Monday, September 30, 2013

What's on my...


...Agenda: Septemberfest (in which I annually face my fear of heights and climb the rock wall), Country Fair (snapping photos of the gingerbread boys participating in the blueberry pie eating contest, the sack race, and the tractor pull), end of our CSA (good-bye my weekly five pounds of tomatoes), picking and canning peaches, and the third annual Quirk and Quill writers' retreat

...Nightstand: An odd assortment. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain; Doll Bones; The True-Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp; The Suitors of Yvonne; Very Good, Jeeves; I Am the Cheese

...Stovetop: Apple sauce and apple butter. Quarts and quarts of it.

...Catalog of Fears: Dying chickens, spiders, saying the wrong thing, missed flights

...Desk: Novel #3, CATHEDRAL. Revisions, revisions, revisions.

...Mind: Memory loss, brain connectivity, creativity, winterizing the chicken coop

I look forward to September with all the energy a mother with boys at home for the summer can muster. That is, I race toward it.

As soon as it hits, I'm back-pedaling. Whoa, nellie. You want me to wake up when? Every day?

Such is the cost of a constant string of free daytime hours in which to write. Here's to October.

(with gratitude to Sandra Nickel for inspiration)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


When the hiccups strike, there is one tried and true remedy that you use: your husband. You go to him and he wraps his arms around you and you feel calmness washing over you. Your blood pressure drops. Your breathing deepens. You relax, and the hiccups go away.

Tonight the youngest gingerbread boy sat by your side as you read to him. He hiccuped. You suggested he get some water.

"But I can't reach the glasses. Can you do that thing? That hug thing?"

So you open your arms and he settles in, chest to chest. You can feel him relaxing as you hold him. The hiccups disappear. But you stay that way, enjoying the feel of his bean-pole body against you for a short time.

Love is the best defense against hiccups.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Great and Powerful Oz

In a rare departure from insomnia, you slept last night, and you dreamt that you woke up. It was later than you would have liked. You went to a grassy hillside to wash your hair, shampoo and conditioner at the ready. You kneeled down, flipped your hair over your head, then carefully poured a pitcher of water over it. When it was all wet, you reached for the shampoo, but it was gone. Water dripping into your eyes, you peeked under your curtain of hair to look again, but there was no shampoo, and there was no conditioner.

You called your sister's name, shouting it with irritation. "What did you do with my shampoo?"

She clicked her tongue. "Nothing!" Then she flounced away to finish getting ready for school.

In the meantime, water was dripping down your back, and it was 8:15 now. You didn't have time to wash your hair anymore, but what could you do? Your hair was all wet.

"Mom!!! Where's my shampoo?" Your mom came, and with rightful indignation, she pronounced her innocence in the case of the missing shampoo.

You woke up then, recognizing your childhood inclination to think that Mom was the Great and Powerful Oz. She would know where the shampoo was, and if she didn't she should. But of course, she was off doing whatever your dreamland mom did, probably something similar to what your real mom did, and whatever that was, it had nothing to do with your shampoo and conditioner. Your own gingerbread boys do the same thing--assuming that you must know where the key or the action figure or the tape or the piece of fluff must be. You're MOM, after all, and moms control the world.

But you don't always know where the key or the action figure or the tape or the piece of fluff are. You do not control the world, even if you control much of their little world. You are not the Great and Powerful Oz. You're just the man behind the curtain.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Finding yourself without a computer makes you strangely giddy, untethered, though any normal person would feel frantic at the potential of losing three novels, countless other writings, and years of photos. Instead, you danced in the kitchen this morning. You canned tomatoes. You renewed your acquaintance with your drawing pencils. You made muffins.

You feel seventeen again.

Perhaps because when you were seventeen, people didn't have computers. Well, some people did, but there was no email, no internet, no Facebook, no time wasters. You couldn't read someone's blog from Tennessee, because there were no blogs. No vlogs, no podcasts, no technobabble.

In fact, there was not much babble of any kind in your life yet, either. You hadn't started writing fiction.

Now, without a computer, you cannot work. You are on an enforced vacation.

The computer shop said they might have the computer for as long as six days. The bad news is that it might be kaput. The good news is that at least the important stuff is backed up.

Maybe tomorrow you'll slide down the bannister. Or make a cheesecake. Or read a book from cover to cover. Or paint your toenails. Or do any number of things you did as a seventeen-year old.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Laughing at the Rota Fortunae

Yesterday, you and the Gingerbreads hopped in the car and drove south. You had plans of traipsing through a museum and introducing the gingerbread boys to the famous Russian Faberge eggs.

Which you did.

It was lovely, and the eggs were magical.

And then it was time to leave, which is when the fun began.

Rain, rain, and more rain. Heavy rain. There was a strange sound coming from the rear passenger tire, like something was caught in the treads. The Gingerbread Man checked it, but saw nothing. Ten minutes later, you'd got yourself a certified flat tire. The Gingerbread Man pulled off the highway, and as every good father should, made the gingerbread boys participate in the act of changing the tire.

Except the tire won't be changed. Car jacked up, lug nuts off, donut at the ready...but the tire won't budge. The Gingerbread Man hammered at it with the wrench. He tugged. He lowered the jack. He hand-tightened the lug nuts and drove on the flat, hoping the weight of the car would take the tire off.

Not a bit.

You looked up at the sky, grey clouds lowering. It had stopped raining, but thunder threatened. You looked at the side of the road under the trees: poison ivy. You hoped for a stray policeman or a wandering mechanic to come to your aid. A truck stopped on the other side of the road, then moved on. A car pulled up behind you, but too far away for them to be interested in your woes. They, too, have car problems. A pick-up truck with a trailer pulled over in front of you. And then they left, too.

The Gingerbread Man continued to pummel the tire. The tire continued to defy him. The gingerbread boys wandered up and down.

Then came the sweet and surprising sound of an air wrench. It was a surprising sound because it came from the direction of a state forest. You walked towards the sound. Where there is an air wrench, there must be a proper hammer.

Indeed there is. There is a whole shop full of tools, tools used in rebuilding a 1906 wooden sloop. Men who rebuild 1906 wooden sloops are heroes in your book--and not just because they loan you hammers.

Armed with a hammer worthy of Thor himself, you all trudged back to the stubborn vehicle. The Gingerbread Man began hammering. And hammering. And hammering. He hammered for a good twenty minutes before the tire relinquished.

Just as the rain returned.

The Gingerbread Man finished changing the tire, while you and the boys took shelter in that car. Then you returned the Thor hammer to the Boatman. He gave you a tour of his sloop, and you continued on your way home.

All was well until the oldest gingerbread boy informed you that he had a migraine. O, happy day. This, of course, meant that you would be holding the bucket for him in the wee hours while listening to his agonized cries.

Which you do. 3:30 am to be exact.

And then you get up at 6:15 for a 7:00 am meeting at the school.

Rota Fortuna, I can only laugh. But it is time that you swing the other direction.

Travel Tuesday: Hagia Sophia

detail Hagia Sophia,