My husband Michael and I met twenty years ago. On one of our first times out together, we went to the cinema to see The Fellowship of the Rings. It was a great date. Certainly, the fellowship could have stood a little femaleship and (cripes, Hollywood) some diversity. And yes, I found the backstory detours and not-an-ending ending disconcerting. Still, the fantasy adventure had some things going for it. The mischievous Merlin-y Gandalf, the sweet and earnest Frodo, the terrifically terrifying Elf Queen Galadriel, and all that Legolas-Aragorn-Arwen gorgeousness, plus the stunning landscapes and special effects (Arwen’s summoning of the flood!) and the sweeping score, enhanced with a little Enya mystical magic: They dazzled me. Michael and I were transported. [Read more…] about Likably Unlikely
Of all the pottery-making stages—centering, opening, pulling, raising the wall, and shaping—maybe the most difficult to learn is the first. Centering involves placing the clay on the wheelhead, squeezing and lifting the mound into a tall cone, pressing it back down, and exerting pressure toward the center until the clay revolves smoothly.
It sounds so easy. I’m not sure why it isn’t. Centering gives most beginners a terrible time, but there’s no skipping or fudging this step. A centered mound provides a symmetrical starting point. Even pots can’t result from uneven beginnings. [Read more…] about Still
If you’ve ever seen a doctor about an injury, I bet you were asked to rate your pain. Was that hard for you? If your injury wasn’t obvious (no gushing blood, broken bones, blisters from burns), did you hesitate to confess the number that popped into your head? Did you fret you’d come across as a liar? As dramatic, pathetic, or weak? Did you worry giving too high a number would make the doctor suspicious your emergency was a ploy to get a pain meds prescription? Did you dread facing skepticism, doubt, a lecture? [Read more…] about From Zero to Ten
My twelve year old favors my husband’s side, appearance-wise, the long legs, straight back, and Brad-Pitt eyes, but she’s very much her own person. Confronted by one of her unique inclinations, my husband and I will sometimes marvel, “Who’d she get that from?” In one respect, however, she’s all mine: She doesn’t part with stuff, at least not easily. Her messy bedroom pains my husband, the neatest person I know, but she can’t seem to toss, donate, or recycle much of anything. “It’s too special,” she says. (Our ten year old couldn’t be more different. Case in point: He used to tidy his kindergarten teacher’s desk for her during recess. For fun.)
When I first started learning ceramics, my professor encouraged my classmates and me to make kiln gods for our glaze firing. This was an old tradition, he told us. We were going to position our greenware guardians near the kiln opening, just as the potters of ancient cultures did. The little gods would keep watch over our pieces during the firing. [Read more…] about Kiln Gods
There is a great in-between for creators. I’m in it now. A draft of a novel, completed and set aside. No new tale begun. No new tale even imagined. A lull.
Isn’t lull a beautiful word? Beautiful in sound, beautiful in meaning. The heart of lullaby. Kin to loll. Singing, sleeping, rocking, calm.
In a recent exchange of emails, I mentioned to a writer friend that I was in this lullsome state and realized after sending my message that my friend might think I’m depressed about this condition. I’m not. Though I don’t have a plan for a project, I’m enjoying my spell of anticipation. It’s a happy time, this dreaming, meandering hush. I read and read, all sorts of things, poems and plays, news and novels. I sit and think. I walk and watch. I dwell in possibility. I know there’s a novel out there somewhere, a gift for me. I can’t open it yet. I can’t even spy it. It’s hidden, like a living treasure, a rare bird nesting in a tree among trees, a tree in a thick forest.
While I was working on my last novel, my mind was a garden: planted, regularly watered and weeded, on its way to bearing fruit. There is no garden now. There’s only wilderness. I’m silent, wandering, lost in the loveliest way. When the gift’s ready to be found, it will sing, “Here I am,” and call me closer.
I will hear it because I have been listening.
“Forever is composed of nows.”
Happy New Year. It’s resolution time. Time to get thinner, stronger, smarter, richer. Time to heal our broken relationships. Time to find a new job. Time to quit procrastinating on that novel that needs to be written. But I’m tired. Are you tired, too? Too tired for big changes and improvements and overhauls?
This year, especially this year, maybe we deserve to cut ourselves some slack in the resolution department. If you have the energy for any or all of the above, good for you, but if you don’t and you’re a writer, a stressed-out writer who wants to pen a terrific novel or come up with a score of brilliant stories or poems, but is struggling to simply think straight, I have a suggestion. It’s something I’ve been doing. It’s easy. And it makes me happy. [Read more…] about Present and Accounted for
My dad used to work in a nursing home. If he had to go in on a Saturday afternoon, sometimes my sister and brother and I went with him. I’m not sure why this was permissible. I’m also not sure why we didn’t stay home with our mom. But she was a waitress at Davidson’s Restaurant and occasionally worked the lunch shift, so maybe she had to work, too.
The nursing home was small and elegant; its residents, all women and all rich. I remember my dad explaining the lack of men by telling us that women tend to live longer than men. I remember feeling lucky about this. [Read more…] about Fall into Place
I’m an enthusiastic gardener in the spring, a lazy weed-enabler in the fall. As I write this post, the brilliant foliage in the woods outside my window, though lovely, isn’t quite distracting me from the sad state of a flowerbed, where grass threads the lavender, wild asters bloom whitely between the lanky remains of hollyhocks, and bindweed twirls around the rosebush branches. Worse yet, it looks like poison ivy has gotten a roothold in my hydrangea. [Read more…] about Planting Season
Six months into this pandemic, I’m realizing things about myself, one of which is how cautious I am. Some friends and family members assure me the country’s situation isn’t as bad as the media paints it and, in fact, is getting better. But as of this week, there are over three million active cases of Covid-19, and we’ve passed the two hundred thousand deaths mark. That’s…a lot. That doesn’t sound like “better.” So I’m still practicing social distancing. Though I’ll call and write to the people I love, I won’t visit or entertain them. My caution has strained a few of my relationships, and I feel badly about that. “This isn’t forever,” I’ll say and think, I hope this isn’t forever. [Read more…] about Happenings