Wednesday, June 30, 2010

short and not so sweet

Tomorrow the boys leave for a month away at their dad's, who lives several states away.

Today we pack.

They're both holed up in their rooms this morning, doing who knows what, I seriously doubt packing, but it's too quiet for me already.

A month without mayhem.  How will I ever survive?

Should I be careful not to wish for some mayhem?

I doubt it.

But I am hoping to use the quiet time to do more edits on the manuscript and continuing to write the new story.

I miss them already.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

dream state

Toots did not want to go down for a nap yesterday.  So I lay down with her to help.  I was tired anyway after the weekend of furniture schlepping.  As her flip flopping subsided, words and images I really liked began to fill my head.  I thought, as soon as she settles, I have to get up and write this down. 

Next thing I knew, I caught myself snoring, poem gone.  I never nap.

About an hour later, I began to recall the initial images of the opening line and end lines, but not all the others in between with as much clarity.  Then I thought, did I really need them?

So here's what I captured from the ether of dream land's edge forest:

Another love poem

He said I love you like a cold beer and pocket knives.
She answered I love you like chocolate ice cream.
He said Honey, I love you like blueberry pancakes.

She said I love you like ice tea, potato chips,
and the sweet tang of bread and butter pickles
on a hot summer day.
He said But those are all side dishes, there’s no sandwich.
She answered Honey, you are the sandwich.

Monday, June 28, 2010


I have books.  A lot of books.  I've whittled down to two tall bookshelves and even those are still overflowing in the office as well as another shorter one overflowing in my bedroom.  There are more books I want to own besides the ones I already do.

This weekend we cleaned out our garage which acts as an attic as well as a basement because we live on a slab foundation.  We also rearranged my area of the office, including emptying and moving those two eight foot bookcases.  I got a new (used) desk - with drawers.  so a lot of little junk that was piled in front of the books on the bookcases is now in drawers, mostly office supply and baby barrette kind of stuff.  Stuff to have at the ready when needed.  It's nice to have an actual desk as opposed to the table version without drawers I was using.  We sent that one up to Captain Comic's room, as well as a file cabinet, because he was making his comics on the floor for the past few years. That stuff was all over his room.

Anyway, it became apparent just how much stuff we have, and we still have plenty more in storage several states away....

Personally, except for the books, I would be happy to get rid of a lot of stuff, but there's sentimental attachment, logistical stuff, the sheer number of people in our home and all of their stuff...and the dog and cat, and their stuff, and stuff to keep all the stuff in...

I mean, it's not like we're hoarders, but it's a lot of stuff. It's a serious workout for everyone to move all that stuff around.  Particularly the books and shelves.  I think Honey is happy to go back to work today, so he can rest.

In the midst of all the stuff, Honey and I made a dump run, the back of his Element was stuffed with, you got it.  Even the back seats were pulled out to make room for all the stuff we were getting rid of. Poor Honey dropped the old kitchen counter piece on his toe and busted open his nail. 

So our big exciting date for the weekend was the two of us going to the dump.  Then we made a stop at the Hawaiian style snow cone place. We sat on a bench in the shade on the 100 degree heat and thoroughly enjoyed the cool refreshment and moment of quiet together. 

That moment was in the middle of the weekend of stuff. So we're exhausted come Monday morning, but it's a good, satisfying kind of exhausted for a change.

How was your weekend?  Productive like ours or nice and relaxing?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Fabulous news and a wondrous speech

For those who don't know, I love the work of Neil Gaiman (I have been fortunate enough to meet him on a few occasions), and his most recent children's book has just won the Carnegie Medal, the British equivalent of our Newbery Award, which it has also won.

The Graveyard Book really does deserve all the praise and awards it has received.  It is a simply told tale of a boy trying to understand the world around him and the wonder that is life.

Here is his acceptance speech in which he praises libraries and librarians, and their influence on 'a bookish boy' who read by the way the librarians pointed him.  He also tells why it took him essentially 25 years to write the book.  I can relate to that.

I have been recommending this little book in my right margin practically since it came out.  Really, please read it.  It is truly a lovely book.  And read it with your kids.  If I can get Captain Comic to sit still enough (as he did in rare form for The Phantom Tollbooth last summer) I will read it with him this summer.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Remember this list?

I spent the previous two days at writing camp with my writing group.  Two whole days dedicated to writing.  Yesterday I had a different meeting in the morning, but then I headed straight to  my writing camp's day two, and thought I was going to have trouble, but amazingly got right to it!  I seriously surprised myself by what I accomplished in the last 48 hours! 

The List now looks like this:

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

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

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

working on ~characterize supporting characters more through action and physical description

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

working on~ edit down cooking relevance

mostly finished, maybe a bit more at the end~more on comets

I also edited it a bit more in making sentences and paragraphs more succinct in the first 50 or so pages. 

I need to edit the observatory scene now, but at least it's on paper - er, computer screen.  I think my next stage is to print and edit again by hand.  I read very differently on paper than on screen, and can see needed changes so much better.

I obviously need to be in a different environment than my office with my home distractions to be able to concentrate on my manuscript edits. 

The other five women I sat in quiet with for the past two days expressed the same thing.  Here's the funny part:  I thought it was because of my kids, etc, but only half of us have children at home, and of varying ages.  I am the only one with a toddler or a special needs child, of course, I have one of each.  Two are grandmothers who live with their retired spouses, who are both very good at busying themselves.  And one is home while her husband still goes to the office. 

We're all at a stage of editing a large work we're committed to. All of our projects are middle reader or young adult novels.   Yesterday we planned that the rest of our usual twice a month meetings for the summer will be devoted to writing, no critique.

This way, when autumn comes around, we will all have work to critique.  How's that for commitment?  I couldn't do this without them. I am so grateful to my writing group and to the time we commit to working together.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

4 years and still in it

photo credit: Joe Gallo

Sure, we have plenty less desirable moments...but we also still have plenty like this one. 

I love him, and he hasn't kicked me to the curb, yet. 

I'd write more, but I'm still at writing camp.  Honey and I have to postpone our anniversary date for another night.  'Sokay.  We're still here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


 And then I zoomed in on the itty bitty basil.

I'm at writing camp for the next couple of days.  Wish me fruitful writing and editing, please! 

I'll tell you all about it when I return.

Monday, June 21, 2010

ain't no cure for the summertime blues

Please bear with me as I continue to get the hang of the macro setting on this point and shoot style camera. I do hope to one day own a better camera again with good lenses, etc. I miss my old Pentax-K 1000 from my studying photography days, but it has been a long time, and I entered digital camera age kicking and screaming.

These marigolds came out with some nice up close and personal details.  I like the shadow in the second one.  A little too: in the hot bright midday sun, possibly.

I love how the itty bitty baby basil turned out.  Funny, same time of day, different garden plot. Light completely different.  These leaves aren't even a quarter of an inch long.

As much as I'd like to claim a title such as Dreams of Jasmine, honestly, I really wanted to focus on the  blooms, not the base of the stem and glossy leaf.  This camera is a fickle one. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

I am thrilled to still be able to wish my father a Happy Father's Day.  He taught us what mattered in life. 

Live your life with honesty and integrity. 

Work hard at what you love.

Make something by your own hands.

Pet your dog.

Hug your kids.

Grow your food, and eat it straight off the plant. Nothing tastes better.

Take time to sit back and enjoy.   

Watch sunsets.

Show up in life and stand up straight.

A little planning goes a long way.

There was plenty more, but isn't that enough?

One thing I will always remember, and it is a metaphor for life.  My father loved to fish, but mostly for the quiet, for the methodical casting of the line.  He never expected to catch a fish, and was always thrilled when he actually caught one.

I also would like to wish Honey a Happy Father's Day.  Because he does the good work of it, everyday. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Who are these Mutant Spawn?

Summer, Day One:

Mr. Cynic has made lunches for everyone, stripped the cushion covers from the livingroom sofa, spot sprayed them, vacuumed his brother's room, vacuumed behind the stripped sofa and the stray dog hairs in the sofa, and is ready for more, without arguing about any of it.

Captain Comic has loaded some dishes into the dishwasher, is unloading the dishwasher, watered the gardens, helped me strip the base cover for the sofa frame, and has cleaned the unnatural disaster area which is his bedroom, including the shelves under his bed. And he hasn't thrown a tantrum or argued over any of it.  Of course, in watering the gardens, he mostly watered his sister.

Where has my Mayhem gone?  I want these clone mutants banished, and my real sons returned....Oh wait a minute, let me rethink this.

for the love of a good dog

I took the kids to the local PetSmart in Newport News yesterday, due to a serious lack of dog and cat food, and for a first summer adventure.  Captain Comic is currently obsessed with pets because he wakes at the crack of dawn and watches funny pet trick shows on Animal Planet before the rest of us rouse out of bed.  Mr. Cynic was willing to carry the big bags, and Toots is even more easily entertained than Captain Comic.  Captain Comic likes to meet every dog in the store, check out the lizards and birds, and the cats from the local no-kill shelter. 

There is a wonderful employee there named Stephanie, who brings in her dog Bella on Thursdays from 1-9pm.  Bella is a rescued pet, a big beautiful black lab mix, and just about the sweetest dog I've ever seen. In my family growing up, I have loved the sweetest dogs, so I'm an expert on dog sweetness. 

Bella is very affectionate and being trained as a therapy dog.  Stephanie brings her in every week on Thursdays, so she is exposed to a wide variety of people and circumstances, and therefore more calm in new situations.  Bella is used as a way for children who are afraid of dogs to come in and see that even a big dog like Bella isn't necessarily scary.  Bella will put up with her ears being pulled, being laid on, etc.  She's very easy going. 

Captain Comic and Bella immediately hit it off.  He gave her what Stephanie refers to as a Zen belly scratch.  Bella took one look at Captain Comic as he got down to her level, rubbed up against him and rolled right on over, offering him her belly.  Stephanie said, if he wanted, she can lay like this for hours for that belly scratch.  And she gives hi-5s, too.

Stephanie is training Bella for therapy in kids' cancer centers, etc, but she loves for anyone to come visit Bella.  So if you're in Newport News, and want to meet the sweetest dog, ask for Bella on Thursday afternoons to evenings. 

A side note:  please remind me to stay off my ankle.  I'm being a bad girl and it's not healing because I do stuff like drive to go get dog and cat food, and walk around entire stores meeting fish, lizards, birds, cats and dogs.   I think I'm doing something small scale, but I keep pushing myself past where I should stop.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

my loot!

I actually won a contest!  Mama's Magic Studio's prize arrived in the mail yesterday.  Please check out Jennifer Johnson's shop at etsy and also her blog.  Jen is a thoughtful and whimiscal jewelry designer and a real rock of a mama who has loads to teach us all in the gentle and perceptive manner in which she raises her two young kids.  I hope I am half the mother she is once I see past the mayhem to the wonder that is my kids.

"A woman needs a man like

a fish

needs a bicycle."
And now for the lesson in feminism:  This gem of a quote is not from Gloria Steinem, but from Irina Dunn.

I'll be wearing these all week, at least!  Thank you, Jennifer Johnson!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

primary colors

I discovered some rainy day colors around my gardens:

a little true red

a little red, almost, peeking from behind 
I love the clinging raindrops!

big blue made of lots of little blues

a few peeks of yellow around the white birch trunks

Toots and I ate that strawberry we picked. It was the the most delicious vine ripe strawberry I've eaten since I was a kid picking my dad's strawberries!

Everything tastes better homegrown.

Of course there was plenty of green, too, but that's not a primary color.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

gearing up

Time to batten down the hatches

stay the main sail

hoist the jib.

3 half-days of school til the boys are home full time.

Let the sibling aggravations begin. 

I get two weeks of it before I foist them off the dock to their father's for July. 

Then I am sure I will be posting about how it's too quiet around here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Graduate

I guess the biggest thing I have to talk about is that Captain Comic 'graduates' from elementary school on Monday.  Makes me a little misty, but mostly just think how in so many ways he is ready for middle school. I am concerned how he'll do, especially since he seems more nervous about bullies and more homework than excited about the growing up process.   Speaking of more homework, he was recommended for advanced placement for 6th grade English and Math. 

Gotta love the incongruities in Asperger's:  He's now AP and SPED.  But as long as he has his SPED accommodations in place, he is a very successful and smart student.  When they're not in place, he's hanging from doorframes screaming for the authorities.

I'm going to be a blubbery mess on Monday around 1:30pm, I just know it. 

Time to buy stock in Kleenex.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jeez, this writing thing is fun again!

So, Yes, I've been agonizing over my manuscript.  and No, I do not have the continuous uninterrupted time and circumstance I need to do my big edits on my big manuscript because I am the mother of three children who ascend their ranks of demanding every single day of my life.  And Yes, it is the hard kind of editing where I need to envision the whole scope of the darn thing so I can move around parts and write out characters and write in others into scenes. And I've been working on this book off and on since 2004.  Possibly even 2003.

But Yes, I continue to write, and I've had two days within the past two weeks when I have made  significant headway into my newest project that I started because It wouldn't let me not start it and I am really having fun, because I am writing and because that writing is coming really naturally.

This is what gives me joy.  My kids aren't really interrupting me too badly today, so its working out really well. 

Life is good, let your hair down.

Monday, June 7, 2010

10 days later...

Here I am fashionably sitting at my desk:


I honestly have no idea how I originally injured this ankle, all I know is I woke up one morning and it hurt to get out of bed.  And I tried to go about my day per usual, saying to myself, "What on Earth could I have done to my ankle?"  For three days.  And then we went to the beach where I suddenly fell into a tidal pool on it, and, as I mentioned before, 'crunch' and lots of beach walking - and I also dragged Toots around the neighborhood pool the same weekend, which was fun and deceptively further injurious, which I noted after leaving the pool.

I put it up and alternately went about my usual business while it worsened, until this Sunday, when I was determined to drive Captain Comic to a bowling party in Williamsburg, a full thirty minutes up the road.  It's my driving ankle.  I was in massive denial, because it already hurt like a chihuaua was inside and chewing his way out. Then it twanged on my way to the door.  It was an unusual twang, from which I didn't recover, so Honey 'volunteered' to drive us to the party.  I had to swear I would see a doctor today, and I did. And a radiologist, and both tried desperately to persuade me recommended I find an air cast even before diagnosis. So more driving, more hobbling see the result.

And you know what?

I can feel a difference already. 

Word to the wise (obviously that  does not describe me): Go to the doctor when you experience unusual pain.

Sidenote:  Mr. Cynic changed his first diaper on Toots while the rest of us were bowling in Williamsburg, so I feel as though I finally have trained - for realz - the resident teen babysitter, and therefore have some more freedom!

*please ignore the unmoisturized leg and foot.  at least i shaved!


Jennifer Johnson of Mama's Magic Studio is celebrating the Second Anniversary of her darling jewelry's Etsy shop.

To celebrate, she is having a giveaway!  go to her blog now, as it ends on June 9th, to enter her giveaway a number of ways to add entries from liking her fanpage on fb to simply leaving a comment on the post linked above.  And while you're there, check out everything she has available.  I love her handmade knitting needles so much, they make me want to take up knitting!  Her freshwater pearl bird nest pendants are perfect for honoring your kids as a mom, or even to wear as a reminder to take care of your precious self. 

And really, besides the chance to win something, just go take a peek.  She has a very singular and delicate style of creativity with a touch of humor, too. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ah, Captain Comic

The forecast for today's weather is hotter than hades here in Hampton Roads. 

This morning, Captain Comic greeted me wearing fleece sweatpants and a long sleeve shirt on backwards and inside out.  I sent him upstairs to dress more appropriate to the weather.

He returned with the same clothes, but the shirt's tag was no longer flapping under his chin.  It was still inside out, though.  And he had a pair of my underwear on his head like a one-eyed ninja mask.

Lord help me, he's never moving out is he?

Later, we had a discussion about Stephen Hawkings, in which I told him, as smart as Stephen Hawkings is, he still believes aliens will come to destroy us.

Captain Comic reflected, "Aliens will not come to Earth, because they have declared it an endangered species reserve."

Let it be known, any further questions of alien invasions hath been settled in a peaceful manner.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Two years old

Conversation with Toots as I made my breakfast long after everyone else:

Toots, points to the glass storage jar full of oats:  Whas dat?

Honey and Me overlapping: That's Oatmeal.

Toots:  Oh!  Oprahmeal!

Funny thing is, she is usually napping when Oprah airs, if I even have it on, which I haven't for a couple of days...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Last week I mentioned my new story idea that came up in the midst of my big edits I need to do on the first book. 

Yesterday I had one of those rare creative spells in which, no matter the interruptions, I wrote steadily over the course of about 6 hours on the new idea.

I'm really enjoying it.  That spark was what was missing in the edit draft two stage of the manuscript.  I mean, I enjoy making the improvements, but it's a slow road. 

But having something else to be excited about is just plain fun.

So I will continue to edit when I have good uninterrupted chunks of time, as in when my writing group meets. But in the meantime, I'm going to have fun over here on this little idea in all the little moments I have between the usual family business.

Making stuff up is so much easier than fixing what I already have. And it's fun.  I feel like a kid with a kite.  It's time to fly.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Here's a little something that makes me happy, first because it's pretty, and second, because I grew this from a twig my mother gave me from the yard where I grew up, and third, I thought it had died over winter.  I was wrong, it came back stronger and fuller than before.

Happy June, everybody.