Friday, December 31, 2010

i diiiid it! oh yea, i diiiiid it!

I now have a completed Second Draft.  Of course this means it is actually about draft number 5,432.

But, I locked myself away today, and it's done.

I love Chapter 24's dialogue the best.  It subtly brings the themes and stray plot threads together.  And it's funny.

And guess what?

The ending still makes me cry.

I think I'm in love with it all over again. 

Now to print it and hand it to off to my writing group on Tuesday, and hope they can cruise through it in time for the writing retreat in another week or so. I know, asking for critique in that timeframe is a lot, but it's only 118 pages of middle reader material. Double spaced.

Strangely, I feel like I've just given birth, again.

Happy New Year, indeed.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

one resolution, 2011

Tis the season for new year's resolutions and the blogosphere is rife with them.  This year is about focus for me so I am going to focus on one thing and one resolution:

In 2011, I will finish what I started.

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?  But if it were that simple for me, I would not have to make a resolution for it.  I would have finished the umpteen first novels I've started that are languishing in file cabinets and old document files as outlines and first chapters galore. 

But there's this one.  If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know about it.  If not, here's something like an introduction:

In 2003, I started writing a middle reader novel about a kid who is being bullied and a few exciting things happen along the way. He confides in his dog, keeps the bullying from his parents and any other authority figure.  He questions his parents and friendships. He discovers a comet, is thrown into a media frenzy, and eventually gains the confidence to be able to confront the bully. In the end he recognizes all the support he really had all along, when he was trying to handle it all by himself.

Not the best start to a query, but that's what I have for a summation at the moment.

I had many adventures along the journey of writing this book, such as dealing with schools and IEPs, and dealing with Captain Comic's Asperger's Syndrome at home, too. I took a while to divorce the boys' father - that was quite a journey in itself, in which, of course, both the boys were incredibly affected.  I worked three part time jobs from classroom and learning disabilities support to retail in order to support the boys. I met Honey around the same time I started writing the book, and because of him, I was able to modulate into one fulltime position in a high school in learning disabilities support. Life started to seem perfect, I loved my job and my vocation (the book), him and the boys. In 2006, we got married and promptly followed a decent job lead for him to a more affordable area of the country. We bought a house with the help of his mother, we all moved in together. I started privately tutoring. I got debilitatingly pregnant three times, once lasted and became Toots when I was 42 - largely because I stayed in bed for the entire pregnancy. I was unable to move or think, ill beyond belief and her pregnancy wrecked me physically.  I slowly am still climbing back from that and surgery, and she will be three come April 2011.

In the meantime, through Miranda at Studio Mothers (we had gone to college together and ran into each other many years later in the toy store I worked in when my life was more mayhem than it is now), I met many other woman who were trying to balance life with kids and creativity. Miranda, Brittany and I were all pregnant at the same time and bonded well over their births and the early baby struggles with older kids. I think a few other moms, like Liz Hum, and Kate Hopper and Kristine Koblitz were in that baby and writing boat, too. Kelly Warren, Lisa Damian, Jennifer Johnson and E.Beck were among the other creatives who gave excellent encouragement.  I opened my manuscript back up and cranked out the 'first draft' in fits and starts between 2008 and Summer 2010.  I hope I'm not forgetting anyone...I know there were many more women involved in that website over that time, and their names are coming to me, but these, I think were my main cheerleaders. As well as Jacqui Robbins, I stumbled across her through Studio Mothers, too, though she wasn't a contributor.  I had other supportive friends back in Boston and Connecticut who cheered me on and were first readers. Thank you to you all.

I am now finishing the second draft.  I really want to get it done before the end of the year, the next few days, in order to get it to my local writing group before we head to our annual retreat in mid-January.

Toots is still sick but getting better and Honey is off work tomorrow, so I may be able to hand her off to him and Grandma for the day, and lock myself in the bedroom with the scribbled upon manuscript and the laptop to made some headway for a few hours.  I hope. 

Anyway, back to my one resolution. 2011 is to really actually and truly send that puppy out, after one more draft.  This draft will happen in the earliest part of the year, starting with that four day retreat in the Outer Banks. Then I will send out that draft, whether or not it is perfect. I think it nearly is. But then again, I don't really believe in perfect, do I?

Spring, baby.  Agents, here I come.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

the call of the pathetic

From the room with the tv, I hear a plaintive plea,

"Mooooommyyyyyy!  I neeeeeed yooooooou!  I got booooogerrrrrrrs!"

Just in time for the boys to be out of the house for a week, Toots has contracted an epic cold.  She has amazing projectile snot powers.  It's been ten years since I've had a toddler full of mucus, and I had forgotten what a surprising amount of volume and velocity those little bodies can mani-infest.

So not much time for blogging or nary else. I must cuddle, coddle a limp little swollen eyed one and have plenty of tissues at hand.  Amazingly, she only raises a very slight temperature in the evening, so I can hold off on the doctor unless what is still coming out clear, if goopy, starts to grow colorful in the yellow to green spectrum.

Happy parenting!  Someday I will edit those last thirty flipping pages.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

oh yea....

I think I skipped something the other day. 

Something about a day that started well before dawn looking like this:

Actually, considering he woke a couple of hours earlier and could be heard stirring throughout the house in something above a pitter-patter, Captain Comic waited very patiently for the the rest of us to stir.  I think I took this from the top of the stairs, sometime around 5:45 am.  Don't place bets on my guess, though, all I know for sure is that he already had been in my room about twelve times trying his darnedest to be quiet. 

Not long after, my visiting parents, Grandma and Honey roused out of bed, the coffee was on and we were all done opening everything under the tree.

Toots didn't quite bing awake like him.  Neither did Mr. Cynic.  But they both did 'wake' quickly to get down the stairs around six, at my knock on the teen's door and shoulder shake of the little one, who enthused, "Santa came?! Is he stiw hewe?!"

At the sight of the above, Toots was beside herself tired and excited.

And Mr. Cynic...Well, let's just say he'll love me for posting this shot:

Monday, December 27, 2010

white out

Predawn, of course. I do love that boy.

Christmas was a blur of a whirlwind. My parents were going to leave yesterday morning to head back to Connecticut from our little Southern Virginia corner, but Mother Nature had other plans.

A little later in the day.

Toots lifted it out a little, it was actually at the red foot marker when I stuck the measuring tape in for her to hold steady.

Our shed at the 15 inch mark on the roof.  We discovered that sometime in the past few years that we've lived here, the snow shovel was moved out to the shed from the garage. Because we never needed to use it on the driveway. I trekked across the yard to rake the snow from in front of the shed door to retrieve the snow shovel.  Something is wrong with that picture - I used the rake to dig snow to reach the snow shovel.

This is the beginnings of clearing off four cars. Snow is taller than the broom head.

This is my parents' car yesterday afternoon.  Grounded. They are driving Mr. Cynic and Captain Comic to visit their father up North.  The boys were so disappointed to not leave.  But they head out shortly. Packing the car now. I know, I sent Honey out there.  Look, I started the driveway and car clearing yesterday and my fingers paid a hefty frostbite price because I do not have good weather gear anymore, because I live in the South. But I had fun, I love this stuff, even if my circulation doesn't.

That's right, I said it, I love shovelling out the cars. I may be alone in my joy, but it's mine.

So, yesterday afternoon and evening we played games and looked at old family pics my cousins posted on Facebook. My mother was cracking up at all the old memories. 

1974, My mom is the babe front row right in the serious navy and red print polyester, next to their mother, with all her siblings. Her brother behind her, and her sister in red to the left are the only ones still living besides the baby, my mom. That sweet little grandmother in the front next to mom gave birth to everyone else in that picture, starting with the twins in back.  She also rather raised quite a few of her 26 grandchildren.  She was da bomb. I miss them all.  Daily.  We sure had a lot of fun together at family gatherings coming up.  We lived the farthest away, so saw them maybe once or twice a year for about a week or two.  But boy, that was a crowded, boisterous house full of fun, food, love and family.

I walloped my mother and mother-in-law in Scrabble, and they conspired against me in Apples to Apples later.  They both usually kill me in Scrabble. It was payback.  But we had lots of fun. Even Honey and Papa played Apples to Apples, and Capt. Comic for as long as he lasted, which was pretty long for him. 


Well, they are on the road now.  I forced a kiss on Capt. Comic's cheek while he sat in the car. "URGH!  You know when you kiss me, Mom, I imagine the microbial bacteria multiplying right away and I have to wipe it off immediately!" 

If only he felt the same way about showering and brushing his teeth....

So the house is quiet.  Maybe tomorrow when everything in town opens again, I'll be able to start cranking on my ending edits and get my manuscript out to my writing group.  Grandma said she would take Toots out with her in the morning on her usual exercise excursion.  Time to get back to the routines now the gluttony time has passed!  Oh yea, I should do that, too....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to you all.
May it be spent in love.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

cookie finale and holiday suchness

Sugar cookies accomplished a bit during Toots's nap
Which is also when I recruited Mr. Cynic to help me hang the outdoor lights.  His foot made the discovery that the porch rail had rotted. I'm just glad he didn't find that out by leaping to stand on the top rail.
Later, I spied this beautiful wintery sunset beginning when I went to pick him up at his friend's house.  Taken in the driveway, did not play with it in the computer.
When we arrived back home it was dark enough to see the lights we strung earlier.

Mom: do they look chintzy?
Mr. Cynic: Not chintzy, like a little portal to Christmasland.

Toots awoke from nap and I got started on the cookie icing. This is when I discovered, I still do not possess a good sifter and what that clear vanilla I saw on the shelf in a store earlier this week was all about.  Usually I use lemon oil, but I was out and switched to vanilla.  warmly brown vanilla.
My little helper helping
with sleepy piggy tails.
Toasted last batch. I always seem to do that to the last tray of cookies.
 Abundanza sugar cookies await icing.
They clearly will not be perfectly lovely cookies a la home magazine covers at this time of year.  But they were made with love and will be yummiest cookies of all.

"Yike dis, mommy?"

Have a joyous holiday, with much love.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

later the same evening

Have I mentioned before that I had a brief stint as a professional baker?  After a couple of months trying to manage the biorhythm shift to go to sleep at four in the afternoon and wake up at half past midnight while mothering a kindergartener and a toddler with unknown as of yet form of autism, I realized I really couldn't handle it.

But I did learn one very important thing while stirring batters and rolling doughs at a stupifying hour: baking is not for improvising.

I forget this now and then. Witness:

Many years ago I made great spiralled snickerdoodles one christmas because I followed a recipe. A friend emailed me a recipe for them last week and it gave me an idea.  Rather than print hers, I improvised with the usual Better Homes recipe for standard snickerdoodles, and put the cinnamon sugar mixture you're supposed to roll little balls of dough in, along the top of the rolled out sheet of dough, then rolled it into a tube and refrigerated it, as I recalled doing previously.  They were huge and fell apart. Not very snickerdoodly, and while tasty, they just don't measure up in presentation.

For years, my gingerbread men have been minis, about an inch and a half long. Great little mouth poppers, but I wanted real gingerbread men.  My hand cramps every year from cutting scads of guys out of dough with my crab claw tip of the fingers grip. Honey brought home a beautiful standard size copper cookie cutter yesterday.  I love him.  I love Toots, too.  She's cute. She does some things on cue.

Unfortunately, as I bemoaned yesterday, I screwed up measuring as I doubled the recipe. Then I attempted to fix it in a rush, didn't add enough corrective sugar and wound up with these puffy fall-apart-if-touched, pale for a spice cookie cuties.

Today, I have a holiday lunch with my writing group, during which I will hand back end chapters sections of two critiqued manuscripts that I stayed up way too late trying to focus on last night after the all day cookie (and laundry) extravaganza.  I was exhausted - concentration nearly nil.  But I enjoyed the stories.  They're good.  I'll let you know about them when they get published.

Anyway, after that, I will make the icing and bake the sugar cookies, the dough of which awaits in the fridge. It was the first dough made yesterday, and the last dough to go.  Thankfully, I did not improvise or mess it up to begin with.  Then I will ice them and the gingerbread men.  Maybe the icing will save the poor little guys. Save their arms and heads falling off as well as boost the sweet factor. 

My adult family members always complained my cookies were too sweet anyway.  Let's see how they like these.

Perfection was always overrated in my book, anyway.

Monday, December 20, 2010


All the best things of life start with butter and sugar.
My good little helper, Toots cracked the eggs vewy cawefuwy.
Toots: Can I have a big taste?
Mom: How about a little taste?
Toots: Okay, just a yiddo taste.

Sugar cookie dough, done and in fridge now.
 Time to start round two:  gingerbread cookies. See the spices in the foreground?
MMM...smellavision - spicy goodness.  But wait, it looks a bit too ....buttery!  I accidentally quadrupled the butter when I was doubling the recipe!  Or at least I think so.  I still have my doubts about this, but I 'fixed' it in a haphazard manner because I was so fed up with myself for messing up recipes lately, like the brownies I did similar to last week.

So now it sits in the fridge, looking more like dough than that batterish stuff there. I wait for them to be ready to roll out, cut and bake tonight.

Mr. Cynic wants to make snickerdoodles for his "Spontaneous Cultural Gathering" at school this week.  They're not allowed to have parties. He likes making snickerdoodles. Maybe I'll get him to double his and I'll make the spiral wheels version of them to hand out around the neighborhood,etc  with the sugars and gingerbread men.  Now to go make the icing.  I bought some new Wilton red....I'm ready for anything.  Right after I switch a laundry load and eat some lunch.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


It's been a while since I shared Captain Comic's ...well, comics. He's branching out into color.  I can't tell you how many black and white similar works have been balled up and thrown all over his room.  He seems to be taking color seriously now.  He even kept the page in the spiral notebook while he drew it.  Like he could save it in an organized manner rather than just toss it to the flotsam of spiral paper worms and balls of abandoned ideas.

I particularly like his orange sky sunrise rays and lettering. I also think he has a great eye for use of space. Now as to what is going on in that space, that's another matter entirely.  And quite the never abandoned theme.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I love snow. 

view thru front window and yucca

When we lived in Massachusetts, we got a lot of it. And that is an understatement for the region we were in. Here, not so much.  Last night they cancelled schools all over Hampton Roads just because of the threat of snow. When we lived in the snow valley up North, we'd be up before dawn shovelling three feet of heavy white off our cars to get to school which didn't even have delays most of the time.

Everyone around me thinks I'm crazy the way I profess my love for the winter white.  But even if I was born in Atlanta, it snowed on the day I was born.  And you know what?  Every birthday of my life, it has snowed.  I consider it my special blessing. Like a promise from the creator, an inside wink.  Last year, it did not snow on my birthday here in Hampton Roads, Virginia, but it did where I grew up in Connecticut.  When I talked to my dad, I was thrilled. Because once again, even if not directly for me, it did snow on my birthday. Other birthdays here, I have spotted lonely tiny flakes.

This morning, Captain Comic was the last to know about the cancellation (ha, he finished his homework...)  Upon being informed:

Captain Comic: Woo-hoo!  Wait - (quick confirming look out the window) There's no snow.

Mom: We're not in Massachusetts anymore are we?  Funny isn't it?  But they are not prepared for snow on the roads down here the way we were in MA.

Capt. Comic: Oh right.

Mom: Remember all the snow we used to get?

Capt. Comic (wistfully):  I loved crawling through the tunnels...

And that about sums it up.  My favorite place to live my whole life was in that little town exactly because of all that snow and sledding and snowball fights and building snow forts with the boys....but it's fine that I traded for the beach in close proximity here. Where I grew up in Connecticut, I was lucky to have both the great sled yard of the neighborhood and a bike ride to the beach.

Anyway, today there is snow, and it's slick and beautiful.  Even I won't drive in it. and I watch the tiny flakes swirl in the wind, fast and dancing out my window.

camellia from an upstairs window

Capt. Comic has already been out to 'the hill' - really a berm at the back of the neighborhood baseball field. He was so excited.  No layers or boots speak of, just his coat as he dragged the blue plastic sled around the bend. He came back in shortly after, wanting hot cocoa.

Toots has been watching it swirl and fall out the window, entranced by the magic that has always been such a joy for me.

same upstairs window looking straight out.

And even Mr. Cynic awoke with a smile, and headed out in it to ride his bike to the next subdivision to his friend's house. I just hope he found some gloves to wear...He is disappointed that his Jazz Choir's Winter Concert is postponed, and he hopes that it is rescheduled for tomorrow rather than cancelled altogether.  He "worked too hard for the past four months to not perform!" And he wants to wear the red sparkly vest and bow tie. It's like a badge of honor.  I never would have suspected, though the kid still rocks a necklace, much like he did as a toddler.

My Christmas shopping was slightly thwarted, I tried to drive, but it was too slick even for me.  I was smart and turned around at the first corner.  I can't say the same for the rest of the people in this area who are currently on the road.  That's part of why not just the schools, but a lot of other places are closed today.  It's okay, I did a little online shopping and shipping said it would get to my nephews in time.

Hmmm...the flakes are getting a little bigger....that means it's a hair warmer and beautiful.  I may finally get in the Christmas spirit after all.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

weekword: christmas

Allie in Wonderland has chosen this week's Weekword, the seasonally appropriate, Christmas. Please go to her blog to see the rest of the participants' creative endeavors. She will post links to all on Friday.

I have to admit, it's coming in like a fast moving train to a deer on the tracks for me this year. I've barely done anything for it preparationwise, shoppingwise, etc and frankly I don't know how I will.

My parents are planning on visiting for Christmas, too.  It's a long ride for them from Connecticut to my out of the way corner of Virginia.  We spent a handful of Christmases on the road to visit my Grandparents in Atlanta and Orlando when I was growing up - and every summer, too.  So I know they can handle the ride, but they are much older now than the 1970s and 80s when we did it together, and I worry. I don't want them to wear themselves out.  However, they are also planning to travel to more than just us.  They are doing a timeshare tour through the South apparently. So why should I worry?  Clearly they are ready for an adventure.

Last week was Toots's pageant for her preschool. They were too cute. While I am not the most singularly religious person around, I am rather spiritually oriented and the tale of the manger gets me every time. Toots is the littlest lamb front and center, with curls and polka dots hanging out of her costume. Please note, my washer was kaput for about a week, and the repair man came that afternoon or she would have been at least wearing pants that weren't too short. The kids were all adorable singing their songs with hand gesture prompts from their teachers.

Tomorrow night is Mr. Cynic's Jazz Choir Winter Concert at his high school along with the other choirs and bands. His choir also sang last Sunday at the above church, which isn't ours. I made it to see them for their first service performance but then I was at ours teaching the youth group and singing at our ordination for the rest of the day and into the evening.  Toots's performance was last Thursday night, so that means, right before Christmas, I haven't made it to the two main rehearsals to learn the music my choir will be singing for the Christmas Eve service.  And that pretty much sums up the way this season has gone since Thanksgiving. Then throw in a nasty cold virus and laryngitis.

So today I am hoping the cards are ready to be picked up that I ordered yesterday, finally, eventhough we had our photo shoot on the same busy weekend described above. Then I have to figure out and shop for Christmas meals, presents for niece and nephews on my side, and great nephews on Honey's side, address a lot of cards, figure out and bake a lot of cookies, still pull the tree and decor for the season out of the attic and well, maybe you saw yesterday's list of lists to get the idea...

But I will bake cookies, by gum!  That's what I do.  I will bake at least gingerbread men and sugar cookies, and I may spiral some snickerdoodles, and then Grandma will likely make her fudge and 'annizette'. Maybe by the time my parents arrive, we will have finished rolling out the homemade lasgna and it will be in the oven baking while I sing on Christmas eve, then we'll come home, eat and.....well, you get the idea.

Oh wait, we still have to put up the lights on the house and japanese maple, too. And I forgot to mention what this season does for Captain Comic's anticipation anxiety...The other night I caught him in a lie and used Santa even though I know he knows now.  His response was "That darned Santa's got me every which way I turn."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

list it tues: list of lists & a book review

I am so far behind this season, I can't see straight - note item 2's missing s.

But I ate up a book in about three days. It's been a long while since I've done that, but I felt crappy with a cold, and about the best I could do was lie around and read.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I still have mixed feelings after finishing this book. I know I am coming to this party late, to review a best seller. But I think I needed the time it took me to approach The Help. I am a great lover of To Kill a Mockingbird.  Any other book that wants to cover racial issues in the South before 1970 is treading really difficult waters, especially in an attempt to personalize issues of segregation and racial relations after Harper Lee's seminal work.

I must admit I like the book better after reading Stockett's closing words about growing up in a similar situation to what she illustrates. The relationships between black maids and their white family employers are revealed through the narratives of two black maids and one white daughter who is seeming to finally come of age after college, and back in the home and town of her childhood. Skeeter is the one who turns Jackson's well-established order inside out, but she can't do so without Aibileen and Minny.

A lot of my difficulty came from the colloquial nature of the narrations, something I usually enjoy. When the book opens with a black voice written by a white author though, I cannot help but feel a bit suspicious that things will turn out too close to say, Song of the South. But throughout the book, I think Stockett shows an awareness of wanting to avoid that as well as a conscience about how difficult the waters are to tread.

But here's what I like about the book.  She treads very cautiously through these stormy waters.  She has to, and that is what was made clear to me in her afterwords.  This book was her way of understanding and apologizing to the maid who brought her up, who died when Stockett was just sixteen, and who was clearly a strong mother figure to her. Because of her experience growing up in Jackson, she really is able to write the affection Skeeter has for her lost maid, and the affection Aibileen has for the baby girl in her care.

The characters are lively, if a bit stereotypical to begin with, but I think Stockett grows as a writer through the book in her ability to understand what life must have been like for these women. The primary point Stockett makes is about the delicate line that had to be walked through dangerous times in about the most dangerous place, Jackson Mississippi leading up to Martin Luther King's March in DC and the assassination of Pres. Kennedy. Thankfully those incidents are far in the background of the story.

I do recommend it, it is a quick read, even at 451 pages. It was a great escape while I wasn't feeling well, even if it wasn't a comfortable one. But that's just the kind of book that I really enjoy.  I don't like easy reads nearly as much.  I want a book to stay with me.  I think this one will.

Addendum again: in my rush to get something up earlier today, I once again forgot to point the way to more listers who participate.  Please click on the green List it Tuesday square in my side margin to see them starting in artsyville! Oh and while you're there, do wish aimee a very happy 40th birthday!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

my heart is big

My son Mr. Cynic made his internet debut. He made this for a group AP History project. He wrote the songs, he acted, etc. The first song is a snippet of a prior project about, if I recall correctly, the Spanish Armada. The guys included it for a laugh from the class.

Can a mother be more proud of the musicality and creativity of her child? I don't think so. I am soaring. Except that typo in some of the print stuff, but that must be one of the other kids.  ;)

It's on youtube.  Go ahead and share. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

weekword prompt: synesthesia

Joye at Joyefulart chose this week's prompt: synesthesia:‘the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.• the poetic description of a sense impression in terms of another sense, as in “a loud perfume” or “an icy voice.”

My initial thought was yay!  Perfect for a poem, which is my first love in writing, and the second was, holy crap what a week I have lined up, and then other things threw themselves into it, but still others dropped away.

Isn't it something how the Universe can so easily realign according to need?  Well, I still need it to line up a bit lighter. The cold I have been ignoring/battling since mid last week has hit me full force.  I am at the end of anything resembling inspiration.  Still, I want to take a stab at synesthesia, because it is what informs my sensibility as a writer.  Get it?  Sense-ibility.

a tortured luncheon screams from my schedule
as my throat chafes.
my sinuses blanket a mask in my face
too close for comfort, it strangles my eyeballs.
The wintery air crisps my fingers
and the grasses grow furry frost.

Eh, not so great, but better than nothing. Not sure I really got that sense of the opposing sense in my descriptions.  Okay, time for me to steam out my head in hot shower. But that's my result after being too busy and my health crashing because of it.

Please click on the link at Joyefulart at the top of this post to see many more wonderful participants' tasty arts.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

list it tuesday: writers

Can you guess what is on my mind?

Addendum: I forgot to mention , if you click on the colorful block that says List it Tuesday  in my right margin, you can see many more fascinating lists throughout the blogosphere, starting with Aimee's and then read through her comments to find the others.

Monday, December 6, 2010

new favorite thing

Please forgive me if my sentences make no sense today. I had a cahrazy weekend, which included Honey's birthday, on which I barely saw him.  It was a good weekend, a celebratory weekend, but I have been having a cold coming on for a few days, and I think it hit me full force today, when I can finally rest, while catching up and critiquing two manuscripts for tomorrow's writing group, that is. How's that for a run-on?

Oh, and for some unknown reason, Captain Comic has decided that somewhere between 3am and 4:30am is primo wakeup and run back and forth with lights on and doors slamming time.

Anyway, in time for the December challenge, one of my old writing friends from my Boston days turned me on to a new writing tool. It works like Julie Cameron's Morning Pages from The Artist's Way, but it's online. It's typed.  It's private, and you can let your mind wander for 750 words, the equivalent of three pages. And you don't have to find that notebook or pen. I think most of us are sitting in front of a screen these days anyway, right? And it gives me a community of people who are also writing, whether or not I make any more of a connection beyond just knowing they are out there somewhere doing the same thing.

I am a horrible typist.  It takes me about twenty minutes per day to meet the 750, averaging about 35-40 words a minute. all typos are left in place.  I try not to go back and correct. I don't think about what I'm writing, I just let the garbage fall out of my brain through my fingers tips and up onto the screen.

Usually about three quarters of the way in, I hit my stride and there's at least a phrase if not an idea that I like or that I can work with in something else, later.

Here's the thing:

When the boys were younger, and I was single and working three part time jobs to support them, when I woke up in the morning, I put the baby gate across the kitchen doorway of our little condo, got the coffee started, and while it brewed, I started my morning pages with pen and notebook amidst the dulcet tones of Captain Comic hanging on the opposite side of the gate, rattling it and screaming for my attention, Mr. Cynic momming me, and the themes of Blues Clues or Bob the Builder running from the tv in the background.  After a few months, they got that I was not going to give them the time of day during "Mommy's morning pages"

And that's when I started writing my almost finished editing this draft manuscript - later in the day, somewhere between job number one and the first school bus arrival, I had thirty minutes  in which I wrote the first thirty or so pages of this book. But I was only productive on that if I had been productive earlier by getting through the mess of my daily concerns to hit the subconscious, where the better writing sprung from, like an underground spring of fresh water.  First I had to clear away the mud.

So why have I not been writing or editing what I really want to be working on lately?

I think the key is in these morning pages. I think it's in getting the garbage out of my head. It only takes me twenty minutes, so why not?  Here I am, doing it online.  And this site has some interesting tools to help you see what mood you're writing in, for instance.  Or what words you repeat, or what senses you are using, and how dominantly you write in one over another. It also has a healthy dose of competition that fuels some of us to write. For me it's much needed accountability.

I highly recommend it.

C' know you want to.

Friday, December 3, 2010

weekword results: pyrophoric

My Pyrophoric entry is a lot of little sparks.  It's been a crazy couple of weeks, or month really, very hard to focus on one thing well. 

1.  A week before Thanksgiving, a cousin of mine passed.  I was too far away to get to her funeral, but I will always remember how she sparkled.  She spent decades crippled by Rheumatoid Arthritis and then Multiple Sclerosis to boot.  But she never complained of her pain or even showed it, though she was pretty much curled up in a little ball.  She always smiled, asked how you were, and had a twinkle in her eye.

2. My girl Toots, sparks my heart several times a day, everyday. She has a twinkle in her eye, too.


3. Captain Comic sparks a laugh from me, or several, everyday. There is no way to know what spark of the way he thinks will come shooting out of his mouth like a firecracker.

4. Mr. Cynic and I both love turning the lights out and chomping on Wint-O-Green Lifesavers to watch them spark....hmmmm, I should go pick some up.  It's been quite a while.

5.  When I see my Honey, after a long day of him away at the office, he still sparks a little something in me. It's a chemical reaction.

Please see what else Pyrophoric sparked for the many creative people below:

Carmen at Tails of a Biomouse

Joye at Joyefulart

Maria at Simply Cool Stuff

Christine E-E at Silver Linings 4 ME

Sally at Diario

Sally at Sow and Sew


On Monday, please go to Joyefulart to find out the next Weekword prompt. Joye is hosting next!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

convo at the stop light

Mom: Stop doing that with your glasses!  You'll hurt your eyes!

Captain Comic: Well, I think it's time for for me to get new glasses.

Mom: Your right. That's coming soon. We'll get your eyes checked and you'll get new glasses.

Capt. Comic: Well, I hope when I do I'll be able to see stuff really clearly - like a car scratch from 300 feet away.

Mom: That won't happen, because you're NOT AN EAGLE! (laughing)

Capt. Comic (laughs, suddenly stops): Well, I wish I was.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

walk across america for pancreatic cancer

BJ Timoner is one of the first people I met when I arrived on my college campus a hundred years ago. At the time, he was very welcoming, and made me much more at ease in my new surroundings. He is going to walk from San Diego to New York starting on Christmas Day, December 25, 2010. He is doing this to raise funding for pancreatic cancer research through The Lustgarten Foundation

BJ lost his father at the age of five to this disease which still does not have early detection testing.  When someone is diagnosed it is generally already too late.  BJ is just reaching his father's age of passing, 41, and decided to do what he could so that future families will not have to live the life his family did, without the presence of a parent or other loving family member.

Pancreatic cancer comes in fourth in the statistics of cancer fatalities. 

Fourth, people.  That is too big to not have early detection tests available.  By now, through the success of other cancer tests, for prostrate, colon and breast cancers for instance, we know that early detection is the monumental key to treatment and therefore survival of formerly guaranteed to be fatal cancers. 

Please, friends, go to his website:

to learn a little more and to donate.  Every dollar goes to research only, none to support his endeavor or him personally.  Remember, even if you barely have enough to get by during this Holiday Season, even a little bit from each of us can go a long way together. 

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

list it tuesday: numbers

On the side of my monitor remains the Post-it list of photos I uploaded for my blog the other day about our hike on the Noland Trail.

Notice how I start the list at about halfway through, then return to the beginning?  I also apparently changed my mind from 11 to 12.

I seem incapable of doing anything in a less than cockeyed manner.  Then again, I wouldn't be me if I did otherwise, right?

Go check out aimee's post in artsyville to see more lists from around the interwebz. It's fun, and some people are much more artistically adventurous with their lists than I am.

Monday, November 29, 2010

weekword: pyrophoric

I am hosting the Weekword Challenge this week and hope you'll join in on the fun.  Weekword is a creative challenge that gets passed around the internet and each week a new blogger is asked to host and chooses a new word to inspire others to share their response. You can do anything: from poetry to photography to pottery to pensive ramblings. Whatever happens is good as long as it prompts you to do, to make, to create and then to share.


I flipped open my old red Merriam-Webster, and found this week's word.  I like it.  It's sparkly. In fact the official meaning from is

py·ro·phor·ic   /ˌpaɪrəˈfɔrɪk, -ˈfɒr-/ [pahy-ruh-fawr-ik, -for-]
–adjective Chemistry .
capable of igniting spontaneously in air.
1830–40; < Gk pyrophór ( os ) fire-bearing ( see pyro-, -phorous) + -ic Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010.

World English Dictionary

pyrophoric (ˌpaɪrəʊˈfɒrɪk)
— adj
1. (of a chemical) igniting spontaneously on contact with air
2. (of an alloy) producing sparks when struck or scraped: lighter flints are made of pyrophoric alloy
[C19: from New Latin pyrophorus, from Greek purophoros fire-bearing, from pur fire + pherein to bear]

I hope it sparks something in you!  (I couldn't resist.)  Please add a comment here to indicate if you are participating and I will post a link to your blog on Friday to share with others. 

Have Fun!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Here are some sights along our route on the Noland Trail in Newport News on Saturday. It turned out to be quite an ambitious afternoon hike. Five miles total,  4.75 of which Toots wanted to be carried, as we set out at her naptime.  Because that's the way we roll.

Ducks.  They looked cold.  We saw a great blue heron, too, but he was too far for a good pic with my little zoom.

This is the first of officially 14 bridges we crossed.  There were many more little foot bridges, too, across dips in the path for watery days.  Toots counted all the bridges.

Captain Comic and Mr. Cynic were more focussed on the mile and half-mile markers, as they completely did not want to go on the Noland Trail that day, and had little to no knowledge of what it entailed ahead of time.  Heheheh.

A lovely jogger took a shot of us all together.  Very sweet of her to do.

There must be elves and fairies, etc. in this section of ivy covered forest.   At least that's what I drew a lot of when I was Mr. Cynic's age and was reading a LOT of sci-fi fantasy.

Sparkly!  It was a gorgeous, if slightly chill autumn day for a walk around and crisscrossing a big lake.

Rounding the bend ahead of me is the rest of the family.  I believe I was struggling with Lucy at this point, as well as trying to take a picture.  There were many dogs to meet along the path, and Captain Comic HAD to meet all of them. And Lucy had to read all their pee-mail.

We found a bit of a cove with some still and reflective water.  I love the blue.
 Another bridge, somewhere before the halfway mark. Exhausted Captain Comic, glaring Mr. Cynic. Lucy is still excited about the hike, but trepidatious about the bridges.
The Noland Trail runs through a system of parks around the Mariners' Museum.  This one is called Lion Park.  The big stone lions look over the James River and wear wreaths around their necks at this time of year.

Toots did not want Honey to put her down at all, not even to stand in this hole in the tree where she would have looked like a cute like elf.  By the way, that red corduroy coat was mine when I was little.  My mother saved everything.  This is one of the few items that is still wearable, 42 years later.

All in all, a lovely afternoon with some chill fingers and some gripey boys who had their fill before we found the 2.5 mile marker.  Honey and I really enjoyed it, even if our knees, hips and backs had enough long before 4.5 mile marker.  And Toots was a real trooper for a napless tot. Of course, Honey's arms were numb by the end.  He was a real trooper, too.  We all were, come to think of it!