Library

My intentions are paving the way to hell…

After a long break from scheduled blog posts, it didn’t occur to me that I’d post late, but here it is, Friday afternoon and I’m just now starting to write this.

And as I write, I’m enjoying the weather from inside the “cabana,” where I can’t see the frog pond, but I hear the activity. This is the view:

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Monarchs are flitting about as well as the deer fly and bees. The cotton woods are busily trying to copulate, their seed dances about and falls to coat everything with a soft haze of down.

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This is the first day I’ve had to truly enjoy the yard. I’ve spent most of the time away mowing, weeding, gardening, and watering the new trees – generally with Kobe nearby, smelling everything and generally being a happy and good dog. This weekend we’ll be getting 5 cords of wood, so I’m glad I have a few minutes to sit and relax. Kobe is underneath the swing, patient and observant.

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Monday, I made a careless mistake/had an accident and went to the doctor’s office instead of the ER. Suffice it to say, I learned a lesson and will be far more diligent with the wood splitter in the future. Nothing broke, but my index finger on my left hand was squashed enough that I’m certain the nail will fall off. It is disgusting to look at – I shan’t share the image.

Prior to that bit of fun, I read Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” which was quite good. It took me longer to finish than I anticipated so I have to return “The Female Persuasion” tonight and sign up for it again. Had I not read last night, I would have been FINE not finishing it, but the main character just left Faith’s house after the weekend stay and I just found out why she had a million messages on her phone when she was out of range. Oi! Sad news!

Writing wise, the biggest thing is the acceptance by Bacopa Literary Review for a flash called “Pirouette.” As I understand it, I’ll be paid for it which is always lovely. I wish I had money to pay all the writers “I” publish at r.kv.r.y. and Literary Orphans, but, alas, I don’t and that sucks, but I love the work that is accepted and try to show it on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ve made it to several “write-ins” with Gina at Spot Coffee and even squeezed in a few hours at home so I have some new work to hone and submit. I’m rather fond of a piece called “The Eaves;” I aimed high with that one. Oh, and the Bellevue Literary Review sent a personal rejection with both praise and suggestions for my “Southern story.” I’m batting it around, sprucing it up, letting it sit, tackling it again.

Tomorrow is my last shift at the library before the summer break. Tonight is another meeting of the Hamburg Writers’ Group where I’ll get a chance to see Nina and the others. I plan on reading a flash tonight that I’m submitting for a contest. I’d had the premise for the story and the first few lines for years but could never get it to go. Sometimes a prompt is the prompt you need to finish something.

 The mail is here, so I’ll gather my things and get ready to post thing. I’ll see some of you soon and I can’t wait! Everyone else, I’ll be back here in two weeks – more or less. That’s my intention anyways…

 Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

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I was Vanderwalkered in a Schoolhouse

I’m still catching up on the laundry from the family reunion in Essex over the fourth. I think it was Angela who summed it up best for all of us who aren’t blood related:

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“Champy,” the monster of Lake Champlain, was spotted and photographed.

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I tried to visit the library in Essex–which is right beside a creek, like mine is–but it had funky hours.

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We also toured Edward Cornell’s Art Farm.

Last night, as I was speeding down old 219 toward home after the “Donut Hole” rehearsal and a B.o.b. campaign meeting, three banging songs came on the radio–all in a row. “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna, “Come With Me Now” by the Kongos, and “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode. Different channels, but still. Anyways, careening around those curves at dusk, volume up, I was in control–but going too fast. It flashed that this is the way my life is going right now and I couldn’t be more delighted.

I’m juggling a lot of things and if I blink, I’ll have added a new chainsaw to the rotation. If you ask if it’s too much, I’ll tell you I’m fine. I am. I know this will peter out or a crash will happen, but until then, I’m “alive” in a way I haven’t been in a while.

I have the 10 minute play by Donna Hoke I’m directing which is going well, but that’s over on Saturday. The campaign didn’t raise enough funds so the Iowa trip has been delayed. I’m preparing the second round of questions for Beth Gilstrap‘s interview for The Tavern about her book, I Am Barbarella. I participated in a writing “joust” and had a ton of fun with that. I’m cranking out new flash pieces since being invited into the “Hot Pants” office in Zoetrope, plus writing a new book in 20 page increments. The garden is weeded and if the rain stops, I’ll get the weedeater going.

Right, so I should be getting on with it. Maintaining swiftness and busyness is a temporary thing, but while it’s going on, I am enamored with that sense of power over my own life. Yes, I know that’s delusional, but it is a nice delusion to have.

 

(These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

Stops, starts, strange changes, and such…

With the addition of Kim Chinquee to our novel critique group, both Gina and I decided to submit new work instead of continuing with the books we had been working on. The next time pages are due, I’ll be busy with travel and appointments so I’ve been working on my pages. I have a good start on this new book and I know where it ends, but to get there is going to be interesting. Coming out of the flash workshop adds to my delight since I can take my time and explain things instead of compressing every nuance. Thank God!

 
The library’s summer hours began, so I’m out of there until September and yesterday was my last day mentoring. It worked out beautifully as I was able to attend the concert where Isabella and her friend Amy played. I am going to miss them—and being mistaken for a substitute teacher. Yes, the double loss of free Wi-Fi spots is going to suck, but I’m playing with the idea that the loss will make me concentrate on the new book and revising the last one. Hey, it’s possible.

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The water lily in my frog pond bloomed. Thank you, Christy! I see frogs on there all the time, so I’m thanking you on their behalf, too.

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Otherwise, the garden is doing well. Peas are growing and soon I’ll need to thin out the squash plants.

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Husband reworked the sides of the driveway bridge this weekend and we have a plan on how it will look when we’re done.

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Eck! I don’t want to get into the ineptitude—let me correct that by saying the continued ineptitude—of certain Erie County departments and car dealerships, so I won’t. I’ll try to resolve those issues before I vetch about them here, but really, I am angry that people are more interested in making excuses than solving problems. I mean, if it’s your job to fix things—fix them. How hard is that to understand?

 
Whatever.

 

By the by, I hope everyone will join me in a toast to XO Man and his new bride. Cheers to them. I was thrilled we were invited to the ceremony, sad we couldn’t make it, but so happy for them both. Mazel Tov!

 

I’m having a fun time reading an advanced copy of “I Am Barbarella” by Beth Gilstrap. I have the privilege of interviewing her soon for The Tavern. I swear I love my job.

 

That is not the only thing I’m reading of course, but that one I’ll be posting about in the future—and I was on her site today—she gave me ideas on how to spruce up mine.

 

So, I guess that’s it for this post. Some things have wound down, others are ramping up—life. I guess that’s how it goes.

Thanks for stopping by to read my Creekside reflections. I trust your experiences will vary.

Pictures from a Reading

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Me!

T. L. Sherwood

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Gunilla Theander Kester

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Mrs. Morse reading George Morse’s Story

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Susan Lynn Solomon

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Trudy Cusella

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Mike Rera

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Gary Earl Ross

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George Morse, me, and his wife

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By the fireplace with Joanie Long

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Nancy Leone and Gary Earl Ross

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This is the book that was launched at the West Falls-Colden Library on 15 February 2014

Queen City Flash

Many thanks to all that attended.

Photos by Husband

(These are some images of my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

The Holidays. *Sigh*

Since last I wrote, things started out quite lovely. I got an acceptance from Matter Press for my piece, “I’m Calling Him Skippy,” about a woman who rescues a dog from bad owners. At about the same time, Husband called from Adoring Pets with sad news. While I assumed that the dog would cost us a million dollars, I didn’t think she’d die. What the one vet thought was a minor issue, was in fact cancer. It’s not in her lungs yet, but even with surgery (keeping her cast dry in this weather? Really?) and drug treatment there’s only a 48% chance she’d be alive in a year.

If you met Tye, you know how sweet she is and we can’t do that to her. On Monday, she’ll be going into work with Husband. Mondays suck anyway, and before Christmas is somehow better then afterwards…

Nancy, my friend from the Playwright Workshop, and I had plans to go see Gary Earl Ross read that night. Mr. Ross selected my piece, “Wildflower Wishes,” to include in the Queen City Flash anthology, and I hoped to pick up my copy that night, but with that news, and the snow, we didn’t go.

The snow…it’s been unbelievable. I didn’t go shopping last week, nor did I go to the library because the driveway was filled with snow. I’d shovel and later it wouldn’t look like I’d been outside. Husband got the driveway under control on Saturday, and then Sunday, we drove to Grandma’s house. I had no idea how hard the dog’s illness was going to be. Grandma doesn’t hear very well. I couldn’t tell her this was Tye’s last visit. It broke my heart to see Tye look up at her and hear my Grandma say, “It’ll be all right,” because no, it isn’t. 

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I had a short story accepted at Page and Spine. The bonus for that is I’d just had it rejected by Carve. If you have a piece rejected by Carve and it’s published elsewhere, they link it from their site. Maybe it will get them to look closer at the piece I have under consideration there now.

I was working on my novel yesterday waiting for Husband to get home when I heard something in the driveway. He was stuck. Our most awesome neighbor came with his tractor, cleared the driveway and got Husband’s truck out of the mushy part of the lawn. Thank you Bill!!! The thing was, I looked out the window, saw him stuck and thought, “Are you kidding me? Another crappy thing to deal with?” I have forgotten to mention that I got a call from my credit card company. My card had been stolen. So yeah, that was even more fun added to the mix. Today, on the news I found out it was most likely from the Target theft. Fun.

The holiday letter and cards are being sent out today, one of the latest send offs, but I just finished them last night after Husband’s company Christmas Party at J. P. Fitzgerald’s. It was a nice party. I sat by Trish and she and I talked about her work, her trips to Haiti, and her daughter’s writing. Paul and Kim were at our table, as was Tessa, and the old assless chaps joke came up once again. How can a party be bad when the conversation includes discussions of juice boxes and assless chaps?

So, I have more cookies to make and I need to finish up my twenty pages to send to my awesome novel critique group today. I hate being this late with things, but then again, I had no idea we’d have this much snow, which led to fewer shopping days. No, what it is is that I had no idea how much I love this dog and it pisses me off that she isn’t going to be around anymore. Screw it. I have cookies to make. I hope your holiday–if you celebrate one–is fantastic and blessed and bright. Here’s looking to a better New Year.

 

(These are just my creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

I’ll quit drinking and we’ll stop speaking.

Doesn’t that sound promising?

I’m just about ready to stop drinking for good AND demand everyone else do that too so we can all be on even ground when we interact.

And how were your past two weeks?

I’ve been practicing the “wear a smile, you’ll feel better” exercise and it does seem to be working. Really. Even with this seemingly unending pile of rejections and disappointments, I do feel a bit better. I swear.

By the end of today, the garden should be completely planted and weeded. We’re supposed to have decent weather this weekend and with any luck, the other bed should get tilled and then the clover can be planted. Yeah! My sister brought me two broccoli plants which are now in a big pot and they’ll go in the resting bed as soon as possible along with the peas. I’m hoping for a good second crop since I couldn’t get the first planting in this year.

Aside from the “smile even though your life is a crap heap” exercise, the biggest thing going on is that I have new goals. Mary Aker’s book launch is on 21 September at the Roycroft. I’ve already bought my ticket. That gives me a few months to get my act together. The library I volunteer at is going to summer hours so I’ll be able to achieve my Camp NaNo goals a little bit easier in July, and I’ve made it halfway through “Campus Crimes” with edits. Not too shabby.

So the next time we meet, I’ll be a few days into Camp NaNo. I wonder if I’d like going to camp so much if I’d ever gone to one as a kid. This go round, I’m planning on essays and short stories. If I manage the not drinking by then, in the evening hours I’ll be editing the hell out of the book I wrote for April’s Camp NaNo. Plans are such beautiful, encouraging, elusive things.

Oh, the title of this blog was culled from a poem I wrote twenty years ago. Part of it goes like this:

I’m a perfectionist
and if I do things badly
I don’t want to do them at all.

I never could get drunk right,
so I’ll quit drinking and
we’ll stop speaking.

No. I don’t want to explain the circumstances that brought about that poem into being or anything else that’s bothering me… So, go on with your awesome lives. Be pretty. Be smarter than I am. Pay attention. There may be a test you didn’t study for…

(*These are just my slightly nutty creekside reflections after two weeks of things going off in directions I wasn’t expecting. Why I ever think things will settle/calm down is beyond me. Your experiences may vary. I should hope so.)

One Trip Leads to Another

This week I feel as though things are returning to what passes for normal. Our regular postal carrier is back, I volunteered at the library on Saturday, a few rejections have rolled in, I read the NY Times on Sunday, etc. but now it’s time to make a list and pack a few bags.

Soon after I arrived in Boston, my brother-in-law suffered a heart attack. It was scary and surreal. I thought my niece and I would be changing plans and leaving for Pennsylvania, but we didn’t. The blockage was removed. A stent was put in. He made it to a medical facility in time…

Rachael drove home this past weekend. Husband and I are going this weekend. We’re going to visit and make sure he’s ok.

I talked to him last week. He called his heart attack a “wake-up call.” I wonder how far he’ll take it. He’s quitting smoking (again) and choosing better foods. I think it’s a great start, but he confessed he had a beer already. I thought it was a bit too soon.

Currently, I’m on the “preachy” side of sobriety where I am well aware of what drinking does–and doesn’t do–for me. I stop drinking every year for Lent. Somehow, it is easy. Then I restart. Searching in old notebooks for notes on Ellie’s Elephants, I came across a thought last year that maybe last year would be the year I just stop drinking for good. I’ve had the same thought this year, too, but I sense the reason I do restart is that it makes life easier.

This realization is a complaint of sorts, but I don’t think I’ve made it before. Being away from home during Lent let me see things in a different way. Yes, Husband is not a neat person. I don’t think it would kill him to help a little more. Nothing drastic–just not rip open the shower curtain so the hooks come off the rod OR hooking them back on when he’s done. Little tiny things. I know I ask him to do these things and occasionally he’ll remember to, then he forgets. I think I go back to drinking so these things bother me but I can block them out, get up the next day, notice more minor irritations, block them out or sleep them off and begin again.

Sad, isn’t it?

Right now, I think it is sad, but, will I turn that realization into a “wake-up call” for my life? I don’t know…

What I do know is that I’ve gotten a milder wake-up call–a nudge really–from a few places about my own poetry. I received a few higher tiers and a personal rejection in the past two weeks. A writer friend wrote “…however, you are a poet; prolific it seems to me, but you don’t let the poet come out very much in your workaday writing…” I had decided to be mad at him for that, but a story I read for r.kv.r.y had me look at something in a way I hadn’t considered before, so maybe being a “poet” is what I’m trying to recover from, or block out or choose not to deal with because poets rarely get respect, let alone paid, and then a poetry submission to r.kv.r.y. from someone I briefly met in Boston came in and showed me beauty and passion with a few words so perhaps–this is just my sobriety speaking–perhaps being a poet wouldn’t be the most tragic thing in the world ever to happen to me if I decided to pursue it. Maybe.

* These are just my creekside reflections. Your epiphanies may vary.