Monday, May 31, 2010

Beach Season

We got a late start to everything yesterday, which included forgetting to grab an actual camera rather than just the cellphones.  When we finally got rolling, we had to stop for sunglasses, because Toots has been begging for them since we all got our prescription glasses renewed a while back.  She felt left out, I guess, but now she's the coolest chick in the van.

When we reached Grandview Beach in Hampton, VA, we joined friends on the neighborhood private beach area rather than going into the conservation area.  The walk was still quite long.  I did who-knows-what to my ankle earlier in the week, and then found the tidal pool ditch with the same foot.  Weird crunch in said ankle followed, as well as increased swelling.  But otherwise we had a lovely time at the beach.  Even Mr. Cynic, who was none too pleased about hanging out with his family in the bright sun, enjoyed himself in the end. 

The boys found a clam in the dry area of the sand and moved it here, where it could dig back into the wet sand.

Lots of stumps littered the shoreline.  At first I wondered if they were remnants of an old pier, then realized they had to be parts of some old shoreline forest. 

Captain Comic, of course gunned for the water as soon as we arrived.  I had to yell him back for sunscreen, but while I was trying to sunscreen Honey's back and Toots, while she dumped handfuls of sand all over the blanket we just spread out, he slapped two streaks on himself and ran back to the water, never to be within 15 yards of waterline after. 

Last night, his back was on fire.  Still is.  Minimal white hand streaks are visible in the hot pink fire wall.  No amount of aloe will soothe it, and he won't let me put zinc oxide (diaper cream) on it.  So I said, okay, kiddo, then suffer, and no pool today.  He's fine with suffering the sting, but not with missing out on the pool's opening weekend.  He still won't let me put zinc on it.  No worries, I'll win when the rest of us head to the pool, seemingly without him.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Don't tell anyone, but I was thinking about my manuscript, and you know what?

Even though I'm in the midst of tearing it apart and putting it back together again,

the story is really good.  It has a bit of science, it resolves a major conflict and some subplot conflicts along the way which serve the main conflict. It concerns a boy and his dog and his family and friends, a bully, and just how angst-ridden being 12 can be. And it still has some good laughs.  The kids are kids you'd expect to meet.

It's movie from the book good.

But you didn't hear it from me.  I'm much too modest for that.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Road Blocks

I went to bed last night and woke up this morning with every intention to write today.

I feel groggy and have a huge headache because we had big thunderstorm in the wee hours.

Toots is running around per usual.

The kitchen is a mess and I skipped laundry yesterday, so there's more to do today. 

Grandma, who is usually out of the house by 9am, is playing Farmville next to me, so I hear whinnies and moos and clucks along with Toots's Seasame Street theme from the other side of the wall.

I opened both the new piece and the manuscript to work on, unsure which direction I felt gung-ho about earlier.

Then the highway that runs behind my house that has been torn up and repaved four times in the past six months is illogically being torn up again on this thunderstorm threatening Friday before Memorial Day weekend, when we all know, they won't be back until at least Tuesday to begin to deal with the mess, and the trucks' constant motors and grinding are hell on my headache.

Calgon, Take me away!!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

looks like summer

Lucy, our little black terror - er terrier, I swear that started as a typo - is dropping 'lucy bombs' all over the yard, which I am dutifully scooping and throwing over the back fence.

She is also digging again and leaving us 'presents' of dead moles and voles.

And it is about 4,000 90 degrees out. That did not start out as a typo.

Thank goodness our neighborhood pool opens this weekend.  And we're headed to the beach, too. 


Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Some people are born list makers and some definitively are not.  I fall somewhere in between. 

I like to make a list then buck it; or avoid making a list, thinking I can keep this, that and everything else in my head.

The truth of the matter is there are some instances where making a bonafide list is truly necessary.

Otherwise I go into the grocery store for lemons, milk, asparagus, dill, and artichokes, and I come out with ice cream, cookies, potato chips and baking soda.  Then we have no vegetable side dish for dinner.

In the case of working on my manuscript, I found, I had a good editing list 'in my head', but I wasn't doing the editing.  It became daunting knowing I had to look for, and keep in mind this variety of 'to dos' as I read through the manuscript.  So what I actually ended up doing was nit pick editing the first 20-30 pages over and over again, getting hung up on a comma or a sentence, or a preposition.  Then let two weeks go by, until I hit my writing group again and could sit there for three hours and look at the same 20-30 pages over again.

So, when I was at writing group yesterday, this suddenly dawned on me.  I mean, it wasn't really a new concept.  I had been vaguely aware that I was preventing myself from doing the real work that needed doing for a while, but I saw an honest to goodness bluebird out the window, which set me dreaming about the edges of things, because they live in edge forests by open fields. The next thing I knew, I realized, I had been on the edge of my manuscript for months now. 

So, yes, I KNEW what I needed to do, and it was plenty the more I mulled it, so I decided to write it down.

First I wrote down the chapter headings, made a list of all the chapters, like a table of contents without the page numbers.  While I was doing that, it occurred to me that I could combine a couple of these short chapters into one in a few places, which would simplify a lot, really. 

Then I made a list at the bottom of that which looks like this:

Working on:

~ continue to edit Joe out/Mike into Thanksgiving and Observatory scenes

~write observatory scene using A. H.’s notes

~pay attention to name changes for T. B. and T. N.

~characterize supporting characters more through action and physical description

~make ‘thought bubbles’ action scenes or move them to more fitting scene

~ edit down cooking relevance

~more on comets

While it still covers a lot of tasks, some quite involved, to see them written down is so much less confungulating (hybrid of confusing and confounding and frustrating my non-writer Honey came up with, which I love!) than when I was trying to keep them in my mind. 

This way I can separate out the tasks and work on them, one at a time, and maybe fix a few of those name changes along the way. 

What a concept!  And to think I used to counsel my tutorial students to do exactly the same thing in organizing their much shorter papers. 

Monday, May 24, 2010


So, of course, last night and this morning, everyone is discussing the finale of Lost.

I don't have much to say, except to accept the premise from the pilot episode, "We need to stick together, or we will all die alone."

The rest is great storytelling: archetypal themes from every world religion and philosophy; the story of Jacob and Esau, with Esau's name never being divulged; battle of good and evil and how easily the lines between are blurred; the nature of war;  break down of most stereotypes, and a great love of character development. And Daddy issues. 

Most of it is told through Jack's eyes, because he is the primary doubter, and it is his story we are here for.  Only through his final acceptance of the truth of himself, can he move on.

Other than that, everything is open to individual interpretation, which is why we discuss great epic tales since Homer so many centuries later.  Because they matter.  They tell us how to life and die.  They point out our humanity. 

Lost was one of those tales, in a newer form.  And it was told beautifully, kept us guessing, not so much in the WTF? department as in the how will this resolve department.  That is what great storytelling is all about. 

The polar bear was a red herring all along.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Elephant in the Room

That's right, I'm going to talk about it. 

There is a big myth floating around that Asperger's Syndrome is a label put on a person who is categorically a Supergenius, if a bit of a quirky oddball.  I may be contributing to that myth a bit by going a full year in my blog talking about the lighter moments of what it is like to live with someone or parent someone with Asperger's.  I'm very lucky to live with one who is extremely funny, oftentimes intentionally, and more often, not intentionally. 

But to be honest, luck has little to do with it.  Many people worked very hard to get him to this place from the screamer he was for his first three years.  His early childhood is what made me find out what I was made from, and it was much stronger stuff than I ever could have imagined.  And I have a huge imagination.  I became the lion that roared, the Mama Bear who did everything she could to protect her cub.  Part of that was taking him to this doctor and that for tests, etc that included two sedations before he turned three.  And like his mother, Captain Comic is extremely sensitive to sedation.  There is nothing scarier to a parent than to watch your tiny child not wake up for 36 hours. 

Part of that process was getting him into Early Intervention, which I was a bit late in doing, so he only got three months worth of it.  He received at home and Center-based treatments (two towns away) in Occupational and Speech Therapies.  By that third month, I learned a lot of tools to help him, and he aged into the local Integrated Preschool in the next town.  By the following year, they opened one in our little town's only public school, the elementary his brother already attended, which simplified things a great deal for me, and I was finally able to return to work part time, rather than just manage around his care and treatments which continued throughout his three years of preschool.  His team and I decided, with his late August birthday and where he was at that time, it was best that he remain in preschool rather than advance to Kindergarten just yet.

The following year, days after his 6th birthday, he entered his brother's old Kindergarten class, with the same supports available to him as he had in the Integrated Preschool.  Thankfully, We were in Massachusetts, among the top ranked Special Needs states especially in regards to Autism Spectrum Disorders, and in an excellent school district whose main mode of thought on special needs was to integrate them as much as possible.  Captain Comic was challenging, but with the right supports in place, from continuing his Speech and OT, to Sensory Feeds in the OT room on regular and as needed basis, he progressed well. 

By the end of first grade, He had friends and went to birthday parties.  Other kids came to his. We had regular playdates at parks and at each other's homes.  The girls looked out for him in the cafeteria and playground. He had a girlfriend and they were going to grow up and get married.  She was also the prettiest girl in the class. He was thriving and everyone who worked with him loved him.  We cried in IEP meetings about how far he had come from the kid who when the OT met him at the original Integrated Preschool, wondered how she was going to help this kid, who looked impossible.  He was down from one-on-one micromanaged  support in the classroom to one-to-three, more observation-oriented support.

And then we moved to Virginia, one of the worst ranked states in Special Needs, and the first thing that happened, the first school he attended ripped his brand spanking new IEP to shreds because it was jam-packed with accomodations, "there was no way they could provide!"  I replied, "Well they did in Massachusetts!" 

But I was alone in the room, which began to shrink and swell, and it was the first time I ever really felt I had to fight for his needs, and I didn't know how to do so without making more issues. 

They tried the Integrated approach without the old accomodations to keep him functioning in the classroom well. They didn't believe me that that was why he did so well in Massachusetts. They had issues.  Eventually we moved into a different school's neighborhood, but kept him where he was, because all the other transitions, like the double move, were setting him off as well, let's try some kind of consistency, but I chose the wrong place to provide it.  I should have moved him to the newer school as soon as we bought the house and moved from the apartment.  By the time I did at the start of the new school year, it was far too late, and the District refused to provide the summer program that was a given for consistency where we came from.  It was provided in the old District, because consistency is what any person on the Autism Spectrum needs.

Needless to say, at the end of the first semester in his zone elementary, things had gone from bad to worse.  The 'supports' they provided were basically to keep him from disturbing the rest of the class too much.  To say that he can be loud is an understatement.

The tipping point, and what landed him in what is now being referred to as a Behavior Support class, but upon his entering was called The Emotionally Disturbed class in yet another elementary, was they were trying to give him one of his sensory feed walking breaks to calm him down (I think they more used it to get him away from the other students, and a lot)  and Captain Comic grabbed onto the door frame and screamed a la Calvin and Hobbes, "Get the authorities!  Call 911! Police, Help!  They're trying to kidnap me!"

See, now I read that as he wanted to stay in the class and work with the rest of the students.  But because at that point, he was so far gone in ability to manage him without the proper tools - accomodations - in place, he was moved to a smaller class environment in a different school with 'troubled kids'.

I met his teacher before he entered, and mind you, through all of this, I was going through two miscarriages and then a complete bedrest pregnancy, so I was wheeled into this meeting. I'm sure a lot of what I was going through wasn't helping his behavior at school, either, as he worried about me and was excited about having a new sibling.  I was barely able to speak, to be honest, and my parent advocate pretty much handled the meeting, bless her heart.  She saw us through all three schools.  I could not be civil anymore after they had broken down my highly functioning child so thoroughly within 18 months. 

His current teacher and her team, learned with him to the point that all the other kids in the District with Asperger's ended up in her program, because she cared and wanted to learn what worked with them.  I love her.  I want to keep her. 

So, what has prompted me to write this treatise on my child, is Friday afternoon, we had his Transition to Middle School meeting.  And here is where I start to cry again.  Captain Comic briefly attended the meeting, mostly to meet the Head of SPED for his new school.  He was a part of the meeting, until I noticed 'that look in his eye', the one that means he is about to burst from nervousness into a repeated monologue  from a video, or his description of a funny dog video playing in his head. So I interrupted the meeting with an opportunity for him to exit before his vocal outburst.  On his way out the door, he said he was "glad to go back to his Science class, because Ms. I is such a fun teacher."  The others in the meeting seemed to appreciate that. 

Then we discussed the possibility of his moving out of the Behavioral Support Model, which I neglected to mention above is a stepped program back into Mainstream. Right now, he is fully re-integrated in Mainstream. That's a long climb back from that screaming doorframe moment. His next three year IEP Eligibility meeting comes up at the end of October.  He'll still need accomodations to function in school, but it won't be under the label of Behavioral Needs.  It will be provided under his Autism label through standard Special Education, according to his IEP. 

We're going to keep an eye on how he does in the beginning of the school year at the Middle School, but he'll be back in his zoned school, with the kids from the neighborhood.  I think this will all help him to integrate in the neighborhood better, too, because for now, he's the odd kid at the pool come summertime, the other kids don't understand. And during the school year, they see him wander periodically with our dog, but mostly, I keep him close to home.  There is a boy across the street who is a year ahead and another kid who comes to shoot baskets with him. They are nice guys, but I think they don't quite get Captain Comic, largely because they don't see him at school.  Captain Comic really wants to be friends with them both, and have a 'normal boyhood' in which he hangs out with his friends. 

It may finally start to happen.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

on the matter of split lips and white shirts

Yesterday, I left the clean laundry in the family room, folded and sorted on the coffee table trunk and arm of one sofa, as well as an empty basket, and a full one waiting to be folded, while I took a minute at the computer, and to discuss dinner options of pizza or leftovers with Grandma in the office.  Our tv/family room is a fairly small space crammed with big furniture.  Toots was hitting the dinnertime wind up all kids go through every night, known as the witching hour.

I figured, even though a lot was precarious in the room, Mr. Cynic was there, so I could walk away for ten minutes. 

Next I hear is the rhythmic cry scream of a downed Toots.  I go in to see what happened and comfort her, and there she is on the floor on her back, empty laundry basket on top of her.  Mr. Cynic has not moved from the couch, but he's fifteen, I can hardly expect him to, honestly.  He says, "I think she pulled the basket down on top of her," when I asked if he saw anything. Yea, I got that much on my own.

I don't see anything right away, hug her close until she calms down, during which red spots magically appear all over my white shirt. But first concern is to calm her down, then check for wounds.  Stroke hair, do not feel unusual bumps.    Eventually she does calm down, and I assess that the blood is coming from her mouth. Miss sucky fingers does not let me get a good look, though.  and I think, mouth wound, let a doctor do the dirty work.  She can be mad at him/her for the poking and prodding.

Look at clock, of course, not only is it approaching dinnertime, but the pediatrician has just closed.  Get insurance card out of purse, call the number that usually sends me to the ER for the kids and calmly tell them she does not need the ER, an Urgent Care place will do just fine, looks like she may just need a stitch or two.

Arrive at Urgent Care.  Toots is very excited by this sudden turn of events out of the ordinary dinnertime rituals.  She greets everyone in there with, "I got a boo-boo, I have to go see the doctor.  Mm-hm.  Yes, I do!" 

We check in and wait.  She tries out every seat, saying to the nice woman who held the door for us on the way in, "This one is too small.  This one is jess right.  Mmm-hmm."

She wants to hold the ficus tree, she runs and runs and runs making silly bouncy noises while bobbing her head with every step.  She counts the ficus leaves.  Everytime the door to the inner sanctum opens, she want to go see the doctor.  She leans on the glass entry to watch the traffic go by.  She greets everyone coming in.

We are called back, and go through the motions of weigh in and questions with the nurse. Then Toots told me to "Open wide and say AAAAH!" as she pried my mouth open. She tells the nurse 'The basket huwt my wip."

Doctor comes in rather quickly, nice change from the pediatric office or ER.  Toots is quite wiggly now, but he manages to check all her teeth, none knocked loose, and her eyes to make sure she didn't get another more serious bonk on the head.  He looked at the chart and said, "it says here no bleeding"  I said, "Oh she bled, most of it must have gone down her throat, but look, "  and I showed him my shirt, bodice and sleeves covered in bloody smears.

All in all she was fine, just a fat lip, which is still apparent today. My white shirt, however, probably can not be saved.  Except for posterity. 

So now, I remember why I do not typically own white shirts.  In sixteen years of parenting three younguns, each has split open a lip or forehead on a white shirt of mine.  It is good to hold your kids close when they get hurt.  Just don't wear white until they move out of the house.

Mr. Cynic, forehead, age 4, jumping off a stone wall into a parking lot, and younger, eyebrow, jumping off a sofa arm into a doorframe. He still has a space in his eyebrow from that one. My white shirt, both times, goners.

Captain Comic, age 2, running in socks on New Year's Eve through another family's marble foyer, tooth all the way through his lip. ER determined there was no way they could stitch this kid's lip back together, because he freaked with them just trying to get a look at it.  Three of us had to hold him down for the doctor. My white sweater, goner.

And now Toots.  White shirt, goner.  They are just about the only 4 white shirts or sweater I owned in a lifetime of parenting. 

These things always seem to happen at dinnertime, too. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Yesterday was full of milestones.

In the morning, five minutes prior to Toots's 9:30am clockwork diaper change, I was proudly presented with two handfuls of poop.  Time to start potty training in earnest.

I know, I swore I wouldn't poop post, but she's two!  It's all about poop these days!

Last night, my little darling ran around repeating, "Is evwone a weady a WOCK?!"

Translation:  Is Everyone ready to ROCK?!

When she got an appropriate response, of "I'm ready to rock!" or "Rocknroll!" she replied, as if she were the recently departed Ronnie James Dio.

"Okay then! LET'S ROCK!!!"  Though she doesn't quite have the maloika down just yet.

Captain Comic had a nice one, too.  When he saw Toots stirring from her nap, he gently uncovered her, said sweetly, "Did you have a good nap?  Want to see Mommy?"  And even though, she was slightly thrown by who was waking her, she let him carry her to where I was sitting.  And he did a nice job of that, too. 

There's hope for his gentility, yet.  ;)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Still raining

Something about the sound of rain and what most consider to be drab and blah colors of a rainy day, actually gets me going, in a wistful, dreamy way. Rain makes me happy. 

It also helps me to write.  So that is what I am doing today. 

That, and the laundry, of course.  I am a day late on that and the sheets need washing, too...

Water water everywhere....and the spring leaves are so green again the grey backdrop. And the pale birch trunks!  wow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Serendipity rides again

So after kind of complaining my way through the last post on this dreary day, I IM'd with a friend, Brittany Vandeputte who just bought a new home and is getting ready to move her family in a big way.

I finished up with her and her excitement, started to stick cheese toast in the toaster for Toots and me for lunch, and the next thing I knew, the opening lines to a new tale began in my head and I couldn't ignore it to save my life.  So, now I am sitting here, writing a new tale, again, when I should be getting Toots down for nap and turning back to my manuscript which is in the midst of 2nd draft huge edits! 

I mean, I am excited about a new story, but boy do I want to finish the old one for real. 

But I have a new story and feel excited about that new writing fever I have now!

And my cold is hardly noticeable now, and the rain is pouring down outside the windows...and I must write!

happy crabby

I had a busy and ultimately great weekend, capped by spending some really meaningful time with a group of women, most of whom, I really didn't know.  As soon as we sat together, it became obvious, that these are people I am meant to know.

It's been a long time since I intentionally sought out and planned a deeper level of communication.  It was truly an enriching experience, and a lot of fun getting to know these women. 

I think it is particularly important for woman to set aside time with each other in the midst of our lives, take time out for self and sharing our stories. It's too easy to forget about this kind of taking care of ourselves in our daily this, that and everything else.

I think I'm at a particularly happy time in my life:  I am back working on the manuscript, I have plenty of evidence that I am doing a good job raising my kids, I am still healing from my big surgery in February, but there is a long term feeling of getting better overall.  I keep meeting others who have had the same surgery, and they assure me that it takes a good long time to heal and I should just keep that in mind. 

I don't feel like I have to be in control of everything and force my way through life.  That is a big leap for me.  It brings a level of contentment where I previously had a general sense of agitation.

The crabby part is small.  I ovescheduled myself last week and weekend, and I contracted the cold the rest of my family had last week.  It's just annoying really, but I was on such an upswing, that I feel somewhat thwarted.  I know it's just my body telling me I need to rest. 

And as much as I love a good storm, or cloudy rainy days, the last few nights have been rather sleepless due to huge thunderstorms, and today, when I feel like the best thing for me would be to lie in the sun and read a good book, and the weather is not cooperating. It's wet and grey.  Normally I do love this sort of day, but I really wanted a good dose of vitamin D and sunshine for my irritated throat and ears and stuffy sinuses.

And as much as I enjoyed my busy weekend, I missed my kids.  Mr. Cynic was away on retreat. I was out and about quite a bit, and only saw Captain Comic and Toots in small doses.  I kept thinking I'd rather be at the beach with all of them than what I was doing, even as I enjoyed, getting my hair cut, and meeting new friends Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

So I'm already looking forward to next weekend and the hope for fun in the sun with my family.

HHHmmm...what is scheduled? 

For starters, Friday afternoon, I have an IEP Transition meeting for Captain Comic to move into middle school in September. This is the first meeting that we are including him in the process, too.  He is already anxious about the changes to come with middle school. 

Ah, no wonder I feel crabby....but mostly it's the cold.   'Sok, It shouldn't last too long.

Friday, May 14, 2010

one among a million

Parenting a child with Asperger's Syndrome can be challenging and loud and repetitive at times, but I am lucky enough that Captain Comic is one of the funniest kids on the planet, and keeps me laughing. 

Sitting at the computer, working on his Spelling homework, suddenly, the computer throws a window up at him stating Configuring Updates.

Captain Comic:  (ok, imagine a perturbed and exaggerated tone of voice, rather like George Jefferson of the 70's TV show, The Jeffersons.)  WHA?!  Configuring updates?  What's th- Oh no!  Now it's Shutting Down!  Mooom!

Mom: It's okay, that's supposed to happen.  Did you save what you were working on?

Capt. Comic: ooooooo!  No, I didn't!  Now I'm going to have to start my homework all over again!  eerrrrrggggh!  DAGNAB THESE FANCY GADGETS!

I burst out laughing so hard, Toots's nap was a bust, and even Captain Comic got over his computer issue and burst out laughing with me. 

I'm sure he'll be waving a cane and yelling "get off my lawn!" before high school. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

writer retreat in Denver - post notes

Friday night, I arrived with Honey in Denver, CO. Gor-ge-ous sunset on the drive from the airport.  Sorry, I did not bring a camera for this trip.  I was going to write, after all, not fool around taking pictures!  But I did curse myself up and down for lack of camera when it came to that sunset.

We helped his cousin set up his speaking engagement/seminar, and ate a late dinner of hotel bar food.  the Grand Hyatt 1876 Lounge had a three sauce sampler for fried zucchini and portabello mushrooms, that was a bit greasy, but the middle sauce for dipping was a tomato jam I could have eaten on anything for eternity and never missed another flavor.  I ate it on Honey's sweet potato fries that came with his pork sliders. I couldn't get enough of that tomato jam.

Food rhapsody over for the moment, I turn to the purpose for leaving my children on Mother's Day Weekend:  to write!!!

 My manuscript is, after all, my other child.  They do vie for attention constantly.

Saturday morning, my dear Honey trotted off to do his tech support function for his cousin, while I stayed in the hotel room, under the auspices of writing.  I proceeded to drive myself completely berserk, agonizing over getting past the block I had regarding what I knew I needed to do to the manuscript.  I'd been having this block for months and was blaming my lack of time alone for it.  So I got the time alone, and still went bonkers.

I finally said, I must walk!  I am in a new city.  I have never set foot in Denver proper.  I must find the nearest green space to find some solace in my frustrated writer's soul. 

I rode the elevator down to concierge and she pointed me toward the capitol and its park. Then she looked dejected as she recalled, "But there is a huge Cinco de Mayo Festival going on there, so you won't see much of the green." 

I replied, "no problem, I love to people watch."  Along the walk, I met an adorable nine week old brindle coated sweet little pitbull puppy.  And the young man on the other end of the leash, who had a big smile, proud to show off his new little girl. It's been a long time since "my Boston days" between tall buildings, seeing the slant of light and shadow play down the walls and windows.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Then I hit the busy amusment park set up of Cinco de Mayo, on the eighth of May.  Lots of good sights and sounds and distractions and rhythms, and some construction of the park, and children on rides, and walking and Spanish and dancing, and a lot of Dos Equis displays.

I didn't stay long, and the capitol building in Denver is a gold domed beaut, like my beloved Boston capitol building, so that was nice for my suburban aching heart to see. Then I turned back to the hotel and to face the open document on the laptop. 

More agonizing.  I called a friend, who asked me to send it to her, to which I promptly said NO!  Then backtracked that I was sitting there staring at seven critiques already.  She kindly said, "Oh, no, you don't need me to look at it.  You need to know that what you know you have to do to your manuscript is good because it will make it better!"

I said, "Aha!  That was the missing piece!  Editing will make it better!" 

And so I began to edit.  It wasn't easy, but I did it.  I still struggled, was still largely attached to what I had already written, but I moved stuff around, rewrote the beginning.

Loads more to the weekend, but as far as the writing, that's what I did.  I agonized, I moved something around, I agonzied, I moved stuff around.  I agonized, I deleted a few lines here and there.  And I agonized some more.  I made it to page 5 out of 120.  And I was disappointed enormously with my new first line.

I thought, "If I picked this book up off the shelf, and read that opening line?  I'd put it back."

And then, the day after my arrival home, my writing group met to write on Tuesday.  All of a sudden, I was able to work much more effectively in the company of my writing group all sitting quietly with their laptops and notebooks, doing largely the same thing I was doing:  editing what we already had. 

But if I had not gone to Denver;  had not driven myself crazy until I chiseled away a crack in the writer's block, I would have been of no use to myself or my manuscript on Tuesday.

And, like Edith Ann says, "That's the Truth, thpblbubblepppbubth!"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

life with an aspie

Another priceless dinner conversation, courtesy of Captain Comic:

Mom observing as he lifts his plate to shovel peas into his mouth:
That may be efficient, but it's rude.

Captain Comic: Oh right, efficient - doing something not wasting time or energy.

A book review

Barefoot Books has a new and absolutely beautiful book out, We're Roaming in the Rainforest written by Laurie Krebs with illustrations by Anne Wilson.

I was lucky enough to be in a position to buy the book from the lovely and talented author Laurie Krebs, and she signed it to Toots and another copy to my young nephews, who are in kindergarten and first grade.

It is a magical introduction to creatures you would see in the Amazon Rainforest, told with wonder and through the eyes of three kids who hover in the background of the full, full pages of art. It's like entering the rainforest itself, where you get to swim with pink river dolphins, hang with sloths, squawk with parrots, sssslither with snakes and lizards and jump with monkeys. 

Toots is so in love with the book, she has to sleep with it, after I've read it to her umpteen times.  Then she woke up this morning, and went searching immediately for the green, green world within its pages. 

Now don't tell anyone of a certain age that they might enjoy it, too, just hand it to an eleven year old and see what happens.  Captain Comic was enthralled. There's a bit of an encyclopedia at the back, after the younger kid romp through the rainforest.  This section gives fabulous information on the creatures, conservation, and even the different tribes of people that can be found along the banks of the Amazon River. 

And guess what?  I really enjoy it, too.  I definitely feel transported to the rainforest as I turned each page. 

So don't wait!  Hurry up and find a copy for yourself and kids, and if you can't find it in your local bookstore, ask them to stock it!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

one year

All good things grow. 

And funny enough, I'd almost forgotten about my little blog's anniversary! 

Here it came on the heels of another travelled writer's retreat, which was also a marriage retreat, and a working weekend for Honey and a visit with his cousin and a meet with his fiance. It was a big weekend, but more on that later in the week. 

Since I started this little thing, I have been a lot less of a grumpy puss.  Even if I haven't always been able to write what I want to write, I have kept in practice here, and focussed well on my writing objectives.  I finished the first draft of my first novel and joined a good writing group.  I even started writing a few poems again.  It's been a long time since I felt so inspired.

Toots has changed from baby to two year old.  Mr. Cynic has become a lot less of a cynic, and actually a very nice young man of fifteen, usually.  Captain Comic has really grown in surprising ways, too. Mostly bigger by bounds, but also he has matured quite a bit whether I'm ready to accept that change or not. Honey has remained, eternally, Honey. He is what he is, and that's all that he is... Popeye, notwithstanding, there's a lot to be said for simplicity and dependability.  I think by opposing forces, we keep each other magnetized.

I've been a party to deaths and births and adoptions. There has been a large influx of babies in my wider circle of friends and internet buddies.

My gardens have grown beauty and food and plenty of weeds, er, wildflowers, and even a new hybrid squash melon I called Coleyfruit.

It has snowed a great deal for down in these here parts, which made the boys and me enormously giddy.  It actually stuck on the ground!  We made snowballs!  We made angels!  and we came inside and drank my famous hot cocoa with marshmallows and a lot more cocoa than your average cup.

And the big blue marble has made another journey around the sun. 

Thank you for the regular visits and the odd ones from near and far.  I'm not certain if my farthest visit is from Tasmania, North Greenland, Estonia, Patagonia or Indonesia. However I am thrilled by all the visits from around the globe, but especially those of you who keep coming back to carry on the conversation me and my big mouth start.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, May 7, 2010

See ya!

In the meantime, don't forget to take time to smell the peonies.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


This morning I found a big fat chrysalis hanging from a birch branch on the big birch tree out front.  I suspect it is for some type of Swallowtail butterfly, as we get a lot of those down here where they are the state insect.

A very fitting find as I am about to turn my caterpillar of a middle reader manuscript inside out and transform the interior afterthoughts that run throughout into actual chronological action-packed scenes.  This weekend, while I am away. 

This will be my first Mother's Day without my kids making me breakfast in bed and so forth.  That in and of itself, is transformative for me. 

And I will be largely locked up in my hotel room making the edits.  Kind of like a chrysalis, too, don't you think?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Art is highly subjective

Toots has discovered a new art medium. 

I have discovered a mess of diaper contents no longer contained in the diaper.

Thank goodness for leather sofas.

And nail brushes.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Summer Green

Everything is so green,
so very very green.
It’s easy to take
all that green
for granted
because it’s everywhere.

In all that big green,
one pink or purple
or yellow flower
or one blue and white
suddenly makes you say
to yourself,

But it’s not really the butterfly
or the little flower.
It’s that there it is,
against all that green,

And not so long ago,
the green wasn’t even there.
It was drab,
maybe little hints of green
here and there
to make you happy and say,
“Oh! Spring is coming!”

But now everything is
so very very green
and just a little while before,
mere hints of green to tease you,
and just before that,
no green at all.

Just drab and blah,
and if you thought at all,
you thought of ghosts
among the bare branches,
or walking through the dull
dull ghost grass,
maybe you felt like a ghost yourself,
nothing at all worth a hill of beans.

But now everything is
so very very green.
Beautiful lush, thick and green,
so you just have to sit back and enjoy it.

And if you don’t,
pretty soon it won’t even be green,
and you will miss it,

Monday, May 3, 2010


Obviously, by virtue of a new post, I have survived the Friday night sleepover consisting of four 15 year old males .  Lucy, however, peed the rug.  Poor dog, thrown off her routine.

Onto better things:

My yard is currently exploding in late spring color.

Here is the Wisteria on the slide platform. I wish this were smellavision.  If there's a heaven, it smells like wisteria.  Clean, light, yet profuse.

The backyard azaleas, the front yard hasn't bloomed yet.  My azaleas always seem to come about two weeks after the rest of the peninsula has been overwhelmed by their profusion.  I wonder what that is about? 

A bit overcast for this shot, but Toots has found great joy in plucking the purple chive blossoms from the pot.  I'm trying to coax tomatoes, peppers and broccoli out of the plot behind the pot, but still don't seem to have my soil mix right for the task.  I hope they take hold soon.

Roses red and cream in the backyard,  but again, my yellow roses out front and deep fuscia around the side of the house are struggling.   Please look past the pathetic grass on this side of the yard that mostly gets shade and loads of dropped pine needles.
The crazy rose vine at the street side of the house, with the brokedown wooden trellis had to be propped up with a new iron one.  Trying to correct the trellis problem or do anything else with this vining mass is just asking for injury.  I must shore myself up in spirit, long clothes and heavy gloves. Funnily, most of the blooms are facing the house, but I bet once those crazy vines grow a bit more over the iron trellis, we'll see a waterfall of these little snowy white happies.

Three different peonies appeared to die off completely over the winter, but have returned and show a promise of peonies to come:
outside the back fence at the side of the house
by the front walk

inside the back fence, next to the azalea pictured earlier.  I can't wait to see and smell these sweet rich beauties.  I think they are my favorite part of the bloom time.  So luxurious!

I planted twelve pots of this phlocking phlox around the front bushes and side of the house under the crazy rose vine.  Some don't look so good, others are doing alright, but I am rethinking my approach to the planting.  I spread them out, thinking they'd fill in eventually, but they seem pretty set keeping well away from each other.  I'll give them a little more time to see what happens and what I may need to do the remedy the spacey look.   The whole point of planting them was to avoid annual mulching around two thirds of the house, and, of course, to add a bit of color.

So while my vegetables are really struggling so far this year, my flowering bushes and vines are having a somewhat mixed result, but for the most part are really a joy to see and smell.  Time to go back out and weed around where my spinach should be....before the anticipated rain. 

Hopefully it will be kinder to us on the coast than it has been to the folks up in the hills.  I wish the folks hit by the terrible storms in the midwest to Appalacia much good in the coming return to normalcy.