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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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 Things 7-1-14

1.  A firefly in my room late last night.  Rather a magical thing to wake up to.

2.  My dream agent requested my full manuscript.  This may very well come to nothing, but it surely was a nice boost when I needed one.

3.  “I love you ever so much,” whispered by my son after I’d left his room, and he came running downstairs for a final hug & kiss.  *melt!*

4.  Sweet corn is coming up, tomatoes are growing like mad (I’m glad they like this weather, it’s not my favorite!) and the garden is generally thriving after its rough start.  We’ll see how much we actually get at harvest, but it could be worse.

5.  Visiting a friend with chickens gave me the opportunity to notice how very ‘roostery’ her Rhode Island Red hens look.  Upright, long tails, rather slim build.  This was a huge relief, since our RI Red is my favorite of the chickies, and I’ve been cringing every time I see him her, wondering how I’m going to part with her if she turns out to be a him.



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Small Things 6-27-14

1.  Today the air smelled of flowers.  What a lovely summer day.

2.  However, on the other side of the smelliness-scale, my son’s extremely stinky feet have started warranting their own bath ritual, with Dial soap.  Which did, finally, cut the stink.  When I sniffed to see how our experiment worked, the kiddo said, “Don’t they smell refreshing now, Mommy?”

Um, yes?

3.  It’s been a good week on so many counts, for the little guy.  Beach days and playdates for fun, and excellent progress made on some things we’ve been working hard on.  He’s so well-spoken and funny though, that I forget sometimes how very young he still is.  Today I had to go to the Apple store at the local mall–where I had promised Hen a ride on the carousel in the food court after our errand was done. We rounded the corner and realized, astonished, that the carousel was simply no longer there. He burst into silent, embarrassed tears and whispered, wiping his eyes frantically–so I wouldn’t notice, I suppose, “But what am I going to ride on now?”  Poor little guy.  Some ice cream helped ease the disappointment, but it was such a little guy reaction from my big kid that it almost made me cry.  I don’t want him to be in such a hurry to grow up that he’s embarrassed about showing me the depth of his disappointment.  Promised carousel rides that simply cannot happen are a big deal when you’re three.

4.  Speaking of Apple, though, they sure came through for me.  I have a MacBook Air that went completely wonky after the last firmware update.  Like, wouldn’t reliably turn on level of wonk.  After trying a few resets with a tech on chat, I was asked to bring it in, whereupon they replaced the logic board–under warranty, and two days earlier than they had promised.  It works just like it’s supposed to now–better than ever, actually.  I suspect there was always something a little off about that board–and I’m left feeling happy again with my computer platform of choice.  Way to go, Apple!

5.  Blueberries!  I was all astonishment when we spotted one of our scrawnier bushes with a full load of ripe blueberries.  The kiddo was ecstatic, and I’m just hoping the chickens don’t find any of the low branches before the kiddo has  achance to fully pick through them.

(5.5  And oh yeah, about the chickens?  I’m starting to have a sneaking suspicion that 4 out of the 5 might be of the roosterly persuasion.  This would NOT be a good thing…)

Small Things 6-20-14

1.  Wow.  Long time since I’ve been on here–no excuse, just got busy & lazy in equal measure.  So for quick updates:  Summer finally arrived.  And I do mean finally.  Like last week.  But then it arrived with a vengeance–moving from oh, say, mid-March weather to late June weather overnight.  Of course, last night, we moved back to late March weather, so who the hell knows what this last week of June will bring. The tomatoes have been in a deep state of shock since I planted them out at the beginning of the month.  Who the hell knows if we get any tomatoes this year?  Folks who understand me know that that’s pretty much akin to me saying, “Who knows if the earth will continue spinning on its axis this year…”

Ugh. We just got our first peas today.  About a month late, by my reckoning.  Tomatoes only have a one-month season.  Which means…bad garden year so far. Bummer.

2.  Good news is that the chickies are adorable. Living outside quite happily for quite a while (thank heavens!) No hawk fatalities, no Mattie-Catty murder sprees, and no accidentally wandering off and becoming the neighbor’s chicken–yes, which has happened to me before.  Happily, it was a rooster, which I wasn’t too fond of, so it worked out just fine, but still. Embarassing.

Bad news is that I think Hoos-Foos is almost certainly a rooster–and not at all inclined to wander off in search of a better home.  If he’s a quiet rooster (and there are a few out there), then he’s still ok here. We’ve got room for rooster shenanigans.  But not if he’s a 3am crow-er.  Happily, I have a few folks lined up willing to take a boy-chickie, so it’s not going to be too traumatic if he can’t live here, but still.  I wanted 5 hens, damnit.  And he was supposed to be my green-egg layer, too.

3.  Summer vacation is hard.  By which I mean, this kid is the joy of my life, I wouldn’t trade our worst moments together for the best of times without him around, but damn, 2-hours of school a couple of times a week was a nice break.  And what’s up with things like gymnastics classes taking summer breaks?  I mean, dudes, when do you think I really need you?  SUMMER!!! All that energy, so many rainy days.  Sigh.  Things take longer with a 3-year-old in tow.  There is more whining.  There are more tears.  However, there are also more opportunities for giggling, for crazy poems, for the 87th version of his favorite joke (What do you get when you cross a crocodile & a rooster?  A croc-a-doodle-doo!) There are more impulsive hugs, accompanied by “You’re the best mommy I could ever hope for!”  (No idea where he got that from, a book somewhere, I’m sure, but it never fails to warm my heart. Kid knows how to get to me.) There are lots of opportunities for bubble-blowing, for helping in the garden. Many chances to play card games here & there throughout the day. He’s become a champion at pushing the cart in the grocery store.  We fold laundry together–he does at least as good a job (which isn’t saying much) as I do on washcloths.  He tries to finagle an extra viewing of Justice League cartoons whenever he thinks he can get away with it–and then he begs me to watch it with him.

In other words, summer vacation is the best.  Did I say hard? I meant ‘the best’.

4.  I’ve been incredibly frustrated with trying to lose weight.  Counting calories religiously, keeping it under 1100 a day, and my weight loss rate is about 1 pound every two weeks.  Really.  I know I need to move more, but it’s just not happening this summer.  Exercise is going to be my #1 priority starting on the first day of school, and I hope to see a bit quicker results then.  Because really, this is just annoying.  That mid-forties thing they tell you about?  Oh yeah.  Here to tell you it’s all true, and even worse than you imagined.

5.  I have, however, finished a book and I’m nearly happy with it.  Still tinkering, as I send it out, but it’s pretty much there.  I have not yet found an agent who wants to represent it, and that’s frustrating. Emotionally exhausting, setting one’s heart-work up for repeated rejection, and of course there’s the terror, not-quite-suppressed, that no one will want it, and well, that’s the end of that book.

To that end, I’m NOT working on book 2 in this trilogy any more until I feel like it will find a home.  So I get to start a new book, and I’m in that really enjoyable phase of mulling it over in my mind, playing with ideas for a few hours, then picking up another bright shiny idea that my mind has collected in the last year or so, when my writing time has been otherwise occupied.  So good stuff & not-so-good, all together.  (But, damn, I wish I could find the perfect agent for this–you know, the one who says, “Oh yeah! I see what you’re doing and I like it & believe in it, & let’s SELL this thing!”  That would be really kind of wonderful.

Wish me luck, and a lot of it.




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Small Things 5-13-14

1.  The change in the dog is amazing, and makes me feel awful.  She’s a whole new dog, excited about, well–about life.  Poor thing.  PSA: Get your dog’s teeth checked, cleaned, x-rayed, & if necessary, pulled.  She’ll be very happy (believe it or not) that you did.

2.  Chickens could move into the coop if necessary.  I’ll let them stay inside near a heat source for another couple of weeks, but the worst slog of the coop is DONE.  (Thank heavens.)

3.  And my query letter for agents is coming together.  Damn, it’s hard to create a marketing document.  The reason I’m a writer is because I kind of suck at sales.  If I were good at selling stuff, I’d be, you know, a successful businessperson or something. *sigh*.  Still, it has to be done, and happily in this day & age, there are a lot of online resources to help with the nuts & bolts of it.  But still.  I reserve the right to whine.

4.  Leaves are coming out, forsythia are everywhere–as are those weird lavender/purple azaleas. I would like springtime more, in fact, if there were fewer purple azaleas–don’t know why, but that particular color sets my teeth on edge.  Anyone else, or is it just me?

5.  Mother’s day was quiet–we don’t really celebrate the ‘Hallmark Holidays’, but my son made me a brooch at school–glitter and seashells–and it is the loveliest thing I have ever seen.  Also, he enjoyed the giving so much that he woke me up on Monday with an armful of stuff.  “Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!”  “Oh, sweetie, that’s so nice. But yesterday was Mother’s Day, and remember–you already got me something I love.” “I want to give you even more, Mommy.  Here’s a truck.  We can play with it, if you like.”

(If I like?  Kid knows me inside & out.  Of course I’ll play with him given an explanation like that. Just let me put on some socks, kiddo, and we can play trucks til the cows come home.)

I am so very lucky, so very blessed, so very grateful.