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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Sexy Smoking (Magpie Tales)



                                                     Image by R.A.D. Stainforth
                                                       
They stand shoulder-to-shoulder
backs to the wind with collars up
and scarves swirling mare’s tails.
The controlled burn smolders between them
like the embers they flick at their feet.
The tinkle of laughter carries through the window glass
as they step off the porch to disappear,
taking the party with them.
I wipe out the ashtrays, an envious outsider.


You can check out more responses to the above picture at The Mag, a weekly online writing prompt provided by Tess Kincaid.

Although a non-smoker, I always feel like the juicy conversations are taking place out of earshot in smoking circles. Deals struck. Promises made. Secrets divulged. The conversations always lag when the smokers leave the party.

Happy New Year to one and all, and may you never run out of good conversation.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Freebie and a Cure

To celebrate the end of 2012, Ploughshares is giving away one of their solos  Escape and Reverse . Solos are longer individual stories. You have until tomorrow, December 31st, to download it. If you don't own a Kindle, you can read the story on your computer or through a Kindle app on your smartphone.


There is also a new anthology out from Elephant's Bookshelf Press titled The Fall.


These are the same people who brought us Spring Fevers, which you can also now download for free. The Fall is a collection of tales from the apocalypse, but so much more than zombies. The cover alone draws you in, zombies or not. Review forthcoming from this blogger in 2013.

Do you have a favorite read from 2012? In the running for me is Sixteen Pleasures. A fascinating novel by Robert Hellenga.




I wanted to draw attention to all these and more as 2012 draws to a close, but time is short and we bloggers have short attention spans because we're doing other things, like feeling guilty because we haven't done enough.  So, just one final note and I'll let you go. I promised you three cures in 2012. One involved beets which I told you about three posts ago but still I've fallen short. Here is a second:

My grandpa used to smoke a pipe. He smoked it so much, he got cancer in his lower lip where the pipe would always rest. An aunt who lived in Detroit knew a doctor in Canada who made house calls, and Grandpa went to stay with her for three weeks. The doctor came to the house every few days and applied a poultice to his lip. Mother says it was extremely painful at the time. After three weeks, the cancerous tumor was drawn out, and they placed it in a jar. She remembers seeing that jar on the kitchen windowsill. After that, Grandpa took to smoking cigars. He never gave up the smoking habit, but he never had a reoccurrence of the cancer.

Happy New Year! May 2013 be prosperous and may we each find a poultice for what ails us.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

FIG TREE DISPLACED FROM THE HOLY LAND

A fig tree displaced from the Holy Land.
A nativity scene blown into the ditch.
A missing arm and an ass.
The end, she says, is near.

So bequeath me a blanket,
the one you just took off your bed.
That's all I want. And the candle with no wick
in the bottom of the box of ornaments,
like a life well lived and now tucking itself in.

She says she wants to give them to a thrift shop.
That’s like pictures of other people’s ancestors
stacked in dusty corners.
Nobody wants that stuff.
Who are they without their frames?

The sun drops to a lower arc in the sky,
and the fig tree on my back porch is dying
without the heat of the Holy Land.
I throw a blanket over it at night
and take it back off in the morning,
thinking by some miracle it will survive.

But it’s out of place and this isn’t the Holy Land.
We pass freely between townships and counties.
We wear what we want and go to church if we want.
And holy is clean ground—
the No Toxic Spraying signs
we store in the milkhouse for winter.

I string lights on the dying fig
but miniature lights don’t conduct warmth,
they only give off light.
It isn’t enough.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A False Slogan..... Right-To-Work (FF-55)

The right to work they say is grand,
the right to work all night and all day
to bring home a meager bit of pay.
The right to work twelve days straight
for what you use to earn in eight.
The jackals smell a Republican
behind the guv’nors gate—
the right-to-exploit will sure taste great.
 
It’s a sad day in Michigan when the Republican legilature pushes through a right-to-work law in a lame duck session without any public debate. Right-to-work states have lower wages, fewer benefits, more workplace injuries, a poorer quality of life and lower standard of living. But they’re doing it for us. Merry Christmas.
If you have a story to share in 55 words post it today and let the G-Man know. He will visit you as will scores of others. TGIF
 
 
 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Anniversary and A Cure

It's my blog's anniverary month! We're four years old. I started this blog back in November, 2008, back when it was deemed essential for an emerging writer to have one, but I was afraid that nobody would want to read about my bulky manuscripts and fledgling attempts at publication, so I wrote my first post about beets.

Pretty funny, eh?  Let me explain. When I'm not writing, I'm gardening, and I know that everyone loves good food. (As George Bernard Shaw said,  "There is no love sincerer than the love of food.") So I thought I would begin by writing about something we can all agree on. My first post was about the tremendous beet harvest of 2008 with a recipe for Rosy Beet Risoto from my sister, Bett. And then I shared my mother's homemade spaghetti sauce recipe, memories of the season triggered by a November gale and gunshots on opening day as I carried a bowl of sauce down the road to her place.

Back when pheasants were plentiful, opening day of hunting season was a main event. We always made friedcakes, using my grandma's deep ol' fryer and an ancient recipe. It was an all-day process, at the end of which the counter would be full of warm friedcakes dripping glaze or coated in sugar and cinnamon. The hunters would report in at the back door, eat friedcakes, and discuss the hunt.

But back to blogging. I moved beyond food, and suddenly one day I had a follower and more than one comment. Who would've guessed? I didn't know there would be such a thing as followers and feedback. Did I say I knew anything about blogging? I knew nothing, but I got braver and posted an excerpt of my writing and a poem or two.  I met other writers and artists, editors and interns. I started to get more than a couple of comments on a post, I dared to offer advice, wrote about writer do's and don'ts, and posted a book review. I shared experience and fessed up to rejections. I received a few blog awards (remember when those things were all the rage?) and passed them on. I had fun. 

Of late, many have questioned bogging and wonder if the pheonomon has run it's course. But I think that as long as people hunger to share ideas, receive advice and get feedback, there will be a reason to blog and interesting people who will do it. Blogging opens lines of communication between people who would never have otherwise met. I love getting a comment from Australia or Europe or Asia, or from someone in the next county. Some months I may only get up 2-3 posts but that's OK.

I began by singing beet praises, so let me end this post with a story about beets. When my grandmother was a young woman (my father just a boy), she because very ill with what was then called Quincy. We now know it as acute tonsillitis. She became so sick, she could barely breathe. Grandfather sent for her sisters to come and help. The distance was great with nothing but a team of horses to ease their journey, but they made the trip and arrived on a blustery winter night and started chopping up beets. They made a beet poultice and wrapped it around her neck in a cheesecloth. They didn't cook the beets; they simply chopped them in a food grinder and wrapped them in cheesecloth. They changed the poultice several times during the night. In the morning she was better.

In closing, I'd like to thank all of you for reading what I write and thank you especially for all your encouraging words. Even if you only drop in ocassionally, that's all any writer could ask. I remember each and every one of you. I thank you for making blogging fun.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Friday Flash 55

THE CESSPOOL OF SILENCE
The boys gathered around the hydrant as darkness fell. What’s your nationality? one asked her. Stillness descended like night on the wheat field, and she understood the question carried a weight she didn’t understand. You know, he prodded, where are your ancestors from? She wondered at their silence. She wasn't sure where she was from.
 
It's Friday, so time for a flash, fiction that is. If you write flash fiction, condense it into 55 words and then let the G-Man know. It's fun. It's Friday. Where're you from???

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Boy And His Car Seat


The boy stood beside his car seat, coat open,
small duffle bag at his feet,
like a hitchhiker,
left where he’d been dropped.
His mother talked on her cell phone,
voice carrying across the lot,
watching the cars drive by the gas station,
impatient to get on with her life.
Somebody is late.

 

Written for G-Man and his Friday Flash 55. He has a wonderful poem this week extolling the inner witch in us all. Click on his link to read the history behind the Hedgewitch.

TGIF

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November Stew

Thoughts for November:

Is Sandy an anomaly (just a freak storm), or is Sandy our new reality? Does the fact that Greenland had no summer ice shield for the first time in recorded history have a bearing on the fact that the storm turned inland instead of out to sea, as is the norm?

We're off for the north country for a needed respite. Heading to Lake Superior to catch a sight of the gales of November off the "big  shining sea". But I expect we'll miss the whitecaps to the horizon reported yesterday.

While the devastation on the East Coast is heart wrenching, the new civility in the political campaign is as refreshing as a dip in aforementioned lake. I trust that New York and New Jersey will bounce back with their usual resilience, assisted by the coordinated help of a a fully funded FEMA and a strong Federal Government. At times like this, it sure is nice to have one.

We will be back in time to vote. I hope everyone does. They always talk about "likely" voters in the polling data. What about the 90 million unlikely voters? What would happen to all the polling data if a majority of them turned out?

Five days to the big election. Let's vote!

Oh, and of course I'm taking my diary and my kindle so I can write and write and write, keep in touch with the online world, and inbibe in some of Marquette's famous micro breweries (seeking the muse), all while enjoying the serenity of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Wish me a safe journey! I'll see you in Five.

Friday, October 26, 2012

HOT FOR PINK (friday flash 55)


The bees have diarrhea,
the honey pot's kaput.
Masses grow in lab rats
lodged in mammary.
Studies are debunked and mocked,
patents are enforced.
There's Roundup in your doughnut
and in your white corn syrup.
But we crave our fast food feedlots,
so GMO it all,
then wear pink for consolation
and embrace Monsanto's thrall.


It's Friday and time for the Flash Fiction 55 game. It's Halloween so give us your scary stuff.  I didn't entirely play by the rules, G-Manbut it's a story (if not fiction), and 55 words on the nose!

If you can write a story in 55 words, please tell the G-Man and play along. Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Bath


A field of frost
white as your hair
covers the impatiens
and the grass and the steps
come morning. 

The migrating sparrows that blackened the sky
have sung their way home
and silent as the ground under snow
is the outdoors, yet you sing
in the bath you designed
come morning. 

You linger over your powders and ointments
and with ponderous steps walk the tile you laid
round the porcelain you set
and reach for the razor to stand and confront
the eye-level mirrors that are beveled and true
come morning.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

There's A New Game In Town (Friday flash 55)


She wished only for the one she remembered
to pour her a draft and play her a song.

But the jukebox was gone,
and the shuffleboard they brushed elbows over

was replaced by the new game in town.
Keno and Poker sit atop the bar like gargoyles.

A stranger asks to know
Do you play?


On Fridays, the best game on the internet landscape is Friday Flash 55 hosted by the G-Man. Write a story in exactly 55 words then post it and let the man know. He particularly likes it when you have a main character, a plot and an ending.

On a cold night like this, I like sitting inside with my warm laptop under my fingers, making up stories. TGIF!!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Magpie Tales....What We Knew in 1665


 

It’s not my pulse
that’s out of sync,
nor a case of the vapors
for one come and gone-
he goes and he comes
but that they don't know.
A bleeding is in order,
he says.
We’ll see.
I know how to brew
pennyroyal tea
and I’ll be just fine
when all of you leave.
I know how to bleed.




Photo prompt courtesy of Tess at the one and only Magpie Tales hitting it hard on Sunday, week after week.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Snakeskin Road

Every writer has a muse
to probe the right side of the brain,
the forgotten truth
like the secret stash in a gourd,
an elusive wisp of memory
that has no name.  

I think for me it's thunder and conflict—
the fuchsia sunrise out one window
and a drowning sky the other,
conflicting scenes a writer commits to memory
      (if he is wise)
to set a stage.
But don't open with the weather,
the naysayers say. 

The gravel road shimmers like snakeskin in the rain.
It glances off the windows
like paint from the brush of a master.
Could we open with that?
It fills the nesting leaves of the cabbage
and the newly planted lettuce, thankful.
Would one care about that?
 
Clouds collide like passing freight trains
as summer gives way to autumn,
one pushing aside the other, like leaves
swept from the sidewalk
and spiders from corners.

We write in small spaces
and in the rain and in the dark
and in the morn before the house awakes.
When writing, we don't hear the rain
or see the spiders and the snakeskin road,
or care that the sky has turned from  fuchia to gray.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Made In Pakistan

She threw her Eddie Bauer and Land’s End catalogues
in the burn barrel—
cleft chins and pretty faces
burned beyond recognition,
like the workers in a building with no exits,
climbing past barred-up windows
to the top floor to jump.
In her sleep, eyes peer out of the closet
and charred hands rustle the fabrics.


It's fiction loosely weaved around fact, sadly so.

It's Friday, so write a story in 55 words then link to the Friday Flash 55 Host, the G-Man.



TGIF

Monday, August 27, 2012

POW

                                              "Big Room" Andrew Wyeth



They had the room for the afternoon. She placed flowers in a vase as the white sun flooded the room. A fireplace (will they need it?), fruit to slice and a clock to tick off minutes to the planned rendezvous in a ravaged city.  She smoothed her dress and her hair and waited in a chair in the sun until the sun left the room. She lit the fire and opened the wine, and twirled a lock of hair until a clump came out in her hand. She waited for the soft tread of her lover, the scout; for his shadow to fill the door, but the only sound was the clock, the clock, the damned tock of the clock, and the shadows that lengthened were not of him. They took him by ambush to pry loose his secrets, but all they found was a photo, a date and a time.

Photo prompt is from Tess Kincaid at Magpie Tales  where the links to other creative takes on the photo reside.

Friday, August 24, 2012

DIARY OF A FARM

 
What to write about when you think you have nothing to write about?  Once you start writing, you find you have much to write about.
 
From ten days ago:  Rain continues and the bean harvest was stellar. Time time time defeats me. No time to make favorite recipes or new recipes or query that finished manuscript or pull weeds from my flowers, lots of weeds in the garden to pull and pile and stack and burn. No, we don’t burn them; we throw them to the chickens. I discovered the chickens like Swiss Chard. As I was pulling off the tattered bottom leaves, they were clucking behind me in their pasture, and I threw the leaves over the fence on a whim. They converged on the leavings like buzzards on carrion, scrapped and fought over the juicy tidbits and colorful stems. Then there are the pigs. Pigs woof down whatever the garden offers them, overgrown summer squash is a favorite. They tidy things up. They even eat the hardneck garlic stems. You've heard the story about the missing hunters and the pigs? It's easy to get rid of a body when you have pigs.

Rain?  What rain? Here we are ten days later and watering the lettuce again. July brought record heat and August has brought record cool nights. I’m sure the basil is less than pleased. The tomato worms are voracious this year. They have horns and eyes and they're green all the way through. Hubby killed a 4-incher yesterday. Left alone, they'll devour an entire plant. I don’t like them. I don’t like getting green guts on my shoes or toes should I make the mistake of trying to step on one in my flip flops. Duh. 

Today I will take a jar into the tomato patch and collect the tomato worms and save them for the chickens. They like them. I shall not stomp on them, splattering green goo across the garden. I shall not. 

I can tell fall approaches, not so much by the early darkening as in the foggy mornings and the cricket noises. They greet me at the entrance to the greenhouse and I hear them in the night. Seems like only yesterday the June bugs were banging their heads against the screen in the window beside my table on which my laptop rests. Only yesterday was it light at 9:30 in the evening and the grass was browning in the heat. Only yesterday was I swimming laps in the pond with arms and legs muscled and brown, reaching for the shore and the world beyond the top of the hill that abuts the water. Reaching and reaching with arms that didn’t tire, with no concern for the outside world and politics and the environment and whether I would be published or happy or strong. The burden of adulthood is the knowledge we acquire. Is it any wonder our parents walk with a stoop?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Questions and Conundrums

Midsummer thoughts: When the shift in daylight hours is gradual, why do you suddenly notice the shorter days as a drastic change? We could power this country on solar even on the darkest days. Where is the political will to stand up to the fossil fuel industry? I want a solar panel on the top of my car and one on my roof. I don't need one like the farm has. But I sure am proud of the farm and brother John and father Bob who made it all happen.





Midsummer grumbling: When Hilary Clinton is on television, why do people comment on her hair and her age and her clothes when no such questions are asked of male diplomats and politicians? Why has Barack  Obama turned gray in 3 1/2 years while George Bush never changed a whit in 8? Why don't people talk about the real cause of this summer's record heat and drought conditions? Why aren't weather reports serious instead of focusing on picnic plans and baseball games? Why don't they teach geography in school? Why do weeds grow faster when you go away for a weekend? Why do zucchini turn into small canoes overnight?

I like my leaders to show wear and tear and sleepless nights. When the weight of the world has been upon them, I like to know they have known it. I like women in power who are smart and articulate and know their geography. I don't care about their hair, anymore than I care about Mitt's doo or Mitch O'Connell's forehead (Republican leader in the Senate) and the frown lines he's developed from the nastygrams he composes in his sleep. I want earth to remain blue with an unbroken ozone shield and thick ice caps. I like normal weather where the highs and lows balance each other out, instead of the 10-1 recorded in the last year. I like snowstorms and thunderstorms with the reporting of the same above a 4th grade level. I like gardens free of Monsanto poison and my zucchini voracious. When they grow into canoes, we hollow them out and set them out to sea.



Lake Huron, our big shining sea, the middle child in the Great Lakes family, the national treasure that belongs to all.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Lonely Pursuit Of Delight

Bear with me as I draw an odd correlation this morning. It was brought on by NPR’s John Augustine’s review of a biography about Beryl Markham, the first to fly solo East to West across the Atlantic against the headwinds that aided Charles Lindbergh.


Her feat thus surpassed Lindbergh’s, but the acclaim was his. She also wrote an autobiography, West With The Night, which is one of my all-time favorites. 

It occurred to me that writers have a lot in common with solo pilots who pursue this “lonely impulse of delight,” a term coined by Yeats to describe solo piloting, but one he could have as easily applied to his own life’s work.  The ultimate flying experience seems to be that of the solo pilot. But for writers, there is no other way to work. 

Yesterday Sally Ride, another pioneer female aviator, died from pancreatic cancer. Ride was the first American female in space. While we often think Americans were the sole pioneers in flight, many terms from aviation come to us from the French: including aviation, fuselage, and May Day, to name a few.   

We have always been as intrigued by flight as we are mystified by the singular pursuit of a writing life, which many see as nothing more than the pursuit of failure. In that regard, there’s a lot of hot air out there about the lonely drunken writer. We don’t need any more hot air in the atmosphere. The oldest flying contraption was the hot air balloon, but the most rewarding profession is writing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

On Fire


It’s a mysteriously foggy morning. The lowing of the cattle carries through the mist and the sun is at bay, like a banked fire. There is garlic to dig and tomatoes to trellis. But first there’s time for a cup of coffee and contemplation while the fog burns off and the landscape emerges.

I’m on my porch now without my sister, she of the musical voice and many words, now at home in a place far away. She of long but infrequent visits, the muse for whom the ink flows, the bubbling brook from which is drawn the angst of regret and the exhilaration of creativity. The visit is over and we plan for the next. The time in between main events is like a lull in the storm, the days we don’t remember, and the people we forget.

I received a Kindle Fire for my birthday. Thus have I entered the age of the electronic reader. I like it. I didn’t think I would.  My siblings got together and made it happen. They think a writer should not be without an electronic reader. I think they're right, as always. I'm the middle child and just try to get along.

About the Kindle: it’s slick as a whistle with color and amazing graphics and a touch screen that is easy to navigate. It’s the gateway to words I can download fast as a hummingbird, even my own. But unlike the hummingbird, I can hold it and keep it.  My first free download was Monsters of Templeton, and then I found Ramona, the tragic love story that takes place in California when it belonged to Mexico. From new releases to lost novels, the Kindle will find it. Some of these treasures are even free. But now I wonder, because I'm suspicious about our new electronic world, can someone with devious intent track what I read, what I highlight and hesitate over? What I return to and the words I look up? Not to spoil the moment, but I'm just saying...I’m old school, a pencil and paper kind of gal.

But I’m not afraid to try new things and while it will never replace the paperback novel and the hardcover treasure, I can see there is a place in my reading life for the Kindle Fire. This is what surprised me: I was reading in bed and evidently deeply absorbed, because at the end of the page,  I lifted my hand to turn it. Yet another occasion to laugh at myself. With the Kindle, you tap the bottom right hand corner to go forward and the left to go back, or you can slide the page with your finger.  I’m still trying to turn them.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Girl And A Dog In The Night(Friday Flash 55)

 




The girl left the house at dusk and the dog joined her. They hunted field mice in the pasture under the eye of the moon. His excitement pleased her. The grass rustled, and the night was warm. He suddenly paused with his nose aquiver and hackles high. The voices from the farmhouse grew distant.




Friday Flash 55 with Mr. Knowitall is back!! If you have a story in 55 words you'd like to tell, visit him here and let him know, or even if you don't, check the link for lots of super shorts.

I'm a little rusty. Hope you didn't mind a walk in the dark with a dog....

TGIF!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Staff Of Life


The wheat has ripened to a golden wave, and the harvest has begun. Wheat is impervious to dry heat. It likes it.  I collect the leavings the harvester missed at the row ends and along the edge of the field, like a gleaner. Nothing should be wasted. The oats are next and then the barley. The grains make beautiful arrangements.

Walking the field at sunset I think of Woody Guthrie and his anthems for this land. I wonder what he would think of the preponderance of gated communities and fences that block the view of our lakeshores, the signs that tell us to keep out and hamper our wanderings. Woody knew that all who wander are not lost. I’m proud that my father always posted signs that said: Hunting Permitted. People were respectful. 

This land is your land
This land is my land
From California to the Blue Ridge Mountains
From the Gulf Stream waters
To the redwood forest,
This land was made for you and me. 

As I was walking along the highway
I saw a sign that said
NO TRESPASSING
But on the back side
It didn’t say nothing
That’s the side for you and me. 

-Woody Guthrie

p.s.
After posting this, I noticed the headline in Poets and Writers: A Lost Novel by Woody Guthrie
Isn't that bizarre??

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Torturer's Horse Scratches It's Innocent Behind


The torturer’s horse scratches it’s innocent behind on a tree….The old masters: how well they understood the human position: how it takes place when someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along.


On this fine cool morning, all is still. Even the birds are quiet and a low-lying fog blankets the downward slope of the farm and drifts across the pond and through the trees. It feels like a Thoreau morning, and I wonder at all he saw and felt. I think of all those who came before and all they knew and wish I could offer one of them a cup of coffee and a seat on my porch as I put on my own horrible sneakers.

These are some of my favorite lines from literary masters of old. Can you guess who they are?

1. "About suffering, they were never wrong."
2. "Tell the truth, but tell it slant."
3. "A novel is a mirror walking along a main road."
4. "A book is a mirror: if an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to look out.”
5. "A writer’s material is what he cares about."
6. "Literature thrives on taboos.”
7. "Any fool can make a rule and every fool will mind it."
8.  "It's not wise to violate the rules until you know how to observe them.”
9. "No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.”
10. "I've led a good rich sexual life and I don’t see why it should be left out.”
11. "I was following in the exquisite footsteps of Miss Edna St. Vincent Millay, unhappily in  my
       own horrible sneakers."


So write of taboos-leave nothing out- and be wary of who you show your drafts to. Balance on a limb and fabricate. Observe the world carefully and don’t be afraid to write what you are passionate about. Hang a piece of art, arrange a bouquet, and write a sentence that fills a page. Be prepared to suffer.


1. Auden
2. Dickinson
3. Stendhal
4. Lichtenberg
5. Gardner
6. Burgess
7. Thoreau
8. Eliot
9. Wells
10. Miller
11. Parker



The opening quote is from Auden’s Musee des Beaux Arts




Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Summer Solstice Post That Wasn't


Summer Solstice came and went
like June bugs and fireflies
and the candle that was lit
and left on the porch.
Like the string of ash from an incense stick
that dangles in the morning light,
spent. 

In the still of the shade
a hummingbird flits
in search of the feeder that isn’t there.
The fuchsia is hung amongst long-throated flowers
but it searches for sugar water
with red number nine.
The longest-day sun slipped out of sight
like a moth in the wind and the days we were young.


Today we transplant strawberries and watch for rain. The skies are overcast and the temperatures cool. Weed the beets. Weed, weed, weed. The weeds don’t need rain and they are not bothered by pests. They’re like unnecessary adverbs and overused adjectives, like the scene that should be deleted; the finished product cleaner for the whack. Then there’s the quack grass. It’s like a run-on sentence. It runs on and on, from one end of the garden to the other, like a person with words  but no deeds.

In a weird way, I admire my weeds. I’ve learned to accept that there will always be weeds in a huge organic garden, unlike the small weed-free garden I had when I was young. I see that garden in my mind’s eye, the path to the perfect, slender cucumber warmed by the sun. I peeled it over the sink with firm long strokes. I enjoyed the day.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mind Your Agent Research

I love blogging. I LOVE writing. I miss by bloggy buddies. I have not been a good blog buddy of late. We have a huge (one acre)  garden and it is a main source of income in the summer. Actually, I love winter too because it's writing time but there isn't much money coming in, so we have to really double down in the summer. What's my point? I just want you all to know that I peek in on you when I can and if I don't comment, don't assume I wasn't there.

I feel guilty even taking the time to write this itty bitty post because I should be weeding the chard, squash (I saw my first baby zucchini yesterday!) the lettuce and beets. Then it's building-a-trellis-time for the tomatoes. And mind the soaker hoses. We've been a  month without rain, so we must mind the soaker hoses.

For those of you in the agent research phase of your work, there is a great post by Jemi Fraser over at The Write Angle.

Have a great week!

p.s. I'm planning a special post for Summer Solstice. Hopefully it'll happen, unlike the Summer Solstice party I've always wanted to throw.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Heifer In Heat


I was carefully pulling out small weeds from around smaller Swiss chard seedlings when suddenly the electric fence behind me that encircles the pasture dropped to the ground. Startled, I got to my feet in time to see an edgy heifer race through the asparagus bed and up the driveway. The nervous animal had been pacing the fence all morning, but I didn’t think much of it, until the fence dropped behind my back.
 
With the fence on the ground behind me I was all attention. You see the pasture also houses a bull. A barrel-chested, black as midnight, thousand-pound bull who growls like a bear when he’s coming for the watering trough, like this better be full or someone’s gonna be sorry.

I quickly cased the field to locate the bull. Thank God…he was way over on the other side. Dad says the heifer is in heat. I guess the bull didn’t know it yet, grazing at the other end of the fifty-acre field under a fence row of shade trees. Someone suggested she was looking for her man. I surmised she was trying to get away from him.  

My sister and I herded her into the barnyard and my husband repaired the fence before the bull could take advantage of the break and ruin my day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Silent Morning

The baby robin is dead.
Its red breast and open beak
lie sullied in the dirt under the nest.

We could surmise a reach too far
over the rim
of the woven grass.
Or blame the wind—
the gust that took my hat and toppled
a robust jade like a plastic cup
could surely fling a fledgling from a shallow nest.

We shall not blame the mother who did nothing
for three weeks but fuss over the baby
and protect the yard from the cock and the crow.
Who sat on the nest and brought food
to the yawning beak
and filled the mornings with song
and industrious labor
for naught.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Grab Hold Of Your Writing Life

To close out May (can you believe it?),  I thought I'd share a great post by Pete Morin on how to write fiction that others will want to read. It doesn't hurt that he ends with a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, one of my favorite "Beat" poets.


To close out May, I thought you'd like to see a picture of our cattle when they were first put out on pasture this spring, where they're supposed to be. It's a little blurry but can still say a thousand words, no?



And one of our plump hens:


My daughter's Corgi rounding one of them up:



And the solar panels at the farm:




To close out May, I'd like to boast that we've planted 140 tomato plants in two days, all by hand, but I don't have a picture of that. Now that the bulk of the planting is done, I hope June affords me time to research my A list for agents, but how do I show you a picture of that? Maybe this Scribbler Award that Tricia O'Brien, one of my oldest blogging buddies, gave me a long time ago will do.



See you all in June!