Today’s Highlights

  • I got up early enough this morning to pack Livia a lunch for her field trip and to coat her in sunscreen before she left. Whew!
  • After the kids left, I remembered to write my Morning Pages, and I could feel the stress and irritation bleed off as I was writing.
  • In the afternoon my husband and I washed our first load of dishes in our new dishwasher. The dishwasher is so much fancier and quieter than our old one. I think I might be in love.
  • While we were loading the dishwasher, we questioned the way we put the dishes in. We’ve always put glasses between the tines, but what if you’re really supposed to (as so many people do) put them over the tines? A quick search on the Internet verified that we’re right. Hooray! It would totally bug me to find out that I’d been doing it wrong for years.
  • The green bees were out in big numbers again today. So beautiful!
  • I played my piano. My repertoire is shaping up. It’s not quite where I want it yet, but I’ve made progress.
  • The only downside to the day was that work didn’t go so well. But, since work usually gets more time and energy and attention than anything else in my life, boo-hoo. I’ll more than make up for it next week.
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My Life This Week

1. My dishwasher has been out of commission for several days. The stack of unwashed dishes keeps growing, and I’m going a little crazy. It’s not that we can’t hand-wash our dishes (obviously I’ve had to wash some of them), but we’re not really set up for it anymore. So we’ve been ordering a lot of takeout and eating off of paper plates. It’s funny to remember how my younger self resisted using a dishwasher and only learned how to because the boyfriend (now husband) was so keen on it. Now I hardly know how to manage without it.

2. Yesterday I got up early, got dressed, drove down to the Dunkin’ Donuts, and bought some donuts and muffins. It felt good to be out and about and wearing real clothes. The kids enjoyed their special breakfast. But the best part of it was breaking my daily routine.

3. I took all the novel-related writing from my tree journal and put it into Scrivener. I now have 44K words, most of which won’t go into the novel. Either I’m cleverly crafting the foundation of the novel by focusing on the characters and the setting, or I’m cleverly avoiding doing any real writing. I’m not sure which it is. Or maybe it’s both? I guess time will tell.

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More Ways Than One

I said the other day that I liked to watch all of the flying insects in my yard. That’s not technically accurate. I do not like mosquitoes, and I particularly dislike them when they come into my home to bite me. They congregate around the house, waiting for us to open the door. The moment we do, they swoop in. It pisses me off. I don’t want to kill them, but they leave me no choice. I do feel a brief thrill of victory when I clap one out of the air, but I don’t get to enjoy it, because it’s immediately followed by the realization that I have mosquito guts on my hands. Ew. Mosquitoes suck in more ways than one.

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SITY: Green Bees

There is one species of insect that appears to be doing well in my yard this year: green bees. I saw many of them on Sunday while I was outside taking pictures. According to Wikipedia, green bees live in rotten logs, which may explain why their numbers seem to be up. We have an abundance of rotten logs lately.

Green bees look golden in the bright sun.

Green bee digging into a hawkweed flower.

Green bee on common speedwell.

Green bee walking away at the end of the day.

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SITY: Curious Wasp

I enjoy watching all the winged insects flying around my yard, even wasps with scary-sharp tails. This picture wasn’t good enough, though, so I moved in to get a closer look.

Huh. This is a very nice shadow picture, but where is the wasp?

Zooming out reveals the answer. There he is at the top, climbing onto my lens! Maybe he was as curious about me as I was about him. Or maybe I just got a little too close. No worries, though. I blew him off the lens. Then he and I each went back to our respective lives, unharmed.

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Ten Reasons to Finish My Novel (Even Though I Hate Writing)

1. Fame: Fame is a big reason why some people want to write a novel. Not me. I think fame sounds unpleasant. However, I wouldn’t mind being just successful enough to have a chance at meeting some authors who are famous. J.K. Rowling is not going to invite me to tea right now, but if I were to write a book that she liked, then who knows? As far as goals go, “Meeting J.K. Rowling and Other Favorite Authors” is both silly and unrealistic. A girl can dream, though, right?

2. Fortune: Fortune is another common goal for writers, but not for me. I know several published authors. If they’re rolling in the bucks, they hide it well. So I’d have to be a fool to believe that merely publishing a book would make me rich. However, I wouldn’t mind a little extra money. How about enough for the “Vacation of a Lifetime” or for putting a “Fret Not, Dear Lady” buffer of cash in the bank? That doesn’t sound too unrealistic. If we’re allowing unrealistic goals, though, let me say that I’m not averse to wealth. I would, in fact, like to be rich.

3. Glory: Writing a novel is a major challenge, and I would love to be able to say I’d done it. This is a realistic goal, since I’m the only one who has to be satisfied, and all I’m asking for is the finished work. “You’ll hate yourself if you don’t write it,” I keep reminding myself. I’ve always believed that I could write a novel. If I died without writing one, I’d feel like an ass for not having proven myself. This is my strongest motivation, so it ought to be #1. But I’m too lazy to reorganize this list, and “glory” usually gets listed after “fame” and “fortune” anyway.

4. I’ll Show You!: I’m sure we’re not supposed to admit to this, but sometimes other people make us feel bad, and one way to get revenge against them is to out-succeed them. If you write a novel, you can say to them (and to any demons that may be flittering about in your head), “I am much too successful to be concerned with the likes of you!”

5. Living the Writerly Life: There is a collective fantasy we all have of the “writerly life.” It varies slightly from person to person, but it goes roughly like this: The writer is brilliant, witty, and much sought-after for social occasions. They’re eccentric, perhaps even crazy, but that’s to be expected from a genius (i.e., their behavior, from bizarre to bad, is forgivable because they’re artistes). They have their own special hideaway (an atelier, perhaps) where they work like maniacs when inspiration strikes. You had better not interrupt when the Muse is in the house! Other people take care of the writer so that they can focus on their craft. The writer is consequently free to do anything they like as long as they turn in a manuscript from time to time, or until the money runs out. I am totally into this idea, but I want the happiest, most comfortable version of the writerly life (i.e., less alcoholism, more hygge).

6. The Stories: I’ve got stories in my head, and they are stories I want to read, but no one else can write them. Writing them for myself is not a perfect solution. I can never enjoy my own work the same way I enjoy the work of others. But maybe, somewhere out there in the world, some other reader is waiting for the same story. Wouldn’t that be cool?

7. Constructive Outlet: I am crazy. I worry incessantly about everything, and nothing. I believe that my overactive imagination is part of the problem. I’m always thinking “What if? What IF? WHAT IF?” A novelist’s job is to think about what-ifs, so I was practically born to be a novelist. Craziness + Writing = Great Novel. Everybody knows that.

8. Communication: All my life I have struggled to communicate with people. I’m shy, and I express myself poorly in conversation. I would like to see how well the novel works as a form of communication. A novel is, in some respects, just another way to share your ideologies and experiences. If it sounds a little egotistical (because it presupposes that other people will care what I think), that’s OK. Only an egotist would write a novel. Everybody knows that, too.

9. Leaving Something to Posterity: Of course I like the idea of writing a novel that people want to read for generations to come, but I think it’s unlikely to happen. That makes it a poor motivator. But, if I could write something that my children would want to keep, that would be great, and it is a much more realistic goal.

10. Understanding Life: This is the hardest list item to put into words, but I’ll try. Life is strange and complicated. I don’t always understand it, and I often feel confused. When I’m writing, I remember things that I’d forgotten and I learn things that I didn’t know I knew. So writing helps me understand life better. My novel will be a collection of things that I’ve learned, stitched together with stories from my life, and it will be an anchor for me when I’m feeling adrift.

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Sacred Pens and Holy Notebooks

Speaking of “sacred pens” and “holy notebooks” . . .

If you’re going to write a lot, you need a good pen. Some of my journal entries from 2017 have faded badly, perhaps because they were exposed, if only briefly, to direct sunlight. Not that I wanted to keep those particular pages, but you never know when you will want something to last. The fading proved that I needed a better pen with better ink.

And sometimes it’s nice to have a special notebook to write in. While I was shopping for Christmas presents for the children last year, I found a great journal. It features a picture of a tree with golden cogs inside. It was so metaphorically perfect for my novel that I had to buy it. I didn’t even look at the price.

Somehow my husband knew I needed a new pen, and he magically picked one to go with my new notebook, and here is the result.

New pen on new notebook (pen by Cross, notebook by Peter Pauper Press). Both the ink and the paper are archival quality.


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The Four “R’s” of Writing

Sometimes when I’m free-writing in my journals, I start to see relationships between words that I never noticed before. One day I found that you can put the homophones right/write/rite/write together to make a little piece of advice:

It’s right to write. Make it a rite, and you’ll be a wright.

Of course, making writing a rite could be difficult. You need the right things to set the right tone. Where does one buy sacred pens and holy notebooks?

Just kidding!

All you have to do is write “religiously.” 😉

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Always Remembered

It’s dangerous to leave your journal lying around, because someone might read it.

Or they might write in it!

Livia got a lot of blisters on her hands. Most of them did not pop, but two did. She had seven blisters in all! (shared with permission)

Hmmm. Maybe I should leave my journal laying around more often. Maybe it’s a good way to keep up with what’s going on in my daughter’s life! 😉

Not that the journal was necessary in this case. She had a really impressive crop of blisters on her hands. They were raw and painful.  She required hugs, bandages, and even some ibuprofen to get through the ordeal. And now, because she wrote it down, we will always remember it. That’s why we keep journals (and blogs), right?

P.S. I rewrote this post. Upon reflection, I felt that the original post could give the impression that I had disregarded Livia’s privacy. She allowed me to share her writing. The kids are both old enough now to choose whether or not I may share their art and writing. I even asked their permission before I posted my Mother’s Day gifts. For now, it amuses them to be included on my blog. If that ever changes, I guess I’ll just have to find other things to post about.

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Today I found out what was wrong with my car. It wasn’t just a problem with the ABS system. It was a brake fluid leak. Scary. So I’m feeling especially grateful that it happened where it happened and that I was able to stop the car safely.

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