"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Monday, May 31, 2010

Bloggers From Around The World

Memorial Day is special to Americans and usually spent close to home with friends and family at picnics and parades, as we remember those who came before, but first I would like to take you on a little world view whirlwind. Starting off relatively close to home, I'd like to introduce Helen Ginger, writer and freelance novel editor extraordinaire who writes a great interactive blog at Straight From Hel . Helen recently passed the Sunshine Award to me.

As I understand it, this award is passed on to five followers who bring a ray of sunshine to your blog. That would include ALL of you who follow and/or comment here but I'd like to follow Helen's example and award it to five new followers. Gabriela Abalo who lives in Lusaka, Zambia and blogs at Embracing Who We Are, gives us a different perspective from a faraway land. Suzanne Casamento at Question of the Day has my vote for the most unique blog with her thought-provoking questions. Jo Schaffer at Shoveling in a Jo Storm has had a lifelong love affair with books. Read her amazing "life list". Cynthia Reese, who not only writes romance, but Southern Style Superromance, blogs at her self-proclaimed undisciplined blog, and finally, my newest follower, Julie Musil, who just posted a moving tribute to veterans.

And then there is Mary Anne Gruen who lives in the Adirondacks and writes at Starlight Blog . Mary Anne just made me her singular recipient of the Blogger BFF Award and paid me the most wonderful compliment at the same time. Mary Anne, you rock! I just love these two little girls sharing a drink.
(Two little novelists in the making, don't you think?) Sometimes it is nice to be singled out. Thank you Mary Anne. I am going to follow your example also, because I like the idea of "one". I would like to bestow my BFF Award on Annie who blogs at Wine and Words She writes amazing poetry and is one of my most frequent commenters, and you all know how much needy writers need reinforcement. As an example of her powerful poetry, check out this. Thanks Annie for following me.

Finally Al at Publish or Perish tagged me a couple of weeks ago. Al shares amazing "piccies" from Down Under on his blog. If I never make it to Australia, at least I'll have Al's piccies. Check him out if you haven't already done so.

In this game of tag, one must answer the following five questions five times and then tag five people. I'm "it" and having procrastinated long enough, here goes:

Question 1 - Where were you five years ago?

Living in a little cottage on a hill of sand.
Painting the flag pole with my father.
Writing on an old desktop computer and saving my words on floppy disks.
Spending a weekend by myself at a friend's cottage on a lake with my manuscript spread out in beautiful disarray, listening for the loons and counting water lilies.
Unpublished.


Question 2 - Where would you like to be five years from now?

Published.
Visiting a Gulf of Mexico free of oil rigs.
Writing full time and growing clean vegetables for healthy people.
Repainting my father’s flag pole. With my father.
Spending a weekend at the cottage on the lake.


Question 3 - What is (was) on your to do list today?

Weed the vegetables and pray for rain
Call my son to wish him a happy birthday
Send out a query letter and raise a flag.
Comb my hair and scrub my nails.
Lay a bunch of irises on my grandparent's grave.


Question 4 - What 5 snacks do you enjoy?

Peanut butter and chocolate ice cream
Nuts
Michigan blueberries
Michigan strawberries
Michigan Duchess apples


Question 5 - What would you do if you were a billionaire?

Gather the best minds in the world together to figure out a way to plug the BP oil well.
Use my money and influence to get the rigs out of our coastal waters and BP out of America.
Open an independent bookstore and sell fair trade coffee.
Work to preserve farmland and educate kids about where their food comes from.
Rest.


I tag five very special bloggers:
Talli, my blogging friend from London has has a book coming out in 2011!
Liza Carens Salerno, the amazing author of Middle Passages.
Samuel who is simply fabulous with spot-on advice in his daily pep for writers. IN EVERY POST!
Tricia, one of my oldest blogging buds. A must-read blogger.
Carolina, who only asks that you take off your shoes before you enter here.
Amy at She Writes who has a way with words not often found in today's fast-paced world.

Oops! That's six. What was that rule about rules....

If you haven't yet checked them out, I highly recommend that you do so. Happy Memorial Day to all. Raise a flag. Whichever one is in your heart. I have to get started on my "to do" list.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Clean Ground

When I leave the pavement with a jolt
I leave what I have for what I know,
for the gravel roads of home that run past
tangled fencerows where the only gaps
are where elms once stood.

I cross the ditch which becomes a torrent in spring
and drive past gnarled oaks and lilacs that bloom on old wood
and try to remember why I left.

The pond lies at the lowest point on the farm
with banks of waving cattails.
Two months past summer solstice…
it’s only half full. A new dock straddles dry ground
because the drought persists.
Clouds hurry overhead.
They neither darken nor slow though we watch.

Dust coats the Queen Anne’s lace
and Ice Age boulders that lie scattered along the fence,
smooth and broad as shoulders.
Bobolinks flirt with each other and the pheasants have returned,
waving mulberry plumage above the grass like ladies with parasols.
Pesticides had thinned them rare but now the ground is clean.
There are worse things than drought.

I saw an eagle yesterday.
He was young because his head was dark.
Eagles don’t often crowd the hawks, but there he sat
atop the ageless oak, surveying the dryness.
Because this is a better place than some.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Silk and the Tassel

They led her into the corn field
and told her they just wanted to look at it.
She studied the silk and tassel towering above her head,
not knowing that they were the male and female parts
that together formed the cob.
They whispered against her thighs
and a flock of blackbirds darkened the sky.



If you or anyone you know has written a Friday Flash 55, go tell The G-Man.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Asparagus, Rhubarb, and Trees

Let's talk trees and food and intertwinings.


The Festival of the Trees is a monthly blog carnival devoted to all things arboreal. June's festival is being hosted by Casey Harn, and he is accepting submissions through the end of May. His theme is the relationship between trees and animals and birds. Check out the festival for guidelines on how to participate. Don't just hug a tree. Go write about one or paint a picture or capture a bird on a leaf with your camera and then enter the festival.

I planted an asparagus bed this weekend which entails digging trenches a foot wide and a foot deep in a well-drained, weed-free area of your garden. Once dug to straight and deep perfection, you fill the trench with 4-5 inches of compost or other clean organic material, snuggle in the asparagus crowns with their snaggly roots and then fill in the trench with the loosened soil. My crowns were already starting to sprout (a snafu with the grower) so they needed to get underground asap! Planting an asparagus bed is a labor of hope. Harvest won't begin in earnest for three years but then the bed will produce for years to come. When mature and ferned out, the fronds form a beautiful asparagus forest. It is my gift to the farm.

The rhubarb is at it's prime and thanks to a healthy dressing of compost last fall, it is bursting forth like untrimmed shrubbery, forming a miniture jungle canopy. Rhubarb pie and rhubarb cake. Rhubarb for digestion and limbs and joints and brains. Can you tell I love rhubarb? Rhubarb sauce for breakfast, thanks to my mum, with a nice cup of coffee, thanks to some young girl in a faraway land picking beans all day for pennies a pound. One thing leads to another.

And thanks to Wendy at W.M. Morrell's ....... I also have an awesome sauce award!


Thanks Wendy. You have inspired me on my query trail. I will pass the sauce along shortly.

I've accomplished nothing else lately, no agent on my side, demanding edits to which I would ever-so-politely oblige with a hammer in my heart. I did, however, receive my copy of Steam Ticket, a Third Coast Review, with my little poem tucked inside.
It's a beautiful little magazine compiled by students at the University of Wisconsin, affording them experience as readers and editors. Why not pick one up?

I've digressed a bit from my original intent and I'm sure there's a name for that, an indentified disorder for that. Do you do that? Wander all over the place like a honey bee in search of necter? I'm afraid it spills over into my writing...characters off on mad jaunts and reckless endeavors, defying the genre I was supposed to identify upon typing THE END. And on that happy note... I salute Mr. Bailey at the Literary Lab for putting genre definition in it's place.

Peace out.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Canes

Canes hang off door knobs
and the backs of chairs.
They swing from towel rods and rockers
and stand in corners.

They are our new reality
and we have become comfortable
in their presence.

My father’s cane is big and heavy
with a smooth rounded handle
he could hook a giraffe with.
A man with a weapon is twice the man he is without.

My mother’s is as light as a baton,
as light as she once was on her feet.
Oh, how she twirled around the dance floor,
like a goldfinch on a feeder.

Now she’s twice the woman with it
than she would be without.
She taps it on the floor to emphasize a point
and hunts for lilies under the daffodils with the rubber tip.
She swats at the weeds around her hydrangea
like a barmaid at a drunk.

When I see it and not her, I wonder
where she’s gotten herself off to.
When I walk up the sidewalk
and see it lying in the flowerbed,
I wonder at what called her away,
and I try to remember what I was doing that was so important
it superseded my visit.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Buzz

I noticed about two weeks ago that I'd passed the hundred mark (in posts, not followers!). I hadn't really been keeping track or thought about it before, but it suddenly hit me. That's a lot of writing. It gave me pause. And then I had this thought....wouldn't it be cool if my number of followers someday surpassed my number of posts? It seems unlikely, unless my fortune soars like the Challenger, and I land an agent. That usually stirs up some interest.

Sometimes in the dead of night I think it's amazing that I have any followers at all. You know . . . when all those nasty little doubts come scratching at the windowpane like a night bird attack and you know your writing sucks and your life sucks and your chance of ever getting an agent who thinks they can sell your novel is as remote as getting a ride on the space shuttle.

Have any of you compared your number of posts to the number of followers your blog has? Have you ever joined a blog just to enter a contest and then gone back and deleted yourself? To me that seems a little dishonest but is it an acceptable thing to do? What do you think of contests that are geared to increase the number of followers? You know the routine: one point for following, one point for posting a link, one for a tweet, and so on. Is this the best way to generate buzz? I'm not saying it is or isn't, I'm just curious. Some people enjoy a stupendous following and it always amazes me how they keep up.

What I guess I'm trying to say is I think I need a blog holiday. Not only do I have to do more agent research to find the perfect one, I have to dig my asparagus bed and wash my windows and my mother's windows and plant lettuce and radishes and spinach. I have to scope out the pond and look for frogs and walk the lane and visit a tree.

I have to write.

So if I'm a little absent for a while please know I'm not really gone. Nor am I only trying to let my # of followers tag my # of posts! (Besides, that would be a little self-defeating. Who wants to join a dormant blog?) I have gained quite a few followers in the last few weeks and I am grateful beyond measure and constantly amazed by your generosity and the wisdom and encouragement of all who comment here. This thing we're doing is addictive (something to do with the instant feedback I reckon) so while we may take a vacation, we're never really gone.

One more thing before I sign off tonight, I would like to give Poets & Writers a shout-out. If you're a writer, you should be reading Poets and Writers. There is some great content from their May/June issue (the writing contests issue) currently online, including the Top Ten Topics For Writers.

Onwards and upwards. Bring on the night sweats.