, and so were her yes.  She had a sprinkling of freckles over her nose and looked very young. But not like a stumpy.
Rune was disappointed that McHaggerty, like Eliza, was not alone.  At least he was still in Syracuse, and not in Rochester.  “Can I come in?” Rune asked, at the door.  She didn’t want to interrupt something.
            McHaggerty looked at the woman, who nodded. “Rune, this is Detective Sergeant ((?) (what would her rank be?)) Brenda Crandall.  She’s been asking me some questions. Detective, this is Rune Carmichael.  She’s the one who got Eliza in to the hospital and called my house at 5 AM to hassle me into coming in.”
            “Pleased to meet you,” Rune said, shaking Brenda Crandall’s hand.  “I thought Sergeant Fisher told you to leave the case alone.”
            “It’s my day off.  I’m on my own time, and Dr. McHaggerty is a friend of sorts. We were just conversing about the Adirondack poisoning of the four professors.  Dr. McHaggerty was telling me that he was called in on the case and that he suggested it had been murder and that no one listened to him.  I’d hate to see history repeating itself.  Tell me, Rune, why do you think that this poisoning with Dr. McHaggerty and Eliza Landon was an attempted murder?”
            “They aren’t out of the woods yet.  I’m hoping and praying they both survive, but it could still be a murder. 
“There are several reasons why I think it was an attempted murder.  First, Dr. McHaggerty is a mushroom expert.  He is the authority that poison-control and the police call in when there’s a mushroom poisoning.  He knows how to collect mushrooms and how not to.  He’s been teaching students how to avoid poisonings for twenty years.  He knows what poisonous mushrooms are.  He would not mix poisonous mushrooms with non-poisonous ones, which is what happened here.  The two species look very different.  Second, I’ve been told to cease and desist with my investigations and have been subjected to two frightening incidents designed to scare me off.”
            “Why haven’t you reported them?”
            “I have.  You can see the police report filed by Officer John Harris and Officer Rob Wellington.  I was in a hit and run accident in a stolen car.”  She turned to McHaggerty, “It was Larry’s car, but Larry wasn’t driving it.”  She pulled up her pant leg and showed McHaggerty and Crandall her knee.  It had turned a deeper purple and the discoloration had spread further down her leg.
            “You need to go to the hospital,” Crandall said.
            “I’m at the hospital,” Rune said.
            “Funny!” Crandall said. “Not!”
            “Look, I can walk fine.  I promise to a doctor the minutes I can’t walk.”
            “So, you’re investigating the case.  I thought you wanted to be a naturalist, not a detective.  What made you start sleuthing?”
            “Because I love Dr. McHaggerty and I love Eliza, and think someone tried to kill them and might try again, and I wanted to fid that person and some evidence to prove they did it so that someone could protect Dr. McHaggerty and Eliza from harm.”
            “Meanwhile, however, you seem to have put yourself in danger.  You could have been killed in that hit and run accident.
            “But I wasn’t.  I don’t want to be killed.  I don’t even want to be hurt.  I don’t want my motorcycle to be hurt, which it was.  I just got it back from the shop and now it will have to go back yet again.
“But no one seems to care that whoever tried to kill McHaggerty and Eliza might try again and be successful.  I think they’re in danger, and probably in more danger than I am in.”
“You’re putting your friends in danger, too, involving them.”
“Are you suggesting we just stand by and let McHaggerty get killed by some murderous maniac?”
“I am suggesting that having yourself and your friends killed or hurt is not the best way to keep Dr. McHaggerty and Miss Landon safe.”
“Too bad!” Rune said bluntly.  You’re not the first person to tell me to back off, and I am not backing off until I know McHaggerty and Eliza are safe.”
“You said there were two events; what was the other?”
“I am a little afraid to tell, even though what happened wasn’t my fault or my choice.”
“I’m off duty.  Go ahead and tell me.”
Rune told Crandall and McHaggerty about their visit to the Acropolis and their getting high on what they assumed were Magic Mushrooms, Psilocybin.  “There may have been something else in pizza, “ Rune said, because I have been doing some research now on Psilocybin, and the average recreational dose is 48 mushrooms.  We did not each eat 48 mushrooms, by any stretch of the imagination.  No way.  But I don’t know what else might have been on there.  It tasted pretty normal, but then, we got the works with extra mushrooms, and that’s a lot of flavors to conceal any surprises. Plus we were really hungry and gobbled it down.  I read about Psilocybin experiences online, out of curiosity, and our experiences were somewhat similar, with some striking differences.  I think my experience was much stronger than what seems to be an average Psilocybin experience from the write-ups online.  I don’t know how accurate they are, it’s mostly self reporting.”
            Crandall frowned and so did McHaggerty.  “I don’t like the sound of that at all.  Has your sleuthing told you anything more about that incident—who might have done it and why?”

Jumping Ahead again (for NaNoWiMo word count deadline)

Session 2, 11-29-11, After breakfast, shower, dressing, doing my hair, feeding the bird, washing dishes, doing some chores around the house, etc, I finally got back to work and wrote two more very first draft chapters.  The first is very short.  I wrote 2,284 words and my new word count is 39,226.  I have to go help my mothering law, who is almost 90, get a new car now.  (in a few minutes.)

Because of my hurry to get lots of words written and still have them be part of the real novel, I have JUMPED ahead to another crucial part of the story.  I can write faster during the exciting parts.  If you want to read the story in order, don’t read this yet.

Chapter ():  Hit and Run [[Sunday]]

            After Rune got a call from Performance Harley Davidson saying that her 1949 Indian was finally ready to be picked up, she asked Jody to drive her down there to get it.  Jody said she had to go to the Carrousel Center Mall anyway, to pick up a new fleece at EMS. Bart, who had heard so much about the Indian and had never had a ride on it, wanted a short ride.  Angel asked to come too—her Harley was in the shop because someone had vandalized it at the Motorcycle lot on ().  Unfortunately, it was pouring rain and bitterly cold for early September.  Yahoo weather had called it “near record cold.” Still, Rune wanted to get the bike and take it home, assuming the this early in the season, the weather would improve. 
            Angel, Bart and Rune dressed in extravagant raingear.  They not only wore double raincoats, but rain pants and special gaiters for the legs and a helmet-liner neck-gaiter.  Rune would have liked to have leathers, but she couldn’t afford them.  The extravagant raingear was necessary for her fieldwork and useful for riding in the rain, whereas leathers would be too heavy for fieldwork.
            Jody stopped with them at Performance Harley Davidson and came in while they paid for their repairs and admired each other’s bikes.  Then she took off for the mall. 
Bart was on his way to Thornden Park to collect samples for one of his projects, and perhaps for his talk for McHaggerty’s class.  Angel said she would ride with them up to Thornden Park, and then she has to meet someone for lunch at Alto Cinco on Westcott Street.  They rode side by side in the rain, the shiny new-looking late-model Harley and the old beat up vintage Indian.  Angel and Rune were both grinning, catching raindrops with the grillwork of their teeth.  Cars went by and splashed them with rooster tails and they kept on grinning. 
They took I690 to I81 and drove along Genesee to Beech Street and up Beech street past Rune’s old apartment where she’d lived during the fiasco with Buck Harmon and up into Thornden Park.  They rode a loop through the park and dropped Bart at the water tower.  He wanted to go in the woods on the backside of the hill.  Rune noted that place in the pouring rain, there weren’t very many gay guys waiting along the curved drive that served as a pickup and meeting spot. Normally, on a nice day, they strolled around the tower area strutting their stuff.
Rune and Angel rode a second loop around the park, and then rode over to Westcott together, Angel split off, heading left Westcott Street toward the Westcott “downtown” area, and Rune turned right on Westcott, planning to drive down by Barry Park to Colvin and then Colvin to her apartment. 
She had only gone a block or two when a car sot out of side street and ran into her, knocking her into the gutter.  The motorcycle landed on top of her.  Her face was pressed into the icy water that flooded the gutter and she was choking.  Her leg her hurt like mad.  The car that hit her had slowed, and she turned her head and saw it as it sped off.
It looked like Larry Thompson’s old Ford Falcon.

Chapter ():  Silas Eastman

            Someone was lifting the bike off Rune, standing it up on it’s kickstand, helping her to her feet.  Rune looked up.  It was a boy, or a young man.  He looked a lot like Bart, same thin body, same unruly hair, except his hair was blond, his eyes blue, he had no beard or stubble, and his skin was pepper with acne.  The acne did not hide his cuteness.  He was very cute.
            “Are you okay?”
            “I don’t know,” Rune said.  As soon he asked if she okay, she started crying.  Darn that she cried so stupidly easily.  Maybe the rain would hide her tears.
            The boy reached up and wiped her face with the side of his hand.  At first, Rune thought he was wiping away tears, but then she saw his hand.  It was covered with mud. 
            Rune stood up straighter.  She hurt all over.  She was soaked to the skin with icy water. 
            “I’m Silas,” the boy said.  “Silas Eastman.”  He held out his hand. 
            “Rune pulled the dripping wet glove from her hand and wiped it on her dripping wet pants, then again on a cleaner spot when she saw how muddy the pants were.  She took his hand.
            “I’m Rune,” she said.  “Rune Carmichael.”
            “I got the license plate,” Silas said.
            “License Plate?” Rune asked, stupidly?
            “Of the guy who hit you.”
            “Was it Larry?”  Rune realized she must be in shock or something.  How would this stranger know who Larry was.  “Did you see him?  What did he look like? The guy driving?  Did he have scraggly grey hair?”
            “He was wearing a black cowboy hat and his face looked kind of smushed in.”
            “Was he small, like kind of low in the seat?”  Larry always sat low in the seat.  He had long legs and a short body and a propensity to slump.”
            “No, not at all, he was so big that his head looked like it was bumping the ceiling and he was already sort of hunched over.”
            “Oh good, then it probably wasn’t Larry, but I’ve never seen anyone else driving a carlike that.  I even thought I saw an ESF bumper sticker and a save he earth bumper sticker on the rear bumper.”
            “Yeah, I saw those, too.  Here’s the license number, do you recognize it?” Silas leaned over his iTouch and showed the number.  It was an actual photograph of the license that read FAV 263.  Rune had never tried to memorize Larry’s license number, but she had a sinking feeling it was his.  It looked really familiar, including the rusted dent just above the plate.
            “Are you sure it was a big guy driving?”
            “Yeah, I got a video of it.  Look, can you walk?  I live right over there, why don’t you come in and have lunch with me and get dried out and I’ll show you the video.”
            “Just then, there were sirens, and a moment later, the cops pulled up.”
            “Someone called in a hit and run.” One of them said, gruffly.
            “Yeah, that was me.” Silas said.  “I got the plate of the offending vehicle and a video of it.  Look, she’s a little hurt and soaking wet, can we talk inside?”  And without waiting for an answer, Silas pushed the bike across the street and down too houses and leaned it on its kickstand on the sidewalk to the front door.  The cops backed up and parked in the driveway and they all filed inside.  Silas put water on for tea.  Rune peeled off her raingear and hung it on a hook in the entryway.  She sat down and pulled up the leg of her jeans.  It was hard to do, because it was so wet it clung to her skin.  Her knee was a violent purple and the bruising was spreading down her leg.  One of the cops leaned over and looked at it.  When he stood up, Rune saw his name was Rob Wellington.
            “Anything wrong with the bike?” The other cop asked.  His name was John Harris. 
            “The foot-pegs on the right are both bent and there’s a big dent in the gas tank and some scratches and I don’t know what else,” Silas said. 
            “We’ll look at it on the way out,” Officer Harris said.  “That leg looks pretty bad, you probably should see a doctor, should we take you to the emergency room?”
            “I can walk okay,” Rune said, “it’s probably just bruised.  If it gets worse, one of my roommates can take me.”
            “We have to file a report; it’s required whenever we get called, whether or not you want to press charges.” Officer Wellington said.  He added that last bit when he saw Run shaking her head emphatically.  “It’s a good idea for insurance purposes,” he added, if you need to submit a claim, you’ll need the accident—anyway, it’s required. 
            The cops sat at Silas’s kitchen table and viewed the photo of the license plate.  They viewed the video of the hit and run that Silas had taken.  It began with the hit, showed the pause, followed by the run. 
            We just had a call,” Officer Wellingtong said.
            “About a stolen car that fits that description,” Harris said
            Wellington got out a pocket device and scrolled through a series of short entries, “here it is! Stolen from the Stop and Rob on () Street, one 1989 grey Ford Falcon (did they make them then, or should it be older ((research)) license plate number FAV 263.  It was reported stolen by one Larry Thompson of 211 Raynor Ave, Syracuse.  Several witnesses corroborate Thompson’s statement.  Thompson was ticketed for double parking and leaving his engine running—he’d just gone in for cigarettes and lottery ticket.”
            “Yeah,” said Harris, “and about twenty minutes later, the car was found parked behind the same stop and rob.  Apparently, someone just borrowed it for a little while.”
            “Yeah, just long enough to hit Rune here.  Has someone got it out for you, Rune?” Silas asked.
            “As a matter of fact, yes.  This isn’t the first incident.  But listen, you can’t call it a stop and rob, you’re police officers.”
            “Why not?  We’re human, aren’t we?”
            “Hmmm, I’m not sure about that.  One time, I was being beaten up, and two police officers just stood by and watched it happen.  They didn’t even help.”
            “You’re not serious, are you?”
            “You bet I am.”
            “The man was your husband.  It was before they changed the law.” Wellington said.  It was not a question.
            “He kicked me in the face and belly.  I was pregnant.  I lost the baby.  Your people let him kill my baby,” Rune said.  “I almost died myself.  I haven’t been very fond of you since.”
            “Was it me or Officer Wellington?” Harris asked.
            “Did either of us ever do anything to hurt you?”
            “I don’t think so; not yet.”
            “Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Harris said.  “Look, before we fill out this report, why don’t you tell us, off the record, why someone is trying to kill you.”
            “Silas, do you have a Bible?” Silas disappeared and came back with a dog-eared King James. 
            Rune held it out in her two hands.  “Do you solemnly swear that anything I tell you is totally off the record and will not be used against me or anyone else?”  Rune asked.
            “This is highly irregular,” Harris complained.
            “Okay, fine, let’s fill out the paperwork for accident then, and you can leave.”
            “All right,” Wellington said, putting his right hand on the Bible and holding his left. Harris followed suit, they swore not to sue anything against her or anyone else, and Rune told the two officers and Silas about the poisoning of the four professors at Cornell 13 years ago.  Harris interrupted to say he didn’t understand what that had to do with the hit and run and Rune told him to let her finish.  He told them how she’s been investigating that poisoning and another had occurred, Dr. Colin McHaggerty of the College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry, an expert Mycologist and one of his teaching assistants were in the hospital.  “And,” Rune continued, “It was an accident, it was an attempt at murder.”
            “Furthermore,” she said, “this is not the first attempt to scare us away from investigating the poisoning.”  She told them about the incident with the magic mushrooms at the Acropolis.
            “We’ve heard no reports of that,” Harris said.
            “We didn’t report it.  I’m sure it was just us, to scare us.”
            “Why didn’t you report it?”
            “I don’t like cops.  I don’t trust them.  How did I know they wouldn’t bust us for using drugs?  We were using drugs, but not by choice.  Besides, we did tell Police Detective Brenda Crandall about it, and her supervisor told her to leave it alone.”
            “Oh, we did here about that.  Brenda was really upset, but Sergeant Fisher said that it was an accident and that there was no evidence of intentional poisoning,”  Wellington said.
            “How does he know?” Rune asked angrily.  “He didn’t walk to any of us.”
            “Apparently, he talked to several mycology experts at the College of Forestry and was told that accidents like that do happen with poisonous mushrooms.  Several examples of recent poisonings were cited, including the one you mentioned,” Harris said.
            “That was murder,” Rune said.
“Not according to the records.  Brenda looked it up. She wanted to take the case, but could find no evidence to support her spending time on it.”
            “Now you can see why I am frustrated,” Rune said, four people were murdered, two have suffered from an attempted murder, and I personally have been attacked twice, and you say that there is no evidence.  Well, then, I am going to find evidence.”
            “If someone is trying to warn you away, you should stay away,” Wellington said.
            “If someone is trying to warn me away, they have something to hide, and I want to know what it is,” Rune said.  “I have a lot to do, including homework, so let’s get that paperwork filled out so I can get to it.  You guys are essentially useless, so I don’t want to waste any more time talking, let’s do what needs to be done now.”

Chapter 5, Death Angel, NaNoWriMo 2011

This morning, between 7:30 and 9:30 Am, I worked on Chapter 5. It’s still very rough draft (DRAFTY!)  I may decide to shorten and summarize some of the mushroom information.  I may want to divide the chapter, it’s kind of long.  But right now, I have to plod onward for two more days in hopes of reaching the goal of 50,000 words. 
I went from 35,849 words at 7:30 to 36,881 words at 9:30 AM.  That’s my current count.  I have to stop now to do my yoga and exercises and eat breakfast.

Chapter 5:  Day Two, Morels and The Horse and Pony Show, Part II
Flyleaf illo:  Morels
Tasting of the sweet damp woods and of the rain one inch above the meadow . . . like feasting upon air.    William Jay Smith

“Morels are one of the best eating mushrooms available,” Dr. McHaggerty said. The left-side screen had a view of morels growing in leaves under a tree, the center screen showed a basket of morels, and the right screen showed plate of cooked morels garnished with parsley on the red and white checkered tablecloth.
The quote, “Tasting of the sweet damp woods and of the rain one inch above the meadow . . . like feasting upon air.    William Jay Smith,” ran across the top of all three screens. 
Morchella esculenta, the yellow morel, is also known as the Common Morel, Spongy, and Land Fish.”  A new set of pictures showed different morels in the wild, labeled Morchella esculenta, on the left and right.  The center panel showed a fanciful fish constructed of a morel.  There was a titter of laughter among the students.
 “Unfortunately, we will have only greenhouse-cellar specimens to view because they only come out for a brief period in the spring.  You will have to go to lab at some point during the week on your own time to see them.  Fred Wheeler will have them available after class today and for the rest of this week including Saturday and Sunday, and yes, someone will have the lab open, and Monday and Tuesday next week.  Please make an effort to get in to the lab to see the actual specimens.
“Those of you who sign up for the class second semester will hopefully see them in the field.  Anyone signed up for the class this semester can preregister ahead for next semester, because the class fills up quickly and we want you to have the first opportunity if you’re interested, so that there will be better continuity.
“Morels are in your textbooks, as you all know, since you’ve been doing your homework, including the first one we’ll use, Start Mushrooming by Stan Tekiela and Karen Shanberg.  Please reread the section on morels.”
The center picture on the screen changed.  The new one, in the center, had a red border around it.  “The reason morels are generally safe to collect and eat is because there are few species that are easily mixed up with it.  That mushroom in the center panel is one of the "False Morels" of genus Gyromitra.  As you can clearly see, the resemblance is not very close.  Who would like to describe the differences?”
A smattering of hands went up, including Melanie Simmons and Aaron Weiner, who were back in the same places in the front row.  “Mr. Morano?” McHaggerty called, pointing to a boy near the center of the auditorium.
Larry ran to the side of the row and passed a wireless mic down the row.
“Stand up, Mr. Morano.”
The boy stood.  “Ralph.” Peter whispered, and the TAs all nodded.
The boy spoke slowly and clearly, as if he had put careful thought into his aswer, almost as if he had written it down.  “The False morel or Gyromitra has a different shape and color.  Instead of being essentially cylindrical and symmetrical, the Gyromitra is irregular, asymmetrical and squashed looking.  I am not sure about the range of color variations in the two species, but these two look definitely different.  And the pattern of ridges and holes in the Morchella is regular, whereas those of the Gyromitra are irregular. Their structures are actually quite different.”
“Excellent, Mr. Morano.  Very very good.”  Spontaneous applause rose from the room.  Ralph Morano sounded like a teacher, not a student. 
“There are two other kinds of morels in North America, the Black Morel, Morchella elata or Morchella conica or Morchella angusticeps, see the photo on the left above, and the "Half-free" Morel, Morchella semilibera, see photos, right and those are both edible too. The yellow or common morel, Morchella esculenta, is the one most people judge to be most tasty.
“Morels often show up in early spring after a good rain.  They are usually associated with trees, especially, in the East, deciduous trees such as dead or dying elms, oaks, poplars, and others.  We have a saying here that the morels are ready to be harvested when oak leaves are the size of squirrels ears.  Sometimes, they are large squirrel ears.  This usually happens in early May, occasionally late April.
“We’re talking about morels now because they are safe and not all you will be able to take second semester mycology.  I want you to be able to eat these.  I do have to point out that an occasional person is allergic to them and that if you eat a lot of them with alcohol, they can increase the effect of intoxication.
“This is because they contain a small amount of toxins, not enough to harm you in normal circumstances.  Did you ever think about the word intoxicate?”
The word, intoxicate, flashed on all three screens.  Then, the word toxic within the word intoxicate turned red and flashed.  “Intoxicate contains the word toxic because when you become intoxicated, you have consumed something toxic.  for example, people die of alcohol consumption, either slowly, or, occasionally, very quickly.”
The screens flashed with a newspaper clipping reading, “Student succumbs to alcohol poisoning.”  It went on to say that the student, whose name was being withheld, had gone on a drinking binge, gone into a coma, and died.
“I’m reminding you of this because I don’t want you to make a foolish mistake, especially those of you who are rushing for fraternities and sororities. Every year, there are some hazing incidents and party incidents at the fraternities, and occasionally even at the sororities.  Use your head.  And don’t let alcohol blind your intelligence—or you.
“One more thing about morels, don’t eat them raw.  Most wild mushrooms should not be eaten raw.  The parasol mushroom we mentioned last week can be eaten raw, but we haven’t covered that yet.  So don’t eat it.”
 Dr. McHaggerty asked the teaching assistants to stand up, one by one, as he introduced them to the students.  “This is Angelina, who you met yesterday. “  Angelina stood and bowed and there were some cheers and wolf whistles from the audience.  “Today, we will meet a few more of the TAs. “ Larry Thompson came up on stage with the microphone and the TAs stood up and spoke in the order they were seated.
             When Angelina sat down, Eliza stood up.  She was dressed all in white.  She too had black hair, but it was shock straight and hung as if it had been ironed.  Her skin was the color of milk and her eyes a pale but somehow bright blue.  The blue veins showing through her skin made it almost appear pale blue. She was small, short, slight, delicate looking. But she did not give the impression of being frail, in spite of her thin arms tiny hands, and delicate features.  Her skirt fell down around her ankles, where an incongruous pair of tall hiking boots with thick white wool socks peeked out under the hem of the dress.
             "I am Eliza Landon," she said, in a voice pitched slightly higher but surprisingly strong for one so small.  I am a senior/()-year graduate student, majoring in ().  My partner is Peter Schilja, and we have lab section 2.  I am looking forward to working with you, but I want you to know I may be small, but I am not a pushover.  I don't ride a Harley.  I ride a black dragon."  Across the three screen came images of a tiny girl with shining tiara astride a huge firebreathing Black Dragon.  She held a firewand in her right hand and a brilliant red mushroom in the other.  The red mushroom was the only spot of color in the otherwise monochromatic image other than the flames from the dragonmouth.  The painting ws signed in hand clear enough for all to read, Peter Schilja. Larry handed her something, she strode to the edge of the stage, and fire spurted from the end of the wand.  Real fire.  She pointed it toward Aaron Weiner, who cringed slightly in his seat. The students oohed and ahhed. Then, without a word, she turned and strode back to her seat, whirl in a swirl of skirts and petticoats, and sat.  The wand has disappeared.
             Cassie was next.  She was wearing an embroidered peasant blouse, a flowered skirt, hiking boots like Eliza's, a red bandana over her brown hair, two braids like Melanie Sampson's only brown, She stood with her hands clasped and said in a sweet but strong voice, "Hi, I'm Cassandra Sampson.  You can call me Cassie.  I am a ()-year graduate student majoring in () and my research project is on ().  My partner is () and we will have Lab and Field trip section 3.  I have no Harley and no dragon, but I do have a black belt in Aikido.  Aaron, would you please come up here.

             Aaron Weiner stood and vaulted onto the stage.  Everyone gasped.  He grabbed Cassie, tossed her over his shoulder and she landed on her back on the staged.  The students gasped again, in surprise..  Cassie stood, circled Aaron, and grabbing him suddenly, tossed him over her shoulder, picked him up, and eaved him carelessly into the audience.  But of course, it wasn't actually careless, but a move they'd practiced repeatedly during the week of training, and two boys who had been sitting behind Aaron stood up, caught him gracefully, spun him around, and deposited him in his seat.  The students cheered.  Aaron stood up again and said  in a loud, strong voice, "No, I was not a stool pigeon for that first question.  I missed that part of the training."  Everyone laughed.
             Rune was next.  She stood up slowly, making a show of it, that way Dr. McHaggerty had taught them.  With him, everything was a show.  
                   She wore a pair of faded jeans, a rust-colored T-shirt with pictures of showy lady slippers, a flannel shirt that was rust, beige and green plaid with tiny black lines weaving through, and her old shit-stomping hiking boots.  She had allowed Cassie to facepaint her with red Amanita muscarias on her left cheek and yellow ones on the right, but she had refused to dress as anyone other than herself.  Of course, Cassie often did wear skirts and peasant blouses and Angel always dressed in black.  Rune, on the other hand, always wore jeans and flannels and intended to continue that tradition ad infinitum, or as her father would say, ad nauseum..
                   "Hi, I'm Rune, Rune Carmichael.  My Lab teaching partner is Bart ().  We have section 4 of the Field Trips and Labs.  I am first year graduate student majoring in natural history with a concentration in botany and mycology.  For my thesis, I am doing a handbook of the saprophytic botanicals and mycologicals of the Greater Central NY area with an interactive digital key as well as a key in the booklet.  I've posted the first section of it online and invite you all to try it and give me some feedback for extra credit in Lab, approved by Dr. McHaggerty.  I am a photographer and will be photographing the saprophytes for Peter and Cassie to illustrate, since illustrations are usually more accurate for identification purposes than photos and often more pleasing as well.  They are both consummate artists. Meanwhile,some of the photos accompany the online key for your temporary edification.
                   "I am also a certified sorceress and shamanistic practitioner."  Rune cast her fingers toward Aaron Weiner, and bolts of lightning leaped from her hands to his hair, which stood momentarily on end.  Little sparks bounced at the tips of his hair.  George had lowered the lights at the moment, so Aaron glowed like a light-up Santa Claus.
                   "There is no such thing as a sorceress," the boy between Melanie and Aaron said.  Rune turned toward him and lit his hair an eerie green.  It glowed brighter than Aaron's hair had.  The other students gasped.  
                   "It's just some trick!" the boy insisted.  Emmet Pierce, Rune thought.  The boy's name was Emmet Pierce.  Emmet Fairchild Pierce the 4th.  His blond hair was still glowing.  As she walked back to her seat, she pulled a long scarf from her pants pocket, stuffed it in her left ear, and pulled it out the right ear.
                   "It's an illusion!  It's just a trick, a cheap parlor trick," Emmet cried.  Rune sat down without responding.  She had a small smile, she could feel it on her face, somewhere between a smirk and a satisfied grin.  She really was a Shamanistic practitioner and had studied dream shamanism with Robert Moss and several other teachers.  She had also studied sorcery, but of course, Emmet Pierce was right, the things she did on stage were just parlor tricks for effect, primarily to liven up the dull introductions.  
                   Dr. McHaggerty had required it of them.  He had poked and prodded each student until he had pried out of her or him some skill that would be fun to demonstrate on stage.
                   Bart stood up next.  He was dressed as a white chicken with a red beak, red comb, red wattles, and huge yellow feet.  He had ducked behind a curtain and changed while the lights were out for Runes demo.  
                   Bart carried 4 plastic mushrooms in his left hand and three in the right.  He tossed them all up in the air and they fell with a clatter around him.  Students laughed tentatively, here and there in the auditorium.  Bart gathered up the mushrooms and tossed one to each of the other TAs.  The girls tossed theirs back, but Peter stood up and tossed his way up into the air and caught it.  Bart sent a barrage at Peter who caught them and tossed them back.  Soon, they had all seven of them in the air between them.  They closed the distance between them, tossing the mushrooms under a leg, over a shoulder and high into the curtains.  Slowly, Bart collected all seven of the mushrooms and was juggling them alone and Peter sat down. Juggling wildly, tipping this way and that as if he were constantly about to miss, he moved to the very edge of the stage and suddenly began making high wild throws so that the mushrooms came down on Melanie, Emmet and Aaron, who tossed them back in a ragged random sort of way.  Each time, Bart seemed to nearly miss the mushrooms, and after just managing to catch them, tossed them to one of the three kids, who tossed them back.  While this was going on, Bart said,
                   "Hi, my name is Bart () and I am a second-year graduate student majoring in ().  My research is on () and, as you heard, I am Rune Carmichael's lab and field trip teaching partner.  We have sections 4a, 4b, 4c, 4 d, and 4e. A is Monday afternoons, B Tuesdays, C Wednesdays, D Thursdays, and E Fridays.  There's a makeup on Saturday if you're sick, but you have to sign up ahead, by 5:00 Friday at the latest, you can do that in person, by phone or on the internet.  Sections 1, 2 and 3 all have a-e subsections, and you should already know what days your labs and field trips are on, since you also have labs and field trips in other courses and they all have to mesh.  You will note on your schedule and additional number separated from the main number by a dash.  For example, 4a-1 and 4a-2.  The ones are with me and the twos are with Rune, but we will often work together.  However, you will turn your labs and field trip reports in to the correct teaching assistant based on your number.  I've posted a chart online that explains all this if you're distracted by flying mushrooms."
                   Everyone laughed, because it was really hard to concentrate on what he was saying when he was dodging left and right and nearly falling off the stage.  
                   "Oh, and Peter Schilja," he said, pointing at Peter," is my juggling partner and we do birthday parties, singing chicken messages and other tricks.  Dr. McHaggerty said we could leave a pile of cards and flyers by the exit doors, so pick one up on the way out in case you ever need a singing chicken or a juggler or know anyone who does. Have chicken suit, will travel. He yodeled and sang a few bars of happy birthday complete with clucking and crowing. Then he seemed to trip on his own overly large feet and fell backwards on the stage with a terrible thud. All the mushrooms rained down on top of him and he caught them in his mouth and hands and suddenly bare feet.  The students clapped and whistled, and Bart got up, crossed the stage skipping and humming and sat down.
                   Peter stood up wearing a black acrobat leotard and tights and did a series of cartwheels across the stage.   This was followed by handsprings, one and two-handed handstands, and then Eliza came out in a skimpy pink sequined acrobat outfit, and did a series of flips over Peter's outstretched arms.  George played (music) and they did a little dance and Peter held Eliza up by the heel as she first stood up straight, then bent double, touching her toes, and then did a back flip, landing neatly on her feet.  Then with Eliza riding with her feet on Peter's shoulders, Peter rode around on a unicyle that Larry had handed him and said, without missing a beat, "Hi My name is Peter Schilja, I am a third-year graduate student majoring in Environmental Communications in the subfield of Mycological, Botanical and Biological Illustration.  My media are primarily pen and ink and watercolor and I am assisting Rune Carmichael in her interactive Key project.  My own project is illustrating every stage of Dictistelium discoidium, based on the films of Dr.() and my own time-lapse photography and comparing it to the life cycle of (Franzella ibellia).  Eliza, he said, indicating the girl balanced on his shoulder, is my teaching partner for field trips and labs.  And, in case y'all were wondering, I have a stun-gun and a cattle prod for recalcitrant students.
                   Peter rode the unicycle along the very edge of the stage and at just the right moment, Eliza did a flip off his shoulders and landed with one foot on each of the armrests of Aaron Weiner's chair.  All the kids around him hooted, but Aaron shrunk deep in the chair, blushing a brilliant scarlet.