It’s back.

Is today really November 1st and the onset of National Novel Writing Month?  Wasn’t it merely a few weeks ago I was sharing the sad tale of erasing my entire 2012 novel just days into December?  No matter.  Novel time is upon us and once again, for the 11th year, I enter into it with no ideas at all. Last year I thought it wasn’t possible to have any less of an idea than I did, but this year I have even less of less of an idea.  Okay, that’s not entirely true. I do have a handful of ideas, but they are skittish and elusive and won’t let me catch them yet.

Still, even without an idea, I CANNOT WAIT TO GET STARTED.

This year’s November will be different for a few reasons, and I’m hoping that I can channel these changes into something that for once is a little different and keeps me excited.

What???? It’s already 1:30 pm and I haven’t started yet. Time to unpack my cans of Whoopass and zap that pesky procrastination fairy that’s hovering over my shoulder.  And by Whoopass, I mean these helpful folks:  MacFreedomWrite or Die. and Stay Focusd..  One alone works just fine, but as a team, they mean business.


Holy procrastination, Batman.

You have no idea how many times since May I have started a new post and just given up.  I wouldn’t even have any idea except that my dashboard is filled with automatically saved drafts, daring me to revisit, revise, to simply pay attention to them.

For lack of anything else to post, here’s what I’ve got:

From May 8, 2013:

It’s been 31 hours since the family left for a 3 day/2 night trip to visit family in Maryland.  I had some high hopes for my alone time.  Here’s the list I made yesterday:

  • dishes
  • clear coffee table
  • write 3 articles
  • gather trash and recycling for Thursday a.m. pickup
  • Take a few loads to New to You, the only thrift shop in town that allows after hours drop off.
  • clean C’s room
  • clean front hallway
  • sew

Here’s what I’ve done from the list so far:

  • dishes
  • clear coffee table
  • write 3 articles
  • start gathering trash and recycling
  • start putting stuff in bags to take to New to You
  • start cleaning C’s room

Here’s what I’ve done that not on the list

  • eat frozen pizza
  • eat Thin Mints (not sharing how many)
  • drink wine
  • get an amazing cut and color at Station Street
  • make a new friend

August 25, 2013

Huge family changes are underway and whenever this happens I attempt to write about it, but the many words inside me feel like they are trying to escape from behind a locked door. I can barely get started. This year is going to be a transition year – a big one.  The girls and I will be spending the school year in Vermont so they can go to school, while Aaron stays in Ohio for now and works towards joining us as soon as possible.  There will be lots of visits, mostly from him to us since we’ll be locked into an academic year schedule and won’t be as flexible.  We have a place to live, the girls are almost set up in their wonderful (we hope) new schools, and I’m looking, for the first time in years, at full days to myself.  This is something I am really looking forward to but also a little nervous about.  It will be really strange not having Anna around all day like she’s been for the past three years.  We’ll need to pack lunches.  There will be homework and catching buses.

I cannot even begin to explain this past summer.  Every day was a moving target.  We put 10K+ miles on our van.  Anna spent a month in Germany with a youth orchestra.  We spent a lovely but super hot week in Slaughter Beach, Delaware with Aaron’s extended family.  My brother and his wife welcomed their first baby. Nine family members ages 4-73 spent a week in Prague for my host sister’s wedding. We drove from Ohio to Michigan to Vermont to Washington DC to Maryland to Delaware to Ohio back to Michigan to Vermont to New York City flew to Prague and back then to Ohio then to Vermont.  And now, suddenly, the girls start their new schools this week. I have handled the summer in a pretty calm and cool fashion, but then last night it got to me just a little bit how fast this all happened.

September 11, 2013

How did that happen? That I last posted on May 2?  It was that kind of summer.  On May 2, we were calmly and rather mundanely living in Ohio, looking ahead with equal parts excitement and anxiety at the months to come.  Now, on September 10, we’re on the other side of all that.  We’ve welcomed a nephew to the family, taken a family trip to a wedding in Prague, sent our darling Anna to Germany with a youth orchestra for four weeks, spent a hot week in Delaware at a lovely but sweaty family reunion, and, well, moved to Vermont. Around the end of July, we decided to move forward with the plans we’d previously thought of tabling for a year and we enrolled Anna as a 10th grader at the Long Trail School in Dorset, Vermont.

I’m still processing everything that led up to this, and there are certainly thousands of words wanting to be released.  For now, though, they’re all stewing in my head.  I’ve been debating whether or not to start a spinoff blog called something like “The Dutch Hill Diaries” or “The Danby Diary” (this is where we live) but,, as always, I struggle with how to start.

For now, though, I’ve got some pictures, and they’re lovely.  And since both girls are in school and A is holding down the fort back in Ohio, I have the days to myself.  Whether or not I use them to write is all up to me.

In the meantime, pictures.

September 19, 2013


Heads up, dog walkers.

One piece of advice I’ve read about blogging is that if a blog is going to succeed and keep readers, it must have a specific purpose and it must be consistent. I definitely believe this to be true and this is something I know I need to work on, but  I have a super hard time doing this. My mind is too much of a crossword puzzle, full of unrelated words or ideas with only a letter or two in common.  I often feel like a real life creative writing class brainstorm assignment that never made it into outline form.

With this post, one thought led to another and I ended up in a rather unexpected place, but I’ll guarantee it’s something we’ve all thought about.

What people do when their dog poops on a walk.

There are three types of dog walkers: those who leave the poop where it falls, those who bag the poop and hold onto it until they can dispose of it properly, and finally, those twisted, considerate(?) folks who bag the poop then leave the bag in the middle of the the sidewalk.

Walking around with a poop-filled bag for most of a long walk is gross.  No matter how airtight the bag is, you’re holding a bag of poop. Gross, right?  It’s bad enough when the poop happens at the beginning of a walk around the neighborhood and there are no public trashcans.  Then there’s the morally conflicting situation when your dog poops twice or thrice but you only brought one bag.

Worst of all is when the bag has a hole in it or something else traumatic occurs because when  I you tied the knot there was still poop at the top of the bag and it got all over my your hand. And maybe this happened blocks from home in a residential neighborhood with no public trashcans or water sources there to assist in clean-up.   Okay, that happened to me. Point is:  I carried the bags all the way home, poop-on-my-hand-be-damned. I am dog-walking citizen #2, the one who carries poop through hell and high waters just to dispose of it properly. Someday I would love to witness someone bagging their doggy deposit and going through the steps of whether or not to leave it at the scene. Do they leave it right there, or do they nonchalantly walk with it for a while until they think no one is watching…then, like a child might casually let a booger fall to their feet next to their desk, they release it to the ground without breaking their stride.

I did have some other ideas for this post, good and serious ones.  Dog poop was very last minute. It came out of left field when I was starting to write about a failed hike the girls and I took with the dog yesterday. Fingers took over the keyboard without my permission, and voila! Dog poop.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up


Last month we spent a few days in Jupiter, Florida.


It was the Saturday before Easter.  I looked up from the beach and saw this plane. (click pic to enlarge)


And then I looked up at these palm trees at the edge of the DuBois Park parking lot. I’ve never lived among palm trees, so to me, they could be at the top of a landfill and still be exotic.


Here’s the Jupiter drawbridge.  Up.

On learning new stuff.

The words Twitter and Tweet are so silly to me I’ve had a hard time bringing myself to learn anything more about how the whole thing works. It has just not seemed important enough to figure out.  That all changed yesterday when I quickly realized how badly I wanted to follow the progress of what is happening in Boston.  I first went to the Huffington Post‘s live updates, but they didn’t seem fast enough, so I clicked on one of their links to Twitter, AND I FINALLY GOT IT. It took my need for instant, real-time knowledge of one event for Twitter to make sense to me.  Until yesterday, I had no interest.

We all learn better when it matters to us.  We all have the tools to teach ourselves, to “figure it out,” if the result is that we get what we came for.  We took our 7-year-old out of school last month for a number of reasons, and one of them was her increasing math and standardized testing anxiety.  The wall had gone up; even the most seemingly simple addition equations on a math worksheet stumped her.

She’s got a head for numbers, though.  She thinks it’s very important that her sister is 7 years older than she is, so she can almost instantly calculate that when she’s 11 Anna will be 18.  We’ve observed her figuring out basic fractions, calendar math and time – all because it matters to the little universe she’s created for herself.

Math and Twitter.  They didn’t matter until suddenly they did, and then we got it.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

We spend as much time as possible every summer at our simple, small cottage on an uncrowded Vermont lake.  We never forget how blessed we are to have this place to call our home, and we try hard not to take for granted the easy access to such natural beauty and still waters. Whenever I look closely at this picture, it changes.  One moment, it’s what it is: a raft on the water.  The next moment, if I don’t blink, it’s a Magic Eye illusion: a raft not on the water, but floating over clouds. It’s easier if you click on the image to enlarge it. Can you see it?