Sunday, December 1, 2013

Their creatine shake brings the boys to the yard

Today I realized that girls aren't the only ones with body image problems.

I stopped in GNC looking for something to prevent women of a certain age from spontaneously combusting or melting like a lump of lard on a cast iron griddle. The company stopped carrying my preferred mix of high-priced chemicals so I stood in front of the lady section, trying to figure out if any of the other products might keep the home fires at bay.

It took a few minutes, and I wasn't enjoying myself.

As I squinted at labels printed in microscript, three other customers asked for help from the young man behind the counter. He looked like he could be Carrot Top's younger brother, sporting a strawberry blonde bowl of shaggy hair rather than bright orange curls, and wearing a thin white tee shirt to showcase his muscles.

All three customers were also young males, teenagers I'd guess, so the customer service was spot on. Baby Carrot clearly knew where they were coming from, after all, he WAS one of them. They were there for help. They had to find the stuff to take to improve their workout results.

One of them cited a particular elixir that had been deemed "illegal" for his football team to use. He was there in search of a replacement.

Another wanted something to give him lots of energy so that he could work out harder and longer. Lil Carrot had just the thing, describing the goods and assuring him that it would blow his head off.

And then there was me, flaming my way to the counter to chat about menopause.

I really just wanted to run away screaming, and not solely because of the ridiculous prices. Instead, I forked over the denaro for my Evening Primrose Oil and slunk away worrying.

What the heck is happening with these young guys? Why the need for supplements? Why not just exercise for health and well being? How safe is all this junk? What might the effect be long term?

And another question: When did the whole body image thing cross the great gender divide? Wasn't it bad enough already?

Stop it boys. Just stop it. Otherwise you might end up looking like this:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My brain on rehab

A dear reader from days gone by emailed me yesterday to make sure I was alive, given that I've not posted on any of my blogs for some time.

(Thanks for checking on me Ike.)

We've been rehabbing a house since mid-August. The deadline for moving out of our cozy little Newburyport haven ticks closer with increasingly deafening tocks. My days have been filled with driving, painting, sanding, spackling, hammering, measuring, planning, complaining, and rejoicing. I am perpetually tired and my body aches in weird places.

My brain hurts worst of all. The inability to spend time capturing the thoughts ringing in my head feels like the build up of a gigantic mental sneeze. If it blows, it'll look something like this:

(Minus the bristly nose and mustache.)

Traditional wisdom says that I lack discipline, and that if I got up earlier, stayed up later, read less, and didn't spend time letting my brain congeal in the blue glow of a screen, I could get some writing done.

But the reality of deconstructing and constructing is mind numbing in a way I never imagined. The apartment is a shambles of half-packed boxes and listing piles of paper. The house is a construction zone with only days left before we move in. I'm logy from too much takeout food. My eyes are bleary from sheetrock dust and cost calculations.

So writing?

By the time I sit down in front of a keyboard with an inkling of an idea to capture, the vacuous call of Facebook proves irresistible, and 10 minutes later the idea is gone, or I'm no longer able to form a cogent sentence.

Which explains this spiritless and prosaic post. But doesn't excuse it.

Hopefully I'll do better in a month.

Friday, August 9, 2013

On damage, and growth

It's raining today.

Just a simple, steady rain. More than mere mist, less than a deluge. Hard enough that Charlie came home from our walk wet and raced around the house until I could towel him off.

I snapped this picture while we were out. It captures a section of sidewalk immediately below a section of damaged eaves trough.

The rain hits in this section particularly hard, and waters the wall enough to encourage moss growth in this spot alone.

It hits so hard that it's worn the smooth, top layer of cement from the courser stuff beneath. This wouldn't have surprised me if it occurred over the course of years. But that's not the case. This is a new sidewalk. It was poured in May, around the time when I posted about saving an inchworm.

The erosion illustrates how much damage can be done in less than 3 months. Not by scraping or pounding or sanding, just by the regular fall of rain, concentrated in a single place.

Erosion below. Growth of life above.

Monday, July 1, 2013

An arctic blast from the past

 I just had a weird encounter with my past.

Charlie and I were on our usual morning circuit. At the halfway point I noticed a man shambling toward us. He wore knee-length khaki shorts and a green tee shirt. The shorts were ragged on the bottom and speckled with paint, the tee shirt was color-leached and thin. He was solidly built and not very tall, and his light brown hair was cropped closely to his head.

A variety of scrapes were healing on his face. Scarlet slashes ran across his nose, and scabs crusted over on his forehead and one cheekbone. The older wounds looked like they might have been brush burns. There were other gashes, but I didn't want to stare. He would have noticed my eyes darting from laceration to laceration as we talked.

He said "This probably sounds strange but do you know if there's a dead end street near here?"

I began to answer, but he was still talking.

"Because I'm kind of at a dead end." He said with a lift of his eyebrows, a tipped shoulder, and a shaking of his head.

There is in fact a dead end nearby, and I tried to explain it. But his story needed telling.

"I'm trying to find something. I woke up without my wallet. And my job probably."

Me, helpfully: "Wow, that sucks!"

"Yeah. But I know there's a street that just comes to an end somewhere around here."

I started to tell him where it was again.

"I woke up without my keys or my wallet or my job." He repeats. "No phone. I don't really know what I'm going to do."

Me: "I have a cellphone. Is there anyone I can call for you?"

"No. I can take care of myself."

Me, still helpful: "Gee, I'm so sorry!"

He starts to turn back the way he came, following my directions.

"I'll pray for you!" I call out in a weird, cheerful tone.

He doesn't reply.

Charlie and I finished our walk, confident that my keys are in the basket atop the mantle at home, and my wallet in my purse. I wondered if I should have walked him to the dead end because my instructions had been so lame. The clamor of danger bells had quieted, but it still didn't seem like a good idea.

The whole event was an encounter with the past.

Years ago I was in a relationship with a man who had a drinking problem. He was a daily drinker, but every few months he'd come up with some mandatory work outing or guys-only function and I'd end up waiting at home wondering when he'd make an appearance. Sometimes it was still dark when he arrived, other times the sun would be up.

After one of these nights he weaved home shortly before dawn, and was snoring off his toxicity. Around mid-morning the doorbell rang. I was busy pacing around the house, steaming and waiting for him to be lucid enough to comprehend the rage I planned to unleash.

We lived in a bad neighborhood at the time. The kind of place where toddlers waddle down sidewalks at midnight and the sounds of fighting in the street wakes you at 3:00AM.

On this particular morning I went to the door and peered out so that I could decide whether or not to answer. A middle aged black man stood on the step. I didn't recognize him, but he didn't look scary so I opened the door. He smiled and held out a wallet, which he said he'd found in an even worse neighborhood than the one I lived in. He'd checked the license and brought it over. He was very nice.

It was my man's wallet, of course.

I got the story of his adventures later in the day, during his short "remorse" phase. Or I got -a- story. At that level of drunkenness it's hard to know how much he actually remembered, and how much of what he remembered he was willing to divulge. The story went like this. He and his buddies were doing shots of Tequila, which he claimed had a bad effect on him.

(No comment.)

As a result of the Tequila, he got into a fight with one of his superiors from work. He said something about wrestling around on an asphalt parking lot. That explained the brush burn across his nose.

Given where we lived, and that we were young, you might assume that he was a redneck, and ran in crowds where this sort of thing was common. If so, you'd be wrong. He worked for an investment firm.

Through a cloud of dehydration and poison he worried about losing his job. Just like the guy on the street this morning did.

He'd lost his wallet, just like today's guy.

Here's how I imagine last night went, here in lovely Newburyport. The man gets drunk and goes home with a friend to continue partying or to crash. Things get ugly. There is a tussle. Drunk guy makes his way to his car and tries to leave, but his friend has taken his keys. He falls asleep in the car, which must be a few blocks away. When he wakes up, he can't find his keys to go home, he doesn't remember where the house is other than having a hazy memory of a dead end street, and he has no idea what happened to his wallet.

And somehow, a boss or coworker is involved.

It's a cold, dark blast from the past.

Back then I wasn't a pray-er, and all my worry and anger and fear and resentment were channeled straight out of my mouth and directed at his head. A volley of sound and rage. If it were to happen now, I would have better mechanisms for managing. I would also recognize the futility and unkindness in demanding change from someone who is not able to do so.

This morning's encounter gave me a chance to go back and pray for that man, years ago, for all the healing he needed and may still need. To pray for this morning's man, trying to return to a location of shame while his head bangs and spins. To pray for all the men and women caught in cycles of addiction and deception, and for the people who love them and don't know what to do.

Good luck finding your dead end, Sir.

May it be the bottom out of which you begin to crawl toward the light.

Plan a Parade Crawl for your Holiday week!

I put the piece below together as a Merrimack Valley Magazine Little Bit, but space prohibited it's inclusion. Thought I'd post it here in case it is useful.

Have a wonderful holiday week!


Parade season has arrived! Parades are a great, free outdoor activity for the whole family (if you can manage to resist the strolling street vendors). We’ve collected the dates for some of the parades around the region. Get them on your calendar now, and plan your own parade crawl!

7/3              6:00 PM      Gloucester, MA: Horribles Parade
7/4              9:30AM       Plymouth, MA: Independence Day Parade
7/4              10:00AM     Chelmsford, MA: Independence Day Parade
7/6              12:30PM     Pepperell, MA: Independence Day Parade
8/4              12:00PM     Newburyport, MA: Yankee Homecoming Parade
9/14           2:30PM       Pelham, NH: Old Home Day Parade
9/15            10:00AM     Billerica, MA: Yankee Doodle Homecoming Parade
9/21           10:30AM     Hollis, NH: Old Home Days Parade
10/27         1:00PM       Woburn, MA: Lion’s Club Annual Halloween Parade

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hot off the presses! (Let's get some shoes.)

Merrimack Valley Magazine just posted this picture on Facebook:

It shows some of the pages of the July/August issue, which includes my first Little Bitz pieces along with a story about traditional shoe stores in the valley.

Check out the cool shoe photo that the talented Kevin Harkins took at Pennyworth's in Newburyport!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Some enchanted game day

Since moving to New England, I've worked hard at becoming a sports fan. It's never seemed optional, really, more like a moral imperative which didn't seem to apply in Western New York. There you really only have to worry about football, and I was tucked a safe enough distance away from the Bills to be shielded.

In Massachusetts its another story. You don't really get a season off. Enthusiasm is a year-round requirement.

I've been trying to get on board, submitting to games and making appropriate sounds at what seem to be appropriate moments.

But it hasn't been until this last week that a beam of light broke through the testosterone reeking clouds.

The cause? Hockey playoffs. I think I finally found my sport.

Football is frustrating. The action stops so frequently and for so many far flung flag reasons that the excitement gets snipped just as it starts to build. And I can rarely figure out why.

Baseball is easy to follow. The rules are straightforward. You know what's going on, because all you really have to pay attention to are runs, strikes, and who's on first. But frankly, it can get pretty boring. Especially with good pitchers.

Basketball I haven't had to watch. Yet. So I'm pretending it's not really a thing.

Enter hockey. Hockey!

The rules seem simple, so I don't get too confused: get the puck in the goal, and don't fight (except a little to keep the crowd's blood pumping). Plus there is always something to watch! The puck flies around so fast that it takes a lot of attention just to keep your eyes on it. It's exciting!

Hockey. It's a relief to have found you. I no longer have to feel like a fraud.

Oh, and the bear?


Monday, May 20, 2013

Wrestling with the idea of mission

I rescued an inchworm today.

At least, I think I did.

I'm surprised I even saw the thing. It wasn't quite an inch long, and at this time of year, when the world glows with color, the neon green of its body isn't an unusual sight.

But there he was, a tiny streak of green atop brown, and I saw him move. One end floated up as if the force of gravity didn't exits in his miniature world, a moon worm who could levitate completely if he desired. One end floated up as if sniffing the air, and returned to the ground so that he could arch his back in classic inchworm style, locomoting toward a telephone pole.

I saved him, I tell you.

Behind him was the road. Before and beside him was sidewalk bounded by fence. There was no grass for inchworm miles. The very dirt he stood on looked toxic. The corner sidewalk had been replaced a week or so ago, and all the adjacent dirt sprayed with a nasty gray-green coating. I imagine the gunk is supposed to turn into grass some day, but so far nothing is sprouting. The dirt looked crusted with a thin veneer of poisonous clay, except where it's been churned up by dog feet.

What was the worm going to do? Climb the telpehone pole? And what awaited him at the top?

If he stayed where he was, his vivid green would surely act like a blinking a sign for robins reading "Eat at Joes. My name is Joe."

If he moved to the left, he would be stomped on the sidewalk. If he traveled to the right he would be crushed by cars.

It didn't look good.

And so I broke off a piece of stick and dug it into the ground beneath him. When he felt the earth move, he thrashed around trying to escape, but then curled up and stayed completely still, playing dead. Hoping to be ignored.

I carried him away from the danger, riding on a clump of dirt, and placed him beneath a bush, concealed behind a spiky clump of grass. Charlie grazed for a few minutes on the blades while I watched to see if Joe would stop playing dead. But apparently the little guy didn't like the sound of chewing, and didn't feel safe, because he stayed where he was, curled in on himself and hoping for the best.

Perhaps what I did was wrong. Maybe the ecosystem will suffer from my white man's need to interfere. Maybe in my intrusion I starved a bird, or contributed to an inchworm overpoulation problem. Maybe I intervened on evolution, slowing down the process of developing inchworms who are better at seeking safety.

Maybe I should have focused on the larger problem of sidewalk construction and the destructive force of roads. Maybe I should have gone to city hall to change legislation related to urban development, which puts inchworms in danger to begin with.

Maybe I didn't save Joe at all. Maybe he'd escaped that morning from where I placed him, fleeing flesh-eating bacteria that consumed all his friends and neighbors. Or maybe going airborne gave him a heart attack and his stillness wasn't really an act.

I don't really know.

All I know is that I was trying to do the right thing. Trying to give the little guy a chance. Trying to step in and help a creature who seemed helpless and blind to the danger all around him.

I don't think that's a bad thing. Is it?

I rescued an inchworm today.

At least, I think I did.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ms. Muffinstuff

Today I am happy.


Because I'm wearing a new pair of jeans, that don't sprout mighty muffing tops from the waistband and didn't cost a fortune. They aren't quite as high-waisted as I'd like, but neither do they show off my undies if I bend over.

So I call that a win.

My threadbare standby's are headed for the trash.

And I am happy.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Last night's dream

I had a strange dream last night.

In it, I was being interrogated about an old book which happened to be in my possession. My interviewers asked about a variety of places that I'd not heard of. One of the locations was something like "Brockton".

Almost as soon as they spoke the name, I was in another place. A devastated place.

I stood on what I thought was an ocean beach, though there was no ocean, no water, no shoreline. The rough and rocky sand was littered with fist-sized cubes of what I thought were huge, dirty salt crystals. I looked away from where the water should have been to see decrepit homes along what normally would have been the shore. Seaside cottages and larger houses, their paint flaked off and the wood faded to colorlessness. The whole scene was of the same hue, nearly color free. Dark beige, dirt, sand. Nothing green, no sign of life. No humans, no animals, no plants.

Adjacent to one of the houses a dirt road climbed for what looked like miles up an unnaturally high hill or mountain. There was something about the road that made me very, very uncomfortable. Something was not right with it. It was alarming, but I couldn't tell why.

I looked back at the houses, and the ominous tone increased to a near sense of panic. I began to pray to be pulled back out of this place, and that DiDi help me return to where we were. Immediately I was back in the interrogation room.

It was a very strange sensation. Normally sudden shifts in dreams occur and somehow seem normal. You just accept the change of scene as something that happens. But this was different. I was intensely aware of the sudden transport into the unknown place, and the sudden return. I knew it to be a supernatural event that I didn't understand.

It was disturbing. And strange. I'm still trying to figure it out.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Crash and dent

Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity) by Vincent van Gogh

I'm feeling a bit like a dented can today, my insides squished into a smaller space than normally allotted.

My brain is disabled by the events unfolding around the country, and the lack of anything useful to say about them.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The reality of a grilled cheese sandwich

I've got a beef this morning. A writing beef.

I'm reading a book, the last in a pile of three that I began and then threw to the side. I may have to ditch this one as well if it doesn't cut it out.

This time it's a problem with details. The author seems to just make things up without bothering to see if they actually make sense. One of the characters is a baker, and so there are frequent references to baking processes. But the author isn't particularly concerned if they are correct. Here are a few examples.

In one case, the baker can't be interrupted because she is kneading. A few minutes later she comes out saying that she finished the tarts.

PROBLEM: There is no kneading required when making tarts. They use pastry crust.

Later on, an assistant complains that there is something wrong with the buttercream frosting she made. The baker tastes it and proclaims that the egg whites were bad.

PROBLEM: There are no egg whites in buttercream. Or yellows for that matter.

Another detail violation happens in a bathtub. The protagonist is soaking and enjoying a plastic water tumbler of Chardonnay while musing about her terrible life, and then describes a loofah getting snagged on her leg stubble.

PROBLEM: Stubble wouldn't snag.

Perhaps if you had very course, very curly, very long leg hair there might be a Velcro effect. But stubble? Stubble sticks straight out. It's not snaggish. It won't run a pair of pantyhose let alone slow down a sponge.

Why, why, why, oh why?

Are cooking references really such a selling point that it doesn't matter if they make sense? Is there such a rush to go to press that editors don't pay attention to what they are reading? Was this story the second piece in a two-book deal with a very short deadline?

I'm trying to figure it out, hopefully so I can learn by negative example. Perhaps this is similar to what artists try to teach; to draw what we actually see rather than what we think we see. This author is writing what she thinks leg loofahing is about, without actually getting in the tub and testing it. Or even imagining through recollection. It's like the story is running merrily along and she captures it, thinking leg hair might be amusing, so down it goes and in it remains.

On the plus side, I guess I have learned something. While writing details, I need to really be in the scene. If I describe making a grilled cheese sandwich I need to actually walk through the process, at least mentally. The butter has to be spread. The cheese has to be unwrapped. I'll need to remember how the toasty bread lifts up like butterfly wings and the melting orange oozes over the edges if I cut it too soon and too hot.

I've learned that I need to really live the darned sandwich experience rather than assume I know what it is and say something nonsensical.

I guess I won't throw the book across the room. I'll continue reading, and see what else I can glean.

And now, I'm ready for lunch.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Marathon Views from a Cookbook Collector

While volunteering at the library the other day I stumbled across a book titled Forbidden Lego: Build the Models Your Parents Warned You Against! 

I checked it out, thinking it was something my son would have loved a few years ago (and maybe even still would now). It has all the perquisites for a geeky young man: Lego, the idea of parental disapproval, and weaponry.

The book is copyrighted 2007, a year when Time Magazine's list of top 10 video games included 7 which were based on violence and warfare. People talked about the negative impact of violent games, but their popularity was overwhelming. It was a time after Columbine and 9/11, but before Sandy Hook. It was the year of the Virginia Tech massacre. In an effort to be sensitive, the book's weapons are softened; the cover picture is a "paper plate launcher". The canon project shoots ping pong balls. The catapult is for candy.

Recently young children have been suspended from school for things like biting a Pop-Tart into the sideways "L" shape of a pistol. Presumably the way to stave off the epidemic of mass murders in schools is to ban all student-generated weapon arts and crafts, intentionally created or otherwise.

I've scoffed at these stories, remembering my son and how unimaginable it would be for him to commit anything close to the horrible scenarios which appear to be on the rise. It seemed silly to squelch what felt like a natural draw for boys.

But this morning I'm cringing from that idea of "natural", and having a hard time understanding what I could possibly have meant by the thought.

I started the day by catching up on the news from yesterday's Boston Marathon bombings. Such petty,  cowardly actions of violence and terror, the sick tantrum of an overgrown petulant child who hasn't gotten their way. And then I caught site of the Forbidden Lego book, and it's cover picture which looks like a cartoonized device of destruction.

Perhaps it will soon be pulled from the library's shelves.

I collect cookbooks because I like the way societal eras are captured within their pages. It's my favorite form of anthropology. Friendly. Non-threatening. But Forbidden Lego made me wonder if I should begin collecting toy catalogs.

Perhaps someone should do this. Looking at the shifts in children's toys would offer interesting cultural insights. But I don't think I'll do the collecting. It would just be too painful.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sometimes it's best to brush your teeth with your eyes closed.

I took a first, sleepy gaze into the mirror at my top-knotted self this morning to find the title of a future book staring back. It will be called The Ugliest Samurai. Or perhaps even Sumo.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Another day, another template

Well I did it. I changed this template. Turns out I should have done some "before" screen shots but I didn't think of it.

As expected, one of the problems has been solved, and others introduced.

But just like yesterday, I'll deal with those tomorrow. Or tomorrow's tomorrow.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I will deal with you another day, my not so pretty.


Can I just say that I hate this template?

I'm reasonably happy with the home page. It looks OK. It's functional. But my Published Works page is horrible.

Adding an entry for the Storybook Home, Enchanted Gardens article in the latest issue of Merrimack Valley Magazine should have been a simple task, right? Just enter a couple of hard returns, type some text, and boom, finished.

But no. Not simple.

It's the bane of a writers' existence: having to work around the limits and challenges of style sheets. Most of us don't want to become HTML wizards in order to control our on-screen destinies. I know I don't.

And I really don't want to have to experiment with a bunch of other templates just to find equally annoying issues with them.

So for now I'm just going to co-exist with ugly, pull a Scarlett O'Hara, and deal with it tomorrow. Or the tomorrow after that.



Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Easter resolution

My Holy Week revelation and Easter resolution:

To try not to be such a damned pharisee.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fun to come with Little Bitz!

I have news!

Merrimack Valley Magazine has offered me the Little Bitz column; a section in each issue which contains 3-5 short pieces on a wide range of topics.

I'm thrilled!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Eureka. And pshew.

Hurrah! I finally found the Facebook code that was creating the annoying red warning text to appear at the top of the site! It's gone! Yippee!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Yes, I know.

In case you are wondering, I am all too aware of the weird red "security warning" messages which are inexplicably appearing on my site. There doesn't appear to be any malware in play, thank goodness. Googling indicates that it is a problem with a Facebook API, and so I have dutifully removed all vestiges of Facebook I could find.

And still they come.

Please bear with me as I try to figure out the culprit. And thanks to my geekish friends who are trying to help.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Stories in a single picture

Sometimes I come across scenes or images that say a lot in a single glance. I decided to start capturing them here.

Hope you enjoy.

March 14, 2013: A decrepit shed.

March 13, 2013: Vane vine?

March 12, 2013: Bag of bras.

March 1, 2013: Butt bottle.

January 27, 2013: Cindarella's sister stopped by.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

When is a drill not just a drill?

I've been thinking about drills.

Or more precisely, a drill: the DEWALT that we bought for DiDi when we first moved to Newburyport.

Normally I don't think about the drill. I just know it will make an appearance when needed. But recently it's been at the forefront of my mind.

You see, after a nearly year-long experiment in car free living, I put my neglected little champagne-colored Toyota back on the road last week. Part of that process was, of course, attaching license plates. And what holds the plates on?


So what did we need?


The plates went on with a bit of fidgeting and fuss, given that I was the one driving. (DiDi has mad drill skills, but it was a ceremonial occasion, and she wanted me to enjoy the moment.)

But here's what happened. After we went on our first joy ride, I couldn't find it. The drill seemed to have disappeared. The only thing I could think happened was that I left it in the road, a cloud of dust surrounding it as we peeled out.

It took me a bit to realize that it was gone, and then it took a bit longer to conclude that the search was fruitless. Meanwhile DiDi walked around with a sad face, and a tiny voice squeaking "My drill..."

I'm not going to lie. It was a little heart breaking.

I knocked hopefully on the neighbor's door, to see if they happened to find it. I considered posting a "Lost Drill" sign on the telephone poles on our street in hope that someone would turn it in. The sign would include a picture like the one at the top of this post, and a comment along the line of "Family misses it terribly."

It got me wondering, that sadness. DiDi's sense of loss. What was it about the thing that so connected with her? Why was it so important?

I thought about the function of a drill. It anchors things. It fixes things. It takes things apart.

It solves problems.

It gives you power over the physical world, beyond what you would normally have. It provides a small measure of control over an uncontrollable universe.

I should explain that DiDi is dealing with severe nerve pain that has lasted more than six months. She walks with crutches due to muscle weakness and shooting pain which causes her leg to buckle. For any kind of distance, we use a wheelchair. She is way too young for this level of debilitation, and is frustrated.

Very frustrated.

If we had lost the drill a year ago she would have been sad. But not quite this sad.

The good news is that the miraculous happened. The other day, I opened the hatchback and shifted around some of the stuff that accumulated in the back when the car was off the road and acting as a storage locker. Can you guess what I found?


It was a happy day indeed.

So I've been thinking about this particular piece of multi-functional equipment. And I came to a conclusion.

Sometimes a drill is not just a drill.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hot off the Press: Hooked on History with Anne Easter Smith

Today I found the latest issue of Merrimack Valley Magazine in the mail, which looks like this:

The issue contains an article I wrote on the popularity of historical fiction (think Downton Abbey, Lincoln, and Les Miserables), featuring acclaimed author Anne Easter Smith. 

The photos of Anne are lovely, and were shot by Adrien Bisson, on location at the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport.

Get your copy at a local newsstand now!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Kickstarter lays it out there.

The Kickstarter project for Hello Mommy is now live!

I hope you do view it. And I hope you aren't offended. But I'll warn you ahead of time, you may be.

As I explained to a friend earlier today, the book stands on it's own as a lovely, lyrical story that kids and adults will both love. Children are fascinated by the idea that at one point they did not exist, and Hello Mommy lets them explore the concept in a way that is safe and loving.

It works as a story, completely separate from an agenda of any kind.

However, I did write it with a goal. I am a casualty of a particular era, and bear scars with stories attached. I don't want to push dogma or politics down anyone's throat. I simply want this story to speak it's simple truth.

The Kickstarter project lays it right out there. It could cost me potential writing gigs, or the loss of Facebook friends. It could result in a pileup of criticism and scorn, which I'll have to sweep up and process and try not to let bother me.

And if that is the case, so be it.

Meanwhile, I will be excited. I AM excited. The book is already beautiful, and it will become even more beautiful as it unfolds. It will be the kind of book that children demand to be read over and over again, and parents and grandparents and caregivers won't even mind obliging.

The book will BE.

So have a look. And if you are able, and willing, please help me get it published.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

I made it!

Sample Hello Mommy illustration, created by the incredibly talented Carol L. Douglas.

I did it.

I made my self imposed deadline to get a Kickstarter project for Hello Mommy finished by March 1.

I submitted it at about 9:00PM last night, and am waiting for it to be reviewed for adherence to guidelines.

It's a rather arduous process, getting one of these projects set up. Or at least getting one up that you hope has a chance of success. There's a lot of thinking, and writing, and production work involved. I started on it months ago. DiDi and I brainstormed and researched, studied other projects and created budgets, planned rewards and played with video editing.

All that work eventually gets rolled in to a few screens, until finally the day comes when you cross your fingers and click submit.

And then you wait.

Creating a book is like birthing a baby, and in this case, the Kickstarter process is part of the labor.

Today, I'm recovering.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

To rush, or not to rush...

A week and a half ago I made a commitment to myself. I even announced it on Facebook in an effort to keep myself honest.

The commitment was to get a Kickstarter project for my picture book for toddlers, Hello Mommy, launched by March 1.

Turns out March 1 is now only three days away.


I'm not sure if I'll be able to do it. Or rather, whether I should force it to happen. I'll need to make a video, finish fleshing out incentives, and pull together a much better sales pitch than exists so far. It's a bunch of work, and the success of the funding is largely dependent on whether or not I do a decent job.

So, to rush or not to rush, that is the question.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

St. Valentinus Day

I've decided to boycott "traditional" Valentine's Day and choose another day at random to focus on pouring out affection to my sweetie.

At least for this year.

Instead, I present you with the relics of St. Valentinus. Please to enjoy.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A few posts

It has been a while since I posted here, so I thought perhaps I should jot down some links to places where I actually HAVE been writing!

I've been writing other things as well, rest assured. Non-bloggy things. Thingy things. Word things.

I've also been developing an idea for audio. Radio or pod cast or some such. Stay tuned for more info.

Oh, and PS: Happy New Year!