Wednesday, August 28, 2013


You've waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Biding your time through June. July. August.

Day to day, week to week, month to month, tending to immediate needs: food, clothing, shelter. You knew that the time would come. Soon.

And now it's here.

The blank canvas of a day. School's in session, and the words you've kept at bay all summer are ready to burst forth out of their dam, flooding onto the page.


Monday, August 19, 2013

The Jungle

At the fervent request of the youngest gingerbread boy, you make your semi-annual foray into the jungle that poses as your garden, bearing no fewer than three different types of clippers.

Clover, black-eyed Susans, and lily-of-the valley compete for real estate under forsythia, snowball bush, lilac, and some kind of thorny thing.

But over, around, above, through, and under is The Beast. Once upon a time, some past homeowner thought it was a good idea to plant The Beast, a leafy green thing that sends out runners and tendrils and grows at an astronomical pace. Turn your back, and the thing will have a death grip around your neck.

You do battle with it twice a year, cutting, hacking, ripping until it appears submissive.

It never is.

Before you know it, The Beast is back in full force, threatening your patio, your bench, the grill, the ENTIRE BACKYARD.

So you pull out your clippers and do battle.

It's starting to get the better of you. You bring the cuttings down to the compost pile, and realize you'd never make a good farmer, gentleman farmer or otherwise. You always kill the wrong stuff.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Feeding Your Soul

You spend the school year feeding your tribe. It seems like all you do is pack lunches and make dinners.
But that’s not entirely true—you also spend a great deal of time in the car and quizzing math facts and helping create a whale-on-stilts costume. You attend concerts and track meets and recitals and musicals and field trips.
And you write. You revise. You revise some more. You revise until you're sick of revising.
By the end of the year, you are drained. Bone-dry drained. Nothing left drained. Drain-o drained.
You need to feed your soul.
IMG_1805So you go to Istanbul. You see the Hagia Sophia. You see the Blue Mosque. You visit a Turkish bath. You eat something called "The Imam Fainted." You climb a mountain and visit a monastery. You bike around an island.
IMG_3443You go to Greece. You see the Parthenon. You visit the Delphic Oracle. You climb to more monasteries. You swim in the Aegean sea.
You loved Istanbul and you loved Greece, but you come home and still feel drained. Drained and jet-lagged.
IMG_4379So you go to Vermont to visit your alma mater. You hug dozens of people. You meet new friends. You give a reading. You talk shop. You go to lectures.
You love VCFA and you love your writer buddies, but you come home and still feel drained. Drained with a whole lotta laundry to do.
So you go to your in-law’s camp, a place with no wifi, no cell phone reception, no television, no cable. You canoe, you hike through the woods, you build bonfires and create the consummate s’more.
But when you come home, guess what? You still feel drained. But at least you have hot water again.
You do laundry and repack, this time for a yearly tradition: WTHS, the What the H(eck) Sabbatical.
Karen, Beth, Heather, Ginger, Frauke, Joy, Lisa
Karen, Beth, Heather, Ginger, Frauke, Joy, Lisa
There are occasions when you need an unknown something, and no one but a sister will do. Though you only have one biological sister, you were lucky enough to pick up six more along the way, sisters with a varied and long history joined by parentage, schooling, marriage, and friendship.
And once a year, you check in.
Lisa, Heather, Joy, Karen, Beth, Frauke, Ginger
You see your sisters on the second weekend of August, the weekend of WTHS. It is a weekend sans husband and children in which the answer to any question is "What the h(eck)!" It is a weekend in which you doff sense, and don sensibility.
"Do I want ice cream for breakfast?" What the h(eck)!
"Should I buy these shoes?" What the h(eck)!
"One dessert or two?" What the h(eck)!
glasses WTHS
Heather, Joy, Ginger, Frauke, Karen
This weekend is no span of simple gluttony; you also wear tiaras. You carry wands. You laugh. You laugh some more. You laugh until you cry. In fact, one of you is an academically trained humor specialist and comedian. You laugh until it becomes an aerobic activity, and you can justify that ice cream for breakfast.
You return home and you no longer feel drained. And it doesn't matter how much laundry you have to do, because you have a tiara and a magic wand, and maybe it'll just get done all by itself.
liberty bell photo bomb
Beth photobombing Ginger at the Liberty Bell
Everyone should belong to such a group. It's good for the soul.
And the funny bone.

(Cross-posted at

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sunday, August 4, 2013


First you pack the granola bars.

Then the marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate, snacks, and mini boxes of cereal just like any self-respecting mother would do. (Right?)

You grab boxes of crackers and pasta and cans of tuna and kippers. You take peanut butter and plan on packing the fruit and vegetables tomorrow.

Though you've hardly been home this summer, you are looking forward to leaving once more.

There's a cabin in the woods where you will unplug and unwind. A cabin in the woods without wifi, cell phone access, telephone, tv.

There is, however, electricity and hot water and a fire pit. There's a tree house and a canoe. There's an old, old refrigerator and a half-stove, together with a conglomeration of cutlery and kitchen goods. There's Othello and Battleship and cards.

You're packing your knitting and some Rafael Sabatini novels. Nothing like a little swashbuckling by firelight.

This is summer.