Friday, January 29, 2010

RIP JD Salinger and Howard Zinn

"An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's."

- J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey

Thank you for blowing my doors off their hinges when I was quite young.  May you have a quiet corner now where now one will come knocking on your Caulfield cabin for eternity.

And Howard Zinn, too.  Largely, in the political arena, if you hadn't said it first, I likely would not be thinking it nearly so eloquently and succinctly.

Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people,
can transform the world.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Seek and ye shall find.

For this post, I was drawing blanks.  Each thought I had shot forth from my brain like I was out clay pigeon shooting, and having terrible aim.  I yelled, "Pull!"  and fired, and two things would sail quickly through the air away from me, and somewhat toward each other, arch, miss completely, and drop dead to the ground.  The clay pigeons fell with a thud and a puff of dust. The bullets lay listless in the dirt. There was nothing left to salvage.  Figuratively speaking, of course.

Not that I have ever been clay pigeon shooting.  But I have watched it on tv.  That's right.  That's about as exciting as it gets around here.  I like watching Dog Shows, too.  Although, I have fired a gun and target shot at antique colored glass pharmaceutical bottles in the woods in Vermont.  Oh to be fourteen and that stupid again.  I should have kept them, they were very pretty, and sold them on ebay.  But there was no ebay back then, or the internet.  It was the dark ages, between Lynyrd Skynard and the B-52s, at a vinyl speed of 38rpms.

So, because it's a half day of school, for the rest of the week - more on that later -a Certain Someone kept wandering over and asking if he could use the computer now to (this is where I tune him out because it's something long and involved and involves giant monsters, most likely, or funny cats, and he's told me the particulars or something like them so many times I feel like my face is melting off when he starts again, especially when I am trying to focus on something else, like say, my own imagination and what I want to write from it because, really, this is all about me you know).  So I asked him, "What should I blog about today?"

"Write a blog about how I was inspired by the nicknames you gave [Mr. Cynic] and me on how I'm making a video mini-series called 'The Adventures of Mr. Cynic and Captain Comic' to post on,"  responded Capt. Comic.

Only problem with this is he has not actually started filming because Mr. Cynic wants absolutely nothing to do with this.  His friends might see.   This is causing great consternation and Wars of Words that are particularly virulent around when I'm making dinner and everyone's hungry and tired from a long day of school, toddlering, taekwando or bass lessons, etc.  There is much door slamming and stair stomping and MOOOO-oooooming involved, too.

Someday,the boy will be a filmic genius, I'm sure, but his brother will not be starring in the films as the villian.  That will have to remain true to life and in the house.  My house.  Probably in a couple of hours.  Yep.  I'm pretty certain of that.

So, on three days in a row of half-days:  can I just say that this is not how I wanted or expected to spend the remainder of my 'free time' *cough, sputter* before I go in for surgery on Monday. 

If it rains, I'm a goner for sure.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Anticipating Monday's surgery, I'm alternately wishing this week over and that it stretches out endlessly.  Over, because I want to get back closer to my old physical fitness; endless, because, I don't like the idea of anyone cutting me open and rummaging around inside.  Or pain.  Or recovery period of uselessness. Or Anesthesia.  I really don't like the idea of anesthesia.

I really should start charts at home again for Captain Comic: a homework and homework check chart, a behavior chart, a step-by-step guide to keeping one's room having a visible floor, a step-by-step guide to bathing thoroughly, a morning schedule, an afternoon schedule.

When I put it that way, I don't want to do it, either.  I want to take him out for ice cream instead.

Come to think of it, I should probably chart myself.  I might be more inclined to accomplish more and in a neater environment.  But some of us work better with a little mess.  The key is keeping it little. Right now, my desk is swimming with papers, books, cameras and sundry other sundries.  And I would get a reward at the end of the week.  Maybe some really good chocolate.  Yes, that would be a good incentive.  If I don't graze on it during the week...

My church is aware of my surgery and wants to sic people on me for a couple of weeks.  I suppose I put it out there, but I really don't want random folks showing up.  I will feel like I need to host them, rather than they help me.   Besides, there's the clutter.  It's my clutter.  No one else needs to see that.

It's not like I'm a Hoarder, but we all in this house have stuff. And there are six of us.  That's a lot of stuff. Plus the dog and cat.

Also re: people from church, I know they mean well, but does EVERYONE have to know and ask me about it?  Really?  Do I have to tell this uncomfortable thing over and over again, to, in some cases, folks I hardly know?  I know, I'm blogging about it, but that's different.  I don't have to look you in the eye.  I don't have to see that mixed look of concern and nosiness. I don't want to go into the gorey details, it's just something that needs to be done.  Really, my life will be better for it, after the recovery. Yuck - the recovery.

Sorry this isn't a more uplifting post.  I really am not obsessing, just having these thoughts float through my mind, amidst the mayhem.  I think, considering my mayhem, they are normal thoughts at this time.

To end on a good note: after the storms on Monday morning, the day brightened up and into the sixties.  I got outside.  Toots came with, but fell in the pooling mud around the deck.  Grandma took her in and changed her clothes, while I did a couple of gardening things and branch clearings.  It felt good.  Some sun, some honest work with the earth, but not too much, as my back said, ok, that's enough for now.  For once, I listened.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

on lipstick

Before my mother would ever leave the house, she had to put on her lipstick or she felt naked.  It was a deep red when I was very young, but as the 1970s and 80s progressed, she tended toward earth tones.  And she still prefers an earth toned lipstick to this day.  She still won't leave the house without it.

I rarely in my forty-four years of existence wear lipstick.  More often in the last couple of years than ever before, as my lips are drained of their former natural pinkish hue, most likely due to sheer exhaustion, and sleep and vitamin deficiency. I was always more of a lip balm kind of a girl, if anything. There was a huuuuge Carmex phase, but I'm over that now, by about a decade and a half.  I loved Burt's Bees lip balms, but developed allergies in my late thirties, and can no longer wear Burt's Bees and expect to breathe because of the coconut and almond oils in them.

These days, I have a couple of berryish, slightly more than skintone shades with names like 'shy' and 'tenderheart' tubes in my purse for the color/dryness emergency.  Still, rarely do I actually use the stuff.

Enter my daughter.  She started raiding my purse for the sheer fun of dumping contents quite some time ago, but now she goes in for specifics:

I've said it before, and I'm sure I will say it again.

I'm in trouble when she's a teen, aren't I?

photo note:  the orange hue around her mouth is not because she is diseased or due to my terrible photog abilities.  she recently had been gnawing on a carrot.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Weekend Excerpts

After dressing her, I say to Toots, "C'mon, let's go find your shoes."
Toots bends over at the top of the stairs and calls out, "Shooo-oooes!  Where are yoooooou?" repeatedly. 
Honey says, "They won't come running without your feet in them."

On the way home from church, I ask Mr. Cynic, who has an eye appointment coming up, if he'd like to go for a funkier, more rockinroller frame than his current basic rectangular wire-rim. He answers, "Yea, um we were talking about that today and decided that they're a lot dryer and pretty dull than ...."

What?  OH! He thought I was asking about his classes in the youth group because I'm one of the 'teachers' and a lesson plan was lying on his lap for the ride home.

Captain Comic has taken to walking around giggling and giggling harder as he goes.   He's been watching funny cat videos on youtube. They replay behind his eyes when he's away from the computer.  All he has to do is think 'funny cat video' and he's off watching repeats and giggling himself silly. 

I hope this is limited to home.  They might just decide to commit him if he does this at school. 

Speaking of Captain Comic, Friday night was spent in the ER with him over what I thought was an infected broken pencil tip in his palm, but it turned out to be a wart.  It is now known as The Hundred Dollar Wart.  I am really beginning to dislike this insurance phone triage.  They insist I take my kids to the ER over every little thing rather than go to an urgent care place for half the co-pay.  The nurse was certain by what I told her that he needed IV antibiotics. 

Saturday, we took Captain Comic and Toots to Deer Park for the first time.  Toots was a hoot on the slides and kept running around saying, "Look, Mommy! I running! I running!  I running!" 

Captain Comic made a good go of playing with some other kids there.  I asked the dad if he was being alright when I noticed the kids were looking at him a little funny and I was a bit away from what was happening.  By the time I approached, Capt. Comic had moved along, and I mentioned I just wanted to check in because he's a little different.  The dad was great and said, "hey, aren't we all a little different?"

Thanks Man at Deer Park with the fun crew of kids.  Sometimes I need to be reminded.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Four and Twenty Blackbirds...

It started with an ominous few
They scouted,
they looked around suspiciously

Then they were joined by a second wave,
coming in so fast and furious,
wave after wave,
I couldn't catch them all
Dropping from trees,
onto fence, fluttering to the ground

And just as I was beginning to flashback in fear
to a certain Hitchock movie
They up, up and awayed.

Stunning really.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Toots and character flaw.


I absolutely love language development. Toots is now stringing words together and is almost more thrilled by it than I am.  Honey, Grandma and I are just giggling in amazement at everything that comes out of her mouth lately. Some recent examples:

We had turned the lights out in the office/playroom/guestroom the other night.  Toots runs  in a step or two because she still wants to play with her interlocking building toys and screeches to a halt-shiver-spin and hightails it out of there with a big grin on her face: 

"Whooooaaaaa! It dahk in dere!"

"Mommy, you too funny!"

Big huuuuuug, Mommy!

"Daddy, I wuvey you-you!"

"Gam-ma, you wead book!"

Just a sampling, because I know this isn't nearly as exciting to read as it is for me to hear. She talks a lot about herself, too, and is too cute saying her name like Elmo says his in every sentence.

character flaw

In my first middle reader manuscript, I have a character I love who shows up near the beginning, is integral to a couple of things in the story and for the main character, but who drops out of sight about halfway through.  He had a purpose as a confessor for the main character, but that ended up being served later in the story by another character altogether, who made better sense for the role in the way the story developed.

I had this thought previous to my writing retreat,  even had advice from my old writer friends back in Boston to get rid of the early guy, but I loved him way too much.  While at the retreat, I figured out how to combine the two characters, but I wasn't ready to let the early character go.  I think I am today.  Barring any appointments Grandma may have this afternoon, I may need to steal hubby's laptop and head out to a cafe to do the dirty deed of killing off my character.  It'll be like a death to me, even though I am really just taking parts of him that advance the story and giving them to the later character. And of course I will have to change how that works, too. 

Sometimes, I really do just want this finished already.  But the process is what is fun, right?  Even when it can be agonizing.

As for leaving the house to write, I think I really have to start doing that now. Toots won't nap until the afternoon, and by then, Grandma is home from her morning routine and Mr. Cynic arrives off the bus not long after lunch because his high school starts ridiculously early. And then comes Captain Comic about 90 minutes later. Even when they are not directly interrupting me, which is usually the case, just the presence of so many people who may likely interact with me is too distracting for me to concentrate on real writing.

And then there's the whole guilt factor of having constantly divided attention between mothering and creativity.  I really should be paying attention to my kids more directly.  I really can't focus on the writing when family is around. Might as well define the borders better physically.  Now that's a step in the right direction for me.  What took so long for that to sink in and come up with a solution?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Captain Comic

When Captain Comic arrives home from school each day, the conversation goes thusly:

Mom: Hey kiddo, how was school today?
Captain Comic: 18.5.

The teachers and special ed assistants that chaperone him throughout the day keep a chart that goes to a total of 20 points.  They make checkmarks in boxes for when he does well over the course of the day. When he's inattentive or distracting (basically) the corresponding box is left blank.  At the end of the day, they tally the boxes.  Comments as to what his day was like are peppered throughout the chart.  It works for him, especially when home is on board with the process and has conseqences for falling below a certain level.  Right now, that means if he drops below 18, no down time videogame play when he arrives home.  This can be unfortunate on the days when he is having difficulty, as that down time really helps him center. 

Of course, another aspect of asperger's we are working on with him is interacting and carrying on conversations appropriately.  The fact that his answer for how his day was is a number tends to limit the opportunity for an appropriate 'circle of conversation'.  That is Speech Pathology jingo.  It means, someone makes an opening statement, the responder responds appropriately, and then back to the opener.  When he answers a number when someone asks how are you more often than anything, it makes it difficult for him to carry that conversation skill elsewhere.  When he meets someone new, or we meet up with friends, etc, and they ask how he is, he doesn't have the 'tools' readily available beyond a reluctantly grunted "fine" at best, because every day he comes home from school and says, "19" to mean he had a good day.

Yesterday opened with the above conversation after school.  Then, per usual, I directed him to wash his hands, then, yes, he can play videogames.

He started playing a Spiderman game, and I saw he was in free play mode, or more appropriately, I asked because I couldn't tell free play from story mode if you held a gun to my head. 

My brain started clicking away, he's not playing for points, he seems pretty open at the moment, let's try this from a different angle.

Mom: Kiddo?
Capt. Comic: What?
Mom: Can we have a conversation while you play?
Capt. Comic: U-Uh-(setting himself up to listen) Sure.
Mom: Can you tell me how your day was without a number?
Capt. Comic: grrrrrr
Mom: Well, what happened that it wasn't 20?
Capt. Comic:  - Language Arts was hard today.
Mom: (now we're getting somewhere!) Was it hard to pay attention?
Capt. Comic: No.  My brain was moving too fast again.
Mom: Can you tell me what it was moving too fast for?
Capt. C: We were supposed to write a paragraph on what period in History we wanted to live in and I couldn't write down everything in my head.
Mom: (clearly identifying with him at this point regarding when I am feeling inspired and can't get it down the way it is occurring in my head)  That must have been frustrating for you.
Capt. C: (sounding relieved that someone gets him)Yes it was!
Mom:  What period in History did you write about?
Capt. Comic: The 1960s.
Mom: (ok, I start to get excited that this might have something to do with Martin Luther King Day and Civil Rights, or Anything else about the amazingly turbulent decade of change and then I remember who I am asking)  What about the sixties did you want to write about?
Capt. Comic: I want to live in the 1960s because that was the decade Toho Studios made the most Godzilla movies. They made a movie year after year from 1962, through 1969, minus 1963, of course....(more information than I can process about Godzilla movies anymore) and it would be neat to watch TV in black and white and to dial a rotary phone.  Mom?  How does a rotary phone work?

I'll stop relaying the conversation here except to say I told him how I used to know who Gaga (my mother, his grandmother, and yes she is) was calling by the pattern of clicks she dialed. He was very excited by this.

Ahhh... progress...the bottom line is we had an extended, appropriate conversation filled with multiple 'circles of conversation'.  He only began to 'download' information near the end, and he stopped himself.  If you're ever in a conversation with someone and they begin to tell you more than you ever considered knowing about a given topic, you can assume they have the aspergian trait of gathering knowledge about a topic they are obsessed with and wanting to share that information as soon as they have what they perceive to be a willing ear.  Because it is exciting for them, of course it is exciting for everyone else.
Captain Comic's main area of interest (there are others but this is the biggie) is Godzilla movies. 

Anyway, that conversation was a lovely moment with my son.  They are few and far between, except for his bowl me over hugs. Although, those moments and conversations are increasing.

We also managed to continue that conversation into another about how he feels about transitioning to middle school next year.

Wow.  That was big.

Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK and Haiti

Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expedience asks the question, “Is it Politic.” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks, “Is it right?” The ultimate measure of a person is not where he stands in moments of convenience, but in moments of crisis and controversy.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
I have been trying really hard not to be overwhelmed by what has happened in Haiti. I was so overwhelmed by 9/11, by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, by the Tsunami in Southeast Asia a few years back. Large disasters are incomprehensible, whether manmade like the ongoing genocide in Darfur and the Middle East issues, or this most recent crack in the bones of Earth under a major population concentration in one of the poorest areas of the world. So close to the US, the poverty of Haiti is itself incomprehensible. It is difficult not to feel helpless and hopeless in the face of such large scale destruction, lack of food, water, shelter and medical care.
It has been a long time since I have seen him, but in my early adult years, I had a friend who was from Haiti and Boston. He was big and quiet, but oh what a smile and laugh. I think of him now, wonder where he is, where his extended family is, because when I knew him, many of his family were still in Haiti. I pray that they are alright, even though I haven't seen or spoken to him since probably 1990. But having known him, however long ago, personalizes this particular disaster for me in a way different from many others. As does knowing some of the students I had back around Boston over the years. There is a strong Haitian immigrant community there, as well as Dominican, which many of my former students were at one particular school. I think of them, too, and wonder why we haven't heard much about the affects in the Dominican Republic. After all, both countries are on such a small island, together.
Of course, I want to do something, but find myself no George Clooney organizing a benefit concert to raise money for the rescue and humanitarian efforts, or Sandra Bullock pulling a million out of her pocket with an attitude of whatever she can do, she will do.
Well, I can donate when the offertory is passed in my church with funds going to the Red Cross. And I can spread the word about what others are doing to help the effort.
My friend, artist and jewelry maker Kelly Warren, is donating the sales of some photography and jewelry at her Etsy shops. please click on her name, and follow what she tells you there. Her jewelry and photography are as happy and colorful as the colors of Haitian art. I think she is doing a wonderful thing to show her support for the Haitian people. I've seen other incidences of Kelly's heart of gold, but now, she is absolutely in her generous spirit.
In other ways, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Haiti, a country that historically seems unable to catch a break, but whose people have more resilience and faith in life and art and spirit than almost anywhere in the world. Let us all do what we can to help, however small it may feel. Any little bit from prayer to pocket to action makes a difference.
Christa Brelsford was one of the hot news items in the earliest reports. Her spirit of ethical responsibility and optimism in the face of losing a leg, are inspirational. Of course, she is one of the lucky ones, transported out and back home to America. I am proud to call her a fellow alumna of the college that informed my sense of personal responsibility toward the entirety of humanity. I would not be surprised to find her heading back to continue the work in adult literacy she was there to do as soon as she is able.
I opened this post with my favorite quote from the man we celebrate today, Martin Luther King, Jr. The active visionary inspired our nation to a greater good during a diffcult time in our history. I believe now is another time for us to listen to our conscience and do what we can.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Crash and randoms for Friday

I think I may have overdone it at the writers' retreat. I haven't written anything else in the book all week since.

Toots has been Sleeping through the night since I left last Thursday morning, and in her crib. Two miracles in my book. Previously she was still waking to nurse during the night. I mentioned something about being grateful that she is sleeping through the night now and lo and behold:

Last night she wouldn't sleep until 11pm and then was solidly awake from 2:30-5:30am. Wanted to party and dance with the two giant slugs in bed with her: Mommy and Daddy."Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy! Mom-Mom-mommy!" is not nearly as cute at 4am as 4 pm.

Lord have mercy upon my sleep deprived soul. Goddess have mercy. Somebody out there, please help this girl sleep before I die from sleep deprivation before she reaches kindergarten.

I'm kidding. I won't die from it. I am a lifetime practitioner of the science of sleep deprivation, and so are all my kids. But a few nights of sleep at the retreat and a few nights of it at home all in a row made me realize what I've been missing all this time.

Mr. Cynic is a pretty good sleeper now. But he's a teen. It was bound to happen.

Speaking of Mr. Cynic, I wish I could recall what was so funny one night this week, but I said it and he and I both absolutely collapsed in laughter. It's good to laugh with your teen; they don't seem to resent your existence on earth nearly so much.

Captain Comic's quote of the week comes to us from last night's dinner table conversation.

"Mom? Is 'Egad!' French for 'Oh no!'?"

Please forgive my punctuation above, I am very sleep deprived and punctuationally flummoxed.

Enjoy your weekend. I have a haircut scheduled with my new cutie pie stylist, who is way too young, and I'm way too married, and he's also way too engaged...but a girl can look, right? Especially when his tight black t-shirt clad bicep is flexing 2 inches from eyes. That's right, I found the one straight male stylist in a 2000 mile radius. And he's a magician with a razor. Nobody seems to want to cut hair with a razor anymore, and that's exactly what works best for my wave.

Toots has been invited to her first birthday party.

I really want to take down my Christmas decorations. Really I do. But I think I'd rather spend the weekend in bed, doing the most thrilling thing to me in the world as I write this: sleeping - or cuddling with Honey who has been terribly sick this week and is feeling much better.

I guess I'll see what happens.

And most of all I am thinking of the people of Haiti.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The end of an era

Toots is twenty-one months old. I have long term nursed her until now, as I did my boys so long ago.

I really struggled about going to the retreat because I was torn about ending nursing. In all this time with Toots, I have only used the $250 Medela pump three times. Otherwise, it's all been naturale. Mother and child, the old way, the real way, as it should be, and as no other relationship on earth.

I knew the time was coming, but I didn't want to cut her off. I knew the time was coming, I was worn out, I have surgery scheduled in a couple of weeks, and I really didn't want to end nursing. Toots is clearly the last child I will do this with. A part of my life that is full of meaning and feminine divinity, and empowerment and ferality and sweetness and life is over. It's over for her and it's over for me.

While I effectively made a clear decision about it by going away for four nights, I was heartstrung about it. A lot in my life is so up in the air all the time, come what may, but loving and nursing my children has been one of those things I never doubted and was really good at.

I've mourned it twice already, with Mr Cynic, after which I was almost immediately pregnant again with Captain Comic...between the two of them I was pregnant and nursing for seven years straight. I was pretty darned sure after Captain Comic stopped, that he was my last and I mourned the finality of it then.

Then ten years later I had Toots. And now twenty-one months later, here I am grieving the passage of my life as a mother to babies for the second time. That closeness. That ineffable thing artists have been portraying in holy light for centuries. The most basic mammalian function, providing the ultimate nourishment to offspring.

She asked and whined a little about wanting to after I came back on Sunday. Asked a couple of times since, but with sweet talk of her being a big girl now, she was easily soothed and diverted.

She followed Grandma upstairs to bed tonight. I miss her. One week ago tonight was the last time we nursed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Writers' Retreat in the Outer Banks, NC

I don't know quite how to talk about my experience at the Writers' Retreat. It was rather life, or at least book changing. We got right to it, after a brief lunch on Thursday afternoon last week and settling in. We are six women children's authors all in a writing group together that has now officially been dubbed Tidewater Writers. We wrote on average, in silence, for nine hours a day. We all felt like if we were in our usual environments we would not have accomplished the things we did or maintained the focus for so long. We did only because five other women were doing the same thing. As for what I accomplished: I nitpick edited my way through three turns of the book, most specifically to get my verb tense consistent throughout the story. I surprised myself with a few new scenes where previously I had described situations. I figured out that I need to meld two characters. This both saddens and exhilarates me. I really love one character I am going to get rid of in the process, and his appearance really defines the family dynamic in the manuscript. Here are some pictures of where we stayed in a little town called Duck.

I took the above from the screened in deck almost as soon as I arrived. The drive was easy and made easier through conversation. I probably talked J's ear off out of necessity, as I anticipated the silence to follow. I'm a talker by nature, and just knowing there would be other adults to talk to who wanted quiet was going to kill me if i didn't get it out of my system. My apologies to J, if she sees this post. The water surface was frozen, hard to see from this shot. It was about the coldest weekend the Outer Banks had ever seen. Think about it: frozen salt water body.

A handful of hours later, after we'd been working, and I had fidgeted and moved around too much, battling my own distractions, I looked out the window to a beautiful golden sunset.

I watched it more than I wrote for a while. Below's picture is blurry, there was a lot less light, and a lot more color. Because of the darkness encroaching, my shutter stayed open too long and I have a shaky hand, so sorry about the blur. Amazing color, not amazing camera, you can see the ice patch better here in the lower quarter of the photo, blurry as it is.

Each night we took turns making dinner. I was shamed by my cohorts. I like to think I am a good cook, but mine was way homier than the presentations by the other women. Even if my spaghetti sauce was homemade. After a couple of hours of work on Friday morning, I wasn't getting very far going crosseyed trying to edit and was fidgeting. I kept thinking about Toots and that I should be home. I saw J getting restless, too, so I approached her as quietly as possibly to see if she wanted to walk down to the water to clear our heads. So we bundled up and hopped the boardwalk over the dune to the peers and Currituck Sound. At least I think it was Currituck. I've looked on a couple of maps and a few sounds and a bay all seem to converge right about where we were staying, on the western shoreline. Again, all these white caps? Not moving, not gently rolling into the shore. Frozen. Solid. The wind was quite brutal.

We wanted to walk out the long peer, but found it blocked by this:

Even though we were renters. So here's a view from below the peer at about ten in the morning.

We didn't stay out for long, the wind was really taking our breath away. I heard some form of wildlife rustling on the dune in the grasses and brush, but didn't catch sight of it. Below is the view of our house from the boardwalk. It was huge. It had a pool, closed, and a hot tub. The hot tub became a vital part of our retreat and writing process. We gabbed about writing bumps and curves, drank wine, and soaked, while the water steamed up into the cold cold night around our heads, and up to where the stars shone brightly.

Saturday, J and I decided, as cold as it was, there was no sense in our coming all the way to the ocean, mere yards away across the main road, and not see it. If you've been reading my blog at least since this summer, you know by now my particular affinity for the ocean and beach. We drove down, parked and walked over the dune around four in the afternoon.

If we thought the wind was cold the day before, it absolutely bore through us on the way up the dune. Below is the view from the crest of the dune as the wind began to tear through my left ear.

We walked southward down the shore with the wind at our backs, but still seriously braced against the cold. My Red Sox cap was the wrong hat for the job. I found tons of cool shells and even pieces of bone of small animals, washed ashore. The shells were bigger than any you can find in the summertime at Virginia Beach or Buckroe, my current usual haunts. I've been collecting beach detris since I was a little girl growing up on Long Island Sound, and all the beaches my parents trotted us to all up and down the East Coast growing up, and any beach I've been on since. I picked up a nice couple of pieces of driftwood on Saturday, along with a pocketful of shells, two whole crab carcasses (two types) and the jawbone of something, I still don't know what, but it still has teeth!
I soon realized we really needed to turn around if we weren't going to freeze to death on the way back to the boardwalk by the car. J agreed and I'll tell you, my mother's old expression 'cold as a witch's titty' does not even come close to the wind that whipped our faces. The seagulls below stood shivering away from the water's edge until I pulled out my camera and approached them.
They gave me some serious WTF expressions as they headed toward the water to get away from me.

By the time we jumped back into J's car, I knew my ears were in serious trouble. I looked in the visor mirror and they were stark white. That is not a good sign. They continued to tingle and hurt two days later, after I'd been warm inside even back home for twenty-four hours.
By the look of these pictures, it seems I spent a lot of time gazing at sky and sea, but really that was a brief respite. The main thing I did all weekend was write. Well, even then, mostly edit, but it was much needed and not something I've been able to stick it out and do with all the home interruptions and easy distractions. I feel refreshed and exhausted. refreshed from all the sleep and hot tub that I don't get at home, ever. Mentally exhausted because I finetooth combed my way through my whole book, and wrote additional scenes. I can't wait for next year's retreat!
I am posting this a few days later than I wanted because I came home to a sick cat, and paying attention to family needs. We're still waiting on test results to find out what is going on with Babette, and I am absolutely drowning under laundry duty, among the usual mayhem.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Babette, the old furry girl

I promise I will blog about my wonderful writers' retreat soon.

I arrived home to my cat, who has been losing weight though eating, looking pretty darned pathetic. So I have spent the morning with her at the vet.

They've run bloodwork, and will be doing some more tests to try to find out what is going on with her.

I'm worried. I love her like she's one of my kids. In fact, I've had her since Mr. Cynic was a toddler. They grew up together. Of course, she grew up a lot faster. I looked at the aging chart in the vet's office while we were waiting to be seen. She's approximately 74 in kitty years. She's beautiful, she's regal, she is very displeased about her visit to the vet today, but she is being very good for them.

Though when it comes to the Evil Eye, she has cursed us all to at least seven generations.

However, there's a wonderful tiny little pill that they sent home with me to give to Lucy, too.

"You should see the fleas just dropping off of her within 30minutes. It just kills them dead. Within four hours, no more fleas, guaranteed. It's disgusting, by the way."

I haven't found a trail of fleas carcasses as of yet, but I did dose the dog as soon as I arrived home.

Thursday, January 7, 2010



No, the retreat is not in Hawaii, but it sure feels that way to me!

I'll post news of it upon my return.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Another year older

No quips, nothing very profound. I am 44 years old today. but really it's just another day, right?

This birthday is less profound than all the preceding. I'm not particularly looking forward to it or bothered by it's implications of that much closer to the mortal coil. It really seems just another day in the life du Cath.

Of course, my husband is having his little procedure today, too. Not that that has much to do with it.

Generally I do really enjoy my birthdays. This one just feels like it's floating by in the current. Usually I get all worked up, turn into Ms. Happy and Ms. Philosophical and nostalgic for weeks ahead of time. This year, eh.

I'll see how it goes. Maybe that'll change. Most likely it will.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It Happened Again

I had a great, even meaningful, possibly life-changing idea to blog last night.

And then I woke up.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Random - or Retreat

1. It is freaking bloody cold for where I live. As much as I miss New England for so many things that come along with fall and winter, cold, and wind are not among them.

2. I kvetch. I kvetch to find solutions, not just to whine about what I do not have that I want. I kvetched to a friend about wanting desperately to go on this writers' retreat coming up. He asked me how much it would cost as I was complaining about budgetary issues. He exclaimed, "Cath, I spend more than that sitting at an oyster bar!" Two days later, a check arrived in the mail. Bless you, friend.

3. I'm going on a Writers' Retreat later this week.

4. Wednesday is my birthday. No biggie. Honey has a routine type procedure scheduled the same day. A bit of a biggie. But, I'm leaving for my Writers' Retreat the next day!

5. Did I mention I am leaving my mayhem behind and may actually get some gol-dang sleep, even if it's not in my own bed? More specifically because it won't be my own bed, with the middle of the night waking toddler wedged between Honey and me...

6. Fellow creative types, do you ever have those moments when it is completely inconvenient to have a stroke of inspiration and then you sit down an hour later to BE creative and it disappears? That's me right now. I was feeling very poetic and writerly as I got into the shower this morning. Then I sat down in front of the computer and: nothing. It must be the cold.

7. I really am concerned about my honey's procedure, though everyone is telling me it's no big deal, he'll be fine. But I'm taking it as it comes, hoping for the best, and going on my retreat because even though it's inconvenient to everything else in my life, it's the most important thing to my wellbeing right now. His mother is here, he'll be okay and so will the kids without me for a few days.

8. Toots is stuffy. Crusty nosed toddlers do not like when a tissue heads anywhere near their faces.

9. Captain Comic is back to school. Mr. Cynic is back to school. I think, in each's own way, they are happy about it. Mr. Cynic gets to see his friends and Captain Comic gets back into a regular routine.

10. I need to go find a sweater and pour another cup of hot tea. Layers, people, think layers.

11. Writers' Retreat!!!!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Decade

It's not terribly early in the morning. Toots is sleeping in and so are Honey and Grandma. The boys are with their father and but for my usually waking and Lucy who wanted out of her crate for her morning business, the house is quiet.

The route road that runs behind my house is quiet.

I'm enjoying my coffee in relative peace.

No one has to be anywhere under duress. No shoes to find before a bus.

Ah, that didn't last long. I hear Toots stirring.

Well, I hope your New Year and New Decade bring your hopes, desires and the goals of your work. And remember, the goals aren't necessarily as direct as they may seem, like a paycheck. They involve your dreams.

Here, Mother Nature is blessing us with a wee bit more rain, and I will relax with my coffee a moment longer before I make the Hoppin' John for prosperity in 2010.