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Monday, May 23, 2016

Thinking Good Thoughts

In spite of spastic robins and missing hummingbirds and temperatures that still lurk unseasonably low, there is hope for the good guys. 

We took a quick road trip to northern Maine this weekend for a family celebration, where the thermometer topped eighty, and sipping beer in a local brew pub overlooking the Penobscot River reminded me of college days. It reminded me too, that just as micro-brews come in small batches, we also live in a micro-climate.  The sea breeze that has been freezing us out lately dissipated as we traveled farther inland.  In spite of my wining, spring is here.

Ever optimistic, Friday, before we left, I planted tomatoes.  On Sunday when we returned, I planted basil.  Memorial Day is coming.  In three weeks, we'll celebrate summer.  It's all good, regardless of what the thermometer says.

Happy Monday.  Wishing you all a positive week.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Snowbirds II

In light of last week's grumpy-weather-related post bemoaning the missing hummingbirds, it seems only fair to acknowledge that this little guy showed up at our feeder the same day.


In addition, we had this visitor, who spent two days on our front covered porch, leaving quite a mess on one of the wooden rocking chairs.  I was home alone and kept hearing a tap-tap-tapping, that had me wandering around, concerned for a bit.  It appeared he was intrigued with his own reflection, or else my dining room table, which he/she could see from his position.  There's a nest from last year inside one of our front bushes, but from what I can tell, it's empty, and as of the weekend, the bird had disappeared, leaving a messy, "calling card" behind.  Not sure what was going on there, but we removed the chair from the porch.  It's time to pull out the power washer. 

And...no word of a lie, AS I typed this, I heard tap, tap at my front window.  One robin stood lookout on one of the holly bushes and the remaining rocking chair shows signs of visitation.  



So, off I went for the camera and while I watched, a car drove by, the birds took off and one fluttered into the window before making it around the corner, the same noise I'd been hearing.  Later, I heard all manner of thumps and rustles.  It's either over the picture window, or in the gutter, but somewhere at the front of our house, nest-building is in process.

It's now past May 15.  As I type, the outdoor thermometer displays 45 degrees and inside, the furnace is still blasting.  At least nature is displaying some hint of spring.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Snowbirds Have it Right



Back at the beginning of March, when we took a whirl-wind trip down south where nubs of green had already started to weigh down the trees, the trip gave us a two-day respite from our end-of-winter drearies.  It seemed to me then that once we returned home, it would only take a few weeks before we’d celebrate our own spring.  Well, that little field trip was two months ago now, and after experiencing one of the coldest April’s on record, let’s just say I’m a tad impatient.  

I suppose, it doesn’t help that every phone call from our daughter who’s on internship in South Carolina begins with a weather report.  “It’s seventy-five and sunny, Mum,” or “Mid-eighties, today.  I’m so hot!”   To be fair, she’s working in an un-air conditioned kitchen right now, so hot for her is the real deal.  But hearing her, I have to swallow hard, since I’m still wearing my Ugg boots in the house, and the heat that goes on automatically when things drop below 62 degrees inside is blasting each morning when I wake up.  Over the past week, we went from Saturday to Sunday with overcast skies at best, driving rain at the worst.  Oh, Seattle folks, I don’t know how you do it.  This weather is causing me to take on curmudgeon tendencies. 

About ten days ago, filled with optimism, I made up some nectar and hung up the hummingbird feeder.  In case you didn’t know, hummingbirds live about five years, and they have memory.  Over the last several springs, they’ve hovered at my family room window BEFORE I put the feeder up right outside of it for the season.  This year, I decided to beat them, but I’m still waiting.  I don’t know what they do when it’s this cold, but in spite of migration charts that show they’ve made it this far north, I haven’t seen a one.  Outside my rain-specked window, the fresh blooms of the early rhodies are drooping, the ground cover phlox has been beaten down, and when I went out during a respite in the showers yesterday, I found a mouse drowned on our new patio.

Boring weather post?  Yes, I guess.  But I’m from New England, where complaining about the weather is an art-form.  And then there’s this.  I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that all this rain is my fault.  I did after all, hang up the hummingbird feeder.  And if that wasn’t enough to tempt fate, last weekend, in between showers, I washed windows.  I rest my case

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

IWSG May 2016





It is IWSG day, and the only thing I can think to say is…just write.  I’m still struggling with my current novel, but I refuse to call it writer’s block because…Look Ma, I’m writing now! It’s always possible to write…something.  I just submitted a 550 word essay on spec to a local rag.  I got the idea this morning, finished it this afternoon, read it out loud about fifty times and pressed send.  It’s not the story I should be working on, but the words flowed and who am I to stop my muse, even when she goes galloping off in the wrong direction?

Do I have words of wisdom here?  Hmmm.  I’m not sure.  How about this?  Even the wrong words can be (wait for it…) write?   

IWSG, the brain child of Alex Cavanaugh.  It's a blog hop and all about writers helping writers.  To read more IWSG posts, click here!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Song Sparrow



This new spring
flowers in hollow places,
golden forsythias hanging
azaleas lifting,
a pale sun goading
those next in line.

On a yellow day,
a year ago
I held a camera,
framed a bee
as it nosed
a bush fraught
with blossoms,
while just inside
you took shallow breaths,
the end furthering itself
with each exhalation.
Even then—
your body winnowed down,
carved like a branch—
we dared to dream of June,
blue hydrangeas,
the rose  bush I brought,
one cloud-filled day.
Staring out the window,
you spoke of September,
tempting us
like a warm spell
in mid-winter,
to plan for more.
But, the same way
a gale sweeps off
that giddy charade,
soon,
we could no longer
count time
in seasons, or weeks,
or even a day.

Somewhere outside,
a sparrow chirps
the same
staccato refrain
that pierced the
long afternoon
you lingered
in our world,
bird mouth opening to
eye-dropper meds.
I knew you were still
with us then,
how you listened as
we said last things,
the same way
each trill of
the sparrow
convinces me
you are here now,
have returned to fill
this vacant May,
your lips
framing a melody,
reminding us of
all that is sweet
about song.



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Spring Cleaning



In the middle of a crisis in faith in regard to writing, I was offered an article from a local magazine I contribute to whenever they ask.  The topic of this piece was signature seafood dishes from area restaurants.  I never say no, even when the deadline is tight, and this one was.  I still said yes a few days later when the editor emailed to tell me she had to move things up a week.  Woo wee.  Time to get cracking.

The thing is, I’ve been in pondering mode for so long now with regard to the current novel in progress, writing the article felt like someone had opened a door to my brain and allowed the clean scent of spring to waft through.  Suddenly, the writer in me felt fresh and alive again.  A thousand-words I didn’t have to agonize over?  Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about.  The topic involved eight restaurants, three that were new to me.  What can I say? To write knowledgeably, of course I had to sample…

So, it was research when I spent Friday night with my husband in a street-front grille, slurping Nova Scotia oysters and enjoying a yummy fried-oyster slider.  Saturday, we worked in the yard all day. Then, since a nursery was offering a deal on a product we needed, and it happened to be located close to one of the other eateries I had yet to experience, after we finished our errand, we stopped in. More research meant a few more oysters for me and a deconstructed scallop and bacon appetizer we split that hands down, featured the best scallops I have ever eaten. 
 
Monday was a holiday in Massachusetts, and I still had one restaurant to investigate.  Discovering my dilemma, my husband's 83-year-old mother said, "Let’s go out to lunch."  Folks, lets just say I’m a nothing but a dutiful daughter-in-law. 
  
Licking my lips in memory, I finished up the article with days to spare.  The only bad news?   No expense budget came with this gig.  Such is a poor writer’s life. Tasty as it was, all that “research” sure munched into my profit.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

IWSG April. Cutting...Back



It's Insecure Writer's Support Group day!  For those writers looking for the support of peers, join us the first Wednesday of each month. Thanks to Captain Alex Cavanaugh and his minions, you can find more info and contributors here. 


You know what they say about first drafts?  All you have to do is finish them?  Well, here’s what they should say about second drafts.  They.  Are.  Bloody.  Hell.

There I was editing away.  Cutting lines and adding paragraphs, and then, like a truck driver with a load of cement who encounters an unexpected cliff, I stomped on the air brakes.  About a third of the way through my first draft, I’d clearly gone on a backstory roll. Page after page of tangent, essentially, an entire chapter that could be condensed into two or three sentences and seeded in somewhere.  Bottom line? 

The.  

Action.  

Just.  

Stopped. 

I’ve spent days now, pondering how to clean it up, how to attach the threads from what I wrote before the dump, to events that occur afterwards. Ugh.

I"m not an outliner.  I wish I was, but sadly, the only way I can get a story out of me is to write it.  I actually remember sitting at the computer while this pile of backstory poured out, delighted to have discovered something so important about one of my main characters.  Yikes.

But, a wise writer once told me that backstory is how we writers tell ourselves our tale.  So, even as I ponder how to cobble together this project into something palatable, I’m cutting myself some slack.  The brain dump may be way too much detail for anyone else, but the information allowed me to make an otherwise unlikable character sympathetic.

That has to count for something, right?

Right?


I'm a few days late, but wishing all you A-Z bloggers luck for the month of April!