Archive for the ‘Assorted and Sundry’ Category

Tuesday

November 14, 2017 @ 8:34 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

It is Tuesday, right? I keep getting calls to shift appointments around (IEP, audiology, the usual) and it has me discombobulated.

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The Glass Castle just hit my Overdrive account. Is that what I want right now? Can you believe I’ve never read it?

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My new hobby is doing dramatic readings of posts from the Nextdoor app. I’m recording them and texting them to my friend Lisa. I feel like I might have found my true calling at last. 😉

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These are the podcasts I listen to regularly, ranked from never-miss-an-episode to catch-’em-when-I-can:
Pod Save America
Lovett or Leave It
The West Wing Weekly
Pod Save the People
Pod Save the World
Happier With Gretchen Rubin
Out of Line With Caroline Lee

I also like to save up Bravewriter podcast episodes until I have a bunch, and then binge on them when I have a busy-hands project to do.

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The stars of our daily nature walks this week are moss and mushrooms. The puddles keep Huck happy while Rilla and I ooh and ah over the fungi.

P.S. thanks for the book suggestions on yesterday’s post. Keep ’em coming! I’m chairing Cybils YA Fiction this year ***but not reading on the panel*** and it hit me that that’s why I feel book-drifty. I’m using to being buried under stacks of novels this time of year.

Monday

November 13, 2017 @ 8:41 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

My morning view is changing. From the reading chair in my studio I look out upon my backyard neighbor’s roof, and my next-door neighbors’ trees. This photo was taken on October 25th or 26th. Two weeks later, the trees on the right and the ones behind that chimney are bare. The robins that hopped in and out of that big magnolia on the left all day long seem to have moved to warmer quarters. I was surprised by how long they stuck around!

I worked a lot this weekend, so this morning I feel like I could use…a weekend. 😉 Instead, we have a full day in store: an audiology appointment for S, and then some lesson time with Huck and Rilla, and then I have another issue of The Arrow to wrap up.

But I feel like the major task I want to accomplish today is deciding what book to read. My option paralysis has hit again, something awful. I’ve read about twenty beginnings since the last book I finished. It’s maddening. I think what I’m wanting at the moment is a book both absorbing and stirring, with humor and local dramas…like Guernsey Literary Society or Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Maybe I’ll just reread The Blue Castle for the four thousandth time while I make up my mind on something new.

I’m not ready to let you go, October

October 30, 2017 @ 7:56 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

I don’t have time to write, which is exactly why I’m writing. I don’t want to let too much time pass with silence in this space. I’ve realized one of the reasons I lean on Instagram is because I can do it in bed—last thing at night, or early in the morning, lying there cozy under my quilt, playing with photos. It’s relaxing. But the WordPress phone app works just as well as Instagram. I don’t know why it never occurs to me to blog from there. I guess because I think of blogging as long-form, even though that’s totally ahistorical.

Anyway, here I am. I’m working really, really long days, these days. Have to make up for time missed during my illness. Thank goodness for our high-tide mornings. Homeschooling is the fun part of my day. We’re reading Comet in Moominland (still! begun in San Diego!), taking loooong nature walks (oh these trees!), and reading Lewis & Clark, Paddle-to-the-Sea, and a lot of poetry. Beanie and I are supposed to be starting a big Shakespeare project this week, but I’m behind on the reading. 😉

A fun thing: I held my first live monthly Q&A session this afternoon for my Patreon subscribers! We talked about what tidal homeschooling looks like with teens, books about the craft of writing, and I answered a question about Martha and Charlotte books. I also shared a stack of picture books we’ll be reading tomorrow for Halloween, and I finished up with a piece of advice about encouraging creativity. If you are interested in tuning into these monthly chats (either live or in replay), they’re available to all subscribers to my Patreon at the $3/month-or-more level.

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Happening here and there

October 16, 2017 @ 7:35 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

What’s happening…

on my Instagram: I’ve been sharing glimpses of our daily homeschooling adventures on the feed and in my IG Stories. Been playing a bit with Live Stories, too. Need to decide if I’m going to archive/upload them somewhere, since they disappear after 24 hours.

on my Patreon: in this week’s subscriber-only post, I shared the most important piece of advice I give my writing students.

…in my backyard: the hydrangeas are stunning, and the hedge is beginning to turn red. Summer, meet fall.

…on my nightstand: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, the December Arrow selection.

…on our speakers: The Girl Who Drank the Moon audiobook.

…in my inbox: Naomi Bulger’s “The Most Beautiful Letter You Have Ever Written e-course, which starts today. I’m pretty excited. Naomi’s work is lovely and her gentle, thoughtful approach resonates with me. I think you can still join the class, if you’re interested. (Affiliate link.)

…in my sketchbook: mostly rough pencil sketches of flowers, lately. Not as much of anything as I would like. I’m a bit buried under work, now that my radiation vacation is over. (Hahaha I slay myself. It was the exact opposite of a vacation. It was…not my favorite experience ever.)

(That reminds me: I shared these photos on IG but not here. If anything deserves to make the permanent archive, it’s this moment that Scott captured on the day of my final treatment. When you walk out of the radiation room for the last time, the staff is waiting with confetti, cheers, and a ‘diploma.’ I had no idea this was coming, so the celebration caught me by surprise.)


The next couple of weeks were pretty rough (side effects lag behind treatment, so my burn didn’t get ugly until a few days after I was finished), but hitting this milestone wonderful. And now, three weeks later, I’m feeling pretty good. Not quite my old self? But getting there.

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Tuesday

October 3, 2017 @ 5:12 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

I’m starting to feel better, for real. For the first time in weeks, I felt up to a nature walk with Huck and Rilla. Sure, we only went around the block, but after weeks of radiation fatigue, that felt like a really big deal. We wanted to see if the giant conifers at the end of our block are Douglas firs. They aren’t! But we found one in a neighbor’s yard one block over. And then another, and another. The cones are quite distinctive, with little upward-pointing bracts between the scales. Our pinecone collection is growing. Big excitement for my SoCal chaparral kids.

In one of the firs, we spotted a Northern flicker directly overhead. We watched him until our necks ached, then hurried home because Rilla needed to paint him before she burst. We know flickers pretty well through my parents, who have a nesting box with webcam in their backyard. Wee ugly baby birds every spring—very cool. So it was extra exciting to encounter one in our new neighborhood.

Northern flicker by Rilla

These days I find I dread opening tabs in the morning. The news has been unremittingly awful for so long. I’ve fallen quiet on most of the platforms I used to be chatty on. Facebook and Twitter have become outlets for activism (which annoys some friends, but I can’t help it; I can’t not try). Only on Instagram do I shut all of that out. I worry, sometimes, about sharing happy and peaceful photos over there, or here, when there are so many horrors unfolding everywhere. But I need it, I need that space for celebrating the good. And since Instagram is a stream platform where the feed, hosted and controlled by another entity, scrolls away and could disappear altogether some day, as platforms do, I’m compelled to bring those memories over here too, where I can keep them safe. Thus the repost of the thoughts above, which I shared on IG yesterday.

I find I’m using IG Stories more often, too, to show quick glimpses of our day-in-progress. I got a sweet note from a reader yesterday who mentioned that she appreciated the window into our homeschooling days. I know how she feels; I love those peeks into other households. IG Stories disappear after 24 hours, and although my online urge is always toward preservation and archiving, I like the transitory nature of those photo and video snippets. It feels like sharing just enough, not too much.

I started this post this morning, and now it’s dinnertime and I’ve forgotten where I was going with it. Ah, well. Back to the salt mines. (Rilla got curious about that phrase yesterday and we spent twenty minutes watching videos about actual salt mines. Because of course we did!)

October Announcements

October 1, 2017 @ 2:50 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

1.

I first encountered Naomi Bulger’s mail art via her enchanting Instagram account. She has sent hundreds and hundreds of gorgeously illustrated letters around the world, and her delightful “Naomi Loves” newsletter often includes free downloadable templates for dressing up your own snail mail. Like this:

This month Naomi is launching an online snail mail e-course called “The Most Beautiful Letter You Have Ever Written.” It will focus on both the ins and outs of letter-writing—how (and why) to slow down and make time for snail mail correspondence, and how to dress up your letters so beautifully that just the sight of them will bring a smile to the recipient. The course includes writing prompts, tips for compelling writing, mail art tutorials and templates, and membership in a private mail-art pen-pal club. Lots more information here.

(Contains affiliate links.)

2.

The hardest part of writing the Brave Writer Arrow for Kelly Barnhill’s gorgeous novel The Girl Who Drank the Moon was narrowing it down to just four quotes. What a rich and wonderful book. (It was this year’s Newbery Medal winner!) I’m so enjoying writing the Arrow guides. It’s a pleasure to choose passages from someone else’s work and dive deep into the writing, exploring language and craft. This week I’ll be working on the November issue, Johnny Tremain.

Other Arrow issues I have written:

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

This year’s Arrow guides include a fantastic new feature: Book Club Party School by Mary Hanna Wilson. Personally, I think Mary is a party genius, and I’m always excited to see what fun celebration ideas she comes up with for the books I’m writing about.

3.

Today begins the two-week public nominations period for the 2017 Cybils Awards. Please visit the Cybils blog to find out how to submit your favorite children’s and YA books of the past year for consideration!

4.

Now that I have finished radiation treatments and am slowly beginning to feel a bit more like my old self (for chunks of the day, at least), I’m looking forward to sharing regular weekly posts and monthly live chats with my Patreon subscribers. I began the Patreon to help pay medical bills and to support this dear old blog. If you’re interested in subscribing for $1 or more per month, click here. (And thanks!)

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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.’

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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.