Two days in a row!

January 1, 2023 @ 3:20 pm | Filed under: ,
Photo of an African violet in bloom

I typed “January” into my media library and this African violet from several years back is what popped up. Today’s windowsill looks much the same.

Updated to add audio again! Like yesterday, I recorded this in one gulp on my phone. It’ll have hiccups, but if I start trying to polish it up, I’ll never be able to stick with this. Thanks for understanding!


Oh my goodness, what a delight to wake up to so many comments from old blog-world friends! I really really want to get in the habit of dashing off a quick post every day, probably around lunchtime, because otherwise I’ll start doing the thing where a half-written draft takes on too much weight and I never come back to it.

I am terribly fond of containers. I used to have such a good one for blogging—the necessarily short transition from mom hat to writer hat. If I spent too long on a post, I’d lose my window for writing, and I had pretty intense book deadlines when I started this blog (and a lot of bairns) so I didn’t have any windows to spare.

My day still falls pretty neatly into a mom focus and a work focus, but the rhythms are quite different now that I’m only homeschooling Huck and Rilla—who, if you’ve lost track—are now both in their teens, and now that I do a lot of freelance work in addition to writing my own books. I’m prone to catapulting straight from lesson time into work brain without taking a breather. (Or else I dip into social media and take too long a breather!)

Well, I’ll try this midday container for blogging and see how it goes. My friend Chris O’Donnell—who has been blogging longer than anyone I know—made me laugh on Facebook this morning with his New Year’s Eve post: Happy “I will write more on my blog and less on social media next year” night to all who celebrate. Ha! I can’t deny that that shoe fits!

Okay, SO. As I read your comments, a slew of replies and post ideas rolodexed through my brain. I made a list. I made several lists. This is so energizing! Thanks, seriously, for jumping right back into conversation here. You made my day.

Question: if I reply to a comment, do you see it? I used to have an option for readers to get comment replies by email, but I feel like that stopped working a long time ago. Just curious.

My gravatar isn’t working, either! But some of yours are. I mean, I logged into my gravatar account and it still appears to be linked to this one, but the pic doesn’t show up.

Well, that’s cosmetic and not all that important. I promise I’ll stop being 100% metabloggy soon. But, you know, first you have to tune up the jalopy before you can take it for a spin! 😄

I liked, yesterday, that I landed on the idea that our old blog conversations were like letters from friends. They didn’t always feel that way, but they often did—chatty glimpses of life in someone else’s world. I’ve always loved a good epistolary tome! I remember so happily the leap of the heart at seeing a friend’s particular handwriting in the mail, and that’s how it felt when your names popped up here yesterday.

All righty. Lunch is over and I’m ready to get back to the household-reset that is my much beloved New Year’s Day tradition. I did the files this morning and now I want to tackle some bookshelves. And it’s sunny today! In Portland, in January! I think Scott & I will take a walk after he finishes chopping an onion for the black-eyed peas.

I’ve already overhauled my studio for the season, and I’m half giddy over the enticing rows on the little built-in shelves next to my writing chair: a shelf for poetry, one for fiction and nonfiction (currently reading or at the front of the queue), and one for embroidery and art books. Heaven. The two books delighting me most at the moment are Padraig O’Tuama’s perfectly wonderful Poetry Unbound (which I forgot I’d preordered until it arrived—on my birthday!) and Gareth King’s Modern Welsh: A Comprehensive Grammar. It sounds funny to say I’m enthralled by a grammar book, but I am! Both for the clarity he brings to the concepts I’ve learned in three months of study on Duolingo and Say Something in Welsh, and for his descriptivist approach to language, which is so in keeping with my own approach and the vibe of the Brave Writer programs I write for.

How about you? What’s your first New Year’s read?

(Cybils Award finalist lists are out today, if you’re in search of ideas.)

I want to say more about the Say Something In courses soon—I’m wildly enthusiastic, and if you or your kids are studying Welsh, Spanish, or Dutch, you should check them out—and more, too, about Readwise and some of the things you mentioned in the comments. And Moominmamma, that post has been percolating for a while.

So much to talk about, once I start talking.

Well, I said I wanted to dash off a post and I have, in the sense that I wrote it rapidly and haven’t gone back to polish anything at all—but I didn’t promise it would be a short one. I’m not a novelist for nothing. 😉

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28 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Jennifer says:

    This is so nice. It’s just so nice to hear from you.
    First reads: I’m reading The Dutch House to myself. Zachary and I are reading Brideshead Revisited together. Nina and I are reading The Magician’s Nephew. I’m listening to Say Nothing on Audible which is about The Troubles in N Ireland. That one is quite captivating.

  2. COD says:

    I did 60 blog posts last year. Now I need to get back into the habit of commenting on other blogs!

    • mamacrow says:

      How lovely that you are blogging again! And Huck and Rilla are teenagers?! Gracious, I suppose they must be, I’m only home Edding the youngest now who will be double figures in a couple of weeks and all the rest are teenagers or adults!

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      Sixty posts! I had scarcely more than *six* last year.

      Replying to blogs you enjoy is a whole nother habit, for sure. I appreciate comments so much and really do want to reciprocate. I think that’ll be the next habit to re-install after this one takes.

  3. Anna Rose Johnson says:

    Thank you for popping into my blog too! So much fun. Yes, do the Moominmamma post!

    My first finished read of 2023 will be The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker. I have adored her illustrations since I was very small, but this is my first time actually reading her lovely poetry!

  4. JoVE says:

    I love your dashed off post. And also miss that time when it felt like a glimpse into others lives, though I’ve managed to keep some of that on Facebook.

    I’m kind of reeling at Huck and Rilla being teens as I met you before they were born! I know I have a 25th year old if my own visiting for the holiday but still.

    And I love a preorder for precisely the reason you describe here: it’s like a surprise gift to yourself!

  5. Penelope says:

    Lissa, you asked if people come back to check for replies — yes! I always respond to comments left at my blog, and I always check back when I’ve left a comment somewhere. One of the aspects of blogging that I loved from the beginning (2006 for me! Whee!) — the conversations and connections that could develop within comment threads. Doesn’t happen much anymore — there are so many social media options now, maybe people feel they’ve already ‘chatted’ enough, you know? ‍♀️

  6. Tabatha says:

    Conversation I just had with Ben while reading your post:
    Me: I’m cooking the wrong kind of beans, I should cook black-eyed peas
    Ben: ?
    Me: What day is this?
    Ben: (laughs)
    I “always” cook black-eyed peas for the 1st, but I forgot this year, due to hectic activity. We are getting ready to take our youngest to the airport for a three-week Italy trip.

    I would be studying Welsh, but I started Gaidhlig in Jan 2021 and I can’t study two impossible languages at once. Maybe I’ll circle around to Welsh once I’m more fluent in Gaidhlig. I enjoy hearing about your adventures!

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      Italy! That’s so exciting!

      Gaidhlig was the Celtic language I *thought* I was going to undertake. And then Cymraeg just sidled in and grabbed me. 😉

      • Tabatha says:

        I’m not kidding — I really hope to study Welsh! I discovered this year that I am as much Welsh as I am Scottish, so I gave it a try on Duolingo. It’s very cool 🙂 (I refer to Gaidhlig that way because if I call it Scottish Gaelic, everyone will pronounce it incorrectly in their head, but Gaidhlig sends you off in another, more accurate direction.)

        • Melissa Wiley says:

          Something in me just thrills to the way Welsh sounds. When I started to get really sucked into it, Rilla and I decided to try to learn how to say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (the longest place name in Europe) — and now we can almost rattle it off!

  7. Amy says:

    You are inspiring me to start blogging again! Haven’t written anything yet, but now at least I want to get started. 🙂 I loved those early days of blogging and blog visiting.

    I’m currently slogging through Crime and Punishment because my 17yo says it’s her favorite book. I’m sure I would have liked it at a more brain functional time in my life but now it just feels like SO MANY WORDS. Also listening to Malibu Rising and reading Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine.

    I so hope you keep blogging!

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      Gosh, I haven’t read C&P since high school. Fascinating that it’s your 17yo’s favorite book!

      I do hope you dust off your blog too. What fun we used to have, eh?

  8. Melanie Bettinelli says:

    On New Year’s Day I spent a good long time snuggled in bed finishing a re-read of Katherine Addison’s Goblin Emperor, which has become one of my comfort reads. When I finished that I launched into The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

    I just finished reading A Ghost in the Throat, which is a lovely memoir by the Irish poet Doireann Ní Ghríof who finds herself haunted by the 18th century Irish poem, Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire (The Lament of Art O’Leary). It’s a beautiful story that swings between the author’s experience of motherhood–nursing, pumping, pregnancy, childbirth, a baby in the NICU– and her obsession with first translating the Caoineadh and then researching the life of the author, Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill. It’s very much about the gaps in the record, the silences and empty spaces where women’s lives are not recorded, what has been lost and can never be known.

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      Welp, that’s my TBR list growing by a mile. You always did have that effect on me, Melanie!

      • Melanie Bettinelli says:

        It always fills me with joy when someone reads and enjoys a book I recommend. I really think A Ghost in the Throat will be particularly up your alley. So much of it reminded me of those early days of motherhood, reading and blogging while nursing babies and chasing toddlers, the life of the mind finding its place in the nooks and crannies of the days and you and your blog and your books were so much a part of that period for me.

  9. Lauren says:

    I’m so glad you’re back! I started reading your blog around the time you had Huck! I was searching for Martha books and found you and got lost in reading about your amazing family. My favorite posts are your everyday snippets of life being a homeschooling mom and still think about the chai milk incident while you were cooking. I do not remember what you were actually trying to cook but that blog stuck with me! Happy New Year! Can’t wait to read more 🙂
    P.s. I also have always wondered if you’d read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon? You said bairn and it always makes me think of her but I know the Martha books started in Scotland as well!