Small Things 8-10-14

1.  I had the chance to eat lunch with (and pick the brain of) an incredible agent today.  She was gracious, incredibly informative AND interesting. Also, the restaurant she recommended has moved to the top of my ‘go there while we are in Brooklyn’ list. So yay.

And I was able to spend much of the car ride home brainstorming and pondering newbook, since the Child was so sleepy that he, well, slept almost all the way home.

2.  And then waiting for us here? An incredible, signed, personalized, and doodled-in-by-the-author copy of Llama-Llama Red Pajama for my little llama-loving boy. His Aunt found him something he is going to treasure for the rest of his life.  Thank you Aunt Leigh!

3.  Two and a half eggs waiting for us after our 36 hour there-&-back-again trip.  I say ’1/2′ because one of them was obviously a practice effort.  ie: it was pretty much lacking a shell.  This is not uncommon for new layers’ bodies to kind of get it wrong a few times. Gross, but normal.  And what it means is: We’ve got another layer!  Woohooo!!!

4.  I was able to spend Saturday afternoon with a dear friend & her almost-two-year-old. The Boy Child adored her, and they played happily together the whole time.  When it was time for us to go, she tackled him–she being half his size–laid on top of him, and lisped the words, “I love you.”

Melt.

And I think he fully reciprocates it.  He has a very tender spot in his tender heart for younger kids.  In fact, when I asked him who he’d like to invite over this week for a playdate, a new 18-month-old friend (who shares his passion for trucks–or Zoom-zooms, as little M calls them) was his first choice.  Which makes my heart happy.  Because honestly, like every mother, I want him to be successful & challenged in his chosen profession, to work hard and try his best. And of course I want him to be happy.  But really, I will consider myself almost unbearably blessed if people who know him, know him to be a kind person.

5.  New books to read, and I owe the world a rave-review of the quartet by Mary Robinette Kowal that I just finished (OMG, so much fun!) but for now, I’m tired, and sleepy, and have a week’s worth of grocery-shopping, cleaning, and such to accomplish in the next two days before we head off on our next big adventure.  So, off to bed, to read, and then (very soon!) to dream.

‘night.

Small Things 7-31-14

1.  Today is a momentous day because:

EGG!

Also tomato, but really, I’m stoked about the egg.  Deposited right in the nest box where I’d prefer to find them.  Cute as a button.  So pleased.

2.  Spent the morning at the beach of a local pond with Hen’s old playgroup friends.  Last year we really didn’t get to go because of the arm cast. The year before that, Hen was still deeply distrustful of water in general. This year?

This year, the three ‘old guard’ who’ve been in this group forever, were swimming like fish, diving under the water, swimming out to the floating dock to jump off. They were playing silly games “Swim! Swim away from the shark!” And they were showing off for each other and all the mommies.

Time is moving on, and a morning like this–in a familiar place, with an unfamiliarly mature boy–just reminds me.

Wow.

3.  Heading to Connecticut to visit Hen’s sister, niece, and grandparents (and any assorted cousins & aunts we can convince to join us.) We’re excited because grandbaby. Hen’s excited because of the swimming pool!

4.  Going out to the clam shop for dinner because we haven’t done it yet this summer, and hell, the summer’s slipping away from us. We’re away every weekend from now til the middle of September, and it’s all good, but I know this last month’s going to fly away before I know it.

5.  (Did I mention

EGG!)

Small Things 7-30-14

1.  Chickens tried to follow us on our daily dog walk.  Onto the main street in our little town.  Um, no. That didn’t work.  It’s nice to be adored (for the mealworm treats we give them!) but it would be even nicer if I didn’t have to cut short our walk because the chickens wanted to cross the road.

Bad jokes may commence, um, now

2.  We joined a local C(ommunity) S(upported) A(griculture) program, and so far I’m loving the challenge of receiving bags of produce I didn’t handpick for our family.  4 kirby cucumbers? Challenge accepted, and I think I get to level up since I just made my first batch of quick refrigerator pickles and they’re delicious.  Head of lettuce? Ugh, fine, we’ll eat SALAD–never my fave–but I’ll dress it up with a purple bell pepper!  And the corn will go nicely with tonight’s swordfish.  And the kiddo & I pretty much ended the pint of blueberries we were given, so I suppose we should really save the peaches for my husband who-loves-peaches-above-all-things.  Plus, this little farm sells Hatch’s Green Enchilada sauce for a full $.75 a can less than Whole Foods, so let’s get a great big ‘yay’ going for that one.  They also sell local cheese–mozzarella with our tomatoes next month, here we come!–and we’re already buying our milk locally.

Still haven’t really managed to source out our meat from this area, but our fish is caught nearby, and we’re doing pretty well with everything else.  Here’s to eating locally!

3.  On that note, I finally had to stake up the tomato cages–which is good.  Means there’s enough  plant there to actually produce tomatoes.  I have one ready to pick tomorrow, and I. Can’t. Wait.

4.  I’ve been running–(ok, I’ve been walking with intermittent bursts of painfully slow jogging).  But it’s good.  I’m feeling good–better about myself and my complete lack of motivation to do anything physical besides pulling weeds (which, granted, can get pretty physical when they’re as big as I’ve let them get in a few of the garden paths!)  So I’m doing better.  I’m planning on sticking with it as long as the lack-of-snow cooperates, and I’m even considering a gym membership for when the snows arrive.  See?  I can be a responsible adult and take charge of my own health.

5.  I mentioned that I’m in the research stages of writing a new book, and how much fun it is for me to be starting something entirely new.  I’m setting this book in the future, along the banks of the Colorado River, in an imagined set of societies loosely based on current populations.  And to that end, I’m trying to incorporate some Diné words & concepts.  Way back in my college days, I took a year of Navajo Language–which was far & away the most interesting class of any sort that I enjoyed during my undergrad days. Because it was–by necessity, the culture is intrinsically bound up in the language–an absolute glorious mess.

I dug out my old photocopied dictionary–back in the day there was no such thing as Google Books to give access to out of print stuff, so the teacher would just xerox her materials.  And I’m looking at the notes I scribbled all over it (and noticed how different my handwriting was before the broken arm!) and remembering how interesting it was to get such an indepth look at another world–because that’s what it felt like, another world living in tandem with the one I’m familiar with.

And that’s a little bit of what I’m trying for in this book, to recapture a bit of that shock and delight that ‘there’s another entirely different world view that I never even knew about right here!”

Let’s see if I manage to get any of that into the book.  If I do, it’s going to be awesome.

 

Small Things 7-25-14

1.  My son mentioned in “casual” passing that the real word for ‘ants’ is “Phlemegish”

Well.  I’m all for being taught that a chrysalis is another word for a cocoon, or that red + blue make purple–which is also called violet, Mommy! But Phlemegish?  Um, no.

(Just to be sure, I checked the Latin (formicae) and asked if perhaps he remembered it wrong–No, Mommy, it’s Phlemegish.)

So today, his last day of school-camp, I learned the truth–his teacher apparently grew up in a Portugese-speaking household, and accidentally taught the kids the Portugese word “Fomigas” which she pronounces pretty much exactly like ‘Phlemegish”.  Ok.  Mommy’s been schooled, and my son is very proud of himself for knowing something I didn’t…

2.  We washed the dog yesterday – as a family.  The dog only gets bathed when she needs it, but she’s been rolling in earthworms since the rain a few days ago (I know–it’s a thing, apparently. Weird dog.) and she stank.  So into the tub.  Husband & I were less-than-thrilled; the dog thought we were torturing her;  but the kiddo wants to know when we can do it again.  Ah, the joys of being 3!

3.  Starting a new book, rather than book 2 of the trilogy.  Which is sort of fun–it’s been a while since I began a new book from scratch.  And this one is from an idea I’ve had floating around in the back of my mind for a while now.  The fun part is researching historical Utah names, both Diné, and LDS.  I imagine researching for historical fiction must be a bitch–there’s an awful lot to get right. But when you’re just using the research as a jumping off point for something set in the far future? Then it becomes an incredibly amusing rabbit hole to tumble down into.  The Internets are fun.

4.  I’ve spent this last (glorious! blessed!) week of 2+ hours of babysitting school-camp getting in a jog/walk 4 days out of the five.  It’s made a huge difference in my attitude, and I really need to find a way to keep doing it, even when he is not being entertained elsewhere.  Wet pine needle-scent, and an oak tree covered with galls. Mushrooms everywhere. The green marbles of concord grapes about 2 months before they ripen.  A deer that bounded onto the road, then bounded back when she saw me – to be with another adult, and a wee baby fawn.  I’m not a huge fan of deer in general, but I make an exception for baby critters.  Broken nuts absolutely covering the road underfoot beneath two trees–there must be a bird or a squirrel that’s been busy this summer–and best of all, a bit of music that isn’t child-friendly, a bit of movement that feels like it’s doing me some good, and a bit of time to do something just for me.

May the snow come late this year.

5.  I found this year’s garden toad, which always makes me happy.  They are such unlovely little creatures, with the most astoundingly gorgeous eyes.  And the way they move makes me laugh.  And I suppose they’re good at catching bad garden bugs, but really, I just like to look at them.  Glad to have a toad this year. I was beginning to wonder if this was going to be a toad-free summer.

Small Things 7-23-14

1.  Sigh.  Dream agent passed on my manuscript which is disappointing–obviously–but not too surprising.

It’s still out at a few agents–but I’m feeling less hopeful, I have to admit.  Some novels just never make it into print, much as their writers hope otherwise.

So I’ll have a little cry, and then I’ll dust off my precious snowflakey self, (Although I may still sniffle a little bit when no one’s listening, I promise not to inflict any more of this on my gentle blog-readers) and try to write an even better book next time.

Sigh.

2.  The kiddo continues to confuse the words “Woodchuck” and “Warthog” which makes for interesting reports on the state of the garden.  ie: “Mommy, I think the warthog’s been in the zucchini patch again…”

3.  So many outdoor projects, so little time before autumn.  Still waiting to see if we’ll have a productive tomato year before frost (I think we will) it was encouraging to have to stake the tomato cages to the uprights today.  The plants are growing, at least, even if we have fewer green tomatoes on the plants than last year.

4.  The kiddo’s favorite game is still “I’m pretending you don’t know anything, Little Baby.”  The upside of this is that I can manipulate him into giving me almost any answer I want if I word it correctly.  He does like to prove me wrong and ignorant!

5.  Only another week and a half until we get to turn the calendar page.  Not normally something worth celebrating, but since the family calendar that my FIL puts together each year featured the kiddo’s ambulance ride from last July, I’ll be well & truly happy to move on from that. Not as fond a memory for me as it is for the little one!

Small Things 7-21-14

1.  I have a fondness for feral things.  I grow clementines from that one heavily seeded one I found in a box of ‘normals’ last winter (I have something like 20 little 6″ citrus trees right now. Anyone want one?) I tend to root for the coyotes in any interaction with tame things (even when they’re tame things I rather like.) And I find myself completely unwilling to uproot feral tomatoes.

Which would be awesome if ALL my tomatoes were heirlooms.  But sadly, most of my most prolific reseeders are sungolds and hybrid sauce tomatoes–which means sometimes the feral ones are awesome, and sometimes they taste like nothing-at-all.  I planted about 30 tomatoes this year, but I’d guess that I have closer to 100 plants out there.  Three all the way out in my raspberry patch (I’ll bet it’s a sungold, plucked and subsequently dropped by a large bird).  Several in the gravel walkways between beds.  Dozens coming up randomly in the beds themselves.

I’ll need to do something about this tendency of mine next year, I suspect, lest ALL my planting space be given over to feral tomatoes.  But for the moment, I just give those outliers a little water, and let them be.  It’s a hard world out there for a tomato plant.  No need for me to make it any harder.

2.  Email from dream agent which began with (and which first line was all that showed up in my email preview) “My sincere apologies…” And after the world went black from the weight of ALL the dejection in the world settling in a pool in my brain and basically drowning my optic nerves, I read on & realized she was actually apologizing for not having yet gotten around to reading my ms.

Dream agent just got a whole lot dreamier.  *sigh*  And, damn, I do really hope they like my book. (Though even if they don’t, they’ll STILL be my dream agent based on how considerate today’s email was.  Seriously.  Agents don’t tend to DO things like that.  *sigh*)

3.  The kiddo had his first day of preschool ‘camp’ today, and while Real Bunny did not, in the end, stay at home, little boy was also not particularly interested when I came to pick him up–since he was having such a marvelous time he’d just as soon have stayed, thank you very much.  I am the proud owner of a lovely macaroni necklace–red because he knows it’s my favorite color (?)  The day kind of went downhill from there (Oh, electricians, there’s a REASON I did not want you to be installing the ceiling fan in my son’s room at naptime.  Hence my insistence on a morning appointment & my dismay when you insisted I had agreed to a 1pm appointment instead!) but it ended with ‘a million and one kisses, mama,’ as all my best days do.

And as Lilly (of the Purple Plastic Purse) knows, “Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better.”

4.  There was a lot of zucchini pulled from the garden over the weekend. Yesterday, in fact, was dedicated entirely to making stuff out of zucchini.  Bread, cake, gratin, shredded for winter-baking, roasted.  There will be fritters tomorrow, perhaps.  Stir fry the day after that.  They’re still winning, I think, though I didn’t have the heart to bring in any more after having just cleared my countertop. Anyone want some zucchini? Please? Please?

5.  Kiddo’s first day of school-camp also meant I was able to get out of the house for a 40 minute walk/jog this morning.  This is something that needs to happen more regularly for my health and happiness.  It felt–well, not exactly good. The first day of a new exercise regimen never feels good. But at least it felt virtuous.  I’ll settle for virtuous.

Small Things 7-15-14

1.  My eye is still not back to 100%. It’s worse in the mornings, as far as the swelling goes, but the puncture wound is still not healing well.  Edge of eyelid & all.  Gets moved a lot I suppose.  Not the end of the world, but I’m tired of being reminded of my humbling by an insect every time I blink.  Which is, um, often.

2.  We got to babysit my husband’s grandbaby this last weekend, and despite my fears to the contrary, everything went very well.  Easiest baby ever!  My own kiddo was entranced and fiercely jealous in equal measure, I believe.  He’s happy to have us to himself again, I think, no matter how much fun it was having a baby niece to ‘teach things to.’

In other kiddo-related news, it’s the one-year anniversary of the shattered elbow.  Does it bear mentioning that we will not be visiting any playgrounds today?  No, I figured that was understood to be a given.

3.  Rejections from agents in this modern world are both easier & harder to take, I think.  No, not ‘dream agent’ (yet), just another agent who sent me a form rejection (‘no thanks, just not for me,’) but whom I follow on Twitter–so I got to see her actual thoughts since she tends to go through her query pile live.  “Nothing fresh or unique enough to draw me in” were her actual thoughts. Ouch. And yes, I queried her in part because I knew I’d likely get at least 140 characters worth of actual feedback. But still, it stings–because I am a tender, delicate special snowflake, goddamnit.

4.  Turkeys continue to use our yard as their own private stomping grounds–or rather, wallowing grounds.  Shouldn’t complain, since I rather enjoy seeing them every morning, very much hope we get to watch these chicks grow up.  Still, I worry that our complacency is teaching those babies ‘people are your friends’ habits that will get them popped in a Thanksgiving oven as soon as they wander up to someone toting a gun next turkey season.  Silly birds.

5.  Back to obsessive email-checking. Should send off a new query letter before the kiddo wakes up from his nap; climb back onto that sensitive-snowflake horse, I suppose. (Damn, I hate this part of the writing process.  I really, really do.)

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Small Things 7-9-14

1.  Still checking email compulsively hoping to see/not to see an email from Dream Agent in my inbox.  Hoping to, because, well, what if it is a perfectly wonderful email detailing how much he adored my book? But hoping not to, because, well, what if he’s got to break it to me that well, he adored it not so very much at all.  (Because yeah, not really any middle ground, right?)

So I wait.  And I spend too much time refreshing Google & pondering nightmare scenarios like, “what if there was a glitch in cyberspace that ate my manuscript and so they haven’t received it & they think I’m just blowing off the request?”  Because of course, emailing to ask, “Hey, did that manuscript come through ok?” might get read as “This chick would be a crummy client because she’d be pulling paranoid stunts like this all the time…”

So I wait.

I’m really good at this, as you can see.

2.  Ate the first of the garden zucchini tonight, and it was all kinds of delicious. I’m someone who even likes supermarket zucchini, but my own? Let’s just say I don’t mind that I always overplant zucchini, because really, we never DO have too much, despite my husband’s beliefs to the contrary.  No such thing as too much zucchini (I say as I frantically scan recipe sites for new zucchini recipes because it’s only just begun!(BWAHAHAHAHAH!)

3.  Beach yesterday and beach, perhaps, on Monday.  I find I’m really loving living half an hour from a beach state park.  We’re using the hell out of that annual parking pass…

It really is nice, now that the boychild is old enough to have actual friends, how often his favorite friends coincide with my favorite mommies.  No surprise there, I’m sure, but it’s so pleasant to be able to spend a fun day where the kiddos are amusing themselves more than we’re amusing them–a nice break for all of us on these long summer days.  And fun days at the shore, where at least we get a breeze off the water? Heaven!  (And I have more of a tan than I’ve had since my Utah days.  Finally, I recognize my arms again!)

4.  Speaking of hot summer days–a bit of rain would be awfully nice right about now.  Been a hot week, and while I’m not really complaining–since my tomatoes are grateful for the warmth–my old farmhouse is NOT well designed for summer–it does not cool off quickly. Big rainstorm would make a world of difference in this non-a/c’ed space!

5.  Chickens are big girls (boys? I dunno) now, and are happily roaming free all day, every day.  They come in when I rattle the mealworm container, or at sunset, whichever comes first.  So far, they don’t seem to be wreaking any havoc on the neighbor’s flowerbeds, and they spend most of their time patrolling the edge of the meadow, looking for bugs, I’m sure.  So glad we have birds again. Here’s hoping at least one of them has the equipment to start laying eggs this fall…

Small Things 7-6-14

1.  A wasp stung my eyelid while I was cleaning out the chicken coop–Little bastids built a nest inside the coop itself. How nice.  This sting hurts like a spiky bit of hot lava shoved under my eyelid.  A lot, in other words. Blinking is all kinds of agony, but happily (?) my eye is pretty much swollen shut. Not much blinking actually happening anytime soon.

The best husband in the world is taking the kiddo out to dinner, and then coming home to do battle against hundreds of mighty foes with wasp spray, a garden hose, and a decoy wasp nest.

Die wasps, die! Say it with me, folks…

2.  Saw the turkeys again.  Actually think they might have decided that since the chickens are roaming free, this must be a pretty safe place to be a soft, stupid bird.  I sort of hope they figure out that this area loves its turkey hunts & get wise. Because those baby turkeys? SO blasted cute that I’d hate to have their deaths on my head!

However, I also realized why certain, shall-we-call-them turkey-sized patches in my corn patch have had absolutely nothing growing in them.  This would be because the tom is using the patch as his own private sunbathing/dustbathing spot.  I chased him off and he came back. Chased him off again, and again he came back. Finally got stung by a wasp (which was probably in cahoots with the turkey) and left him to it.

Have a blast, Mr. Turkey. Flop on. I suppose losing those seven or so ears of corn is worth it in sheer entertainment value.

3.  Dream agent still has manuscript, which is more good than bad, I think.  Good because it means they read past the first page, most likely. Bad because I think I might break the Internets by compulsively checking my email every 32 minutes or so.

(I did, however, get a fantastic fortune in my cookie at the Japanese food restaurant–which essentially pretty much assures success here. So I’m not worried at all.

Hah. Hah on SO many levels.)

4.  Eye.  Swollen.  Shut.  Did I mention this? I suppose I should be really damned grateful it wasn’t my eyeball that got nailed. This is uncomfortable and temporarily pretty disfiguring, but I’m thinking actual eye (and we’re talking about 1/16th of an inch away–he nailed the inside of my eyelid) sting could be potentially pretty dangerous to, you know, my sight.  And I’m not enjoying the half-blind experience even knowing it’s temporary–got to say.  My sight appears to be remarkably bad without stereoscopic vision.

5.  Kiddo, when he saw my ridiculously swollen face after waking up from his nap was pretty unfazed–he did, however, immediately tell me that he’s pretty sure he was stung by a wasp, too.  So perhaps he should have an ice pack as well.

Little Münchausen syndrome Boy.

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Small Bookish Things – My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

www.randomhouse.com

First off, I’m not a French cook.  That is to say, I’m not overly fond of cream sauces, picky cooking techniques, or extravagant supply lists.  Happily, neither is David Lebovitz.  Written by an American cook living in Paris for ten years who also happens to love other cultures’ cooking, the book is delightful to simply page through and read/admire. Lots of anecdotes which rarely stray too far into the narcissistic. Lots of gorgeous photos that make me want to go to Paris and wander the streets before I eat my way through it.

And then there are the recipes.  OMG the recipes.  Want a nice Coq au vin recipe whose sauce isn’t thickened with chicken blood?  Here you go.  How about a recipe for shallot marmalade? (this one’s on my short list for something to play with once it’s no longer above 90* inside my house!) Right here.  Salted Butter caramel sauce? Yes please.  Something a little lighter, and maybe North African in origin? How about a hummus seasoned with homemade dukkah?  Yep.

I’d totally give this book as a gift, but when my husband suggested giving this copy away as a Christmas gift to another family member who likes cookbooks, I grabbed it to my chest and shook my head.  “Mine.” I told him–sounding remarkably like my preschooler.  “Buy her her own copy. This one’s mine.”

I have a feeling I’m going to be cooking my way through this book, come autumn and cooler temperatures.

To buy My Paris Kitchen through Random House. To buy other titles by David Lebovitz through Random House.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

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