Archive for the ‘Assorted and Sundry’ Category

He holds him with his glittering eye

September 7, 2017 @ 5:55 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Poetry

HMMM, I just realized my Diigo sidebar feed hasn’t been updating. If you like to check in on my Caught My Eye section, I’ve fixed the problem now. You especially shouldn’t miss Gabrielle Calvocoressi’s gorgeous and devastating poem, “The Sun Got All Over Everything.”

“…which seems like something I’d make up in a poem
except this time I actually did it.
I wrote: Grieve. Because we’re all so busy
aren’t we? And so broke.”

Lately it seems like poetry is the one constant in my day. (Well, and nail-biting.) We slid back into high tide about a week ago—albeit a choppy one, since I have to slip away for an hour in the middle of every morning to lie on a table that looks like something out of the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey—and what fits best into the allotted space are poems. Giddy over the thought of a Real Autumn, I turned to the “almanac” section of Favorite Poems Old and New and am working my way through all the seasonally appropriate verses. And then I’m reading “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” a section at a time—I can’t remember what prompted me to reach for it last week, but I’m glad I did because it’s been a big hit. You know it warms the cockles of this mama’s heart to hear her young children actually pleading for me to keep going, just a little more. I mean, of course they love it, it’s a good old-fashioned ghost story. Huck has joined the ranks of those tormented by the question of why the Old Mariner shot the Albatross. Why?

Side note: I had to chuckle over this stanza:

He holds him with his glittering eye— 
The Wedding-Guest stood still, 
And listens like a three years’ child: 
The Mariner hath his will. 

I know Coleridge had a pretty good handle on childhood—“Frost at Midnight” is in my top five favorite poems—but “listens like a three years’ child”? You mean the Wedding-Guest is wiggling and thumping his heels on the floor and interjecting questions into the tale every four seconds?

I remember reading to this three-year-old. It most certainly did not involve any ‘standing still.’

***

Thank so you much to all of you who have subscribed to my Patreon! I’m two people shy of 50 patrons, which is pretty darned exciting. I’m starting slowly with the special subscriber-only posts (trying to be sensible until radiation fatigue is over), but a new dispatch went out this afternoon. A monthly contribution of $1 or more gets you access to the private patron feed.

Tuesday

August 15, 2017 @ 6:24 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

I’m up early, enjoying the quiet morning light in my studio. The neighborhood crows woke up about the same time I did and immediately jumped on their social networks, which seem as well populated as Facebook and as heated as Twitter. I haven’t dipped into mine yet. Lately I want to preserve the peace of the morning as long as possible. I’ll catch up with the news over breakfast, in an hour or two.

Today is my radiation planning appointment—a dress rehearsal of sorts. They’ll figure out how best to position me in the machine and give me a tiny dot tattoo to mark the zapping spot, a little blue freckle. Or maybe two. I’m amused by the cliché of it all. Move to Portland, get a tattoo. 🙂

Things we have seen growing in our neighbors’ front yards on our daily walks:

• corn, including a thick stand of it along the road across from our nearest park;

• figs, ripening;

• raspberries, lots;

• blackberries, growing wild at the edge of the schoolyard fence;

• plums;

• apples;

• tomatoes in abundance;

• vegetables of all kinds, often in large raised garden beds on the strip of land between sidewalk and street;

• giant Russian thistle, utterly to swoon for;

• countless pollinator plants, thrilling me no end;

• loads of Queen Anne’s lace growing like weeds in the grass and along the verge;

• walnut trees, including two in our next-door neighbor’s yard;

• and all sorts of interesting things.

Yesterday Scott and I had just arrived home from the store when a car pulled over in front of our house and the driver took a picture of it. I got out of our car, and the driver saw me and rolled down her window. “I’m so sorry,” she said, “it’s just that I lived here when I was a little girl!”

Her grandparents were the original owners of the house. She and her mother moved in with them when she was eight years old, 61 years ago, because her mother was dying. After her mother’s death, L. continued living with her grandparents and aunt for another five years. She had lots of stories about her neighbors from that time, including the family who had refused to sell when Fred Meyer bought up a bunch of house lots to build a store on a main road nearby.

Image source

We gave her a tour and she told us all about what the house used to look like before some remodeling was done. Turns out my studio was her childhood bedroom. The spot I’m sitting in right now in my comfy gray chair used to be a doorway. “A glass door that led to my grandmother’s bedroom,” she told me. “The closet is exactly the same.”

The big old tree her bedroom used to look out upon is gone, but many of the neighboring trees are the same—the very same treetops serving as a morning gathering-place for the local crows. From my cozy chair I can hear three or four of them gabbing away, probably telling stories they learned from their grandmothers about the little girl who used to live here sixty years ago.

Sunday, August 13

August 13, 2017 @ 8:23 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

Today:

–I grieved and fumed over Charlottesville;

–We have been in Portland for a month;

–It rained for the first time since we arrived;

–My older girls went to Powell’s (another first);

–I made final tweaks to the September Arrow on Esperanza Rising;

–I finished a chunk of work for one of my other jobs;

–We passed wild blackberries growing through the schoolyard fence on our walk;

–I did my weekly planning and paid bills;

–I watched bees tumbling in and out of oregano blossoms on the hanging basket I assembled; and

–I grieved and fumed over Charlottesville.

august 7: turning the page

August 7, 2017 @ 7:00 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

early bird

The early bird gets breakfast in Mom’s studio…

1.

The calendar says we’ve been here 3 1/2 weeks, but in some ways today feels like the Beginning. A new tide, I guess. The first page of Chapter 1, after an action-packed Prologue. We arrived on July 13th and spent a few days waiting for the moving truck. Then it was a blur of unpacking—surgery—recovery—arrival of my younger kids and my parents—follow-up appointments—recovery, still—a work day in Salem—and finally, the mustering of enough brain power to finish writing the September issue of The Arrow, which I turned in last night.

It sounds overwhelming when I write it out like that, but the truth is, next to my surgery, the recovery time has been the hardest part. I loathed the mental fog brought on by pain meds. I’m not a patient patient.

I hardly knew what to turn to first, this morning. Our readaloud, neglected these past six weeks? The unpacked boxes in the basement? The garden store, for a few of the pollinator plants I require for peace of mind? Eventually, I decided on a walk with the younger kids. The rest of the family has explored a lot more of the new neighborhood than I have. We walked down our long street and across several short blocks and back up the long block a few streets over, and on the third corner of the rectangle we met some neighbors, including this rather fabulously coiffed chick.

Disco Chick

Her name? Is Disco.

After lunch, I retired to my studio to work for a bit. Work feels good right now. I’m at the beginning of some new projects—and you know how beginnings thrill me. And for balance, there are some old, ongoing tasks to take back up—calm, steady work, as comfortable as picking up a scarf you started knitting ages ago.

My sketchbook sat idle for weeks, but I returned to it once or twice last week and am itching to resume the daily habit. Perhaps I’ll do a spell of nature journaling as we get acquainted with all this new flora.

2.

I spent the first hour of my work time making lists.

—A list of clerical chores that need doing (phone calls, insurance paperwork, and so forth);

—A list of houseworky things to do or assign;

—A list of little fun tasks like making labels for the storage drawers in my studio, or setting up research files for the New Project;

—A short list of things we need to get for the new house (chiefly: a vacuum…we had no carpets in the old place!); and

—A list of work-related tasks that need attention this week.

There’s a big juicy High Tide list to be made, too, but that wants more time than the hour I’d allotted for the joys of listmaking. Anyway, High Tide lists are best developed Here in the Bonny Glen. 😉

3.

It stays light so late here!

highlights: week of may 15

May 19, 2017 @ 8:02 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Fun Learning Stuff

1.

Huck, tearing down the hall: WHOOO, I’M ON AUTOPILOT!

Rilla, tenderly: Honey, I turned your autopilot off.

2.

S. got his new hearing aids—big excitement. His old pair were over five years old, and after a while the quality degrades. The new ones have some bells and whistles we’re still getting used to.

I just realized that the next time he’s due for new aids, he’ll be eighteen. Holy cats.

3.

I’m teaching my second class for Brave Writer this month, nearing the end of Week 2. This one is called “Penning the Past” and is about writing historical fiction. And I’m having a ball. My students come up with the best stuff! I’m going to have to raise the bar on my own writing to keep up with their inventiveness.

I’ll be teaching another section of Comic Strip Capers this summer and possibly another one next fall. Registration for the summer section opens June 5th. I’ll share the registration link in the coming weeks.

4.

Readaloud update:

Finn Family Moomintroll is our daily delight. I just about have all the voices down now. I may roll right into Comet in Moominland when this one is done; we’ll see.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond: you know, I don’t think we touched it all week. We kept getting swept along by the Moomins and forgetting to come back to the Puritans.

In part our neglect of history this week is because Rilla and Huck and I got swept into a collaborative Minecraft project. We’re building a fairy tale village. (Photo to come later.) So far, we have Rapunzel’s tower and the Three Little Pigs’ huts. I think today we may begin work on the gingerbread cottage. So much fun. We got the idea from my friend Christy, whose kids made their own Minecraft fairy tale world a while back. I often pull Minecraft into our studies…for example, when we were reading about Jamestown, we found some videos showing Jamestown replicas people have built in the game.

5.

I had more to share but the 9:00 bird just chirped and it’s time for me to live high tide instead of write about it. 😉 I’ll toss this post up now instead of waiting to finish later—because lately it seems like later never comes! Hope you’ve all had a good week.

Scrapbook

May 1, 2017 @ 8:01 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, These People Crack Me Up

 

Beanie’s take on the Romantic poets: “I was into childhood before childhood was cool.”

***

Have just been informed there are two crane flies in the patio room. Their names are Bert and Arugula.

***

My kids have been setting up this game of Catan for so long it’s an entirely new generation of settlers from the ones who left the homeland.

***

—writes funny tweet
—nah, that’s 100% snark, doesn’t further convo
—okay, I’ll just send it to Scott instead
—he asks me to marry him again

***

Neighbor just rang our bell. Dead crane fly in her hand. “Thought your crew might want a close look!” She gets us.

***

Huck: Can I get some short jeans?
Me: Short jeans?
Huck: Yeah, like Rilla is wearing.
Me: Ah yes! Jean shorts!

***

One of the sweet kids whose classroom I visited on Thursday wrote a thank-you note to “Melissa Lively.” Wondering if it’s too late to change my pen name.

***

Personal aesthetic: buttered toast.

***

Beanie: You and Rose think in words. Rilla thinks in pictures. I think in colors and sounds. I’m not sure what Jane thinks in. Me: Elvish runes, probably.

***

I completed a downright lyrical grant application for a wetland restoration project in LA County today, but my proudest accomplishment of the day is photoshopping* a pic of Adam Driver dropping a cup of coffee on the ground.

*very poorly
*not actually in Photoshop
*in Powerpoint, all right? Look, I was busy.

***

In the car on the way to piano lessons, there’s a heavy sigh from the backseat. Rilla: Sometimes…sometimes I just wish I were a mantis shrimp.

What I’m up to these days

April 2, 2017 @ 9:19 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Books, Gardening

jasmine

Finishing up:
—teaching my first Brave Writer class, Comic Strip Capers, which was a delightful experience
—final steps for a grant for a wetland recovery project
—an eight-week writing workshop (local, ends tomorrow)
—a massive post about my skincare favorites for Glittersquid

In the thick of:
—revising a novel that’s due in May
—catching up on Journey North Mystery Class with Rilla
—prepping for my second Brave Writer class, Penning the Past, which begins in May
—teaching three semester-long literature classes for homeschoolers
—reading essays from the above
—a longterm assignment for a disabilities-related nonprofit in Portland
—a massive decluttering project, which is going about as well as I indicated in my KonMari post
—homeschooling adventures with Rilla and Sean
——including a readaloud of Half Magic
——and lots of poetry
——and a trial of JAM’s “Invent Your Own Machines” class
—a Downton Abbey rewatch with Beanie (her first time)

Not getting done:
—the weeding (yikes)
—the taxes (tick tick tick) (double yikes)
—the umpteen posts sitting in drafts here
—a picture book manuscript I’ve been back-burnering for way too long
—as much reading as I would like

Looking ahead:
Liquitex Paint Party at the Art Stash (acrylic paints demo)
—Daniel Smith watercolor demo at the Art Stash (with the DS owner! should be cool!)
—kids’ piano recital in May
—teaching Brave Writer classes in May and maybe June
—SDCC in July

grape soda lupinesWhat’s in bloom:
—tree mallow
—milkweed
—nasturtiums
—Cape honeysuckle
—sweet alyssum
—jasmine
—lantana
—lavender
—hyacinth
—freesia (fading)
—arugula (whoops)
—grade soda lupines (roadsides)
—wild mustard (roadsides)

Friday, 9 p.m.

March 17, 2017 @ 8:13 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

milkweed march 2016

Been working my tail off, hoo boy. Poor ole blog went dark again: not enough hours in the day. I have hopes of moving a bunch of things out of drafts this weekend—I’ve piled up so much here in bits and pieces!

Quick notes before I put this computer away for the night. Finished Murder for Her Majesty today—my readaloud with Huck and Rilla for the past month or so. SO good and highly recommended. One of their favorite readaloud novels yet, I do believe. Young Alice, on the run from her father’s murderers, bumps into some amiable choirboys who hide her in their ranks. Elizabethan intrigue with a delightful similarity to Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsinger (which is what I feel like reading next).

Garden: blooming. Nasturtiums, hyacinth, tree mallow, milkweed, freesia, lavender. Daffodils have been and gone.

Learning notes: Waltzing Matilda (current folk song), Journey North Mystery Class (started quite late—yesterday in fact!—but we’re caught up now and going full throttle), Latin, German.

My first Brave Writer class, Comic Strip Capers, is wrapping up Week 2 and I’m all smiles at the hilarious scripts and clever drawings my students are turning in. I’m having the time of my life with these kids.

Am tuckered out. Night, y’all.

day 31: sandwiches and leftovers

January 31, 2017 @ 4:58 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, These People Crack Me Up

milkweedfeb14

1.

I wrote a quickie booknotes post last night in the five minutes between work and family movie time, but I took it down a short while later because it was too quick, too silent about events I actually have quite a lot of words for. Choice words. Not all of them fit for my kids’ ears. I’ve been speaking them elsewhere and seem to have annoyed a fair number of people. Well, that’s too bad. I suspect I’ll be saying more, not less, in days to come. Perhaps not always here, in this space which is a happy little retreat for me. But maybe here too. There is so very much to say.

(Deep breath, fingers twitching.) Not this minute. Right now, I need to work. So I’m going to just open a space for a family story or two. If you want my activist voice, come on over to Facebook or Twitter.

2.

A couple of days ago, a Girl Scout rang the bell. It’s cookie season, as you know. I turned her down with regrets, because, frankly, five dollars a box is too rich for my blood.

An hour later, another ring, another sweet kid, another set of regrets.

THREE MINUTES LATER, another doorbell chime. But this time it was our neighbor, Guy—who seriously is the nicest guy—holding out three boxes of cookies.

“I can’t say no to a little girl,” he said, thrusting Do-si-dos, Samoas, and Tagalongs into my arms. “But I also can’t eat these cookies.”

My children would like to raise a statue in his honor.

3.

My son wrote the following about me in an email to a friend: “She used to cook dinner or all the time until Dad [took over the meal prep] and now she only Cooks now and then. Her Specialties are sandwiches and leftovers.”

I may need to add that to my resumé.

4.

I had garden-y things to add to this post but my five twenty minutes are up. Tomorrow, maybe. And I’m going to re-post the one I took down yesterday (it’s not much of anything, trust me, just disconnected sentences about what we’re reading) now that I’ve had a chance to explain why I was quiet (here) over the (tumultuous) weekend.