I talked Livia into trying some of Roald Dahl’s books. She liked them. Here’s one of the notes she wrote to let me know.

Livia loved James and the Giant Peach

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Banana Blues

There are few things as disgusting as an under-ripe banana. It’s technically edible, so it won’t kill you. The combination of icky taste and texture just might make you with you were dead.

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Limited Progress on List

I have a long to-do list for the weekend. I didn’t get much of it done today. Mostly I cleaned the kids’ room, which wasn’t on the list, but it needed to be done. I also did laundry and dishes, which were on the list, but I always do those, so they don’t feel like great accomplishments.

It now being 6:00, I’m not going to get much else done. I will feed the kids and then collapse into a heap in front of a book or the television for a few hours. After that, I’ll go to bed.

I hope I am able to get more done tomorrow, but I doubt I will. The Father-Daughter dance is next week, so I have to take Livia dress shopping. And shoe shopping. That will take up much of the day, and probably all of my patience.

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Paper Worms

From my 2017 journal:

I very much know how little “very” contributes to my writing, and yet I want to keep it, just like I want to keep every magazine and newspaper, and every piece of children’s homework, and all their art, and their cute little paper worms for which I have no use and no room to store, really (really—also not a big contributor). But I want them anyway. Like they say, the heart wants what it wants.

From my 2019 journal:

There is nothing like editing someone else’s writing to help you understand the problems inherent to your own. Today I edited a passage written by a self-help guru. I liked what he had to say, but the passage was too long. I copied it to my computer, then removed all the unnecessary words and sentences, including the majority of adverbs, single-word sentences and sentence fragments (e.g., “Why?” and “Done.”), weak reiterations, and sentence-starting conjunctions (“and,” “but,” “yet,” etc.).

My edits not only shortened the passage significantly. They also made it easier to read and more powerful. Concise text is good text.

The parts that I removed were the author’s particular verbal tics, and less of his personality shows through the text now. That’s why I’ve been so resistant to editing my own writing as harshly. Like any author, I want my personality to show. It had just never occurred to me until now that my tics weren’t displaying the best part of it. That author’s tics were not doing him any favors. Mine aren’t helping me either. They’re like paper worms. A couple are cute. The rest are clutter.

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Decisions, Decisions

My children have unexpectedly been offered the chance to take music lessons for a reasonable price. Though reasonable, it’s far from cheap. So I keep thinking to myself, “Do I really want to leave my children’s musical education in a stranger’s hands? And do I really want to spend THAT much money on something that I could do myself?”

And the answer to both questions is no, and yes. I really don’t think I should leave their musical education in someone else’s hands, but I know damned well that, if left in my hands, they’ll get no musical education at all. What I really want, I guess, is for my personal honesty to wipe away my feelings of personal guilt.

But it never does.

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Life Lesson

Never put a marshmallow in your pocket.

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Trying to Save a Few Bucks

I cancelled my New York Times newspaper delivery. I had fallen behind on doing the crossword, and I was bad (really bad!) about tipping the delivery people. Plus, it was taking up a lot of time every week to go through the papers, and I hated how much paper I was putting into recycling. So, as badly as it hurt (because I will now be missing the Sunday Magazine, which is my favorite part), I switched to the digital subscription. This change will save us hundreds of dollars every year and ease my conscience in many ways, while also allowing me to continue supporting the news media. It was the right thing to do.

I also lowered our Netflix subscription. We get DVDs/Blu-rays (for my husband) and he returns them so infrequently that he might as well cancel the subscription and buy whichever movies he wants to see. We’ve talked about doing exactly that, but nothing has come of it. So, in the meantime, I changed the subscription to three discs per month, which ought to be enough for him, and the change saves us $$ per year.

I am contemplating giving up my Amazon unlimited music streaming in favor of Spotify, which my hubby and I can share for less money. But as much as I hate Amazon for being evil, I love their streaming service, which gives me access to nearly all of the music I’ve ever bought from them (ever!) plus anything that’s available for streaming. It’s so awesome, I just don’t know if I can make the switch, even if it will save us $$ per year

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If That Isn’t Love, What Is?

My husband and I didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. But then, on a random day this week, he presented me with a gift, fashionably tied with twine, and a little card stating that it was a “Non-Valentine’s gift, just to be clear.” The gift was two books of love poetry: Love Poems (for Married People) by John Kenney and Love Poems for the Very Married by Lois Wyse. It was a lovely, thoughtful gift.

That night, after we got into bed, I paged through the books and picked out a few poems to read to him. It was surprising (or not, depending on your views of marriage) how unloving, even bitter, some of the poems were. There was one so utterly perfect in its expression of disgust that we got a good, long laugh out of it.

Laughing with my husband is one of my favorite things. Maybe marriage has its moments of bitterness and disgust, but it also comes with unexpected gifts. I am married to a friend who I can laugh with, and if that isn’t love, what is?

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Happening Here

On Tuesday I went to the office for an editorial meeting. I also met separately with my boss to talk about some ideas that I’ve been working on. Most of the ideas were about changing the way we do certain things, but one idea was for something entirely new. She was receptive, even enthusiastic about some of the ideas, so I feel good about how the meeting went.

We ordered the carpet for the great room yesterday. This is a big deal because, once the carpet is in, the room will be usable for the first time in the ten years we’ve lived here. Still to come are the fireplace mantel, the built-in bookshelves that my husband promised me, and furniture. But that’s just frosting. At least we’ll finally have the cake.

Last night I worked on my novel, just a few words, but I feel like I’ve taken the first steps toward the place I need to be in order to finish the story. It was enough to remind me of how much I’ve learned about the people in the story and, more importantly, how I learned about them. I did it by letting the characters talk, at length, among themselves. It’s hard to write when you do not know what’s going to happen or why. It’s hard to have faith that the information will present itself. It’s even harder when you know that the majority of it will be garbage and that yet more writing will be required to figure out which parts are good. But this is the only method I’ve found to produce a story. It’s nearly intolerable, but it works, and I can do it.

P.S. I also updated Word Press recently. One new feature is the “Drop Cap” toggle, which allows you to add a large capital letter at the beginning of each paragraph. It made me want to turn this post into an acrostic by choosing initial letters that spell out something interesting. I soon found that “interesting” was too lofty of a goal for my groggy brain, so I settled for a word (OWL). It’s a cool feature, though.

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Another Way Mice Suck

The reason I went into the junk drawer today was to gather the box tops that we’ve clipped from food containers over the last few months. There’s a little baggie in the drawer for the box tops to go in, but my hubby usually just throws them into the drawer loose. I don’t mind that he does it that way. At least he takes the time to cut them out. (I think the box top program is stupid, but if we don’t cut the things out, then the school loses out on money. I play along because my philosophy is that you shouldn’t throw away free money.) But now, thanks to the mice and their poop, the loose box tops are getting thrown away instead of redeemed for money for our school. What a waste.

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