Small Things 2-9-15

1.  I miss my cat. So damned much.

2.  Speaking of so much, the snow outside is way too damned much. 69 inches in the last 2 weeks. Plus it’s really freaking cold. I really need a break.

3. Ramen continues to be the best thing I’ve ever eaten for lunch. It’s all I ever want anymore, forever and ever.

4. We’re all getting a little stir crazy. The Boy is a hero for taking the little one out to ‘shovel’ a lot. Flinging snow wildly and ineffectively uses up a lot of little boy energy that would otherwise be spent in sulking aggressively, or seeing how loud he can shout. He’s normally a charmer, but the long cold indoor days are wearing on all of us. Plus, I suspect I’m not as much fun to be around as usual.

5. Drinking whiskey. Enjoying the woodstove that The Boy has considerately been stoking all day so it will be tolerably warm in the barn tonight. Listening–on the monitor– to him singing the wee one to sleep.  Hoping for a few hours to try to write, to get my internal life in order, even though my external life feels very off-balance right now. Hard to believe it’s been a week without Mattie.  I keep thinking I’m seeing her out of the corner of my eye: a saunter of black. A pounce of darkness.

More whiskey. More cleaning – my, is my house ever clean! More cooking, more baking. More forts for the kiddo to play in. More stories read. More puzzles puzzled over. More board games played for the umpteenth time. More stories written. More wine. More kisses from The Boy and the wee one. More biscuits passed stealthily to the dog to apologize to her Whippetness for this miserable damned cold. More Facebook. More book recommendations. More cross-stitch — I’ve been stitching like mad lately, despite needing to get ON with a couple of baby blankets that are coming up due in May. More going to bed early. More napping in the middle of the day. I’ve always hated February. More daydreaming with a seed catalog in my hand. More feeding the hens compost and mealworms and suet cakes, because I feel so guilty making them live outside in a coop, and yet they keep laying eggs for me. They believe spring is coming soon.

It may not be spring, but March really is coming soon.  Bringing a visit with my folks.  Bringing snowmelt.  Bringing mud season.

March is just around the corner.

March is also a very long time away.

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Small Things 1-28-15

1.  Snow.  We had some.  30 inches to be exact.  Also, the wind sculpted it into these amazing ridges and valleys and drifts.  Holy snowflakes – like 5′ tall drifts.  Now, I know this aint no Buffalo, but for coastal New England, this is one hell of a lot of snow.

Yesterday was ‘hunker down & bake’ day. Today was ‘shovel’ day.  Both were snow-days-off-from-school which has wreaked havoc on our routines, but it’s been a fun break, too. Been a rough January, so it was fun to give ourselves the days off.

And much more importantly, the citrus trees & bougainvillae plants I bought for the express purpose of keeping alive hope while the snows descended did their jobs perfectly.

I was ready for winter to be over long before this one ever began, but even I’ll confess that this storm was pretty darned fun.

2.  I made ramen.  Boy HOWDY did I make ramen.  This ramen. And really, do yourself a favor and make it right now.  It’s spicier than I would have thought from the recipe, and very rich. Also, when you make it, it makes a ton and the noodles slurp up all the broth.  So just dump the whole batch in a big bowl in the fridge, and then when you’re ready for your ramen lunch, add quite a bit of boiling water to your helping to reconstitute the broth before you eat it – it’s still plenty rich. Seriously addictively delicious.

3.  My kiddo is a full-on reader.  And it sort of snuck up on me.  I mean, I’ve been following his pre-reading picking out of words in pet stores etc., with giddy joy for a while now.  But when he progressed from that to being able to pick out words while I was reading to him, to being able to just, well, read it himself, I sort of missed all that. Just all of a sudden, he’s reading.  Not physics texts, obviously, but not See Spot Run, either. For the longest time we thought he was just pretending, because we know he memorizes books almost instantaneously & always has.  (Nothing like having your reading corrected by a 2-year-old, “You got that word wrong, Mommy, it’s _____”) But he’s started doing it with new books, and unfamiliar books, and fairly complicated chapter books (though after a solid paragraph from a chapter book he’s ready to have a parent take over the reading chore so he can just kick back and enjoy the story.

Also, he’s been hiding my stash of index cards under a chair in the living room, so he can practice writing – lists of the things his Real Bunny is going to need in his new electric house.  Sometimes the spelling is, er, extremely creative, but it makes sense from a shorthand transcriptionist’s point of view.  Guess he’s going to be a court reporter someday…

4.  The cat continues – slowly – to show minimal signs of progress.  This is so hard. She’s such an easy-going cat she doesn’t really even mind the thrice-daily ‘hold the cat down & press on her bladder til it lets go’ routine. But I can’t do this indefinitely – everything else aside, I have to be present all day, every day, so her kidneys don’t fail.  So she has to get it back, or–well, or else.  And this sucks.  Uncertainty is almost as bad as certain horribleness.

It does, however, make cleaning the litter box an exciting chore – somewhat akin to finding easter eggs. because as long as she’s improving, I don’t need to make any hard choices.  So I’m all “LOOK!  I FOUND ONE! A BIG CLUMP OF SOLIDIFIED PEE!  YAY, MATTIE!”

If the neighbors are spying on us, they are quite convinced I’m completely, certifiably nutso.

5.  I broke an egg in my coat pocket today. It was as disgusting as you might expect.

That is all.

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Small Things 1-9-15

1.  Cat is healing up nicely. Red blood count is back up, and she’s getting used to the new routine.  I’m also getting quite good at it if you have any full cat bladders around that need expressing…

2.  Finished The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and loved it.  Pookas, real horses, a fishing island, horse-racing, a love of the sea.  Pretty much a perfect book.  Highly recommend to fantasy readers.

3.  As I’d hoped to, I’ve found a few writers online to swap manuscript critiques with, and it’s making a huge different in my  incentive to get the work done.  Funny how thinking about someone else’s writing can be at least as helpful to my writing as their thoughts on mine…

4.  It’s really damned cold here. Cold and the snow started at about 9 and is still going strong.  Would really love for it to warm up a little, but, you know, New England winter, I can’t complain overmuch since this is what we signed up for.  Still.  A little warmer for a few days would be nice – a bit of a thaw-out even if the temps never get close to 30*


5.  I bought a foot-warmer footrest thingy for my closet-office, and this thing rocks.  Only sips electricity, concentrates it just where I need it, and DAMN, this thing gets toasty even when it’s bitter out and chilly in.  Honestly, if you’re sitting & shivering, this is a pretty wonderful idea that is working as well as advertised.

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Small Things 1-6-15

1.  So.  Learning how to manually express urine from my (pissed off) cat’s bladder.  Cross that one off my bucket list.


Ok, seriously. My beloved Mattie-catty had another run-in with a car. She’s fully ambulatory, no broken bones.  Sort of.  Her tail has basically been yanked off the end of her spine, causing nerve stretching & damage to everything back there.  Hopefully the damage is temporary.  She may never regain the tail, but we have high hopes for excretory function.

A bad night two nights ago, when her red blood count was falling – internal bruising was pretty awful – & we basically thought I was bringing her home from emergency care to die.  I slept on the dining room floor with her so she wouldn’t be alone – and so I could get her to the vet quickly if her pain was so bad that she needed to be put to sleep at, say, 2am, but she slept comfortably and then a couple of hours before dawn she rallied rather remarkably.  Today she’s uncomfortable because of the peeing thing, and I’m uncomfortable because of the scratches and bite wounds she’s given me, but she’s walking, jumping, climbing up on laps, chasing cat-toys, and generally acting just fine.  Except for the peeing thing, and having a dead tail.  So I get to ‘help’ her pee three times a day until she gets that back–which she does not actually appreciate at all. She’s actually being very good about it, but there’s apparently only so much pee-related discomfort/humiliation a self-respecting cat can take before she lashes out.  She’s always very sorry afterwards, but I’m thinking seriously of investing in some leather gloves.

She’s not in any physical pain at the moment, so we’re giving her time (and antibiotics. And muscle relaxants) to heal, and hoping for the best. That’s the only treatment there is for this. Weirdly – for this is not apparently a common injury – I had a dog who died from complications of this exact same injury when I was very young. So I’m dealing with some anxiety because of that awful outcome, while trying to listen to my vets who all say that cats do much better with this (as with every) injury than dogs, and that she’s actually already responding well.  So I’m trying–mostly successfully–not to despair.

We’re also trying to figure ways to contain the cat indoors – which will be a huge adjustment for her – while still allowing the dog independent access to the outdoors as needed (which is important.) But for the moment, we’re just trying to get the hang of this ‘help the cat pee in the bathtub’ trick.  She’s in no mood to go outside right now anyway. She knows she’s fragile right now, even if that knowledge irritates the hell out of her.  Plus, you know, it’s damned cold out there.  Even the voles are snuggling underground.

Send good thoughts our way.  This is no fun for any of us.

2.  On a lighter note, the little boy is back in school and giddy with joy.  We all like having the structure of school in our day, but he really missed his friends and his teachers, and the whole exciting thing of being a big kid at school.  So happy he loves it so much.

3.  He also loves Young Cam Jansen books.  Oh my.  My parents gave him a bunch of them for xmas, and he’s loving the ‘mysteries’ (after one has read a mystery 17 or 18 times, we ALL know how it ends, kiddo!) of them, as well as being able to read so much of it himself. Out of nowhere, he’s told us maybe 10 times in the last 2 days that one of his friends at school can already read, and I think he’s put himself in competition with this boy.  Which is probably just fine for him emotionally. He can do it when he’s motivated, but he would usually rather be read to – we’re certainly not putting any pressure on him to read, but I know he likes to be the best/first at everything, so if it means he pays more attention to where my finger is when we’re reading together than he does to the pictures, so be it!

4.  It’s cold here, and icy, and the chickies would like it to warm up now.  Them and me, both.

5.  I’ve started corresponding with a few people about starting up a fiction critiquing posse, and it’s good to be talking to non-relatives about writing again. I’ve allowed my writing world to become a bit too small over the last few years, and it’s nice to be out in the world again, so to speak. I think this is the year to really get some things done and out there, fiction-wise.  I had another manuscript request on January first, which was a nice thing, and a good thing happened on the 31st that I’m not allowed to crow over just yet – though trust me, you’ll hear about  it soon.  So I’m feeling optimistic, and inspired to work harder, work smarter, and get this writing thing going.

Because honestly? Manual Pee Expresser is not my calling in life, no matter how good I get at it.



Small Things 12-29-14

1.  Getting toward that contemplative part of year’s end that I rather like.  The holidays we celebrate are over. Clean up is finished (or at least begun!) and things are starting to return to familiar patterns.  This makes me happy – almost as happy as the excitement of the holidays, actually.

2.  Hoos-Foos (which is to say, my blue-egg laying chicken) is laying again. So my collection of eggs each morning is rainbow-ish once again.  Which makes me way happier that it should.

3.  Have decided that I need to get back into the habit of reading A LOT.  I used to be one of those people who read a book a day, more or less. ie: that was pretty much my whole life.  And that’s – obviously – not desirable, or even possible, with an affectionate 4yo around, but I can do better than I have these last few years.

I gained a big chunk of time when I decided to stop bringing my phone upstairs each night for the hour or so a day I need to ‘calm down’ after my exciting, invigorating activities.  (Yeah, a bit of sarcasm, since even I realize I’ve got a cushy, nearly stress-free life. But still. If I don’t zone out before bedtime, I get anxious at about 3am & don’t get back to sleep.  And – no surprise, I know! – reading is better for my brain than playing games on my phone.  So I plan to keep doing that.  And maybe try to carve out a few more bits of reading time, as well (child pick-up line at school, I’m looking at you over the pages of my book!)  So expect to see more formal & informal book reviews on this blog – & I honestly do apologize if that’s not your thing, you three people who still check in here on occasion.

4.  I’ve also decided I really need to try to find some formal critique partners. Which seems wonky, since I LIVE with one of my favorite writers. But there it is. I think I need a crit partner who’s writing stuff that’s more like mine – or at least more like my intended audience.  So whether I join a local-ish writing group, or just poke around online with the intention of finding a dedicated crit partner, I think it’s time to do it for real.

5.  My husband bought me a fancy bread machine for xmas, among other assorted & amazing goodies.  And I fired it up today for the first time. Oh my.  Going to take all my holiday-strained will-power not to just sit and eat fresh bread all the time now.

nom nom nom

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Small Things 10-31-14

1. He is THE FLASH! (Doing a strange, non-aerodynamic pose. Not sure what that’s about.)


This was the first holiday where he was too excited to sleep the night before.  Ran up & down some perfect, no-car, T or T-ing streets with his best buddy Lyla.  They ooh-ed & aah-ed over the decorated houses. They (mostly) remembered to say both “Trick or Treat!” and “Thank you!” They got loaded down with candy treats he’s not usually allowed to eat, but he got to eat THREE before bed. He had  a blast. (We all did, really.)  Every holiday’s more fun with a four-year-old to enjoy it with.

2.  A nice slow weekend planned to balance out today’s excitement & next weekend’s writing convention in Washington DC.  It’s an anniversary of sorts for The Boy & I.  It’s where we first met in person, ten years ago, and where I realized I was completely head-over-heels in love with this guy I’d been exchanging emails with for so long.  We’ll be going with our son & with his daughter, who’s turned into quite a writer.  Many things have changed, but many things have stayed the same.  I’m still head-over-heels in love with this guy…

3.  His obsession with coloring continues to astonish me. He is happy coloring for an hour a day, as long as I’m there on the floor with him, busy with my own picture.

4.  I have all kinds of ideas for how to improve the chicken coop, & I actually found myself scouting out new coop designs last night.  Somebody stop me before it’s too late!

5.  Seriously, October, you didn’t stay around long enough.  A great month.  I can’t believe it’s only a few hours until November.  Yikes.

Small Things 10-15-14

1.  Sick with the traditional “my kid’s back in school cough”.  No biggie, just no fun.  *cough cough cough*

2.  Of course, that got overshadowed by the sudden and rather horrific health catastrophes facing my cousin’s wife.  We’re not close, but I went to college with her. We heard last week that she has a brain tumor. She went in for surgery pretty much immediately, and has been in a medically induced coma for a week now, trying to heal enough to wake up.  Her mother just died a month ago, and life was just settling down enough for Cyndi to take care of the ‘pesky sinus infection she just couldn’t shake’.

And no, we aren’t close – save in age, experience, common loved ones, etc. But damn, I’m completely knocked back by this, reminded – always reminded – to hug my loved ones close, and to weep for hers. If you’re the praying sort, say a word for my cousin’s wife Cyndi and their kids.

It feels like too much of my family – both distant and near – are facing rather huge health challenges right now.  Life feels very fragile and precarious right now.  As it should feel, I suppose.  For it is.  And that is the challenge, of course.  Remembering to LIVE every single day as if your days were numbered – because they certainly are.

3.  That said, my OWN headaches are merely the result of middle-aged eyes finally refusing to do what they’re supposed to do.  Glasses arrive next week – I hope. It’ll be nice not to be squinting at absolutely everything.

4.  Off to Brooklyn for a weekend of fun, family, and food.  I initially mistyped that as ‘faun, family, and food’ which would also be awesome, but not really what’s in store.  No fauns.  Fresh out of satyrs in NYC, though since Comic Con is this week, maybe I shouldn’t be so hasty to rule anything out.  We will, sadly, not be attending.  This is a family weekend.  I might squeeze in a trip to IKEA.  Or eat really excellent Chinese food.  I can almost guarantee that a couple of hundred trips to the park will be in order for the little boy to get his running in.  Cough drops packed?  Check.

5.  I’m writing.  Quite happily, which is a nice change.  Still have the old manuscript out with a few agents, but not feeling super-hopeful that I’ll ever be finishing that story.  So it’s nice that my brain was willing to move on to a new one so readily.  The LDS church was good enough to mail me a copy of the book of Mormon in English, and another in Diné.  Probably the only time they’ve ever filled that particular order for someone in New Hampshire, is what I’m thinking.


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Small Things 9-21-14

1.  My, oh my how that time does fly.  Seriously, I knew the end of summer would be nuts, but it’s been like, a month and a half.  Sorry about that.  Traveling, celebrating weddings & birthdays & the start of school.  Working and playing and, well, just a whole lot of living.  Ain’t gonna be sorry about that.  Nope.

2.  Let’s see – Hen is 4.  Wow.  Let me try that again.  Henry is four years old.

Nope. Didn’t sound any more possible that time either.

Birthday party was yesterday.  A little affair for, oh, say, 20 of his closest friends and their parents.  This was big for me.  See, I don’t really ‘entertain’.  I’m a bit frightened of people in large crowds, even when (especially when) I’m the hostess.  What if they turn on me? What if the decorations are universally disliked? What if they eat my brains?????  Ahem.  None of that happened. A good time was, I think, had by all.  And the birthday boy had no idea that guests traditionally bring presentses, so he was full of goodwill toward the world when child after child handed him a wrapped gift.  Seriously, we’re going to have to revamp our toy storage policies posthaste.

But it went well, and I did my duty as ‘mother of the child in preschool with the earliest birthday’ by inviting everyone and giving everyone a chance to meet & chat up everyone else.  Whew.  Next year it’s five kids max, and we’re holding it at Chuck E. Cheese or something similarly vile.

3.  Chickies are delightful.  They’ve completely won over the neighbor who was iffy about the whole concept. In fact, she feeds them and calls for them when she goes outside, just like we do.  Most. Spoiled. Pet. Chickens. Ever.

And 4 of the 5 are happily productive members of society, providing eggsies for us (& the nice neighbor) to eat every day.  Still waiting on Miss Lilly, who’s taking her sweet time about maturing, but really, we’ve got plenty, so I’m not desperate for her to get with the program.  It’s all good.

4.  Manuscript is out with two new agents, which is keeping me refreshing my email rather more often than is sane normal, but it’s all good.  A bit of suspense to keep the creative juices flowing, etc. etc.  And in the meantime, New Book is coming along nicely, if I do say so myself.

5.  Stepdaughter’s wedding which–I must admit–I was dreading the hell out of since her mother’s freakout on the occasion of her sister’s wedding at the same venue 2 years before, turned out to be quite nice and non-confrontational.

It helped that my ‘date’ – a certain 4-year-old charmer – looked simply smashing in his pint-sized blazer and tie.  And we danced the night away. At least until he fell asleep in my arms.

Truly – dancing crazy with your young son at an uncomfortable wedding is the best way to forget one’s worries.  Can’t no one worry while boogying to the Beatles with a 4-year-old.

He’s a hell of a dancer.  Gets that from his dad.

6.  And I’ll try to check in more often.  I’ve really been slacking.  Sorry about that.  Now that the party is over (whew.) real life can pick up again and honestly, I’m rather looking forward to settling back into my comfy routine!

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.”


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.


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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.


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