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Monday, August 25, 2014

Slipping Away

 The August sun fails to make it over the trees in our yard, and though the day is warm and dry and clear, it's chilly in the house.  I promise myself an hour of reading in the side yard where the sun hits, and there, sounds are hushed, a subdued cricket, bees shunting from flower to flower, even the cars slipping down the street seem to have silenced their mufflers.  The Phlox and Black-eyed Susans stand tall in the garden, but the daylily blossoms of June have wilted, their stalks browned to straw.  In the oak tree, squirrels feast on acorns, scattering cracked shells all over the patio.  But still, even as nature quiets, this is the glory time, the last two weeks in August, the first two in September, clean and fresh, the kind of days we’d invent if we were in charge. 

College kids have packed up and headed back to their studies.  Families take the last weeks of summer away, up north, on the Cape.  Holes open up all around, help wanted signs, parking spaces downtown, seats available for breakfast at the diner.  The sun sets before 8:00.  We keep the windows open at night but pull up a blanket, the bedspread.  In the morning, we rise in low light and shiver, snatch at sweat shirts, warm our hands on cups of coffee.

For these few weeks, we live inside a hush, a yellowing, a soft and muted coasting we are powerless to stop.  

We pause to admire all that is left of beautiful, while the season slides.

Monday, August 11, 2014

And So it Goes...

This weekend, I:

  • Visited my sister who is ill and between treatments.  We had a wonderful afternoon at the beach.
  • Went out with my husband and daughter for a once-a-year treat, a fried seafood platter.
  • Spent hours digging and grubbing in the garden, staking plants, weeding, and removing sneaky poison ivy seedlings.
  • Prepared a Saturday night cookout for my family, including our next door relatives, my mother-in-law and a visiting brother-in-law.
  • Starting working on a first pass of revisions on UNDER THE APPLE TREE based on comments from my reader.  Good news.  She didn't hate it.
  • Went sailing with my husband twice.  In the same weekend?  Unheard of.  This set some kind of record, folks.
  • Watched a "super moon" rise over the beach.
  • Cooked another dinner, this time we were joined by daughter and friend she met at her new school orientation.
 This weekend, I did not:
  • Write a blog post.

I'm taking next week off from blogging.  Perhaps the next one too, we'll see how it goes.  At any rate, I'll be back no later than the next IWSG, scheduled for September 3.

Best wishes to all.  Enjoy the rest of the summer.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IWSG - August 2014 and Hemingway

It's IWSG Wednesday, our friend Alex Cavanaugh's brainchild wherein writers help other writers.  It's an amazing group, and if you want to read more participants, click here.

Recently I read  Eighteen Quotes for Writers from Ernest Hemingway which appeared in Writer’s Digest,  (if you’d like to read in its entirety, you can it find here.)  Hemingway was a gifted man who said a lot of notable things.  Because I'm aware that doing enough research can be my own bugaboo, this one spoke to me:

If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.

And somehow, it’s comforting to know that even someone with Hemingway's skill and talent struggled to ferret out the right words:

There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.

But the one that really got to me was this:

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.

When we sit down to work on our craft, sometimes it comes out in dribbles, letter by letter, word by word. Other times it comes out like big galumphing horses, pages at a time.  But if, in the revising process, we held ourselves to this standard, to make sure every sentence speaks true, wouldn’t that result in some mighty fine writing?  

What is your favorite writing quote?

Monday, August 4, 2014

700th Post and a Snippet

She slumped into a chair at the drop-leaf table and gazed around the kitchen, at the vintage Magic Chef stove she’d begged Thomas for, a replacement to the avocado double-ovens his grandparents had installed in the 1970’s.  She’d loved how the hulking appliance conjured up images of aprons and long simmered stews, how its warming drawers heated the room in the winter; how it fit so well it was almost as if the room had been built around it. 
She gazed at the soapstone sink, the pot from the tomato soup she’d eaten.  Yesterday?  The day before? — took in the corner cupboard, the drifting cobwebs floating above the slate floor.   Around her, the house ticked and sighed and shifted, the home she’d tended to for years, surrounding her like an empty casing, a walnut shell, its hollows and paper membranes sculpting a memory of all that had once been there, all that once was.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Church of the Jetty, 2014

Sunday I woke early to a rising sun, turned to my husband and proposed a morning trip in the dinghy out to the harbor jetty.  “Church first,” he said, so I settled in for a few more minutes. When I opened my eyes again, the sky in the west hung low and white, the kind of ceiling that tells you there could be fog over the water.  We scrambled up anyway and drove to church, were I sat through the sermon with my fingers crossed.  It seemed frivolous to pray about the weather, so I simply hoped, grinning once we exited the building to find the sun had powered through.  As is our tradition, we procured the requisite bagels and coffee, and, arriving at the harbor to a freshening breeze, convinced ourselves there would be time for our  trip before the weather changed.  My husband navigated while I balanced two cups of coffee, so facing the stern, I observed full-bodied cumulonimbus clouds mounted on top of each other in the northwest sky.  From the southwest, a blanket of heather-gray inched forward, blocking what was left of the sun.  Between, a thin strip of blue seemed to negotiate.

In spite of the threat, we anchored the boat and step-hopped to the tip of the jetty, where we took a seat,  unwrapped our bagels from their butcher paper packages, and commenced our breakfast.  In front of us, eight white sails ran before the wind in an attempt to beat the weather for an early Sunday race.  Before long we heard the bleat of an air horn and far in the distance toy sails scurried across the mouth of the harbor.  Campers from the barrier beach behind us chatted as they paddled around the jetty back to shore, their overloaded canoes leaning with sleeping bags and folded tents.  A lone lobster boat chuffed through the water on its way to pull traps, a life-jacketed kayaker bobbing on his wake.  Seabirds, ever present background music, carked and screed, peeped and called in concert with  the clanking of halyards from nearby sailboats.  

Often on these trips, after we swig the dregs of our coffee, we walk on the mud flats or hike on the beach, but this time, as we crumpled up our bagel wrappers, goose bumps forecast what was to come. So, we picked our way back over the granite boulders to our little boat, knowing this day would not be for gardening, blueberry picking or sailing, and sure enough before we'd tied up the boat, raindrops spattered our glasses. 

It didn’t matter though. 

Our visit to the harbor was long enough to give thanks for the day, the summer, the sound of the sea, and the sky.