Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

Trying to keep up with two kids instead of the usual one has kept me away from my computer, so I'm just popping in to wish everyone a happy New Year! I'll be back in action after the holidays and after my son goes back to school.

Meanwhile enjoy this lovely rendition of Auld Lang Syne!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Honest Scrap

I have been nominated for the Honest Scrap Award by my blogger buddy, Kelly.

“Scrap means left over, discarded material. Many times truth and honesty are discarded material, considered fragments and left over. This award is for people that tell it like it is, and let the scraps fall where they will. There are 2 guidelines for receiving this award. One, you are to list 10 honest things about yourself. Make them interesting, even if you have to dig deep. Two, present the award to other bloggers.”

Ten honest things about me are –

1. I knew I was going to marry my husband on our first date—drinking coffee and talking about Rousseau and family for five hours. Oh, and I asked him out.
2. I tried to “pick him up” by making him play the Sentence Game.
3. My biggest fear is that someone will break into my house in the middle of the night and steal my kids away.
4. I weep every time I hear the Beatles' song "Yesterday".
5. I trained for a triathlon when my son was a year old. However, instead of participating on the day of the event, I went out for pancakes.
6. I actually completed a half marathon!
7. I am an obsessive calorie counter.
8. My favorite song to sing Karaoke is Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”.
9. I dread talking to people on the phone, and I practically freak out when I have to talk to strangers.
10. I never know what to say to people in casual conversation—all of my best friends have been excellent conversationalists.

Whew. That wasn’t so bad.

I tag Tabitha, Mary L., and Marva.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Heat Miser

This time of year we get to revisit all of those classic “specials”—holiday programs—that we watched when we were kids. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year”, “Jack Frost” and of course “Frosty”. My all time favorite is “The Year Without a Santa Claus”. Not only does it have the best song, “Blue Christmas”, that makes me weep every time I hear it, but it has some of the best characters too. What would the Christmas season be without the Snow Miser and his fiery brother the Heat Miser? Their constant bickering with a bit of intervention from their mother—Mother Nature of course—always makes me laugh. And now my kids get to watch and laugh with me too.

My son, who is home sick with me today, poor guy, suggested that the Heat Miser’s idea of having a green Christmas isn’t so bad. I have to say, when it’s fifteen degrees outside and the wind chill is fourteen below, I have to agree. Imagine a winter without pulling on seven layers of clothes only to run to the grocery store! Or playing outside without having to worry about frostbitten toes!

But then I think about Christmas morning, with the pink sun rising up over the forest behind my parents’ house, glistening like diamonds on the blanket of white snow. Isn’t that better than the sun coming up over wilted brown grass—not very holly jolly. And how would we play Fox and Goose without the snowprint circle to run around?

I guess we’ll have to get used to the Snow Miser’s chills. Maybe we can cut a deal with Jack Frost and that silly Groundhog Pete to let spring come a bit earlier?

Monday, December 8, 2008


This morning, a friend wrote about Character on her blog Writer Musings. She nicely summarized a presentation given by Martha Mihalick at the Prairie Writers’ Day conference we both attended in November.

I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird, which is a great guide to writing, and I just happened to read the chapter on character. Maybe the fates are telling me that I need to get to know my character better. I thought I’d pass on some questions that she writes that would help us to understand our characters better.

How do they stand?
What do they carry in their pockets or purses?
What happens in their faces when they’re thinking, or bored, or afraid?
Whom would they have voted for last time?
Why should we care about them anyway?
What would be the first thing they stopped doing if they found out they had six months to live?
What sort of first impression do they make?
What do they care most about, want more than anything in the world?
What are their secrets?
How do they move? How do they smell?

There are more, but this is a great place to start. Once you get to know your character, not everything needs to be revealed to the reader, but some of the details will come out in the story. What’s important is that your characters are complex and real.

Now, I need to go get to know Victoria better.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Poetry Friday: Brrr!

Yesterday I took my kids sledding. Their cheeks were pink and their eyes glowing as they spooned marshmallows off the top of their cups of cocoa. This morning the weather channel said it was 7 degrees! Brrr! When it’s so cold outside, I long for the warmth of the strong sun, the humidity of the beach, and the cool of the pool.

For Poetry Friday, I’m going to share a beachy poem I wrote when my son was a baby.


They swoop and spin
Together in a spiral
An air dance
A dive
A swirl
A cry
They lift their feathers
They gently land
All together
As quietly as the wind
That carries them

Then still
They sit
And look about
And suddenly
Swoop and spin

Monday, December 1, 2008

Here Comes the Cheese!

I know it’s hard to get back into the swing of things after a holiday when we have so many exciting things to think about—decorating our homes for Christmas, shopping, digging out our boots and hats after the first snowfall, wondering where those four pounds came from and why they settled right there… So, here’s a little writing exercise for those of us whose thinking caps are clogged with leftover turkey gravy sandwiches. Time yourself for five minutes, ala Natalie Goldberg, and write about all the things that you love. Don’t worry if it sounds silly, and don’t edit, just keep your hand moving!

Some of the things I love…

I love California. The beach at Malibu where my son spent the happiest day of his life, digging and drawing unrecognizable shapes with a random stick, chasing after seagulls, hoping for a glimpse of dolphins or whales. Santa Barbara’s pier and seal lions, the pink sun setting over the Pacific. Mendocino’s craggy waterfront, the sea caves and witch-broom-kelp, the Tiki head and spouting whales, and the lighthouse in the distance.

I love sledding. That anticipation just before you plunge over the edge for the first time—even though you’re thirty-six years old and you’ve done it a million times. I love the thrill of snow flying in your face as you speed down the hill and then the successful landing. I love the tingle in my pink cheeks when we finally go inside and pull on dry socks.

I love walking in the rain and in the dark especially when I’m sad, because the sap in me believes that at least the sky understands me.

I love spaghetti night! I love thin spaghetti steaming with plain red sauce and loads of parmesan cheese melting and giving texture to the noodles, and a side of hot buttered wheat toast, because I know that the kids will eat it.

And that’s it. Five minutes—if not great writing, at least you are writing!