What did I expect?

On a Tuesday that feels like a Monday it is also two other things. One is having been married for 22 years. I suppose we could have exchanged a card (me) and a rose (him) but it was a hot holiday weekend and we didn’t put up the roof of the writing camp I use in summer. It’s just a 10 X 10 screened in “tent” where I have some chance of being outside in the fresh air without the bugs savaging my blood vessels, but it has become a thing. We fight when we put it up. Scream, bitch, mutter under our breaths. Throw things – not at each other – there are always branches you’d rather move than work around. It always seemed a test of if we’d survive another year. Not doing it has me feeling forlorn.

Everything has extra meaning or no meaning right now. It’s a fall, gravity tugging while the air is as heavy as molasses and you swear again, you’ve done this before, heard the same things and the anger from before is still there and now there is some in every damned place. Maybe not you, but me.

 I’m mad that women and trans aren’t respected enough to be considered whole. They aren’t “adult enough” to make decisions about their own bodies – not ones they’ve bought on credit – but ones they’ve lived in since birth. But 18 year-old-boys can rape and pillage and shoot the unaborted children with hollow points when they are in class learning about presidents and founding fathers but ignoring the part that those white men owned slaves and that they beat them. If they don’t learn about it, they also don’t learn slavery is wrong.

When some white jihadist with a shady bankroll starts spouting off about “owning the libs,” by doing shitty things I know it’s untrue. They don’t want to own the libs. If they were honest, they’d tell you they want to own slaves again. They want to beat and manhandle and be awful to other living creatures with no repercussions. They want to go to all white churches and be soothed with twisted biblical verses to serve their purposes. They do not weep and think Jesus was born in the wrong Testament. It’s not a mental health issue, it’s a caveman attitude and we all know cavemen have no souls.

Everyone wants to rule the world, but there are too many people on the planet to even have 15 seconds of fame so these infantile minds fall into white “supremacy” and shoot to eliminate those they have convinced themselves are beneath them. And so far, America has let them.

I am so angry about so many things and I didn’t get to vent some of that out by putting up the tent roof. Sorry, but you chose to listen.

Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe while you go off to school/work/a graduation party/the grocery store/church. I hear no guns are allowed at NRA events…

I’m taking time to admire flowers wherever I find them and I hope you do, too.

Life Goes On Until It Doesn’t

The house is tidy, organized. It’s been a massive undertaking, this year’s “spring-cleaning.”

I no longer remember the specific impetus that led to the first bit of sorting. I know I was quite sick of the mess my office had become. We’d move things in here to get them out of the way when we had visitors, and not everything made its way back to where it had come from and so I was living in close proximity to a lot of clutter. I didn’t like it, but we were storing somethings and even when those things left, I didn’t immediately do a tear down/clean out.

I know an Apex discussion a few months ago made me consider the fact that I’ll probably never publish a book traditionally, and even if I did, well, what then? The “what then” was that I wanted to live in a cleaner and more organized house. I mean, if this is it – the best it will ever be and I never write or publish again – then I’m kind of okay with my life ending up here (except for the wasting of my whole life on literature.)

One of the silly little motivational quips I have taped to my office computer says, “What you are not changing, you are choosing,” so I’ve been choosing to improve my conditions.

Life doesn’t offer a lot of choice in some matters though. We had to say goodbye to Kobi and it sucked to lose my sidekick, but he had cancer in his lungs and even if I were able to afford chemo for him, I don’t think I could put him through that. I know – supposedly – there are new options for cancer treatments but…

I haven’t picked him up yet – his ashes. That seems too final yet.

Our remaining cat made it known that a pet sibling was important, so today – weirdly enough Cat Adoption Day – I went to the Ten Lives Club. (They are a no-kill shelter, so if you’re feeling generous, they have a wish list here.) “Freddy” is acclimating now – though we’re definitely changing that name. This is what he looks like:

It’s not the same as a dog, but I need time to mourn, too.

Creative writing hasn’t happened in a long while, though I have written letters. I’m sorry if I owe you one and you haven’t received it yet. You are very likely on the list.

Until next time (or your letter arrives) I want to thank you for stopping by and for reading.

Cheers!

A chickadee home outside the bedroom window

Mundania Strikes Again

How are you? I hope this post finds you well and your problems solvable. To be honest, I can’t recall if Mundania ever struck before, but there I was, sitting on a toadstool when I noticed my feet were getting wet. I swam to the waterfall and tried to reach the diverter but I lost my grasp and fell into a never-ending chasm called real life. Don’t you hate when that happens to you?

If you’re interested in the boring version: Earlier I was sitting on a wooden stool beside a file cabinet, tabbing the folders with large letters written in magic marker on crisp white paper when I realized the washing machine should have been done by then. I walked into the bathroom and noticed the water like a crime scene. I saw the pool of liquid and marveled at how hard I must have hit something to have made the copper leak. Eventually, my attention was pulled to the larger pool and the true source of the problem. I shut off the washer, but I couldn’t reach to unplug it. I shut the water off. I cleared everything I saw as a possible hindrance. I pulled out a measuring cup and began filling a bucket. As I was filling the bucket a second time, I thought about getting some towels to sop up the water I was standing in. As if there was some cosmic joke running around on the loose, I felt a tingle in my ankle. I don’t think I was shocked, just my sense of self trying to highlight the whole “you are standing in water in front of a machine that might be suffering an electric problem,” shouting to be noticed. I looked to the electric panel, but it’s a 50/50 toss up on which switch to pull. I cleared a path to that closet for Husband to figure out when he arrives home.

 (As I jot this, I’m still waiting.)

Sorry for no interesting pictures. I didn’t think to photograph the bouquets recently. I bought three and washed windows. I forgot a lot about how to host, but also remembered arcane things. In pulling away from what it turns out were contrivances, I do feel quieter and very in tune to the futility of all the things that I think are major in life – but in pursuing those, I ended up where I wanted to be. I think. Maybe. Does that make any sense?

And attuned, I’ve been. I have a “master list” of things I want to “get done” and have put off some tasks. One was taking care of the sleeping bags. It turned out that I was glad I didn’t force the issue because they were used for a makeshift bed for someone. Likewise, there has been a hesitancy to clean/clear the shelves above the washing machine and now this has occurred.

That sounds like a rationalization for procrastination, doesn’t it? Perhaps they are magic words that cast a spell and when someone says they will do something tomorrow, there will be a tomorrow – otherwise the guy doesn’t ride out on his chariot or there’s a minor tremor and Sisyphus catches a break. Who knows how the world works when myth or quantum physics enter the conversation? And look, Mr. Quantum Physics is wearing that damn green felt hat with the long brown feather again even though several variations of this entity know exactly how much I hate that thing…  

Oh! Two deadlines just walked in draped in grey lace. I have to return to my toadstool now. Take care of you and know that you matter to me somehow.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

Cheers!

Feeling like Janus on a Monday

The sun is shining brightly on a 19 degree Fahrenheit afternoon. Thick snow covers the ground. This “warmer” weather compresses it while it grows dirty with debris. Woodpeckers make a terrible mess. They’ve been around, same with the cardinals. I’ve already seen buds on some trees.

It’s much warmer inside, of course, where I am writing. I recovered from the trip in most respects, but I did enjoy a lot of lovely food in Massachusetts. I only have myself to blame for those extra exercise workouts I’m doing, but I’m nearly back to where I’d been in December so yeah! A little less self-loathing going on always helps, doesn’t it?

As a matter of preference or perceived talent lying elsewhere, I don’t write many short stories. There was a call for contest. I had a few sentences about a bird that I had abandoned, possibly because it was refusing to be a flash and I didn’t think it had novel potential. I pulled up the story start after getting home and it felt weirdly like a trance. I was “in” the story but I kept getting in my own way. I wrote so much more than what was required. I refuse to look back at those extra thousands of words because I don’t want to find a novel. I’m not that in to the bird. But it’s done, Nina Fosati graciously reviewed it and gave me her top line comments – and this is unheard of – I let the story sit for 5 days before returning to correct the flagrant mistakes. Last night I made Kindle read it to me twice. It might be ready to fly soon.

This month has been incredible with art, artists, and friends among them. The talented Gina Detwiler was back in town and we were able to return to one of our writing haunts to catch up. It was good to sit upstairs in Spot Coffee again. There was an unexpected letter. I watched Apex’s Snap Judgement #3 and gained some insight on what those editors were looking for in their slush. The lovely Nina Fosati let me visit for friendship, love, and hope. I and SO many other people in the writing community took a Kathy Fish “Lessons from the Sandbox”class.

On Friday, I was able to take a “Finding Your Writing Groove” class with Jerry Gordon. I’m pondering a lot of things in my life right now, not necessarily from the class, but it pinpointed several things I needed to hear at the right time and in the right order to “hear” them…if that makes sense. The day after that, we went to see live theater. It was a series of 8 one-act plays. In back of us was a person I took a play writing class with and across the aisle were two Buffalo artists I know from Facebook but met at Donna Hoke’s Christmas Potluck. Funny how everyone is connected…

So, like I inferred, I’m looking forward, looking back, and looking at the carnage around me. (I didn’t mean the “two-faced, deceitful” definition of Janus.) It’s a contemplative mood so, I’m off to enjoy that. Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

On the eve of New Year’s Eve

By God’s (or some equally helpful entity in the universe’s) grace, (or one of my best friends in the world sending protective energy,) I traveled over the holiday and I’m back in one piece. It was the first place anywhere I’ve gone to (and stayed overnight) in many years. Not that I’m a big traveler. I thought I could be once, but instead I travel through the world by reading books.

While at Niece and Nephew-in-law’s beautiful and spacious new home, I finished “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies” by Deesha Philyaw. Fantastic collection. I really loved it. I read  “Killing Krause” by Lissa Marie Redmond and I wasn’t enthralled with it. I have no memory of where that book came from either. I picked up Gail Tsukiyama’s “The Language of Threads” and enjoyed its quiet beauty but put it down, not being something I could read and follow a conversation with at the same time. From my book bag, I plucked “The Weird Sisters” by Eleanor Brown and all I could think was, “Where have you been all my life?” I’m afraid to finish it. What if the end disappoints? What a pretty problem to have!

While away, I didn’t have time to worry or think about the normal things I fret over. I won’t say they left me, but I missed having them. If that makes any sense.

Before leaving I pulled up some old writing in a couple of old journals and in those pages I was able to laugh at the cyclical nature of some things, some people in my life and how we can age but not change. I’m TRYING to accept that about other’s too, but alas…It was quite difficult to think that way the last night in Massachusetts, but then again, aren’t all family gatherings fraught with some level of drama?

Some – what an adjective! Particular but unspecified. I may be writing about you. I may be writing about the anonymous family blow out at the service station along the way. About something Husband said. About this story idea that may have occurred to me while sitting around a familiar table with familiar people…

My reflections and your experience will vary and it is strange that anything is possible. I didn’t think things that happened this year would occur, but they did. Not all good, not all bad, but some were downright unexpected and lovely.

Goodness, it was some year, wasn’t it? I bid you adieu until the new one.

(Photo credit to Awesome Niece)

Cheers!

 

Grateful this paticular November is over

Is there is a line between what is a rule at your house and what is tradition? One tradition/rule we have is sitting down at Thanksgiving. Tablecloth, stemware, turkey, hassellbacked sweet potato with butter and brown sugar cooked in tinfoil, green bean casserole from a box, mashed potatoes, pecan pie, white wine. I hadn’t planned to stop at the liquor store the day before Thanksgiving. I hadn’t planned on going to any store at all that day, but ended up needing to get cash for the groomers. The bank – in the grocery store – IS the closest ATM.

I wanted a red for that night’s dinner; we’ve had a bottle of cheap champagne forever and thought we’d open that for Thanksgiving dinner, but walking down the local wine section, I saw this label:

Table white. On sale. Sold. Only later did I see this and thought, “Okay. Let’s giddy up and go.”

My November led into the brambles of fancy terribleness which made me hate having feelings for swaths of time because they were hurt so much. The ghastly lack of ethics in the local school district flabbergasts me. It doesn’t seem to matter to anyone either, that these politicians are so slimy. And their lies. You cannot convince me they are human. (I do have more on this subject, but the hour is closing in on so many opportunities for yeses, so I‘m curtailing a rant for now in order to shine up some stories to submit before the 30 November deadline.)

Speaking of stories…I am honored to have Like A Mango-Basil Smoothie up at Sledgehammer Lit thanks to J. Archer Avary and his incredible team. It’s sans audio, but as I alluded to, this month has been hell. I chatted briefly with Hilary this morning while she was doing a thorough house inspection. She had a similar dark spot in her month. I didn’t mention this to her, but I say the lunar eclipse during the Beaver Moon – a concurrent event not witnessed in some 512 years or so had to have had something to do with the state of the way things are. So say I, writer of this blog…the one who would like to think the chaos of this month with all the ups, downs, and slap-me-sillies happened for a reason. I mean seriously, one might just as well shame midnight and blame the moon.

This is the first “real” snow of the season. I guess we could blame climate change, too.

I’m so grateful that this little one shared some time with me.

Oh, that face! No, sorry, I still don’t know what happened. No, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Trashzina  took a hit out on a kitten, that lizard woman has shown no evidence of owning a heart. The veterinarian hasn’t called with results from the lung biopsy. Yes, it’s been a while but if a lab is shorthanded, as a pet owner, I’d prefer they deal with tests that could extend the life of a still-alive pet such as this one.

(No, we did not get a new cat. This is a picture of our cat from two years ago)

Or this one posing for a before and after a visit with Dana at Paw Spa.


 I’d started the month fully expecting to work out some scenes and get to know new characters and places during NaNoWriMo. I was also going to write a flash a day. Instead, I have a few thousand words and about 20 flashes – most in need of a severe edit. But, I wrote. I took a Tommy Dean workshop from Pioneer Valley two days after the kitten died which helped so much to pull me away from grief. There was more to come. A friend who moved south in her retirement passed away, as did my aunt. One son got deployed, one fell severely ill. And I was doing as well as I could with that, but there was one more bit of news that broke me. I don’t want to acknowledge any more than this, but after that, the Beaver Moon underwent a lunar eclipse and though I’m struggling, I’m still here. I’m glad you are, too.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. Salut!

Dear October, What A Lovely Month You Turned Out To Be

There’s a coffeehouse in Hamburg called Comfort Zone and for every dollar you spend there, you get a point. You can use your points for discounts or save them up. After eating there for several years, I reached 1000 points – enough for a special outing and what an incredible experience it was! Whisked off to the Roycroft for a tour and then absolutely delightful conversation over dinner in the library at the Roycroft Inn. I snagged a ride in the convertible back to Comfort Zone for even more magic.  I had pink chips, I played roulette, and I was up at the end of the night. It was a perfect, perfect night. Many thanks to Cindy, Zenia, Zach, Liz – just everyone who made it special.

I looked at my calendar and wowed myself with how many other great people I interacted with this month.  I had a long phone conversation with an old friend to catch up recently. I was able to spend time with the awesome writers Nina Fosati, Gina Detwiler, and  Jeff Schoeber. I met Nicole Hebdon and her husband at an author’s night she orchestrated at the Joylan Theater. The drone of the Board of Education and the Superintendent Search jargon was nearly cancelled out by the first mani/pedi I’ve had since…quite a while ago. I had my hair cut by eight inches and Husband did not notice.  

I drag him out to see the colors at dusk sometimes –

much easier to do now that the upper greenhouse chaos has “settled.”

We went to a wedding. Congrats to my beautiful cousin and Ted.

Online, I’m happy to have “A Lonely Bath” up at Sledgehammer. Thank you J. Archer Avary! Also, I’m thrilled to announce I was longlisted for The Forge Flash Competition…in the nonfiction category. I’m on the same list as Hannah Grieco -and if you know how “holy shit” that is to me, well, it just is.

Another “just is” is November, which will soon arrive, and I’ll be drizzled down a hole called Day One of National Novel Writing Month. I’m also eyeing Nancy Stohlman’s Flash Nano and wondering, “Can I do both?”

Obviously, I’m insane, but at the moment, a touch of happy, too.

Thank you for you. Thank you for reading. I hope you find magic in this scary time, too.

Cheers and Happy Halloween!

Cleaning. Sorting. Living the Dream.

It’s been the usual mad dash between seasons here. The weather has been lovely. I’ve done chores that need to be done before summer ends leaving Husband with time to work on the upper greenhouse.

I began pulling up the rocks around the frog pond. It needs redoing like crazy and now we’re expanding the area around it. Who knows if it will stay above ground level when we have a hard rain, but if it does, what a lovely place to sit and watch dragonflies. So knock on wood…and stone, I guess…pictures may follow though, as I often do, I forgot to take before doing anything photos. This morning, I wasn’t aware I’d be moving rocks at all.

We had the first fire of the season last night. I choose to blame the occasion for my tardiness with this amazing post. “Amaze” in the sense of trying to fill you—the reader—with wonder or astonishment. I don’t know if it will work though. Let’s try an inkblot speed test. What do you see in the next two pictures as you scroll down to the next bit of text? Don’t linger; let your mind go…

What did you see? (You’re only getting an approximation of what I saw. The woodchip was far away; the dead bug, I espied through thick, unwashed window glass.) My mind leapt to flying creatures. An angel and the albino hay field fairy queen to be exact.

Along with those “What is that?” seconds of wonder, I also have personable vegetables this month. I cut into this pepper and not only did a round white thing roll out of it, but I saw this angry face. My only thought when the round white growth rolled out was “What now?”

A day later, this carrot that was far too sexy not to have a photo shoot showed up.

Writing has been ongoing and interesting. I was astounded to receive an email stating I made the longlist in Forge’s contest for a nonfiction piece. I have two stories coming out in Sledgehammer soon and BeZine took a story that received kind words at several places before being picked up. Thank you universe!

So that’s the news from here. I hope you’re doing great and that your town’s version of Ivanka and Jared never get you down. Cheers!

August Abundant

Earlier today, I was complaining in my head about having to write this post. It’s not something to complain about, though. Only I keep up this monthly look at myself, my life, my career…recent pictures. I could quit at any time.

I don’t know if I could quit writing forever. Well yes, I could quit writing. Making up stories in my head? Probably not. Sometimes it’s like watching a movie of vague shapes and names. Inserting new relationships among characters. How do they all go together before writing a word. I was doing a bit of that today – seeing if any recent characters have meat.

I’ve hit upon the premise of a longer story – or book. Luckily, I’ve had ideas before and now know to kick them around before beginning on a premise alone and while I do, I’m looking at these new characters who’ve popped up in recent flash.

Contests spurred the output. I wonder if it’s a hold out from younger years. When summer is waning, get in as much fun stuff as you can, and dazzle on the first paper due when you go back to school – a combination of the two.

So, in August, this creature has taken up time:

Which made this one jealous:

And this one sad because there was NOT enough petting going on with two animals in this house so adding a third is – in his opinion – a bad move. He is waiting for us to rue.

Husband had a proper cake for his annual aging celebration – from the store – but look at the candle placement! I did that part! (There would be a picture of him, but they blurred and cropped in weird ways.)

There is a “change one thing – let’s do it all over” list of projects going on in this one picture. Oi!

Well, as always, there is editing to do, things to clean, flowers to smell, so I’m off to do all that.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. Yes, I probably thought of you. Cheers!

Those Sweet Baby Boys

This month, there were two additions to my orbit. I plead ignorance on how to show you Zachary. (I could do it but I’m not going to because if you don’t know the parents, well…the amount of exposure his precious little face is presented to the online world is something I’m leaving in his parent’s hands. Did I mention he’s adorable? He is. He has hair!) The other baby is this tyke.

He’s a cuddler. There were other kittens hanging out around the woodshed but I haven’t seen them lately. There are eagles and hawks in the area. Foxes, fishers, and cars, too. Plus the creek, which flooded the south lawn because the bridge is too small and an arch.

That issue has taken up a lot of my time. An onslaught of promotion envelopes from insurance companies has not helped in my trying to take care of things. I’m closing in on finishing the Camp NaNo challenge of 50,000 words in a month written on top of the regular cooking/cleaning/weeding/splitting/stacking/etc. The convergence of extra demands requiring devoted attention has driven me to take up tea as self-care. (I do have lovely problems, don’t I?)

One thing that isn’t a problem is a squeaky new publication of a flash. It’s my current personal favorite. LEON Literary Review, a venue I swooned over the first time I visited, made my dreams come true by accepting The Eye of Florence and it is live now HERE!  

I want to thank all the people in my life that I’ve been connecting with recently. I’m grateful for the conversations and new knowledge. It helps to know other people are finding it hard to “human,” too. I think we all are to some extent. It’s hard for some people to admit they’re in pain when others are so much worse off, but then it grows and there’s only so much some people can take of it so they blow and then it’s a mess. There are a lot of messes around and I’m trying to take of them all, I swear, but boy, is it tough with two hands and one mop.

Speaking of messes, I have so much filing to do. And I have to hunt down a user guide to the new printer that I can’t get to work even though I had installed it and had printed from it and now it won’t do any printing and I need to figure out why in my spare time which I won’t have until I finish Camp NaNo and I’m close so adios and thank you so much for stopping by and for the read!

The Door’s the Thing

Last month I was keeping something a secret. It was that we were doing some bathroom alterations. Now that we’ve had company, here are some pictures.

He regrouted the tile floor. We got a replacement window – I mean mirror. The awful globe lights are gone, replaced with a cool looking arched LED. And things were rewired so the switches are different and we have another outlet. All the walls are orange, brown trim. Updated photos in the frames. Pretty fish dot the shower curtain and now, if I wanted to, I could take a bathroom selfie because the door no longer looks so unfinished.

The company consisted of Niece from Boston, Nephew from Portland, and for breakfast, their mom.

 We met Nephew and Niece at a restaurant for dinner. Afterwards, home and a fire on the beach.

 Old chair cushions topping 5 gallon buckets turned upside down for seats.

 A nearly full moon. Talk. We didn’t get to the part about me feeling like I’m drowning, but the time was brief.

I know writing is hard, and rejections are like a badge, but strings of no’s hurt. I’m grateful for friends I can reach out to – I know you’re there. Probably. I’m in a cocoon. I can go out, but suffer from anxiety sometimes. A wave of, ”I need to wear my mask, rush in, rush out” or guilt from sitting at a table and wanting this to be okay again, but it’s changed and that’s weird. I’ve had coffee with Nina Fosati at two places now. Lovely times, both. I’m grateful for her help in everything. Without her, I don’t know if I would have made it through all this.  ❤

Things were scattered during the bathroom update and now that the furniture is back to normal, there are things to file. And I’m miserable about the idea of writing – especially a new book. I’m glaring at you Camp NaNo, all starting tomorrow and since I still haven’t heard about “real” camp in August, I might spend time with you. Enter a deeper part of the cocoon.  But there is so much I want to do outside, like take wood out of the wood shed so I have a way out when I take the wood in the back and transport it to the first row. Plus there is always mowing and trimming and weeding. Don’t mind me, I’m usually not quite so glum but there is a lot of tasks to complete and since I have written some good shit which hasn’t found a home and I’m still without an agent, why do I even bother?

Does every crisis of faith reduce down to “Why are we/Why am I here?”

Perhaps…

I do want to thank Janice Leandra and everyone at Janus Literary. I’m grateful they chose my micro, Panache for this issue and there is some other cool writing in here.  And what a fitting place to end, with the idea of looking both ways.

Thanks for stopping by and for the read!  

Potato Heart!

For 21 years I’ve been married to a friend. What does that mean? Our marriage can legally buy liquor and cigarettes now? Can it vote, too? No? Why not? (I’d insert the picture of the Chipmunk of Doom looking askance here, but it didn’t export properly.)

Early this month, I was a maskless guest in someone else’s home and it was glorious to hug again! (Thank you Nina for inviting me!) Shortly after, we had the pleasure of visiting with Bob and Teresa. They were vaccinated, we were, too; it was a lovely time. Unnerving at first, though – being maskless in a house with humans. Who knew that would be an anxiety producer? I mostly remembered how to behave. I didn’t trust myself to throw a dinner party, so it was nibbles and drinks here – and interesting conversation.

A few years back I made my bones and joined a gang of philanthropists so now I get invited to cool things like tours of new buildings. This is the new clinic by the hospital on the hill. (I went inside and took pictures for a yet-to-be-written-story.)

B and I mostly finished a project this weekend. You know that feeling when you’re sure you have a can of paint and you don’t? I felt that and now I wonder if the partial gallon I’m so sure we have (though I can’t find it and have checked all the hidey-holes) will turn up the second I come home with a new gallon tinted that color. So, a bit of paint – less than a few tablespoon’s worth – applied to five small spots and it will be done. Of course sprucing up one thing makes the rest of the room look shabby…but I only have so much time because knock on wood, we’ll see family soon. They – of all people – would understand walking into a construction site/battle zone/fresh paint situation, but I’d prefer to greet them with some things under control even though I know surprises happen…like going out to get a sump pump on my birthday and B taking care of that fiasco which turned out to be my present. Anyways, since I’d like to do a big in-person reveal, I’m not posting pictures of it now. What I can show you is this round flower though I’ve forgotten its name:

And this sassy iris:

It has been a plant-centric month. Holding out as long as I could, I finally succumbed to the lure of a mown front yard. (I have to mow for the rest of the summer now, which displeases me.) Saturday, the new flowerbed was weeded and part of the raised bed was hoed. With the weather being unusually cold, the seedlings needed extra time and care. I also had to figure out which nursery I bought citronella plants from last year. I found it on my second try and learned how to propagate them. I mean, I don’t mind plants taking up my energy, but I am surprised they take so much.

There’s more work to be done in the garden and keeping the lawn up, but the basics feel scoped out so I can get back to concentrating on what I want to write and hone. The book I’d gone back to finish writing? Yeah, I hit the point where I was able to convince myself that I had the wrong MC and should stop before I went any further. I don’t know, essays are being plotted out in my notebooks. I’m reading. I’m watching movies. (Props to the Hamburg library – they’ve been doing me good recently. I’ve found amazing reads in their 7 day shelves) I’m soaking in the changing weather. If I could, I’d gift some of this stress-free time to Mary. The Zoetrope/Firefox has been resolved and I’m already diving back into Kim Chinquee’s “Hot Pants” room. The gracious Kathy Fish is hosting her Fast Flash Reunion room there next weekend. PitMad is on Thursday. There’s so much to look forward to in the coming month – and I don’t want to jinx it – but sometimes feeling obligated to write actually works to get it done…kind of like writing this blog once a month, you know?

Anyway, I hope you are feeling fine and know you are appreciated in so many different ways. You rock. You roll. You need to get out of here and frolic in freshly cut grass or some sand!

Thank you SO much for stopping by and for the read!

Cheers!    

It’s April and I’m vaccinated, how about you?

Ah, April, when I officially age whether I want to or not. This year, we went to Buffalo for a sump pump, which is just as celebratory as it sounds. Since then, I’ve had both vaccine doses, and on 11 May, I will be free to visit people I’ve missed. Fair warning: I believe I’ve forgotten how to human, so if I hug you and I normally don’t – or vice versa – let’s hope it’s a temporary hiccup in life and not a permanent change.

My head is deep into a story I like a lot. I’d sent chapters around to my group and they liked the characters, so knock on wood, Chris, Lettie, and Jason show up on your TBR pile someday. I will admit, being immersed in a different world helps pass the time while waiting to hear back from agents on my last book. Why did I choose to write again? Oh yeah, I didn’t. I wonder if anyone is doing research into the genetic blip that causes a person to become a writer. I’d race for a cure and fund that. Just kidding. I don’t like running. I don’t even like writing about running unless there’s a good reason – like a grizzly.  

Speaking of wildlife, new cat blends well into the surroundings, doesn’t she?

I’ve been out to admire the small flowers.

And the bulbs.

The furniture has been moved as closely to “summer” position as possible. We have a fire today, which is why everything isn’t in place. The slate has to be moved under the stove and the table I want at the end of the sofa will not fit until then, but otherwise, the house feels airier. I’m writing instead of submitting or querying, so my phone doesn’t often ping with notifications and the quiet is kind of nice.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. Hope to see you soon!*

Cheers!

*If you’ve had both your shots and waited two weeks for the full immunity to kick in.

An Eagle and the Moon

This March has reminded me of the charter Ebenezer Scrooge. Miserly, unkempt, and petty but redeemable after a few dreams. Not that it’s easy to sleep in now, spring is everywhere and insistent that attention be paid.

Crocuses dot the lawn

Turkeys march

The sky is blue and the subtle colors of tree buds abound.

I’m drawn outside, but so much of life happens online these days. The fabulous Kim Chinquee put together a reading for members of Hot Pants – a private room on Zoetrope’s Virtual Studio. Besides me and Kim, Avital Gad-Cykman, Pia Ehrhardt, Liesl Jobson, Joan Wilking, Eric Bosse, Gail Siegel, and Lydia Copeland all read. The link is here, if you’re interested. And if you were there, like the incredible Nina Fosati was, I thank you!

Writing has paused while a flurry of queries were released into agent’s inboxes. I’ve had a request for a partial and a full and I’m waiting to hear back from more. Since waiting is annoying, I signed up to participate in Camp NaNo – anything to keep my fingers from hitting refresh, it seems.

My first Pfizer shot is scheduled for 6 April, and Husband’s second dose is on the 9 April. I’m looking forward to seeing some friends in real life soon. Until then, there are trails to walk and the moon to chase.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

February’s Bracing Ride

For a short month, this February was packed. Two Star Review, a favorite piece of flash written during the summer of Tara and Pete was published in Emerge Literary Journal. The Rains went live in Fictive Dream as part of Flash Fiction February. If you haven’t yet, check out both of these places; they print some seriously decent stories and poems. I am grateful to have my work included in them.

Also, randomly out of Taipei, I received an invitation to talk about characterization. Todd Sullivan contacted me because he came across My Song for Majabin. During an interview, which you can catch here, I read part of the story and answer some questions.

Barrelhouse held a virtual conference and I was there for it. Great experience all around and I produced new drafts I’m letting sit for a bit. Editing is never done, but until some of it gets caught up on, I’m not working on new things…which can be problematic. Attempting to write this post yesterday, I ended up with a micro, two flashes, and the outline of an essay.

I absolutely adore the problems I have, including the creepy hand icicle…it may not be my favorite thing, but it didn’t grab me, so I’m good.

There was a lot of snow. Too much time was spent dealing with doctors, insurance companies and that ilk. Okay, I did have a few pleasant exchanges with one doctor, but that was a friendly with XO Man. Another bit of happiness was a long overdue chat with Mary Akers and Gina Detwiler. (Happy early birthday Gina!) Other awesomeness was the sanity and comradeship I so delighted in during weekly Zooms with the talented Nina Fosati. Thank you SO much for your friendship, loveliness, and being a bright light!  

So, March is howling at the door with both a reading and a check in/write in scheduled. I’m off to hone pitches for Thursday’s PitMad and then edit some more. Thank you for stopping by and for the read! I appreciate it!

Living in a material world with this cat

This is the last day of the month and I’m just now starting this post.  It’s not been a particularly great month. There was bad news, and then some more.  Silly me for hoping 2021 would be any better than 2020.

Rolling my shoulders, taking a deep breath, I’ll state that I am grateful for Husband. New cat kept breaching the baby gate that was there to keep her out of the library where I read, write, Zoom and exercise.

Yes, I could – and did – shut the door, but in doing so, the temperature drops. The solution? French screen doors. (Proper knobs were chosen and installed yesterday but no photos were taken of those.)

 I’ve been doing a lot of rewriting of the latest novel’s opening pages in response to books I’ve been reading lately. I broke down and bought Save the Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody, but Creating Character Arcs by K. M. Weiland was more insightful and easier to grasp. In the mix are The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines by Tami D. Crowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders a book I’d suggest to any storyteller and Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham, which is quite male oriented. I’m applying for fellowships and grants so Bev Browning’s Grant Writing for Dummies was dusted off, and since I’ll be querying again soon, Noah Lukeman’s The First Five Pages and Michael Hauge’s Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds are within easy reach. Spoiler alert: a lot of them contain the same information, but I’ve found that when and how you hear it makes a difference. Huge thanks to the esteemed Nina Fosati for her immense help and insight. Thanks also to Michael Parzymieso for his fresh eyes on the revision.

Tomorrow is the start of a new month. I’m hoping for brighter days and new growth. We were gifted an Aero Garden and pods for Christmas, so if new writing doesn’t grow, basil and chives will. Knock on wood.

As ever, thank you for stopping by and for the read. You are awesome, warmhearted, and witty!  Cheers!

A Merry Good Time to Exhale

Christmas was the day I felt some of the pressure leave my shoulders. There was nothing I could do about packages not making it on time, I’d locally delivered all the holiday treats, I even let Husband make the bed with the sheets wrong and let it go instead of redoing it. Cards were sent, food prepped, and vaccine shots were starting for emergency personnel. Letting go of this year is a physical relief.

Not having anyone over this year meant I could put off any deep cleaning that otherwise would have gotten done. Before Christmas, I pulled all of the books from the L in the library with the bigger fiction and the physical/societal/spiritual/financial books. Those shelves were cleaned and readjusted. Nothing is where I can find it and I found a different TBR pile to mirror the one I have in other stacks upstairs.

Christmas morning was scrumptious with sausages, pancakes, and mimosas. Thank you again to Gina’s husband for his syrup. We finally finished the syrup our neighbor gave us and opened yours!

I want to give a shout out to everyone who sent us cards; they do mean a lot to receive. This is the door we place them on to admire. Once we take them down, I’ll be putting a poster I got for Christmas on there. Thank you Michael!

Husband made me this:

See, when I do Zoom, I had a stack of books to set the tablet on for the correct height. Now, I have this platform with a place for the keyboard, making it such an upgrade in ease – and let, face it, beauty.

I’m not a “New Year’s resolution” type of person, never have been, but this year is hitting differently.  Had she lived, my mom would have turned 71 today. It’s weird to consider this since she passed away in 1997 at 47. I’ve outlived her by a few years. So has my sister. I didn’t get as much written, edited, or published this year and I’m kind of pissed at myself about that. I don’t need assurances, this isn’t a plea for pity, it’s a public acknowledgement of my personal feelings. Next year, I may publish less. Or more. I don’t know, but I’m cobbling together a list of goals I would like accomplish but I can’t make myself call them resolutions…not yet.

I do want to express gratitude to everyone at SMOLDR, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Blink Ink, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, HAD, and Milk Candy Review for believing in my work and publishing me this year. Thank you. You all helped me survive this insane year. So did the amazing friendships I have with Nina Fosati, Chyo, my Husband, well, I could spend all day making this list and then nothing else would get done but yes, you are on the list…you know you are.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. And on a deeply personal note, I doubt there are birthdays in the afterwards, but I hope my mom is having a happy day wherever she is. I miss her.

Cats, Dogs, and Cleaning

This month wasn’t filled with as much new writing as I’d hoped. Dread was pervasive; who knew sore winners would turn out to be lousy losers? I’m so sick of that noise. Perhaps that’s why I’ve returned to re-watching Gilmore Girls and hunkering down for another round of edits on a novel and some flashes.

The day before the election, a flock of bluebirds appeared in the south lawn. They didn’t get close enough to photograph well, but I enjoyed the rare sighting.

We also had a surprise visit from a troupe of kittens. One splatted. This one is still around, but shy. Another was injured, but I was able to catch it. Once in my arms, it turned into a love bug. I kept it alive overnight and due to “foster” being checked instead of “foster to adopt” on the SPCA form, the tech who treated it now owns that cat instead of me. Lesson learned, there…

Thanksgiving: The Meal was not photographed. This is the table, that was the wine:

I wasn’t expecting to be nominated for anything this year, and I was fine. Nina Fosati was nominated for a Pushcart and a Best of the Net and I was thrilled to be close to a nominee but then, the amazing Cathy Ulrich at Milk Candy Review put “The Thinnest of Veneers” up for Best Microfictions. I was speechless, and so darn grateful.  

Husband has continued with the basement clean up.

You see this corner? I’ve never been in this corner. He hasn’t been in this corner in decades. And now, there are shelves…

Tomorrow, the last month of this long year begins. Kobie has a surgery scheduled.

I guess I forget to tell him. Well, now I have to talk him down. I never should have told him about my blog.

Right, well, thank you for stopping by and for the read! I appreciate you! Cheers!

A little chat about characters in August

I can’t imagine a worse job than being a neurologist stuck trying to study the brain of a writer. Even the prefrontal cortex of a reptile is complex. Writers create characters and those characters have needs, wants, and desires. Some become so real, they “come to life.”

August tends to be the month where I get a lot of writing done because I can sit alone in cabana without radio or internet and focus on a story. After one of those sessions, one of Mary Aker’s characters stopped by. Atlas was…unbalanced in the book. (No doubt you’re thinking I am as I tell you this.) He asked if I remembered a fight scene in her book. I did. He told me he had a problem with it. I nodded at him with the wary respect I lend to forest animals. He went away.

The next time I was out there and getting ready to leave, he showed up again and asked if I’d spoken to Mary. I told him I hadn’t had time and rushed away. Mary happened to text a breezy, hi-how-are-ya-I-miss-you. I told her I’d been thinking about her book.

Atlas reappeared and told me he thought a certain baby was his. I told him he was mistaken. The sperm was from – he cut me off. He claimed it was switched. Or mixed. There was a chance that it was his. I told Mary this. We had a zoom with Gina, and the subject was brought up. We all hashed out possible plot twists. What if a Gloria switched the sperm and told Atlas about it in a certain scene – trying to keep from rewriting down. It was a weird but good exchange. I was done with the matter. I went out, worked on my own story, and Atlas stayed away – satisfied, I suppose.

Gloria waited until I was cutting up fruit for dinner to make her appearance. She likes Atlas. She can’t have children, but sees nothing wrong with taking Sylvia’s baby away when it’s born. If there’s one successful pregnancy, there would be another. Sylvia could use the sperm of the specimen she really wanted. What was 9 months of delay?

I find it all rather Meta that these shifty characters Mary created had a way to pop into my head for a chat. Are all the abandoned characters out there waiting for us to notice them again? Would a neurologist be able to explain away the phenomena instead? These are the things that have been on my mind.

Otherwise, I’m rewriting a book which is frustrating because two characters that had little to do with each other in the original are about to fall into bed – or shoot each other. Either outcome challenges the rest of the plot. Sigh.

Husband had another happy 45th birthday.

The garden is producing many tomatoes.

The dog

Went to the groomer.

The rose bloomed.

Wild grapes were picked.

There was a nocturnal visitor at the hummingbird feeder.

Another section of the house is being painted.

And thus concludes this month’s blog post. You are wonderful and full of grace. Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

July and Domestic Adjustments

This month, the fear of everything closing down again served as an impetus to get things done. We replaced our king-sized mattress with two extra-long twins and installed an air conditioner. Both were objectives we kept putting off and now that we’re both getting a good night’s sleep, we wonder why.

We put in another step on the walkway down to the south lawn. The Chipmunk of Doom was warned it was going to happen, but he doesn’t seem happy about it, does he?

Husband finished up the remaining drawer fronts in the kitchen.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

I believe this is a picture of the last bouquet I bought. Cheap flowers from grocery stores were one of the few things that kept me sane this spring. Now, it’s blooming season and these beauties greet me every time I walk out the door.

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The lilies take turns showing off their soothing brilliance.

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And the wildflowers in the far back are a delight. I brought this one in to identify and haven’t yet – but if you know what it is, please don’t hesitate to tell me at TLSherwood01@gmail.com

As ever, the garden is what it is and currently, it’s well weeded. The peas were wonderful and now the beans and squash are here.

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Inside, I made new cases and transferred the feathers from my pillows into them. It’s so nice to have plump and cushioning ones again. I’d used Husband’s sewing machine. In a flurry of texts, that to me still feel unreal, I’m the proud new owner of a Singer sewing machine in a cabinet. Many, many thanks to the marvelous XO Man for the amazing offer and gift.

It’s setup in the bedroom and when not in use it serves as a new writing spot and I’ve even used it to set up the tablet for a Zoom session with Gina and Mary.

Speaking of Mary, she sent a ticket for virtual Crab Con and I went to check out the platform she used. I stayed for the Baby Crab Cam and some interesting discussions as well as a video. It was fantastic! She also let me do a bit of ghostwriting. Thank you!

I managed to submit seventeen pieces this month and am thrilled to say my piece “The Thinnest of Veneers” will be published in Cathy Ulrich’s amazing Milk Candy Review later this year. It started from a prompt in Kim Chiquee’s Hot Pants Office. I’ve knocked out at least five rough drafts for new flashes and an essay. A few things happened that have given me fodder I plan to explore soon. It’s been a while since I’ve felt competent in my writing. (And as soon as I wrote that, I received a rejection. Ugh!)

The library reopened and so far I’ve read Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and  The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz. I’m catching up on stories in the New Yorker, too. I grew brave on a perfect day and visited with the spectacular Nina Fosati – outside and six feet apart. Not giving and getting hugs saddened me, BUT hopefully soon Covid will be in the past and we can all get back to whatever we choose to be a brighter and more humane normal. In the meanwhile, this creature tempts me to pet and to play, otherwise I’m sure I would have done even more this month.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. Remember, you are AMAZING and I probably miss you!

Later

I heard an analogy about how life is a juggle and you’re going to drop balls no matter what, so the trick is to keep the glass ones in the air.

Financial dealings are a glass ball of sorts, so in a banking snafu caused by Key Bank when some moron in a suit decided to fix one problem, he created annoying ones that others have to live with and therefore I got to spend time in a bank today. The problem is unsolvable, so I was searching for any payments linked to a card and in the process I came across a surprise email from a dear friend. Thank you Teresa Tucker – and the owner of Julie’s who took this cover photo! It is from May and I have a shiny rock to also remember this lovely dinner with great friends.

Well, the hour to compose a blog grows late, so this will have to be enough. I don’t need to sweep up glass shards on top of everything else, so off to the dishes I go. I’m full of gratitude today and wish the same for you. Thanks for stopping by and for the read. Cheers!

Ready for Mardi Gras; Even More Ready for Lent

How are you and I’m happy to see you here!

Well this month went fast. Until 6:45pm, it didn’t register that today was the last day of February. Speaking of which, if for any reason you are not reading Fictive Dream, you should. I am honored that Laura Black chose to include an experimental story of mine in Flash Fiction February alongside other fabulous pieces by Nina Fosati, Len Kuntz, Meg Tuite,  Jude Higgins, Rosie Garland— the whole month is stellar. Please enjoy them all and the accompanying artwork by Claudia McGill. I thought her piece paired perfectly with mine.

I finished the bird story and resurrected an old one. Most of it was written 10 years ago, but there was no ending. I thought about it, reread it, even swapped it with another author for insight (Fun fact – that author was Tommy Dean whose workshop inspired “All the Love You Cannot See Told in Three Parts.”) When On The Premises announced contest #39, I went back to it again, cut the first two paragraphs, rewrote the beginning, and the ending finally arrived. We’ll see how it does, but I’m happy with the outcome.

Last week I virtually attended Literary Cleveland‘s Flash Fiction Festival. It was a lot of fun, well organized, and it generated new work. Such gratitude to Executive Director Matt Weinkam, instructors Kathy Fish, Vanessa Chan, Lindsay Hunter, Desiree Cooper, editors Tara Isabel Zambrano, Amy Stuber, Scott Garson, Aaron Burch and all the fabulous people who were also attendees!  I plan to spend Lent with those drafts and revisiting some other work. I bought bins to organize and reduce. I’m thinking about pulling together a chapbook or two.Today, I sent three submissions. I won’t say I’m feeling upbeat because that might jinx it, but I’m setting goals.

Thank for stopping by!