Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Cheer and other odments

The differences between us were brought home to me this week. I was driving to a friend's house about 2 miles from home. The dirt roads were snow covered and kind of icy and I had to slow down to take a sharp turn up the hill to my friends drive. Of course I got about half way up the hill and couldn't get traction. I started to back down the hill and ended up in the snowbank at the side of the road.

Understand that this wasn't completely unexpected when I say the kids and I didn't get upset. Although the boys did say that if I had followed their directions I wouldn't have gotten stuck in the snowbank! I pulled out the essential cellphone and called my friend. I wasn't far from the house and they were on their way in a moment.

Now here is the amazing part. My friend was tromping down the road with a scarf on her head, the snow falling down and the biggest smile on her face. Not far behind was one of her sons - smiling as broadly. Not long after was the other son and the dad (my friend's husband) in his truck. Every one of them was delighted, absolutely thrilled to be summoned out of their house into the cold. Getting me out of the bank and up the drive (which they eventually did) could have been the highlight of their holidays judging by the looks on their faces. They joked and laughed and slid around having a grand ole time.

When I asked by friend about it later she said they were happy to rescue us. It was a break in their routine and getting us in out of the snow made them feel good.

If I was greeted by smiles like that every time I got into a pickle out here in the country I'd start driving off the road on purpose. I may have made them feel good but they made me feel like the Queen of England.

Friday, November 21, 2008


As it turns out, frost is not that easy to photo. The flash reflects back into the camera (duh!), and it's hard to get a sharp focus. Maybe I should have turned on the light in the hall - but I was trying to get the sunrise through the window. Well I have all winter to try and get it right!
Good news today, I was notified that my synopsis for moonlighting in vermont came in second in it's category (Romantic Elements) in the MERWA synopsis contest. Yeah! That's something anyway. This came the day before I was rejected by my all time dream agent. It was a very nice rejection, with an open door to submit another time, but it was still disappointing. I dared to dream. Well onward and upward, I will continue to submit moonlighting while I work on Tank and Maggie meet the mob.
Happy Thanksgiving all!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Winter, and the general tardiness of being

It would be great if I could claim the unbearable lightness of being, but unfortunately it's just poor time management skills. It's been, what? Two weeks since I updated my blog. I will be better I promise! Although as it appears that few people, if anyone actually read this, I may be just writing to myself. In which case no apology is needed. I already forgave myself.

Tomorrow, perhaps if I'm not overwhelmed and remember in the morning, I will post a picture of frost. You know those poems we read in grade school? Jack Frost painting on the window? Living most of my life in California I never really paid much attention. Maybe as a child living in British Columbia. But maybe not, too. Here in Vermont, where old houses reign and storm windows are the norm, frost is abundant. A window in the upstairs hall may not be clear again until spring comes in June. That is not an exaggeration.

The thing is, the reason people write about frosted windows, that they are really very beautiful. This morning, as the sun was rising that one window caught my eye. I should have run downstairs and grabbed my camera, but I thought it would be even better when the sun was up over the hill and shining on that window. Of course I got busy and didn't take the picture.

Tomorrow's another day.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Stephen King

Stephen King is an incredibly prolific writer.  An Raather, good at it too.  (Raather is on purpose, read it with a nasal snooty tone and you'll have it right.)  I sat up reading his book "On Writing"
the other night until waaay too late.  I find his writing very engaging.

Here's the rub.  I've only read a couple of his many novels, and those gave me nightmares. Consequently, I'm not likely to read any more.  It's a pity, but it can't be helped.  I have enough trouble with sleep without waking up screaming in the small hours.  Come to think of it, his non-fiction interfered with my sleep too.  Only in a good way.  Sort of.  I didn't get nightmares.  To the contrary.  But I ended up grouchy all the same.

This brings me back to the time issue.  There doesn't seem to be enough.  I'm not sure why.  Priorities I guess.  I have too many.  Need to pay  those bills.  Feed the kids.  Taxi the kids.  Should spend more time cleaning the house.  Make the costumes.  Meet the friends for Halloweening.  

It's the personal goals that get me in trouble.  Get the novel finished.  Read more.  (Stephen King says writers should be reading every day.  Reading every day?  I can't find time to write every day!)  Get the two stories I've got brewing in my head down on paper.  Send a note to my cousin who's recuperating.  Touch base with my Grandma and Aunts.

Are any of these less of a priority that others? No.  They are all important.  And all part of my job - of who I am in this world.  The trick is fitting it all in.  So maybe it doesn't matter if I read books that give me nightmares after all.  I'm destined to be short on sleep regardless.

And the timer signaling dinner is ready has been going off for at least three minutes!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Standards of Productivity

Finally, after another bout with the flu, and a number of other time sucking life issues, my wip (work in progress) has been line edited from beginning to end and all issues of continuity resolved.  Now it's all about getting those changes into the computer.

I want to hold myself to a higher standard of productivity.  I should be able to write five pages of new text every day.  That's easy, right?  Just sit your hiney down at the computer and write.  Wrong.  Life gets in the way.  As hard as I tried, I could not write one page when I felt like I needed to puke all the time.  Likewise when my kids are puking.  Just doesn't work.  Can't write while making a living, driving the car, having tea with friends or other life enhancing activities.

Hence the photo.  This is my lovely family playing flag football.  Notice the range of clothing - shorts and T-shirt at one end.  Full winter gear at the other! I'm glad I didn't miss this game.  We're at the tail end of fall and heading into winter here in Vermont.  Not many days like this one left.  You also can't write while taking photos.  But that's OK.  I write better under deadline anyway.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Time Management in the Mad House

I'll just start out by saying that time and I are not on a speaking basis.  It slips away from me. Disappears.  Is willfully disobedient.  More so if my kids are home.

So today, instead of re-reading a good portion of my novel I took two online seminars that both turned out to be useless.  I ferried my oldest daughter to play practice and then back again.  Picked up a good friend and took her to get her car - this is not wasted time, good deeds are exempt from the time waster rule.  I spent an hour at the playground with my youngest and her friend.  I placed an order for stuff I don't really need.

My book sits open to chapter 5.  Issues of continuity, disappearing characters and mysterious name changes unaddressed. 

The teachers are doing professional development.  Really I wish they wouldn't.  I'm already creative enough with my time.  I don't need my kids helping me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Snow Season

We are having our first snow of the season today.  On this date last year it was 77 degrees - or so the weatherman tells me.  I love the first snow but it seems early to me.  We haven't even had a killing frost yet, as you can see the grass is still green.  Maybe as I get older I'm not appreciating snow as much.
It's sort of like when I fell off a horse a couple of years past and knocked myself out.  After that I wasn't so keen to ride anymore.  I fell and whacked my head on the ice a few years ago and now I'm not so keen on the winter.
I am keen on napping, though.  And as I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open, I think I'll go take one.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Today's photos

Line Edits

There is no polite way to say this - line editing sucks. I hate the word sucks.  But in this case it's totally appropriate! I now have a list of words I'm never allowed to use again.  Why? I'm glad you asked.  I used Okay something like twice a page for the whole manuscript.  (OK, maybe not that much but you get the drift.  And look I just used it again!)  Then there's the word I.  Believe it or not there are other ways to begin sentences other than I did this, or I did that.  Huh!

When I judge contests one of my biggest complaints is wordiness.  Using too many words to convey an idea.  Now this is going to shock you, but guess what?  I'm wordy.  It's embarrassing

Friday, October 10, 2008

Burying the kitten

I buried a kitten today.   And as weird as it seems, I wished I were burying two.  The other kitten's body couldn't be found. how can you can get so attached to an animal in such a short time?  We'd had them for maybe four or five weeks.  it's one of those times when the external and the internal are so disparate that I feel cracked.

The past couple of days have been beyond gorgeous. Sunny, not too cool, with a breeze whirling the leaves from the trees.  The kind of beauty that fills you up inside.  It makes me marvel and nature's audacity.  And then Chili Pepper went missing.  We searched and couldn't find him, hoping maybe he'd turn up at the neighbors' or hanging out with Fat Cat who likes to roam.

Yesterday we came home from piano lessons to a dead kitten on the lawn.  Only it wasn't Chili, it was Callan's kitten Azule.  Callan was the only child I didn't see cry, although I'm sure she did cry in private.  The rest of us bawled.  The worst part is that it's pretty clear that one of our dogs killed her.  He's a big, dumb, baby of a dog.  Sheppard crossed with golden retriever.  I'm sure he was only playing.

I am just so angry with myself.  How could I  not realize Azule was at risk when Chili went missing?  I should have.  Our beagle kept chasing that chuckle head away from the kitten.  But it didn't occur to me that she knew what happened to Chili.  I should never have trusted that goofy dog.  I'm frustrated at my inability to see what might happen.

Today I dug a grave.  It was a fabulous day to be outside.  Even as I grieved I knew it was beautiful.  A fissure erupted inside me.  How can you enjoy life and feel such sadness at the same time?  It probably has something to do with being human.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Has it really been a week since I posted here? I guess I'm failing terribly at a daily blog! I drove across New Hampshire to the coast of Maine today. I'm here for a writer's conference. Came without my camera of course. I'm consoling myself by pretending the pictures would have never shown the actual beauty of the place. I know I'm repeating myself, but it may be another 10 years before we see a fall as spectacular as this one.

It's fun to hang out with other writers. I'm learning a lot about the business of publishing and crime writing in particular. Well off to bed, I want to be fresh in the morning.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rain on Friday

This is Vermont two days ago.  Today is grey and raining.  I pull into myself when the weather does this. 

I was driving east across Vermont yesterday - the colors were brilliant.  I cursed myself for not having my camera on hand.  This morning I remembered my camera and it rained.  So there you go.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Soccer Season

I love watching little kids play soccer.  Yesterday I found myself torn between the 3rd/4th grade game and the 5th/6th grade game.  The 5th and 6th graders play with a lot of heart, if not much accuracy.  A big 5th grader chested the ball and the smile didn't leave his face for the rest of the game.  It didn't matter his team didn't win, he'd done his part.  Don't get me wrong, these kids get plenty down when they don't win.  But there is pride in accomplishment as well as winning.

The 3rd and 4th graders a more of a mixed bag.  One or two of the team members play like the dickens.  Racing up and down the field, playing all positions at once.  Putting their bodies on the line.  The rest are luke-warm.  Dancing on the field or calling out messages to their parents.  One little 8-year-old seemed quite surprised when the ball came to her.  She was facing the right way and could have easily kicked it back up the field.  But no.  She swiveled her body around the ball and ran it deliberately right off the side lines.  The road of least resistance I guess.  At least she didn't turn all the way around and put it in her own goal.

Today I watched a Varsity Game.  Our team is made up of 9th through 12th graders - we don't have enough girls for a junior varsity team.  These young women amaze me.  They play with a ferocity and determination that is awesome to see.  We haul injured players out of every game, not because the coach is pushing them irresponsibly, but because they are determined to give back whatever the opposing team throws at them.  And there are some tough girls here in Vermont.

The Autumn is more beautiful each day.  I think it's been 12 years since I've seen Vermont show off like this.  Every day I drive down the road and curse myself for not bringing my camera.  Maybe I'll remember tomorrow…

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Periwinkle Daisies

OK, so they aren't really called periwinkle daisies, but I have no clue what they are so that's what I'm calling them.  I don't remember ever seeing them before this year.  I'm not sure if that's because they are new this year, along with the bumper crop of apples and cherries, or if they were always there and I never noticed.

I am noticing more this year.  A young cousin of mine was in an accident and while he's recovering I'm describing to him "Vermont as I see it."  Well you have to actually look at stuff, and think about how to define it if you want someone to "see" what your saying.  It's made me focus more on what is around me.  That is a real gift.

The sunlight has a hazy quality today.  From where I sit the sky looks clear, but I'm betting there are a few wispy clouds in front of the sun on the other side of the house.

The road passes very close to our house.  It's not widely traveled - maybe 10 cars a day at most.  Fewer in winter.  Today the tall grass growing alongside the our road makes it seem more like a cart path.  It's wider than it looks from my window, two cars can actually pass each other if they are careful, but from here the dirt looks scuffed and narrow.  I can see evidence of the horses that passed by yesterday.  It's so tranquil.  A shaded lane.  A magical path skirting my country home.  If you were lucky enough to stumble upon it you could find yourself here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Flu Fog

I'm finally coming out of the flu fog.  I should have realized when my youngest came down with it that I couldn't escape but I wasn't prepared for how fast it took me down.  Slept an entire day away.

Today is bright and Sunny, but also crisp and cool.  My favorite fall weather.  I love the fall more than any other season.  No bugs for one.  And the air has this wonderful quality about it, so clean. Al least after the killing frost when there aren't any allergens left floating around!  I think I ditch the computer and go spend some time enjoying the day.

Until later,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mice in the walls

When we moved into this old farmhouse the previous owner asked me to tell him if I ever found money in the walls.  The local myth is that old timers used to hide their money in the walls and ceilings of their houses.  Up to this very day I've been tempted to tear out a ceiling or two, partially because they are ugly as sin and deserve to be torn out, but also because some part of me is hoping that I'm rich and don't know it.

But today, as I sit here listening to the mice nibbling the inside of my 200 year-old-walls, I realized that it wouldn't matter if there had been a bundle of cash hidden somewhere in the house.  Even if there once was a wad of bills waiting to be found, by now the mice have chewed it into bedding for their babies and it's useless to me.


Monday, September 15, 2008

I've barely started and I'm already wondering if blogging is a good idea.  I use all the best experiences from my life in my novels.  If I've already written them here no one will want to read my novels.  They'd be full of PUS (previously used stuff.) Could my novels be obsolete?

OK - here is my REAL problem.  It's the title.  I'm supposed to put a witty or relevant label on each of my posts.  Yikes!  Most of the time I don't even know what I'm really writing about.  Besides that I write so late at night I can't even make sense of what I'm writing, much less label it.  The dang title looms so large that I haven't been able to make myself write in several days.

Maybe if I were to just number them?

Ah, well, moving on.  Yesterday was hotter and muggier that it's been in ages.  I don't think we had weather that obnoxious all summer.  I'm sure the grass must have grown and inch at least.  At 11 PM last night I was sitting at my computer sweating.  Gross.  I'm hope that's over with for a while.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Early Fall

Well it's turning cold again and the leaves are starting to change color in earnest.  This morning I went out to get the paper a little later than usual.  I think when I wrote you last time the sun hadn't come up over the hill yet.  Well today, when I rounded the apple tree and looked up at the hill the sun was just starting to hit the tops of the trees.  The rest of the hill was still in shadow and it was if the hill was topped with gold.
I ran inside to get my camera and when I got back the sun had moved so I was worried it wasn't as pretty anymore.  But I took a quick look at the photo and even I'm impressed!

Our new kitties went to the Vet yesterday.  (Did I tell you that the farmer down the road handed kittens to my kids?  That's all it took, of course.  Smart man.  Well maybe not so smart as he has about 50 cats and doesn't bother getting them fixed!)

Anyway the kitties names are Azul and Chili Pepper.  They are only about 5 weeks old according to the Vet.  Luckily they are eating hard food and doing fine.  Both are blue eyed and have long black and white coats.  It looks as if Chili may develop tiger stripes as he matures.

Well it's supposed to freeze tonight so I'd better go cover the pumpkins, tomatoes and peppers or they'll go squishy overnight.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dear Rob…

Wednesday, June 25

Amy and all,

I'm sorry to hear the news of Rob's accident.  Sending love and light in your direction and praying for the best.

Kate and the rest of the gang.

Why in the World…

In June my fourth cousin Rob was in a horrible accident that left him unharmed - except for a traumatic brain injury.  I've known Rob off and on since he was very little.  My older brother was in a motorcycle accident when he was 16 or 17 but luckily recovered from the same sort of trauma.  My own son has a medical condition that has required neurosurgery on a number of occasions.  

The connection here is that when I found out about Rob I felt compelled to reach out to the family in the only way I knew how - with words.  For weeks I've been sending tales of Vermont to  Rob and his family and until Rob tells me himself that he no longer needs the diversion I will continue to do so.

Meanwhile I'm going to reproduce my little taste of Vermont here - pretty much so that I can bolster my own sense of self importance!

- kate