Posts Tagged ‘Portland’
Mostly tell. Because:
I remember how, as a kid, I used to come home from the library with a stack of books—as many as I could haul home on my bike—and then find it impossible to decide which book to read first. I’d spread them out, flipping through this one and reading a page or two of that one, feeling the torment of indecision sweep over me, paralyzed by all the enticing options.
I’m fifty now, and nothing has changed.
Which book to read next? Which book to write next? Which stitch to try in my embroidery project? Which color? Or maybe I’d rather sketch. Paint. Take a walk. Take a photo! Write a blog post. Water the plants. Fill the bird feeders. Read a book. Oh no, which book??
This hits me hardest on Sundays, when I have a little free time. I often have to start the day by making a list of all the lovely things I could do. It’s funny, though—I can power through a to-do list like nobody’s business, but a fun list? Let me just sit here for an hour, doodling in the margins as I try to decide.
Example: I went to the Portland Book Festival yesterday and had a splendid time. I’m bubbling over with tidbits to share, but when I sat down to begin, I fell into the old needs-to-be-an-organized-well-crafted-post trap. Organized writing takes time! I often think: I’ll save this topic until I can do a proper job with it. Turns out that’s a death sentence for most topics.
Then it struck me that when I read AV Club recaps of a show I’m watching, my favorite part is always the list of bullet-pointed “stray observations” at the end. (In fact, I usually huff with irritation as I read the main body of the post, because so often the reviews seem to be grumpy takes on how the episode could have been better if only it were an entirely different episode, and possibly a different show. But the “stray observations” tend to celebrate memorable moments, and that’s what I’m there for!)
All right, stray observations—that’s an attainable goal. 🙂
• There are a lot of really great independent bookstores in Portland, and I need to visit more of them.
• Had lunch with Kortney and Tonia, and I need way more time with them too!
• Had a very interesting chat with Sue Campbell of Pages and Platforms about book launch strategies. She winced when I admitted that yes, I do have a mailing list, but I haven’t sent out a newsletter since 2015. Um. Yeah. Sounds like I need to bump Project Revive My Bookletter higher on the list.
• (Ugh, you guys, promoting your own work is the worst part of being a writer. I can happily, eagerly talk about other writers’ books until I’m blue in the face! But my own? OH THE PAIN.)
• (Having said that, I am pretty doggone excited to do the cover reveal for my new novel. December 2nd! It’s getting close! The cover is sooo great. I squealed pretty hard when I saw it. You’ll see.)
• I got a demo of a manuscript-writing app called Shaxpir that surprised me by knocking my socks off! It has some features similar to Scrivener (which is what I’ve used for my last two novels) but with a cleaner, better-for-me interface and some extremely nifty tools to clue you in to patterns in your writing. I’m just finishing a trial of Ulysses, another kind of writing/publishing software which has some features I like very much indeed, but I think I might like Shaxpir better. The two platforms are really quite different. Stay tuned for a report. Also: how fabulous is this logo?
• (I’ll always love Scrivener for the corkboard with movable index cards, though. I love moving scenes around on that thing!)
• Shaxpir has a related website called Prosecraft: Linguistics for Literature. If you’re a word nerd, you’re in for some serious fun.
• I enjoyed a chat with the publisher of Two Lines Press, which publishes “exceptional new writing and overlooked classics that have not previously been published in English.” Their list looks amazing. Books from all over the world. I started enthusing about a recent episode of Commonplace Podcast in which Rachel Zucker’s interview of Jennifer Croft knocked my socks off—Jennifer is the English translator of Polish author Olga Tokarczuk and the author of a novel-memoir called Homesick—and it turned out the Two Lines publisher is close friends with Jennifer. Such a fun conversation. Naturally I jumped on Edelweiss as soon as I got home and requested a review copy of That We May Live, a collection of Chinese speculative fiction stories. Stay tuned!
• When I’m at a downtown event, I love to walk across one of the bridges toward home and let Scott pick me up on the east side. Easier drive for him and a beautiful walk for me. I left the festival and reached the Hawthorne Bridge just in time to see the riverfront lights pour themselves into the water. Magical.
Looking back toward the west side
My parents were here for Wonderboy’s spring break, and Portland greeted them with an explosion of bloom. Their visit overlapped with the Association of Writing Programs Conference (AWP), which meant I had friends in town and poets I love, and though I didn’t attend the conference proper I found time to slip away to a few offsite events and spent most of Saturday at the book fair, aka heaven. Cherry blossoms, daffodils, good company, blue skies, and poetry at every turn.
Now I’m collecting my thoughts for the final push on my novel revision (two more weeks!) and plugging away at other work. It’s challenging at this time of year. When I’m inside, I want to be outside. The grape hyacinths and euphorbia are in bloom, and camellia and hellebore, and tulips are beginning to open! And tulip magnolias in their glory. Focus, Lissa. Focus.
On Patreon this weekend, I wrote about my weekly meandering through various books of poems and artists’ journals in my morning poetry hour. It’s a while since I’ve explained my Patreon here, so a quick refresher: you can subscribe for as little as $1/month, which grants access to a weekly post about my reading and writing life (including sneak peeks at the book in progress, as it begins to move through the various stages of publishing). At the $3+ tier, you’re invited to join my weekly coffee hour, a casual, chatty, unrecorded Google Hangout where you can pop in and pick my brain about anything you like.
Tomorrow I’m off to Salem for a monthly meeting of folks in the intellectual and developmental disabilities supports community. And then on Wednesday: it’s back to high tide for Huck, Rilla, and me. Another milestone today: it was Beanie’s first day of school—and college! Bean and Rose are taking an oceanography class together. We have a few more months before Beanie officially graduates from our homeschool, and then—gulp—I’ll be down to just two students here in Bonny Glen Academy. Talk about the tides!
In the comments of the previous post I was reminiscing about the (quite long-ago now) shift from early text-only blogs to posts spotlighting gorgeous images, and how grumpy I was about that shift at the time. What’s the matter with a nice wall of text? LOL. But I gradually got on board, and then I started growing milkweed and documenting monarch butterfly life cycles…and bit by bit, photos won me over. Also, cute babies.
But my WORRRRRDSSSS MATTTTTERRRRR banner-flying makes it particularly funny that I went all gung-ho Instagram when it took off.
Anyhoo. Here is it a Monday in late June (ye gods, how can it possibly be late June already?) and I’ve done my day’s work, both on the novel and the advocacy gig, and I’m sitting in my favorite pub watching the couple next to me share a cherry custard float I didn’t know was on the menu (it’s a chalkboard special today), and I have about an hour before Scott pings me to say the meatloaf is ready, so here you are, a real live blog post.
(crickets chirping in my brain)
It’s not that I have nothing to say, it’s that I have TOO much to say. But lucky for you, I’ve said it on Facebook. Hey future Lissa, when you dip back into these archives, know that you were advocating hard for compassionate treatment of immigrants today, okay?
What should I blog about?? I need an assignment, y’all. I mean, it’s big doings here in Bonny Glen PDX: Jane graduated from Cal Poly last weekend and is home with us now for a few weeks at least, and Wonderboy (about whom I would write much more if I could just decide on a more age-appropriate blog nickname for the kid) graduated from 8th grade this month. HIGH SCHOOL, my dears. I mean. And lots of antics and adventures swirling around the other four kids too.
And Scott has a big Batman miniseries launching in August, about which I’m very excited. Illustrated by Kelley Jones, who is both brilliantly talented and a total sweetheart. OH YOU GUYS—I wish you could hear the conversations between these two stay-at-home comic-book-creator dads. This project has been years in the making and in our old house Scott used to pace on the patio outside my window during his frequent phone calls with Kelley. Of course I could only hear one side, but it was clear they spent a lot of time chatting about dad stuff and swapping chicken recipes. I mean, total melt-my-heart stuff. I keep telling them they need to do a podcast. Spend five minutes talking about comics, sure, and then get to the recipes and laundry stories!
Last week I went to a community singalong in Southeast Portland called (fabulously) OK Chorale. 70 people crammed into a bar at Revolution Hall singing—get this—a Duran Duran medley. (Duran Duran Medley Medley, said the songsheet. I’m still grinning.) It was my absolute ideal of a social event. Happens twice a month and I freely admit that my resolution to get up early and get my novel-writing done before breakfast was given a tremendous boost by the desire to free up my evenings.
A year ago today I was in the middle of a whirlwind trip to Portland to look at the house we’re now living in, and to meet with Wonderboy’s school principal and special ed administrator, and a suddenly-squeezed-in consult with a breast surgeon about a four-day-old diagnosis. I just looked at my calendar from that week and it’s just bananas. Genetic testing, Ron’s birthday party, flight home, movers’ estimate, MRI. All in the space of a week. And I was teaching a Bravewriter class that started that week, too. Oh plus the kids’ piano recital the day before I got on the plane to come here. BANANAS. How my hair didn’t go fully gray that week is beyond me.
(It’s on the way, though.)
Meatloaf’s ready. Gotta run. How’s that for some old-school Bonny Glen blather, eh? 😉
Sick kids this week, and lots of IEP stuff going on. But golden hour doesn’t begin until 8pm these days, so I’ve managed plenty of long, rhapsodic evening walks. The light is glorious. I’m completely enchanted.
Huck, Rilla, and I are still reading The Penderwicks and lots of poetry. They finished learning the Willow Cabin speech from Twelfth Night and have begun If music be the food of love. play on. We spent a few weeks immersing in the history of Ancient India, and next week we’re starting an exploration of ancient numbering systems. Rilla helped me prep for it and we’re both pretty excited to dive in. And we’re doing watercolors almost every day, because I’m addicted. Strawberry number two was ripe today. We’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of this lovely book: Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses. (Amazon influencer link.) I’m in no hurry at all for the tide to go out.
I think this is my favorite photo of the hundreds (thousands? eek) I’ve taken since we moved to Portland. I posted it on Instagram with a riff on the much-beloved William Carlos Williams poem:
so much depends
a red garage
glazed with rain
beside the pink
And while I’ve appreciated “The Red Wheelbarrow” for many years, I feel like I get it in a deeper way now. There’s a feeling I get when I look at gray-blue clouds piled over a blue mountain, or sunlight shining through black tree branches, or the evening sky shot through with light and shadows—a feeling like Emily Starr’s flash, you know?
I started writing this post last week (thus the title) and didn’t have a chance to come back and finish until now. It’s Monday morning, early, kids still in bed, sky like mother-of-pearl. I’ve been awake since before dawn, dunno why. The enthusiastic birds outside my window, probably. I contemplated getting up and taking my walk early—I usually go in the evening, during golden hour if I can possibly manage it—but I opted to lie in bed and watch the walls turn from gray to blue. Got up around six and slipped out to the back yard to smile over our little garden like a proud mother. We have radishes coming up in the garden, and my first strawberry is very-nearly-almost ripe.
Anyone remember my big long strawberry-rhapsody post from a million years ago?
Eighteen dollars: less than four times the amount we paid for last night’s gone-in-a-flash berry feast. And now I get a steady stream of berries from June to September. Like the wantons they are, the plants have multiplied with abandon: we must have hundreds of individual strawberry plants now, each fertile and heavy with fruit in its season. I am a neglectful gardener (just ask my neighbors) and I do nothing to baby these plants. I ignore them. I don’t do chemicals and I can’t be bothered with fertilizer or compost. We have terrible soil: thick red Virginia clay that is not at all disposed to encourage root growth. The kids’ caterpillar farm (fennel and rue) springs up right from the middle of the strawberry bed. The strawberries don’t care. They thrive on adversity. They scoff at the miserable growing conditions; they sneer at the crabgrass; they launch themselves over the retaining wall and bloom in mid-air. They send exploratory runners into the lawn, and Scott mows right over them. For this callous treatment, they reward us with a riotous, bountiful harvest. You can’t beat us down, they proclaim. You only encourage us to flaunt our fertility. We will, we must, reproduce! We will fill the world! Let those fat, bland, expensive greenhouse-grown excuses for berries beware! We are sun-warmed and sweet. We will make you weep for joy.
There is no modesty in strawberries.
And there was no brevity in 2005 me, apparently. 😉 Oh for the days of big long text-heavy posts!
“You are doing TREE-mendous work!”
That’s what a neighbor said to us today when he and his dog passed us in the park where Huck, Rilla, and I were using printouts of the Portland Tree Map to identify the blossom-laden trees we’ve been swooning over these past couple of weeks. Does your area have one of these?
I mean, this is just heaven on a web page as far as I’m concerned. Whenever I move to a new part of the country I have a burning need to learn the names of All The Things as soon as possible. I’m a little slow out of the gate this time around, but then again I wasn’t exactly up for long leisurely walks last summer or fall. I was scrolling back through my Instagram the other day and came across a caption from October in which I talked about how happy I was to finally be able to take a walk around the block again. These days I’m averaging almost four miles a day—because spring.
“Children should be made early intimate with the trees, too; should pick out half a dozen trees, oak, elm, ash, beech, in their winter nakedness, and take these to be their year-long friends” (Charlotte Mason, Home Education, p. 52).
Happy First Day of Spring, my friends!
I’m heading to Virginia later this week for the VaHomeschoolers Conference. Excited! Swamped! Wondering if my tulips will bloom while I’m gone!
Good morning! On my list today:
* a long walk
* Journey North Mystery Class
* Moomins and other readalouds
* poetry teatime
* German lesson
* painting lesson
* writing the next chunk of a BraveWriter Arrow
* ordering books to be sold at the VaHomeschoolers Conference I’ll be speaking at in a couple of weeks
* taxes, mutter mutter
* A bit of work on the current novel and oh dear there are about fifteen other things I should add to this list but let’s be reasonable. There are clouds to watch sail by.
Re my Portland pics on Instagram: Sometimes I worry they could be annoying to my dear San Diego friends but then I remember I did the same thing (only it was here on the blog, back then) in 2006 when we moved to California and I worried I was bumming out my Virginia friends with all the PACIFIC OCEAN-PALM TREES-NO MORE WRESTLING WITH CARSEAT BUCKLES OVER SNOWSUITS rhapsodizing…
…and before that I worried about my NYC friends when I moved to Virginia and went crazy over the Blue Ridge Mountains and redbud trees and monarch butterflies and fields of chicory like patches of sky in a meadow.
Then I remember that Anne Shirley loved Four Winds every bit as fervently as Avonlea. Hearts are big, with many rooms.
March 1. Sunshine today! Went for a walk down Klickitat with Scott and then another longer one in the other direction with Huck and Rilla. Violets, grass daisies, daffodils, crocus in abundance. Pussywillows budding over a mossy stone wall. Still plenty of puddles for wading in, which was important because Huck wore his rainboots. Rilla exclaimed over each new patch of moss.
Found our first Portland geocache and stopped in the rock store to admire the thundereggs, geodes, shells, and fossils. Debated the merits of the hypotenuse (a slanting street, thick with cars, the shorter way home) versus the quieter, mossier, puddle-strewn right-angle lanes. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know which we chose.