Most people are counting the days to the winter break, but this is my first full week back after six weeks of being an invalid. It's wonderful to see everybody again and to be part of all the daily stuff that goes on, but holy cow, when did the kids start moving so fast in the halls, and when did the stairs get so steep? And didn't I used to be able to have three conversations at once, take notes, and listen to the teacher, too? Now if I can get the right kid's name to come out of my mouth at the right time, I feel accomplished.
And it is SO dark at five thirty when I have to get up!
How many more days is it until winter break? I could sure use it!
This year, I decided to make a make a video using the Animoto website of all the photos I took of our amazing foliage season. I had a blast taking the photos. They're all shot in Vermont, this year. Some are very close to home, actually out of my windows, and some are from a lovely day spent driving around Vermont's Northeast Kingdom with family. Working on putting it together was a great break from stress.
I can't believe that it's November and my little patch of flowers still has so much color! We've had several hard frosts and even some snow flurries, but my flowers are either very hardy or very lucky. I don't know a thing about flowers or gardening -- these guys just do their own thing and I occasionally pull some weeds.
Oh, and there's that dog who has a habit of strolling through my photos just as I press the shutter.
I'm very glad to let October go this year. Between family crisis and surgery, it's been a bit stressful, but I have been overwhelmed with support from family who has risen to the occasion, co-workers who have organized a food train to keep us very happily fed, and friends who have been so amazing with emails and phone calls and driving and even spending the night sitting by my side in the hospital. It makes me sniffly just thinking about it.
Now I'm enjoying a relaxing recovery with lots of reading and writing and healing.
I truly work in one crazy school where the faculty, staff, and administrators put this together for our spirit week pep rally. No, I was not out on the floor since my ability to dance ranks with my ability to sing, which is somewhere in the negative numbers, but I did get caught by the camera once in the distance in the back, cheering my colleagues on.
What really stuck me while watching this is how supportive and wonderful the kids were. Isn't this just the coolest thing?
I went for a long walk last night hoping to take some foliage photos, and this wonderful fog rolled in so quickly that it made me remember when I lived on the New Hampshire seacoast. Not the crisp color I was hoping for, but I love this misty mood.
Prizm Press, my publisher, is undergoing a great relaunch. It has a completely new website which you can visit by clicking HERE. And they are offering a 15% discount from now until October 5 at midnight. Just type in "relaunch2012" in the coupon code box when you check out. It's a great chance to stock up on some reading!
(And, when you buy directly from the publisher, we authors make more money from each sale ;)
My post-op directions said not to drive or make major life decisions for twenty-four hours after surgery. I wonder if they should include not making blog entries as well? We'll see...
No, seriously, my surgery went fine and I feel just fine and everything's just fine and it's raining out and that's just fine, too.
I was very well taken care of yesterday, though I think I might have had some conversations I can't remember. And there is some blurred thing in my head about the parking garage and a wheelchair and a funeral director?
I was just looking out my window and I saw a little spotted fawn lying at the edge of the tall grass. I took out my binoculars and watched it for a while, and then a gust of wind blew the whole thing apart, and it turned into a clump of dried ferns. Huh.
My next guest blog in the series I've been writing for the Birds of Vermont Museum has been posted today. I'm having a ton of fun writing these. I think I could go on forever with memories of the creation of the Museum. Growing up, I had no idea how special the place was to become. Didn't everyone have a museum in the family?
Every time I go to make a new post, I see that cute sleeping sheep and I think, how can I top that? Besides, I'm crazy with school, and my daughter's ballet classes have started up for the year so I have an extra hour's drive almost every day, and I have to have some surgery next week -- nothing major, a small tumor that I've been assured isn't malignant, but which needs to come out. Still, it's the kind of thing that makes a person antsy. (As my family can attest.)
Anyway, here are a few rather stormy sunsets I took last weekend as an intense cold front was coming though. We got caught in a squall with hail and rain and wind like I've never been outside in before while trying to get in a quick swim before it hit. (Most sensible people head for cover when they hear thunder in the distance. For my family, it means race for the water, QUICK!) By the time I got to the deck, it was too late, and I was smart enough to turn and dash back to the camp. When I got there, I was as wet as if I'd gone swimming. So it all worked out.
How could anyone not want to fall asleep looking at her?
A most friendly alpaca
Miniature Horses. Really, could they be any cuter? Except maybe grazing on my lawn?
All about the animals this year. And a pretty glittery glass prism that makes rainbows. Well, and the food, of course. My yearly fix of onion rings. And a side of fried dough. And a couple lemonades. And a big hug from a former student, all grown up now (made me a little sniffly). The best part -- showing everything to a friend who hadn't been to a fair in... a long time. I'm sure I bored her to death with stories about how I used to go every year with my grandfather and my great aunt, and how this bit was new, but how this was just the same as it had always been. I can remember them telling me the same things about how the fair had changed since they were kids. My great aunt was born in the 1890's. I'm so fortunate that I have traditions, and memories, like these in my life.
Oh, and my daughter is now officially engaged to a wonderful young man. I saw the engagement ring on her finger at the fair, for the very first time. The start of a new story, to be passed down. ("I can remember my great grandmother saying that she went to the fair the day she got engaged, way back in 2012! Can you imagine what it must have been like back then?")
This is not a great shot by any means, but its shows that we had a doe and twin fawns on our lawn a few days ago. Though, I suppose, if you consider that they're being caught in a transporter beam from Star Trek, then it's a really amazing shot.
Feel free to interpret it any way you wish. I haven't seen them since, so...
Okay, remember all those silly serious aptitude tests we all took in high school that were supposed to help us narrow our focus to a career path? Well, when I was in high school, I was a bit a lot confused and overwhelmed by the future and what role I was to play in reshaping the world into a better place and all that stuff. I needed all the help I could get, and so I took those tests really seriously. I remember the one that I worked the hardest on also had a manual dexterity part where we had to see how many colored pegs we could pull out of a board, reverse, and push back into their spots in a certain amount of time. I can remember how intensely I focused and concentrated and flipped pegs just as fast as I could, and I have to say, I left the other kids standing in the dust. They could probably do more math problems in the time limit, but damn, my dexterity was off the chart! (I was pretty sure I'd done really well on the reading and writing bits, too.)
So, when I got the envelope back with the results, my heart was pounding. I knew I was destined to be a great writer, but with that manual dexterity score, maybe I would also be a great -- I don't know, violinist? No, surgeon! That was it. I would become a brain surgeon and save lives with my supple, fast fingers.
I scanned the letter, waiting for it, waiting for the big reveal of my destiny, and on the bottom line it said that with all my scores combined, the career that I would be best suited for was...
Venetian blind repair.
So, where would I be today if I'd followed my destiny?
I just Googled Venetian blinds, and you can buy a very nice blind starting at $10. I found one very top of the line light filtering blind for $100, but most were around $35.
Then I Googled Venetian blind repair and found one shop that would repair Venetian blinds. It's in the state of Washington, and they charge between $35 and $50 to fix your blind. Now, I can see that if you have a house full of top of the line blinds and one broke, you might dish that out to fix it. So I guess, to follow my career path, I should move to Washington and see if this company will hire me ("My qualifications? Um, no, I have no idea how the things work or what makes them stay up or how the louvers open and close, but when I was in high school, I took this test, and...")
I have Venetian blinds in my house (the $10 kind) and they're pushing twenty years old. They're getting pretty worn out, at least, the ones that the cats didn't try to climb when they were kittens. Those unfortunate blinds got thrown out a long while ago. But this week, a blind that I still use a lot broke. I like to put it down when the sun is beating in the kitchen on a hot day, and open it so I can see out later. It was kind of hanging there half up and half down and looking pretty ratty, so I decided it had earned its well deserved rest after twenty years and could go to whatever paradise awaits worn-out Venetian blinds.
BUT THEN -- I remembered my destiny. This was it -- my chance! I was meant to fix this thing! It was preordained! This was my opportunity to prove that those tests were not a waste of time after all!
I wrestled the blind out of the brackets that had held it in place for twenty years. (Cough, choke.) I laid it out on the operating table (well, I moved the tablecloth off the kitchen table). I studied it. I contemplated the intricate weaving of the cords. I saw where one had come out. I re-threaded it. I wound it back and forth, I fussed, I sweated, I used every bit of dexterity my fingers had in them. No brain surgeon could have used more care than I.
And I did it! I got the cords to move freely again, and the blind to go up and down!
Bursting with pride, I put the thing back into its brackets and pulled the blind up.
Only to discover that it wouldn't stay up. Somehow, I'd bypassed the little grippy thing with rollers. That must be what holds it up. Huh. I stood still a while. My shoulders were aching and I really had some writing that needed to be done. And I had a faceful of dust.
But this is my destiny, my mind cried! I must repair this blind!
So, I pulled it all the way up, took the cords, and knotted them around the curtain rod behind the little valence at the top of the window with an easy release slip knot. Voila! Blind goes up and down, and stays up when I want it to. No one can tell I cheated got creative.
And my destiny is fulfilled. I have repaired a Venetian blind.
I wonder if I can find my guidance counselor on Facebook and make his day? (Remember me? You told me all I was good for was repairing Venetian blinds? Well, I finally did it! I repaired one! And let me add -- I've published two novels, and I've raised two kids, and I teach students in that school now, and...) But I would never do that.
This young buck is so cute! He has one and a half horns, in velvet. Utterly fearless, eating little green apples that have fallen from our trees in broad daylight. I was at my computer writing and I glanced over my shoulder just now and saw him.
We had a wonderful time, but most of the trip was so foggy that we couldn't even see the light in the lighthouse from the shore. Still, the weather is what I love most about Maine. You can go to the same place over and over, and it's never the same. This is the Nubble Light on Cape Neddick, in York, Maine, yesterday. The sound of the fog horn was mysterious and wonderful.
The same place several years ago for comparison.
Ring Billed Gull
I went swimming, I ate seafood, and I refreshed my soul.
We're making a flying trip to the Maine coast tomorrow with the excuse of checking out a college for my daughter, but it's all about me and my NEED to get my toes (and more) in salt water every so often, and sit on a beach and listen to the waves and check out the sandpipers, and if there's a fried clam in my near future, I sure won't complain.
Yesterday, my husband and I spend a perfect day in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. It's the far north eastern section of Vermont, and it's as wild and beautiful as any place in the world, and its landscape and people exemplify what makes Vermont Vermont. It was coined the Northeast Kingdom almost 70 years ago by the then Governor George Aiken, who said something to the effect that the place was so special it ought to be its own kingdom.The phrase stuck.
It is wild and forested, and the people still predominantly live on small dairy farms that have been in their families for generations. The down side is that the winters are harsh, the summers are short and filled with bugs, and small farms are on the wane, which is why the Northeast Kingdom has Vermont's highest poverty rate. Even I, whose license plates are the right color, feel like an outsider there. I come from Vermont's most affluent county, educated and working in a well appointed school, my daughter takes ballet and piano lessons, and I can choose from an array of culturally diverse restaurants whenever I want to. The parts of the Northeast Kingdom I saw yesterday didn't even have a movie theater. On the other hand, we found plenty of good food, pleasant people, and what I was really looking for -- miles and miles of beautiful solitude.
This is from the Lewis Pond Overlook. You can see into New Hampshire and Canada from here on a clear day.
This is the famous author with her feet in Lewis Pond. I include this photo because two minutes later, I was dancing up and down freaking out and screaming because I saw that a bloodsucker had attached itself between the toes of my right foot. No, honestly, I calmly leaned down, plucked it off, looked at it wiggling in my fingers for a moment, and then placed it gently back into the water saying that unfortunately, I was not an appropriate warm-blooded host. (Okay, I'm a fiction writer, in case you hadn't noticed. The truth is probably somewhere in between.)
More Lewis Pond
Moose Bog. The greenery is a floating mat of peat moss covering an old pond. When you walk on it, it ripples around you. The only open water left is in the middle.
The boardwalk across the bog
The trail to Moose Bog
Blueberries along the trail. Yes, I ate every one after taking the photo. The big one in front was REALLY good.
Quick update on another hot evening while I'm trying to think cool thoughts and remember what it's like here at forty below zero with a wind-driven snow.
Silent One is making me so proud -- it's still number one on the Prizm site after about three weeks, and yesterday I saw that it was number two on a site that distributes books that is somehow linked to Barnes and Noble, though I'm not sure how. This site is geared for adult books, so having Silent One sitting up there makes me do a little happy dance despite the heat. It's also getting nice reviews over on my Goodreads page -- follow the link to the right to read them.
But what makes me the most proud, honestly, is the way my daughter is carrying it around with her everywhere, how my husband growls at me to go away, he's reading, how my mother whipped it out of her bag and showed it to her doctor, how my niece called me in the middle of the night to say she loved it, and how a friend got a bookstore to order it and told them to get stocked up -- I was the next big thing. That so makes it all worth it.
Vermonters aren't used to the heat. I mean, we're pretty much cold for nine months of the year, and spend the other three months saying, "Oh, is this how the rest of the world lives?" and looking around in disbelief. Then it starts to snow again and we get back to normal life. I heard somewhere that there are more swimming pools in Vermont than in Florida, compared to the population.
So to help everyone around here cool down, I made a video about water. It works best when viewed with a large glass of your favorite beverage served with extra ice.
The photos are from Lake Champlain, the New Hampshire White Mountains, the coast of Maine including Acadia National Park, and Prince Edward Island. The birds are an immature Great Black Backed Gull, two mature and one immature Tundra Swans, and several Common Eiders and Common Goldeneye.
And yes, there is a special appearance of the now famous Silent One Canoe!
Today I'm a guest blogger over a very interesting Young Adult review site called Long and Short Reviews. To pop over there and check it out Click Here.
If you're from there, popping over here to visit my blog, hello and welcome! Browse around, check out my two novels, view some of my photos, watch the book trailer for Silent One, Click Here, and make yourself at home. I love comments. Ask me anything about me, my writing, Vermont, birds, or anything else.
Just now, I was sitting at my desk working on a story about a unicorn when suddenly my daughter, who was outside, called, "Mom, look at the driveway!" I whirled around and looked over my shoulder, and this is what I saw standing there.
These are White Tailed Deer, a mother and a very young fawn. This is why I always keep a camera handy (and why I love where I live). Not a great shot by any means, but considering I was shooting fast and through a screen window, I'm not going to complain. I had to adjust the exposure and contrast a bit on the computer. But isn't that a sweet baby?
I'm going to take this as a sign that my story is going in the right direction.
So I just checked the Prizm site, and saw that Silent One wasn't at Number 2 any longer. I gave a little sigh -- it had been nice while it lasted -- and then looked down to see how far I'd gone. Not even on the chart. Oh well. Then I glanced up. And saw that I was, in fact, at Number 1.
Well, that surely must be a mistake, or there's another book out there called Silent One, or something.
So, people may be wondering, how much of this book is true? Well, actually, quite a bit of it.
The boating accident at the beginning of the novel almost happened. I was in fact about five years old and sitting on a blue vinyl cushion in the middle of an aluminum canoe between my parents crossing the mouth of a cove when a motorboat came roaring at us. The driver, as I described, was alone in the boat, and he was looking over his shoulder at a girl on water skies behind him. I understand now that this is illegal -- there must be two people in a boat if someone is water skiing -- one to operate the boat and one to watch the skier. What I described is exactly what happened -- she saw us, screamed, and let go of her rope. I remember hearing my father yell, "Jump!" but there wasn't time.
Fortunately for us, the driver saw the girl fall and cut sharply to the right, avoiding us by about two feet. His wake nearly capsized us, but my parents, unlike Gareth's, were both excellent paddlers, and we stayed upright. The girl was screaming her head off. The driver finally looked around and saw us. The expression on his face as he realized what he'd almost done is something I'll never forget. I don't remember much after that except that my father said a few out of character things and the girl got into the motorboat and they went back to shore very quickly. I've never forgotten the incident, and I doubt any of us will. Probably someday, a woman will come up to me and ask me if I wrote Silent One, and then tell me that she was the girl on water skies. I've never had a great love of motorboats since then, but I've become an avid canoeist myself, and I learned that brushes with death can come most unexpectedly.
The canoe on the cover is mine. It's not the one I was a passenger in that day, but it is virtually identical to it -- a Grumman 17 foot lightweight -- except that is is not dented, nor does it leak. I highly recommend it. I know there are better and fancier canoes out there now, but it's a darn good boat. I bought my canoe from some friends who'd bought it used. It has a sticker from 1967 on it, so it's pushing fifty years old, at least, and it's seen me through some tough spots and still floats. I have to say that if there's anything I'm really good it, it's canoeing. I can almost always put that canoe any place I want the first time I try, and I don't even have to think about it. It just comes naturally. It's good to have at least one thing in life like that.
I took that photo myself last fall when I was thinking about what I wanted on the cover of the book. I submitted a bunch of photos, and the artist, Alessia Brio, picked that one to work with. I'm really pleased with how it came out. (Though for a bit of trivia, the end of the canoe in the photo is actually the stern, so it's technically aiming backwards to the stars. But that's kind of the way my life works most of the time, so it's fitting.)
Anyway, my parents did get divorced a few years after the canoeing incident. But they didn't abandon me -- I lived with my mom, who has never had a drug problem, and I have a very close relationship with my father, too. My father did give my mother an emerald for an engagement ring, but it was stolen along with every other piece of jewelry she owned when her home was broken into a few years ago.
Gareth's school is my school, right down to the placement of the darkroom. It's also the same setting I used for Under the Willow, though I took a few liberties with the ladder going up to the roof for that one. (Yes, there really is a burned out wreck of a car half way down a bank out behind the building.) When I was putting together the book trailer for Silent One, I grabbed my camera and a couple of handy students and asked what, to them, was the essence of the school building. So we walked around and took probably fifty or sixty shots. They had great fun explaining to other kids why I was shooting the inside of the elevator and a corner by the door, and they found me an empty classroom for the desk shots. I took the one of the shades over the windows on my own later, in a room with a bunch of kids who knew me, and they never even asked what I was doing. (Does that mean I have a reputation for oddness? No, they all know I'm a writer. Same thing.)
After that, the book drifts away from my own reality. I did some research into foster care, and I certainly do not mean to imply that Gareth's experience was typical. I know some very fine folks involved in the foster care system in Vermont who do great things for kids. However, I have also heard some sad tales. Still, I have seen amazing strength and courage and beauty in kids that inspired me not to let Gareth become cruel and bitter, but to leave his heart open to love.
I should also add that there are no smelly teachers in my school, nor do teachers attack anyone. Ever.
Making of the book trailer:
Well, it was important to me that all the photos be my own both to avoid copyright issues and because I thought it would be cooler that way. Getting the school shots was easy. The interesting shots of the moon were some I took recently when the moon was really close and extra bright. A friend who didn't have a good view of the moon asked me to take some photos for her, so I did, and got carried away with lenses and filters and experimenting with exposures. Those shots lent themselves to the science fiction feel I wanted to get.
The hand with the knife was a little trickier. I knew my daughter's boyfriend had a bunch of scary looking hunting knives, so I called her and asked her to ask him to bring a few over the next time they came to the house. Well, it turns out they were on the way to the house and it was too late. So after they arrived, I asked him if he'd bring a cool knife the next time he came, and he reached into his pocket and said, "Oh, like this one?" I told him that that would do fine and photographed him holding it. (He's actually an EMT, and that knife he always keeps with him for smashing car windows and cutting seat belts in an emergency.)
The blue water is my swimming pool. One shot is early in the morning; the other, with the reflections, is later in the day.
Who is in the hoodie? Well, I'm under a vow of secrecy on that one, demanded before the model allowed me to take any shots or the video.
Here's another link to the trailer in case you want to take another look:
Anyway, thank you all again for making me Number 1.
My family and I have just gotten back from one of those whirlwind camping trips, grabbing a few days between school's end and summer ballet program's beginning. My oldest daughter loves history and has always wanted to explore Plymouth, MA, so we immersed ourselves in things pilgrim for three days. We also got sick and spent most of our first day at a walk-in clinic getting prescriptions for the oldest. I came down with Killer Cough the next day, and our youngest daughter succumbed yesterday. Fortunately, my husband (the chief driver) remained well, and ferried us around to each stop where we got out so we could claim we'd seen what we'd come to see. And I gotta say, the campground was lovely and full of birds, but the bathroom was the most disgusting place I've ever been in my life. The shower drain didn't work, and everything that was supposed to go down washed across the rest of the floor instead, and had been doing so for years. Nasty place. The woods however, were full of Rufus-sided Towhees, which we don't get around here, and the crowning gem of the place was the Whip-Poor-Will that sang every night. Very rare and made it all worth it, just barely. But I am SO glad to be home.
The Famous Plymouth Rock
The Mayflower II
(Which now has a large Native American section, which is great)
The Pilgrim Settlement
Some random weird lady at a store devoted entirely to bird things
(I think she might be related to the idiot I captured on film back in March wading in the Atlantic)
Some beautiful scenery on Cape Cod
So not a total loss, but it seems really good to be home! (Did I already say that?)
Wow, what an overwhelming response! I've gotten zillions of hits here and lovely comments here and on my Facebook entry. I feel like Silent One is well launched and off to a wonderful start. Thanks so much, and I hope everyone who is reading enjoys the book. Let me know what you all think!
Yes, today is Monday and my second novel is being released on Wednesday.
Working on the galleys this weekend, I discovered that some of the quotation marks and apostrophes were curly and some were straight, and that is not okay. I also discovered that they were that way in my original sub over a year ago, so that would make it pretty much my fault. I sent a panicky email to my wonderful editor Vincent, and she upped my due date from Sunday to "right away." I pulled an all nighter and sent the manuscript. back her sometime before dawn.
Then, I decided, in a fit of madness, to make a visual interpretation of my novel. I've just finished it, and it's totally awesome, but you all will have to wait until release day to see it.
Normally, I pride myself on not letting laundry sit around in baskets. But this weekend, a load sat around so long that Pumpkin decided to take a nap in it. I'm not proud of this, but it's darn cute.
Silent One -- one week from today! I am so excited! I'm doing the final read through right now. I think it may actually happen!
Aside from that, I had an amazing afternoon. I went to the retirement party of a colleague who has worked in my school for twenty something years. She began working there soon after I graduated. I was expecting to see only other colleagues at the party, but someone had invited a bunch of teachers who had worked with my friend back when she'd first started. Which meant for me that my old teachers started walking through the door.
Normally, I'm pretty quiet and reserved, but today, much to the astonishment of the friends I was sitting with, I kept flying out of my seat, running up, and throwing my arms around people they'd never seen before. It was so great, and so totally unexpected! And they all recognized me, even if they didn't know my name. When I told them that I was finally publishing, every one of them was thrilled. In fact, not one of them acted very surprised. I saw my old chemistry teacher who used to read my wild science fiction stories that no one in the English department would touch, my sixth grade science teacher who was also my tenth grade biology teacher, two P.E. teachers, my advanced biology teacher, and an English teacher who had once selected me to represent the school in a writing competition. (I lost.)
In one of those weird time spirals that only happen to me, yesterday I bid farewell to a student I've worked with every day for seven years. In thirty years, will I remember her name? I know I'll never forget her face. This time of year when my kids graduate is very tough, despite how rewarding it is to see them grinning under those blue caps with the dangling tassels. So having been on both sides of the student/teacher spectrum in the past twenty-four hours, I can say one thing with absolute certainty:
Go Facebook or Google one of your old teachers right now, and say hi, and make their day. You might even make them cry.
Silent One is getting closer! I've finished with the proofreading, and it's back in the capable hands of my editor. If things look okay to her, it goes to production, then back to me for a final go over. At that point, if I need to change anything other than formatting issues, I have to go on my knees before the mighty publisher herself. This is where a whole new level of writing stress starts creeping in. Now that it's too late, all kinds of things start popping into my head. Like, is this novel the stupidest thing ever written? At this point, I can so relate to one of my all time favorite characters, Asher, in Chaim Potok's novel, My Name is Asher Lev. When Asher walks into his grand art show opening and sees his masterpiece hanging on the wall, he completely freaks out and asks hoarsely for someone to bring him paints and a brush, quick.
Remember, tomorrow is International Migratory Bird Day!
Come celebrate with me at the Birds of Vermont Museum in Huntington, Vermont. Nine to four, $2 admission, all kinds of activities like bird walks, carving demos, kids' activities, a beautiful pond to check out, trails, a brook, wild birds at the feeders, an awesome gift shop, and of course 500 of the most incredible wood carvings in the world, made by my dad, Bob Spear!
Bring a picnic and spend the day.
Check out the website HERE for directions and more information.
And say that you've come to see the famous author, too, and you'll get a special surprise (aside from making my day!)
And if you can't come, take a moment and appreciate a bird wherever you are!
Busy, busy going over the proofreader's comments for Silent One.
Commas, commas, commas! The editor suggests big changes and hits big grammar issues, usually, but the proofreader makes you stop and think about every single comma in the book! There are right commas, and wrong commas, and "iffy" commas, and ones that work in some places but not in others, and ones used to emphasize something, and ones that completely change the meaning of a sentence if they go away, or give it a new meaning if you mate them up with another one. Commas are the solids in a sentence, and words are the liquid. Or writing is like kneading bread dough, pushing it back and forth, and the commas are the baker's hands.
And clearly I've been staring at this screen too long and need to go to bed.
Enjoy. (And stop by the museum on May 19th to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day from nine to four. Say you're there to see the famous author and... I'll figure out something nice that will happen. Aside from meeting me and seeing my father's amazing carvings, of course!)
In a fit of madness this weekend, my husband and I decided to open the pool. Okay, I might have kind of forced him into it, but he's a good sort and if I want something really bad, he doesn't protest too much. Everything was going all right (well, not counting the fact that I let a bunch of dead leaves fall into the clear water when we were dragging off the cover) until we went to hook up the hoses that run from the pool to the pump and found a cracked valve. So we threw in a gallon of shock and quit running water in until my noble husband made a trip to the pool store during his lunch break yesterday to get a new valve-thingy. We got it on last night, attached the hose, and filled for a few more hours. I'm topping it off right now, so when he gets home today, we can fire it up and see if anything explodes (which may have happened a few times in the past).
The problem is that Sunday was warm and sunny. Last night was cold, and tonight is rainy and cold. Any sensible person would throw the cover back on and maybe wait until July. But I like to swim (okay, I'm passionate about swimming) and I like to have the pool full and clean and the water balanced and ready to go when it's warm enough to enjoy it. The minute the water temp hits fifty, I'm good. My record plunge is forty-seven. That was chilly. I really pretty much swim every day from mid May to the end of September. Outside. In the winter, I go to an indoor pool whenever I can carve out an hour. I have distant mermaid ancestry, you see...
Last night, my first Ruby Throated Hummingbird arrived, breaking my old record of May 6th as the earliest arrival here at my house. I felt so bad because I didn't have my feeders hung out yet, since I usually rely on the Vermont e-bird list where birdwatchers all over the state write in about what they're seeing. I can track the hummingbird migration up the state and be ready. But this little guy must have flown right to me from South America without stopping anywhere first. He lit right on the bracket where I always hang a feeder, so I know he's been here before. It's hard to imagine the miles those little wings have carried him since he left in September.
Within half an hour, I'd made a batch of food and had my feeders out. My little guy has been happily coming all day. Soon more males will arrive, and in a week or so, they'll be joined by the females. Pretty soon, it'll be hummingbirds with love on their minds diving and swooping everywhere. Can't wait.
I've had an pair of Eastern Bluebirds hanging around my bird boxes, but it's too soon to tell if they'll be nesting here or not.
For those of you who aren't lucky enough to live in Vermont...