Monday, November 30, 2009

War on Fleas

The great epic tale of ...

I know, it's just fleas, but this has been a horrible season of them. My poor dog and cat have been really suffering. We've flea bathed, sprayed, doused, you name it since May, and the suckers keep coming back. These fleas just laugh at Frontline, dip their mini shot glasses in it and toast to what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

So I did the next thing available before bombing our house full of poisons, and the dog and cat, too. I googled.

Borax is good for sprinkling on carpets and furniture, etc to get rid of eggs, larvae and fleas. But don't bathe your pet with it and don't leave it lying around for the kids to do the silly things kids do, like Baby C rolling around on everything for new perspectives and eating everything. Yet to kill them in your carpet, you're supposed to leave it on. But back to the suffering mammals.

Poor Lucy, the dog, has been so miserable and I hate to see her suffer like that: scratching to no avail, leaving little drops of blood wherever she curls up for a quiet minute or two. (Ew factor apologies). Babette, the cat, doesn't seem to be suffering so much, but I do occasionally spot a moving dot on her belly or catch the rhythmic fst-fst-fst of a cat scratching behind her ear.

So in my google searches of the morning, as if I have nothing better to do...I found one site that suggested a bath in Head & Shoulders shampoo. "Aha!" I exclaimed, and promptly ran up the stairs to grab the bottle from the shower.

Thank goodness for the big sink in my garage next to the washer and dryer. Yes, I was already into my third load shift of the Monday. I usually bathe Lucy in this sink anyway, she's about an eighteen pound little terrier mix. She saw me coming down the stairs excitedly carrying a bottle that suspiciously resembled her pet shampoo bottle and dodged away from her curl spot the living room sofa as I approached overly friendly-like which she knows even on lesser days, means a bath. Onto the next victim, who being a generally fastidious cat, is non-plussed by my approach.

Poor Babette. She is a beautiful fluffy long haired tabby who has lived a life of luxury, suffering only minor indignations at the hands of small children. She's tough and queenly, having been born on the porch of an abandoned building in a less desirable real estate market, back in my Boston days. She can stare down the best of them in a less insane version of "Are you looking at me?" popularized forever by Mr. DeNiro in Taxi Driver. Even if she met a real Travis Bickle down a dark alley, she would win that stand off without even lifting a claw.

And then I stuck her in the sink. And then I turned on the water in a steady gentle stream. And then I squirted the perfumy, toxic to fleas, I hope and pray, shampoo. Then the washing began, and she was not pleased. I was being Travis Bickled like nobody's business. She yowled, she clung to the edge of the sink and tried to escape. She looked like a skinny drowned rat. But she nobly suffered, and did not fight it so much as endure her fate. But I fear I have lost her trust forever. This was much worse than a trip to the vet when they, there's no nice way to say this, retrieved a poo sample from her.

She was horribly humbled. Although I don't believe it humbled her in the slightest. I sure hope she doesn't catch pneumonia since she will not allow me near her again with a towel and brush.

I think I am going to be Bickled for the rest of her kitty days.

Lucy, when I caught her because she was too busy laughing at Babette, was much easier, and gladly waited for K to come home from school to walk her. She's always extra frisky after she suffers through her baths, and this one was longer and scrubbier than most.

This better work. I'd feel even worse about putting Babette through that if it doesn't.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Whatcha Doin?

We took a lovely walk at Sandy Bottom Park two days after Thanksgiving. The sun finally came out to stay, the weather was crisp and autumnal, as it should be now that we've entered the Christmas season in full force. Can you tell after three plus years Down South, I'm still growing accustomed to the weather and time of year...well, timing?

"Hey guys."

"Whatcha doin?"


Otherwise, the rest of our hike was really lovely.

Here's Baby C and Honey on the fishing pier.

Can you see her little finger poking out her sleeve?


Sparkly lovely.

Crisp autumn day.

Friday, November 27, 2009

No Nanowrimo win here

I am happy to have taken part in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time. It put me into a good lead on a companion book to my first novel, and now both need some serious editing. I lost my momentum between lots of doctor appointments for my whole family, getting quite ill myself and caring for sick kids, then my back went out as we leaned toward Thanksgiving, and I got hung up in word count rather than having fun enjoying writing well.

That last part was what killed the project for me. Not the whole project, I am happy to continue work on this particular piece, but I want to go about it in the way that is familiar to me. I am an editing nightmare to some, but I'll tell you, that is what I really enjoy about writing as I write, the scribbles and rewording, the back-typing and rewording, the considering of the scene from an entirely different angle, etc. It's what I enjoy about the middle of breadmaking, too: the kneading, the punching it into form.

I have just a few days left to try to make it to 50,000 words. I am at 19, 201 and have my family home, no one at work, no one at school or at senior exercise programs until the thirtieth. I don't think reaching 50,000 is my personal goal anymore. A children's novel is typically about 30,000 and I don't want to just write crap for filler for a contest that has lost meaning for me in it's final goal. I've also lost my thread plotwise and feel like I'm wasting precious word count time doing what I actually love about writing and my process in it. That is indicative that it's time for me to move on and refocus without the contest looming.

For now, for me, this year 19,201 is a fantastic stopping point. Now I can sink my teeth back into the edits of the first novel and then run right into edits on the second I started because of Nano.

Does this then make me a loser if I am not a Nano winner? Certainly not. I have 19,201 words written that I didn't have before I started NaNoWriMo. That's a big win in my book. I've never written 19,000 words toward one thing in three weeks time in my whole life, nevermind with a houseful of sickies and also school days off throughout the month.

I may not have hit 50,000, but I did a lot more than I would have if I hadn't tried.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

This year, in looking back to consider my blessings, I have to say, I am pretty grateful for a lot. I am grateful that both of my parents are still with us. We had a couple of moments we weren't too certain of that and as they age, it increasingly looms on the horizon, not nearly as distant as it used to be. Not that they are particularly old or infirm, but you know, the thought is now present when not so long ago, it wasn't.

I am grateful for the beauty I continually find in each of my days, in nature and in the randomness that is everything. I am grateful for a sense of wonder.

I am grateful that I took conscious steps to write more and more completely than I've written in any prior year. This makes me further grateful to my friends at Studio Mothers. Through their support, I completed one novel's first draft and started a second companion novel, wrote many poems and essays, branched out back into visual arts and started this blog.

I am grateful for connecting with new friends and reconnecting with old ones or making better friends with former acquaintances. Back to wonder: the wonder of the internet.

I am grateful for my children and the joy and aggravation they bring everyday. If not for the lows, would the highs be so good? ;) I am grateful that each brings their own miraculous selves to the table.

I am grateful for and to Honey and the home and life we share.

Happy Thanksgiving. May yours be spent with people you love, and lots of pie to share.

Monday, November 23, 2009

poem for today

I went looking for inspiration
and read so many poems,
each becoming a bit better than
the other before it,
that I thought I would die happy,
before I could ever finish
finding the moment.
then I realized I had
with each
while the rain kept
tapping on the window

Sunday, November 22, 2009

nutshell week

1. Boys' good report cards for first quarter, actually excellent, make me somewhat giddy as a mom.

2. Looks like autumn. almost feels like autumn, the leaves are falling and it's beautiful. I wore sweaters and jackets.

3. 19k. Not the goal for the end of the week, but I'm still writing it.

4. More medical. My family is supporting the industry well into the new year, too.

5. Lack of sleep intensified. Baby C is a true night owl. It is reasonable to assume some people are just born that way. I am not one of them, though I have posed as such in my earlier incarnation as someone without children.

6. S is a good guy, not just because he hugs more often and deeply than anyone I know, but I'm noticing he is finding his own ways to relate to us and others. Case in point: I've been writing so much lately, he sat at Honey's laptop next to me to "pretend to write a newspaper article for the Daily Moon, a parody of the Daily Planet, get it? Ninja Boy stops bank robbery...on [honey's] laptop - off of course." clickety-clickety click

7. Hungry and church are not an optimal combination - especially when you go in for first service because you're teaching for second service and there's a meeting after that. Make note to self to eat breakfast on Sunday morning.

8. Baby C meows at cats on tv.

9. I can talk with K like I'm an adult in my own right, not just his mother.

10. For the week ahead, a funny take on the difficult aspects of our history.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


S has been awfully quiet and keeping to himself lately, which is good considering it allows me a bit more focus on my nanonovel. Following are some examples of what he has been up to while cloistered in his room. I think he is very talented and original. I also think, maybe I should be just a tad worried.'s just comics, right?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nano so far

Want to read it? Good's the wordle of it.

glub, glub

We're okay in a high and dry zone, but all around us is wet, wet, and more wet. The wind is high and tidal flooding is a huge concern. In Norfolk, Ghent is under water, In Poquoson, the bridge to Hampton is out, likely through the coming weekend. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is closed.
No one seems to have an idea when this may end.
Mom had another impromptu visit to the ER yesterday, but I spoke with her this morning and she sounds great. Dad hurt himself on the ER door, and in checking him out, they found his blood pressure was too high, so they monitored him, too. Hallelujah, my big brother WKC was there for them both.
When it rains, it pours, indeed. School is cancelled, laundry needs to be done, and I really want to write my nanowrimo today.
Late yesterday afternoon, Baby C walked over to the slider, scolded the rain, "No, wain! No, no no!" slapped the window and stomped off with a pussface.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ever just feel like you want to go home?

I am home, but I feel that way. Diagnostic processes are no fun. They tend to open up new cans of worms with every specialist I see.

I now move from the rheumatologist to getting an echocardiogram. annually.

Can we get back to the original problem, please?

As for nanowrimo...right....

Saturday, November 7, 2009

an update on the progress or not of my nano novel

Life happens,
doctors happen,
and this past week, a lot of doctor appointments happened and other sundry bits of attending to sick self, sick kids, etc. So in the interest of pediatrics, Nanowrimo fell somewhat behind and has been having trouble catching back up. also, I really got walloped by news of Brother Blue passing away.

Nanowrimo is an excellent tool to get yourself writing if you call yourself a writer but don't find yourself doing much of it. It's an excellent jumpstart, you feel inspired, and even if you don't, you push to meet that 1667 words per diem minimum. But once you fall behind, it becomes really hard to scramble. but I figured out a a few little secrets today:

1. I don't have to write 1667 words per day.

2. But it works a heck of a lot better if I do. Otherwise I'm playing a deceitful game of catch-up - which is really very much like swimming against the riptide during hurricane season.

3. Nanowrimo becomes an obsession. Possibly a very unhealthy obsession. I sat in the pediatrics office for six hours on Wednesday thinking not so much of my kids and their various stages of this long, non-h1n1 flu we've had, but of how I could be writing instead of sitting in this waiting room, exam room, phlebotomy department, radiology department because when I took my daughter to the hospital the previous week, they didn't run all the tests they now had to run during Nanowrimo. The boys were with me, too for their wellness appointments, etc, vaccines, etc. I was barely concerned, except when C was crying from getting stuck with a needle for bloodwork or having a big loud machine shoot light boxes all over her leg and hips, while mommy wore a big lead apron. Nano becomes unhealthy when your spouse and you are sitting right next to each other all night long on separate computers not saying a word to each other until he does, and you get annoyed that he's interrupting your train of thought, but more importantly, your word count. It becomes an obsession when every time your toddler wanders over and whines and pulls to be on your lap, you act like it's the end of the world because you can't finish your train of thought or your word count. Same with the preteen mom-mom-momming in your ear and poking you in the arm or the teen mom-mom-momming you on the cellphone until you realize in a half-attention moment you allowed him to sleep over someone's dad's house and you don't even know where he lives, because you were still typing when he was asking and you just wanted him off the phone.

4. But Nanowrimo is important, because you will write a novel in thirty days, whether you make the word count or not, and you will have another manuscript to edit and eventually shop with the other one, because you now can market it to agents as a series of sorts....and you will have two books at the end of this! And at the end of this, you'll pay better attention to your spouse and your kids and yourself for that matter, and to the fact that maybe the sun is in fact shining outside and oh, yea, there's an outside.....

5. I don't have to write the parts in the order in which they come chronologically, but in the order in which they travel through my bleeding brain.

6. Ok that's more than a few things, but I also figured out it is much better to write about what you know than have to research about something for a novel you're trying to write in thirty days. Set it in a country you've been to, and forget about wildlife, unless of course, it has become a central theme in the book....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

RIP Brother Blue

From the middle of the middle of me to the middle of the middle of you....

Brother Blue was a huge figure in my life, he blessed my belly when I was pregnant with my boys, and blessed the boys after they were born. His wife Ruth is a rock and kept that balloon named Brother Blue tethered to the ground. When he spoke to a roomfull or a street corner full, you felt like you were something bigger and made from the universe itself. He was dynamic and full of unconditional love. He didn't just talk the talk, he walked the walk. He was a large part of my 20s-30s. When I was in a conversation with him one on one, he made me feel like there was nothing more important than that moment, and me in it, he cried when I read my poems around boston and cambridge, and always made the time to talk with me after and thank me for sharing them.
I feel so much for ruth right now, nevermind missing him. She was the perfect balance for him, their relationship was one to never take for granted. Where he was air and fire, she was - and is - earth and water.
The love for each other was always apparent, and when it was time to go home, no matter how he resisted, she always got him out of the venue and safely to the T.
The world is a smaller place without him, and heaven, the universe, whatever you want to call it has grown boundless for his presence among the stars.

I am stunned by this loss, though I haven't seen him in about 6 years. A world without Brother Blue in it is that unimaginable to me at the moment.

here is his Obituary. It leaves out so much that made him the wonder, the magic that was Brother Blue.

still writing, at least trying...

“The moment a man begins to talk about technique that’s proof that he is fresh out of ideas."
Raymond Chandler

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


sick kids
sick me, still
sound like Harvey Fierstein
trick or treating yes
writing new book yes
editing old book no
re-reading enjoyable book: The Secret Life of Bees
reconfirming it is an important book,
and should be read, don't think movie did it justice
snuggling fever toddler
home from cancelled appointment with rheumatologist
after driving all the way up there, hither and yon.
should start today's writing session,
but everyone is home because it's Election Day
and S has started slagging and coughing, too
glad all kids have pediatric appointment tomorrow
it's going to be a long day
where are those old gameboys?

voted, please vote, too.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nanowrimo is Here

Therefore, you will be seeing much less from me here for the next thirty days. Wish me luck, and it's not too late to join me! 50,000, c'mon, I dare ya.
Yes, I am crazy. But it is all about quantity, not quality. I can tear it apart and build it up again when November ends.