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Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekend Winds

(To give you some perspective, this is a picture I posted to Middle Passages two weeks ago, on a mildly windy day in mid October.)

Yesterday on the way to complete some weekend errands, my husband and I took a detour to the water.  It’s sort of a tradition, I guess, when you live by the coast, to do an ocean drive-by when there’s been inclement weather.  So, we buckled ourselves into the car and made the trip across town under the partial sun that had erased most of the remnants of Saturday’s storm. 

It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve seen it.  When we turned the corner over Cunningham Bridge and saw the ocean spewing and sloshing as if deep down, some middle earth agitator had gone mad, we both yelled: “Oh my!” 

Our car made tracks in the sheet of sand glazing the beach parking lot.  Pulling up to the sea wall, we stared as the normally placid waters of Massachusetts bay rose up, heaving and spewing; regurgitating  itself over the exposed granite ledges.  

But, when the white foam of a monster wave crashed over Minot Lighthouse a mile out, we drove back home and got the cameras.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Breakfast Cronicles

Those living in close proximity to the Massachusetts South Shore might be interested in visiting the locations I've written about in my two most recent South Shore Living posts, below.  For you readers from far away...well, there nothing wrong with living...or eating, vicariously, right?

Rainy Day Diner

Over and Easy

Happy weekend to all.  And if you are so inclined,  I'd love to hear about your favorite breakfast haunts!

Monday, October 24, 2011

October Sky

It was 60 degrees and partly cloudy when my husband asked if I wanted to take a last ride in our dinghy before he rolled it out behind the shed and covered it for the winter.  Sigh.  I’m a fair-weather boater.  When I get cold, I tend to stay that way for a long, long time so late October is well past my season.  I love the little boat though, so I hemmed and hawed, and finally agreed, pulling on a hooded sweatshirt and packing my windbreaker and a fleece.  

We trailed the boat one town over to Hingham Harbor, which is about five times the size of ours.  Depending on the channel you use, it leads out to Massachusetts Bay or to Boston Harbor and is pocked with small islands.  Its waters wend around World’s End, a park I’ve written about before, presenting stunning views of glacial drumlins mounding up through the trails.  I’ve never toured the harbor by boat.

And, yea, I got cold and the water got choppy, and we had to cut our scenic trip short when the wind blew up swells too great for the twelve-foot Meggie Lou.  But before that happened, we motored past the high tide line marking granite islands, and within a few yards of a pack of cormorants preening their feathers and hanging their wings to dry.  We churned through the afternoon sparkle on the water, envying the lobster boat far ahead cutting through washing-machine waves with ease.  We toyed with following him, but steady rollers began to lift our engine out of the water, making forward momentum impossible, which meant it was time to come about. 
When we turned, we had a long trip back. I pulled my hood over my baseball cap and held it closed with my hands.  With the wind at our back, I watched  the October sky unfurl in length like lead-colored batting,  and stitch itself  to the corners of our patch-worked autumn  earth.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Behind, but Forward

Pounding rain has coincided with a day off from scheduled work.  The bones are stiff from yesterday's eight-and-a-half-hour marathon at the cheese shop, and six hours of sitting at the computer today. It's all good though, because I just found a forgotten bag of potato chips, stashed in the top cupboard.  Before seeking out refreshments, I put good effort in on a personal essay I hope to send out soon, and then after some well-overdue commenting on several blogs, forced myself to complete about 500 words on the old WIP.  (As an aside, I have a difficult time using that term…I don’t take myself seriously enough as a writer.  Anyone else have that little problem?).

Anywhoo, now it is time to write a blog post and as usual lately, I’m stymied.  So, if you don’t mind, this is going to be an amalgamation.

For starters, I have been so behind on blog writing and reading, I missed out on Alex Cavanaugh’s  and Matthew McNish’s  Pay it Forward Blog Fest.  The purpose was to recommend three bloggers so others will find them.   Alex is one of the most generous, giving and forward thinking writers I’ve had the fortune to “meet,” and while I’m five days late, the idea was so thoughtful I wanted to participate.  As for Matthew, well, I hope someday I’ll have a query he will critique.  In the meantime, if you have one you’d like to submit, check out his site.

So, in spite of the fact I’m trailing the proverbial pack, I’d like to recommend  two bloggers that I’ve discovered recently.  To that end, please check out Mainewords.   Marcy not only offers to critique the first page of your manuscript, her blog also includes stunning photos along with her prose.  Speaking of photos, Missing Moments, a blog I found a few months ago, is filled with such amazing pictures, I sigh when I see them, and envy her photography skills.

Number three is a blogger I’ve known for a while, but please have a look at Anne Gallagher’s new site:  Anne Gallagher, Regency Romance Writer .  Anne's site is a perfect representation of her work, AND features a stunning masthead painted by Bridget Chicoine, a writer, artist, blogger I’ve been a fan of since my early days online.  You can find Bridget’s painting site here, and her writing site here.

And lastly today, for those of you in revision hell…err, heaven, click here to read The Geyser 5-Step Approach to Revision by  Brian Klems at Writer’s Digest.  I can’t wait to get to a point where I can use his advice.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Warming up While the Season Cools Down

As I write this, it is 63 degrees in my house.  The thermometer in the back yard reads 71.  The sun is too low in the sky to get over the trees and our home stays in a perpetual state of shade.  I am sorry to say, we are preparing for winter.   

The boats have been pulled, we’ve begun yanking down the storm windows and the two cords of wood we ordered fill the cutout in the driveway.  Being frugal Yankees though, we can’t even consider turning on the heat yet.  It’s the time of year we wear our sweaters inside, taking them off when we leave the house, donning them again when we return. 

Experience has taught me well.  The best way to get rid of the chill is to get out from under the trees and today, when I returned home to a cold house after the Monday a.m. volunteer stint, I chose not to stay.  Instead I grabbed the camera.   

In the car, the sun heated the air while a cracked window delivered a sharp freshness I drew deep into my lungs.  The fleece jacket on the seat beside me remained untouched while a trip around town to capture some October images delivered its own, internal warmth.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

The Burn

This is a rerun from last year.  I was pondering a post along the same vein, and then decided this one says it all.  To give you some sense of the changes going on here...the first picture is taken from the same spot as the photo in the Middle Passages masthead...just a few months later.  

On the shore, the term “mild” holds great meaning. It’s a matter of degree, but all influences touch us less. Except for occasional Nor’easters that barrel up the coast, our winters are softer. We get less snow; the ocean temperatures stop the air from becoming quite as cold. In the summer, heat waves stifle, but the sea offers a puff of air, a hint of dampness, a reduction in the swelter, noticed primarily by those who travel here from interior places.

Our autumns are calm too, sometimes in weather, always in color. Fall by the ocean rolls in with a serene glide that quilts us in shades more muted then those found in the mountain country up north. Weeks after the first flames whip through the sugar maples of Vermont and New Hampshire, we wait to reach peak color. When it appears, it’s hung by a more reserved artist, one who uses soft brush strokes to paint from a pallet of gold and fawn.

Skeins of subtle crimson wind through trees standing next to their still-green peers. Marsh grasses fade from emerald to taupe. We wait, for the splash, the celebration, an explosion of color to emerge, and then remember it doesn’t happen here. Instead, the colors leak in, seeping under a crack in the door, in slow burning embers we fail to recognize until the end of the party—when the pale sun butters a few remaining hickory leaves and our restrained burn looses its fuel.  Coals diminish, cinders shift and before long, all that remains is a pile of glowing ashes. Rubbing our arms we look to the empty-fingered trees pointing to a smoke colored sky, and realize that before we got a chance to enjoy it, the heat drained from our smoldering autumn fire.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Catching Up

The eighteen-year-old in our family, currently residing one state north, was home this weekend for the first time since starting college.  As the two of us sat with windows rolled down at the beach, sipping our favorite coffee, she informed me I’ve been slacking in my blogger duties.  “I keep checking Mom, but there is never anything new.”  I hung my head.   I’ve joined two writing groups, one local and one online, each of which require reading and critiquing, and I’ve given myself a writing goal that means putting Middle Passages on the back burner, for now. There is writing going on, behind the scenes, and lot of everyday living, but not so much happening here.  Sometimes, you can’t do it all.
But then, you get a warm long weekend in October when the sky is so clear the land has sharp edges.  The points on the oak leaves are visible and the outlines of the houses lining the harbor are etched in fine pen and ink. You walk a barrier beach, picking up flat stones and skimming them across a mild chop toward the sailboats still moored against a backdrop of yellowing trees, and take a trip in the dinghy through late season rollerstoward a lobster boat hauling its traps, out by the rocks.    On the shore, sea grass turns from blonde to brown to rust, and all this provides fodder for a blog post, especially because you happened to remember a camera.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It is What it is

It is 9:00.  I have 45 minutes before I need to conduct a quick errand,  then point the car north for the six mile ride to work.  I tossed in bed early this morning, desperate for a blog post topic.  Instead of ideas though, the water-torture drip of the gutter, draining from our 3:00 a.m. thunderstorm wormed its way in. Plunk, pelt, plunk, pelt.   If only words would land in such a steady rhythm.

Sometimes, I when sit down, stuck, forcing myself to type, unexpected thoughts begin to drizzle, trickling at first, like the tiny brook flowing through our gutter, then flooding like a storm surge.  Today, it is just this, a paragraph squeezed out like the last of the toothpaste, hardly enough to cover the brush.

This is my little contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's monthly Insecure Writers's blogfest.   Click here to read more.