Monday, June 18, 2012

In the Weeds

That's a phrase I picked up from my the weeds. Restaurant-speak for - these orders are late, I can't keep up, and people are gonna start yelling...

If my life were a restaurant, well, people are Already yelling, the grass certainly is late, and the thistles are storming the castle - so to speak. I have been trying to responsibly manage the mud-pit that is, in fact, our property. During our monsoon season (you weren't aware that June in Minnesota is sub-tropical???) our topsoil has washed away, the thistles, dandelions, and quack grass have gotten a good long drink, and if not for my new boots, I'd be ankle-deep in something nasty.

We thought that a big perk of our lot was the big back yard. That was our thinking before the basement wall started cracking, and we found that we have to WAIT on grass, until weekly measurements indicate the walls and floor aren't actually moving. In the meantime, we've found that thistles THRIVE on disturbed soil. Moreover, we've found the thistle seed factory is already established across the pond from us, on Other disturbed lots. What this adds up to is my own version of the Roundup Rodeo, every morning - cutting thistles or spraying new ones. Thanks again, Key Land Homes.

(yes, this is me, naming names and blaming away. Especially blaming me for being a dummy and buying a dream house with an Eight Foot Crack on the basement wall)

So, does this mundane nastiness have ANYTHING to do with Orchids? Art? Literature?

Why, yes, and thanks kindly for asking!!

In a spurt of utter escapism, I dove straight into beta-reading for my friend Stephanie J. Grace. She is working on a very...hmm....Unusual, I guess. Love story. It's actually so unique that I am forgetting to comment on it (well, ok, I did email her when I realized she changed a character's name in the second chapter...). And ask anyone - Claudia Lefeve, for one -  I comment on EVERYTHING!! In any case, that's how sick I am of working on the space that will ultimately be my Dream Minestrone Garden. And in case you've forgotten, Minestrone is something I dream about.

However, in happier news, my daughter and I will be working on a fairy garden or two this week, and I hope to even post the pics! I've also written another scene in the horror story, and got feedback from Ms. Grace (love that reciprocity thing!). So, that may help ease me back into that whole 'writing thing.' Also, bless his hard-workin' heart, my husband got our mailbox installed, as well as a snazzy pair of badly-needed drapes in the dining room. We have a west-facing set of glass doors (sans deck, sadly) and he's been getting blinded every meal time. Well, on the days we Haven't had rain, anyway...

There, the morning is running away from me again. Off I go to catch it - after all, isn't catch-up what Mondays are for? Violin practice, and all the usual daily work is a-waitin'....I hope your Monday is at least misery-free, and at most, completely delightful.

Take care,


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

short story update

hah, you all thought it threw the towel straight in, dintcha? ;-)

Back in 2010, I put some serious time and effort into developing a short-story sketch into a short story. I even found a few generous, REAL WRITERS to read the rough (maybe chunky is more appropriate, here!). The biggest problems I've run into, other than the time factor, is that some extremely nasty things happen in this story, and it just seems to me that is the sort of thing that I Would Not Want to Actually Read.

Or, be responsible for writing.

I am not any further along in being at peace with that problem.

So, why the hell am I doing it?

Because it's part of the story that is there, and it makes 'sense' (if only 'story sense'). On the other hand, I have pretty strong views about guarding what you put into your own head.

To be honest, I wouldn't put my own story into my head, based on that criteria. It's too violent, and the nightmarish idea of 'copycat' behaviour is a problem for me. Other writers have solved that problem by having their bad guys actually 'be' monsters. The humans are the 'good guys'. I am not writing flat-out fantasy, but it would help if I accepted that one aspect of my story could be....sci/fi-horror? Maybe?

The story concerns a big-city teen who is dragged back with her family, to her mom's hometown in hicksville, where an honest-to-Betsy, missing-person mystery begins to unfold. Raising the stakes on 'interesting' for her is the fact that one of the key figures involved is a handsome teenaged boy. Despite setting my plot in a cozy part of the timeline where a few Quite bad things have already, quietly, happened, more bad things are coming up like random, poisonous, daisies. Our heroine, the big-city girl, happens to have a journalism future in her head, making her a perfect candidate for the role of 'meddling teenaged kid'. At least in her own eyes.

The story hit the back burner of my chaotic home life, just as our girl found what she thought was a clue - an old text book from the home of an elderly and (possibly) missing - recluse. (Being a recluse with more than one possible home-base, she can't actually report him as 'missing' to the cops.) Thinking nothing of theft, (after breaking and entering) she hastily grabs a book she judges to be significant...and later face-palms herself in despair to find it full of dry , 1940's-era science.

In German, which she cannot read.

I know two ways the story can end, one is bleak, the other, improbable. I have a few plot threads to pull together, to make either happen, and then some likely continuity-repair. And then writing over the placeholder stuff. And then hitting it with the de-crapifier pen. And then finding a willing teenager to read the dialogue and tell me how far off I am, and coach me  berate me back towards reality. And then, finding a patient reader with higher standards than mine to point out idiocies, flat places, and plot points that he or she doesn't care about. And characters and plot points about which they do. And then whipping out my so-far non-existing copy of 'grammar for fiction-writing dummies' and going over the damned thing so I am not too mortified to send it out for it's first rejections.



For the record, That's why this story isn't done yet.

On the other hand, given how very tired I am today, there's more than One reason the story isn't done.

No kidding, I am so wiped out from a long night of Both kids waking - more than once - that I just took my son's Adderall instead of my allergy pill. I'd call poison control, except I am already wondering just how many books I can get shelved in the library today.....;-) On a serious note, it's more likely that today I am going to feel edgy and drained at the same time.

Clearly, that short story will have to wait Just a Bit Longer....

There. May your day be more productive, less edgy, and consummately less Whiny, than mine.

Carry on. Be smart. Be brave. Be kind.

Finish your stories ;-)


Tuesday, June 12, 2012


good morning to you!

Coffee is on, fireplace is on (as windows are open and summer has chickened out for a few days...)

This is turning into quite the text-heavy blog. I do own a camera, and I would love to brighten the posts up with some new pics, but that usually turns into a 40 minute photo-editing, selecting, uploading process. And if ya'll can donate a few minutes each....well, that would be about what it would take.

The Orchid House is in one of those frustrating...grooves. Although, maybe 'rut' is more accurate. I take out a few art supplies to work on an older project with my daughter, and one supply I need isn't working (spray bottle). I finally began to unpack the library, and realize that until *every* book is out of the box, I can't actually load the shelves in order, because I am loading them differently (starting with nonfiction, by subject) and don't know how many shelves are needed for each subject. I try to catch up on the laundry when the family is out for a bit, and realize Laundry soap is that thing I can't remember to add to the shopping list. Dinner planning gets pushed back daily, until I realize that it's that 'go to the store OR put my daughter down for a nap', binary-type decision.

When's the last time you've taken a 4 year old drama queen with an empty stomach and no nap to the grocery store?

Probably, it's been a while because you don't want to do it Ever Again. Who really wants to explain, out loud, to the sobbing royal that, "no one wants to kill you" while she gasps out...'yes. You are trying to kill me'. while sitting on the floor, looking heartbroken, near the blue cookies you won't buy.

I am so glad that stock boys are Not on the 'mandatory reporter' list.



We met with the landscaper last night to figure out where and what will be installed. While I am excited about installing the garden plot (especially after reading through Jamie Oliver's cookbook - title of which I am almost too tired to look up the link for... oh, heck. It's ridiculously readable, totally worth the it..Jamie at Home. :-) oh where was I .....Oh.

Thistles. While I am excited about installing the garden plot, there is a thistle forest that's come with the house, and that needs to be eradicated. And, your's-truly (having more at-home time than Jon) has been battling them for two days now. At first, the landscaper was know, you don't really have to spray them all, you can just get them if they come through. By the time we finished walking him around the yard, he was saying....'wow. There's a Lot of thistles here!' Mind you, this was after he was telling me to spray anything green in our dirt-packed yard, since it was likely a weed or at best, a nuisance. He had no idea.

I would love to bring you art, recipes, and photographs that are cool and fun and compelling.

But really, this week it's all about dusty books and dirty yards. Happily, it's also about making them into something new.

I hope your week is more insightful, more pleasant. That your summer is treating you kindly, and if it isn't, that you are treating yourself kindly. That if you go (as I do) to Pinterest for inspiration, that you come back with a project, and enough time to do it! As for me, I am just hoping to power through this last day of shelving, so I can get back to focusing on the kids. Some days, the time I take with them is the only thing I give them that really, really counts.

Thanks for coming!


Saturday, June 2, 2012

First Firefly

They are BACK!!

Tonight, the rest of the family is otherwise engaged, and I wanted to take a moment to tell you that outside, above the path between our backyard and the pond, I just saw a tiny flash  - sent, received, and returned.

The fireflies are back.

For some, fireflies are common as dandelions, but I didn't grow up close to the right habitat to see them much. Or, perhaps I am blocking out the fact that (unlike yours truly)my parents had some standards about not letting their children run amok outside past 9:30 in the summertime. Whatever the reason, fireflies are up there with falling stars in my childhood rememberance of natural rarities. Like my unshakeable views on the Divinity of Mary (look, I've tried to shake it at least once. It's stuck and I am fine with it :-), fireflies are forever bound to the magical moments that made me  believe - a little - in goblins, faeries, and wishing on stars.

I wished on a star once, fervently, and desperately.

It was the night before my 35th birthday. I was heavily pregnant, still four weeks from my due date, and I was finally off bedrest. In order to stretch our legs and take my mind off the baby, we set off for a near-sunset walk. Knowing that I had the stamina of a guppy, we didn't go far, and turned back home as the sky developed it's pure blue tones, and a few evening stars were out. We were crossing a bridge over a small stream, and saw a few fireflies flash. I was happily surprised, and we watched a few moments. Closer to home - and wishing I was already sitting, we turned up our driveway and flicked our eyes upward to the west at just the right moment.

A thin trail of silver headed northwest and I wished on that star, something along the lines of  'dammit won't this baby ever come!'.

We then headed up to the babies room, and I found our deck of 'dreamcards' - old illustrations from children's books with a verse about dreaming, to be shuffled and read to your child. I found the one showing two Victorian-era schoolchildren kneeling in front of a many-paned window at evening, frost at it's hem, looking at a bright evening star.

My husband and I kneeled down, and prayed that God would send this child soon.

The next day, we had dinner reservations at the (now-defunct) amazing Panne Vino Dolce. My cousin had come to spend my birthday afternoon with me, but she started looking less-relaxed when I asked her to start marking down the times of my contractions. Eventually, we called my husband home from work, cancelled dinner, and ended up in the triage center of our hospital. Eventually, we learned a whole lot about emergency c-sections, and the power of adrenaline.

And then we began to learn about my son.

To be honest, I'm hoping that the fireflies this summer presage nothing so momentous. But I am looking forward to pointing them out to my Godson tomorrow night, as we celebrate baptism for both him and my daughter.  We are hosting our first dinner 'party' for my brother-in-law and his family, and I am so excited - finally we have the room to pull something like this off - comfortably, for everyone.

I want nights like this to be much more common for our family.

Almost as common as flashing fireflies near a sapphire-blue pond.

Have a wonderful week!


Friday, June 1, 2012


Something to muse on.

With all the brand-new house conundrums and calamities (large and small alike), I haven't been 'creating' much.

Unless you count to-do lists and an occasional dinner-plan.

I've been attempting to get through the days by 'knowing what has to get done'.

This has not been wildly successful. Nor has thinking things like 'I seriously need to drink more water', 'maybe I can fix my vacuum' and 'i wonder when so-and-so will be calling'.

Rubbish is the result. There are some small and specific tasks I have been forgetting - probably, in fact, because they are both small and specific. Not 'pack your son's lunch today or he will starve' important, but important nonetheless.

So, today, the paper to do list comes out. I'm not going the route of Cozi today - that ends up a distraction when I see everything ELSE I haven't got done. My daughter never fully kicked her strep throat, so she has to sit still today anyway. Maybe I can amuse her by zooming around the house and celebrating each 'to-do' wildly and differently every time!

Sometimes, the old ways are the best ways. I don't really want to pack a bag full of disgust and guilt to take through my weekend, so remembering all the little things today that DO make a dent, might be a way to save the whole thing.

Or not.

But I'll be happier for trying.

I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend too!!

Take care, and feel the sunshine, at least, for a little while :-)