Category Archives: blogging

Back to basics

Getting back to basics includes expressing gratitude, so let’s start there. I’m grateful for my new juicer, for walks with the dog, especially when K comes along. I’m grateful for hands that still work well enough to be able to make myself a new dog-walk-bag (i.e. one actually commodious enough for treats, poop bags, phone, and masks).

I’m grateful I know what an Oxford comma is, that bleach works on dirty toilets, that I now have chargers in four critical spots in the house.

Also for the gratitude file: the tiny health thing that had me worried even though I pretty thoroughly tamped the worry down, turned out to be 100% nothing. Whew! I was flying high yesterday.

I’m grateful for friends that care about me enough to say: take a news break, Dee, even if I have yet to really manage that.

Besides noting gratitude, historically another basic blog task has been to record progress on projects.

My studio is cleaner and neater than it’s been in forever! How nice is that? Still awful but progress is progress. Also, I’ve been sewing a fair amount without comment here.

For instance, this doll came off The Shelf of Unfinished Creatures last week. I’m calling her the Patron Chicken-Saint of Delayed Success. Maybe just Chicken of Trust would do?

As I wrapped her pipe cleaner arms in fabric, began her wings, and gave her an elegant black lace slip, I toyed with the idea of trusting the timing of things (see note about waiting, above). What if things really do happen when they’re supposed to?

Can you spot the Oxford comma in the paragraph above? I know Liz and Deb will, in any case. Speaking of Deb, the wings will be made of Georgian Magic and I’m pretty sure the polka dot fabric for the arms came from Tina. More gratitude.

Lastly, isn’t it nice to have neighbors with a sense of humor?

Cake, pies, and dirt

The chocolate cake turned out “stodgy,” as they would say on The Great British Baking Show. Dense, chewy and close to inedible, in other words. When Paul Hollywood calls a dessert stodgy, he doesn’t spit it out (the ultimate condemnation), but close. Picture a wrinkled nose and a look of pity.

We will consume it. If you pretend it’s a tort, it kind of works. Ice cream makes it tastier.

I hope my annual currant pie turns out better.

Meanwhile, the heat makes moving dirt a brutal chore. I asked the patio guys to leave us two large piles because I just couldn’t bear to see them haul it away. It keeps K up at night, but I plan to go at it, bucket by bucket.

An old pin cherry root will be installed out back. It’s been tipped over and neglected in the lilies of the valley. Now it will get pride of place. Guardian of the shade!

A nasturtium blooms. My hydrangea are reluctant to grow and half the tomatoes I bought as seedlings haven’t changed at all in four weeks. It reminds me of being twelve when I fervently wished (and wished harder) that I would keep growing. Hallelujah little orange flower!

And speaking of growth, that Rose of Sharon was nearly destroyed by rabbits last year and just look at it!

Lastly, I’m feeling that blogging is both a life line and something that could fall away nearly without notice. How can it be both things?

It occurs to me that a normal summer would have included weeks of travel, weeks when blogging did fall away, in other words. There would have been a coming back. Maybe there was something in that formula?

Just wondering.

Reflection

How long before I realize that it makes me truly happy to feed the birds?

How long before I act as though kindness mattered above all else?

How long before I realize that I don’t need (or even want) most of my belongings?

How long before I fully recognize that working on a miniature scale is right for me?


How long until I feel that I have a right to the workings of my imagination, no matter how the cultural dialogue is unfolding (though ignoring the dialogue is impermissable)?

What if I could act as if everything was happening, not according to plan per se, but in its right and true time? In other words, what if all delinquencies were forgiven or rendered irrelevant? How liberating a thought!

** A huge thanks to all the recent lovely and thoughtful comments. Thank you. It really means a lot to me. Thank you, again.

Follow through

Finishing books that I abandoned after reading 100 or so pages is having a curiously strong impact on my sense of self. Who’d have thunk? It’s empowering! Since the New Year, I’ve completed a handful of books that, absent the #theunreadshelfproject (Instagram), I might never have finished.

With that in mind, I’d like to experiment with follow through here.

This is me: tomorrow I’ll post about unreliable narrators. Then: silence.

I may then write about the topic privately; I may not. But the point is — here there’s a hanging intention, a risk left unmet.

They are often tricky topics about race or my writing or both. I get nervous talking about my novel as if to do so is to jinx it or, almost as bad, to publicly shame myself for not being done yet.

Because some planned posts involve historic references and/or nuanced ideas about ownership of stories, I can’t bang them out the normal way. “The weather’s this. Patchwork is that.” I need time. And courage.

But, the posts don’t have to be perfect, either. The ideas don’t need to be fully fleshed out. And, though this is not best practice, I don’t even have to include all the necessary attributions at the time of publication. This isn’t scholarship, after all.

I’ve already had the experience of readers giving me important clarifications or details. And encouragement. Why wouldn’t I keep availing myself of that?

So deep breath.

Austin Kleon, from “Steal Like An Artist” speaks to this.

Jude Hill models this day in and day out. One way of looking at my intention here is that I want to apply a spiritcloth approach to historic fiction. In so doing, I hope to exemplify another of Kleon’s big ideas (one that is often misunderstood) which is to say that “Stealing like an Artist” means trying to think like people we admire. It doesn’t mean trying to copy what they make (although he attempts to normalize that as well, noting that all artists learn by copying and if you want to be good copy, not one, but many).

Well, this turned into a little Kleon book review which was not my intention!

Bye!

PS We got more than a foot of snow and a fourth nor’easter is on the way. Honestly, as long as K is not in Asia (which he was for the first two), I don’t care.

And the winner is

And the winner is: Michelle! The scraps have already gone in the mail. It’s nice to send something back to Michelle given that she mailed me this delightful print not so long ago.

We got about four inches of snow yesterday, followed by rain, which made today’s walk treacherous. But! We are definitely at the time of year when you can begin to notice the lengthening of the days.

I reviewed a manuscript over a delicious lunch with a friend today. Such a nice way to do it. Not only because her memoir features a lot of personal loss, but because it’s a such an immediate and tangible thanks. I’ll have to remember that. Take your readers to lunch!

Tomorrow is my birthday. That’s me on the left. Nana Mallon in the middle. My sister on the right. I think it might’ve been the weekend of my First Communion. I can’t remember what was happening at the moment this picture was taken (it looks like Nana is pinching me? playfully, but perhaps a little too hard?), but I do remember her cautioning us against eating jelly donuts outside because the bees visiting the red tulips in the foundation beds might fly right down our throats. (Posted previously 8/16. Having trouble grabbing the link).
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And after that snippet, who doesn’t need a little fairy tale? Isn’t she lovely?elsa_polar-bearIt’s from “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” by Mercer Mayer. I just searched (and searched) for and couldn’t find the illustrator. Does anyone know?