Thursday, December 29, 2005

Hi, Honey, I'm Home

Lovely, lovely trip with the husband and two babes to Alabama to see my family. Lots of visiting, lots of eating, lots of chasing children, lots of driving, but, above all, lots of love.

Back at the ranch, things seemed to go well. The dogs survived our absence, as did the house (this house already burned down once--in 1978). The petsitters were diligent, and loads of mail and packages greeted us when we walked into our kitchen last night. It was Christmas morning all over again as we tore into the new gifts at 10pm.

One delightful part of the trip was seeing how content my children generally are. This is apart from one road-related discipline moment when the 2.5yo was yelling in the car for no other reason than to needle us and his 9mo sister. After N blew through the first warning, D and I were forced to pull over onto the shoulder of I-95 and get out of the car for a minute to show N that actions have consequences. My God, that was scary, and I don't see ever doing that again. Not only did semis roll by closely at 80mph, but the kids cried in our absence (as I would have). I think N learned his lesson. So did I: I need to find a less dangerous method to deal with screaming in the car. Any ideas?

A seems to be sick with a cold this first morning back, and while I am sorry for her, I am secretly pleased to have the time she is sleeping to put to organizing the house. As I type, though, I hear some coos from upstairs. A heavy diaper awaits me.

I'm pondering some goals for 2006, and hope to make a post on this topic in a day or so. Meantime, I've got to be Momma, sort through mail and pay bills, wash clothes, plan some menus, and run various errands. We're back in business here.

I hope that all of you are enjoying the holidays, feeling some peace and some love.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

'Tis the Season

The problem with time is that we think we have it. If we realized that we don't possess time, then perhaps we would become less stressed and more open to the miracles that happen every moment around us.

Please replace every instance of the word "we" with "I" in the above. I admit it, this lesson is for me. I'm the one who's grasping toward the illusion of time. I'm having trouble fitting in everything I have to do for myself and my family before we leave for my folks' next week. And isn't it a shame that I may be missing some of the magic? My 2.5yo son is just now discovering the wonders of Santa Claus, Christmas lights, stockings, and cocoa. I must slow down and breathe it in.

At the top of my to-do list, I should just write:
Every moment is an infinity, and yet, every moment is born and then dies.

Maybe de-pooping the backyard isn't so important after all.

I am signing off until at least the end of December, if not the New Year, when I will return with a little list of goals I'd like to accomplish in the infinity of moments that we everyday folk like to call 2006.

I wish all of my brothers and sisters a wonderful holiday season of joy and peace.
Your faithful,
Mary Louisa

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Seven Things Meme

Oh, I do love a meme! It gives me an excused absence from creating a blog entry from scratch. Thanks to the fetching Lisa Coutant for tagging me.

Seven Things to Do Before I Die:
1. Visit the Puglia region of Italy
2. Finish the novel I'm writing
3. Finish writing and mail my Christmas cards
4. Make the kids' baby books
5. Ski in the Alps
6. Take a luxury cruise of some exotic coastline (without the kids, natch)
7. ummmm, nothing else comes to mind except to keep hugging and kissing and loving on the family

Seven Things I Cannot Do:
1. Lie convincingly
2. Tell a joke. To save my life. My trying to tell a joke is a comedy act in and of itself. You really will laugh AT me, not WITH me.
3. Throw a frisbee
4. See without contacts or glasses
5. Raise one eyebrow
6. Keep a houseplant alive for more than six months
7. Make a convincing croissant

Seven Things that Attract Me to My Spouse [romantic interest, best friend, whomever](not necessarily in this order!):
1. His sense of humor
2. His boyish good looks
3. His smarts
4. His height
5. His sensitivity
6. His creativity
7. His passion

Seven Things I Say (or write!) Most Often:
1. sure
2. yep
3. WOW
4. hugs
5. ML
6. holy crap
7. NO! (when you live with wayward pets and toddling kids, that one gets over-used)

Seven Books (or series) I Love:
1. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
2. Ceremony (Silko)
3. The Crying of Lot 49 (Pynchon)
4. And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street (Seuss)
5. House of Mirth (Wharton)
6. Kozak's Wollie Shelley mysteries
7. Fair and Tender Ladies (Smith)
ooooooh, I could go ooooooon...

Seven Movies I Would Watch Over and Over Again:
1. Groundhog Day
2. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
3. Apocalypse Now
4. The Godfather
5. Miller's Crossing
6. On the Waterfront
7. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Taylor/Newman/Ives)

Seven People I Want to Join in: (be tagged)
1. Lynsloo
2. Steph C.
3. Becky
4. Erica M-R
5. Christa (I know I just tagged you, but you need something to keep you off your feet)
6. Joshilyn Jackson
7. Shanraye

Be fruitful and multiply the meme, my daughters.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Draw a Map for Me

Am I the only almost-novelist who is just now figuring this out? I drew a map of my fictional setting the other day. It was a revelation. An inspiration. A veritable well-spring of new ideas.

Until I set to diagramming the digs of my sleuth and her fellow citizens, I had ignored in my book concrete (pun intended) illustrations of what gives a small southern town its flavor--bits of local color that beg to be included. There are the monuments of racial strife: the "Academy," or the private school built to "protect" the town's white students from forced desegregation, and the Confederate soldier statue, who faces eternally South. There is the rich religious history: the AME Zion Church as well as the First Presbyterian. Change is inevitable, we know: What will become of the shuttered main street department store or the struggling independent hardware store? New apartments, a bowling alley, a Hardees or Popeye's, and a BP station squeeze into strange spots. A strip joint beckons from the outskirts, across from the Chinese buffet and the Guatemalan grocery.

Can you tell I enjoyed this exercise in world-building? I can't wait to get back to it. First though, two naps are now done, and with them two dirty diapers to be changed. Then snacks. Don't forget the two barking dogs due their dinners. A little playtime and laundry, followed by dinner preparation. But relief is in sight. My husband will be home early tonight (yes, 6:30 is early) for our once-a-week trade-off, when he lets me "do my own thing" for several hours. My atlas awaits...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Speaking of CEREMONY

I mentioned in the post below that one of my favorite novels is Leslie Marmon Silko's CEREMONY. In it, a battle-fatigued Laguna WWII veteran returns home to find his Pueblo dying. The book follows him on his journey to bring himself, his people, and his land back to health. In the process, he is treated by two American Indian healers. I just saw this link today on

Friday, December 02, 2005

15 things about books

Robert Gregory Browne tagged me for a book meme. You list 15 facts and personal preferences about books. It's my first meme!

1. Last year about this time I sold off approximately $300 worth of books from my collection. I don't regret it one bit.

2. At the same time, I donated approximately five moving boxes full of books to our AAUW yearly book sale.

3. At present, I own mostly paperback books. I seem to be on an unstated hardback moratorium.

4. I used to buy all my books used. Force of habit from grad school bag lady days.

5. Now I try to buy new books, since I understand better how an author's career depends on that particular exchange of capital.

6. As a child, my mother and I would go I would go with my mother to the downtown Huntsville (AL) Public Library once a week to check out books. We also checked out artwork to hang on our walls. I will never ever forget the smell of that building, especially the children's room, an odor I will always associate with inspiration and delight.

7. It never in a million years would've occurred to me to be afraid of germs in library books, as Anne Frasier noted, but now that I've read THIS, I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't be more careful. I do live close to Philadelphia.

8. My two children have approximately one-hundred books. The older is not even two and a half. About twenty of these are books from my own childhood. All but a handful of the rest were gifts.

9. We read POLAR EXPRESS to N last night for the first time. At bedtime he made D read it three times before he would allow the light to be turned off. He woke up an hour earlier than usual this morning, shouting, "My Express Book! My Express Book!" I had to begin the reading cycle again immediately. It has continued throughout the day. I cry every time I read the last page.
How many more days until Christmas?

10. My three favorite novels are, in no particular order, ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (Twain), CEREMONY (Leslie Marmon Silko), and THE CRYING OF LOT 49 (Thomas Pynchon). I own multiple editions of each. I have lots of second favorites.

11. I have about twenty copies of my own book in my closet. I also have about ten copies of my grandmother's book of stories.

12. I own quite a few first editions by American authors. Do I read them? No. They sit on a shelf inside a closet where the light can't get to them. Brilliant.

13. Giving the gift of a book is one of the finest things one can do.

14. I have never seen my mother go to bed without a book in her hand. Ever.

15. I bought my mom a brick at my local library in thanks for instilling her love of books in me.

Oh, crap! I just realized (a few hours later) that I, too, need to tag people. I tag Christa M. Miller, Matthew Masucci, and Jason Evans to participate!