I am very excited. It’s my birthday next month and for the first time I will be celebrating a completed draft. My birthday has been the occasion of many missed self-imposed deadlines but this year it finally happened. Over Labor Day weekend, and I love the birthing metaphor, I sent a fourth draft of my memoir to my editor.
Currently, I am awaiting her comments and suggestions. To avoid watching my inbox while holding my breath, I scheduled a vacation with my friend, Beth. We traveled to Vermont, Massachusetts, and upstate New York. The weather was positively glorious. We were a tad ahead of the peak color changes for the maple trees but still thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
It was imperative I get away from my laptop and the printed copy of the book. It’s safe to say it took a certain level of obsession to finish and I still will have a lot of work ahead to polish the draft into the final version.
I think it was Brene Brown who said, “There’s no such thing as a perfect book.” That’s reassuring, because trying to write one is an exercise in futility. My book covers a thirty year span and I’m most surprised at what I chose not to include. For better or for worse, it’s done.
Birthing this book has been exponentially more difficult than any of the four deliveries I’ve experienced. As I sit in the waiting room, I’m reminded of what really matters. My wonderful husband and fantastic children have cheered me on every step of the way. I’m indebted to them. It’s thrilling to be this close to a finished product but without their steadfast support I would never have made it.
Enjoy the last of the warm days and the cooling nights. I’m eager for what lies ahead.
I recently refreshed the site. I like it a lot more and hopefully it looks a bit more polished. Feel free to navigate through the pages. I’ve even linked my social accounts, (look at me go). I hope you’re having a great summer, I sure am. Let me know if any of the links don’t work for you. I know the pic from thirty years ago is a bit blurry, but like I said, it’s a fave.
A few months ago I came up with the idea writing a book is a lot like making candy. For those brave souls who have stood over a pot stirring until your arm almost falls off, you get the picture. If you’ve never had the pleasure, let me explain.
The gooey mixture gets heated on the stove to just the perfect temperature. You use a candy thermometer but the real test is dropping some of the sweetness into a glass of cold water. Not hot enough, and the stuff will dissolve in the water. As it heats up, it starts to form a palpable blob. This is called “soft ball” stage, preferable for things like caramel rolls. If you heat it longer, you will get to “hard crack” which works for peanut brittle but not taffy.
For the last twenty years, I’ve claimed to be writing a book. In reality, I never made it past the dissolve into nothing stage. I wrote in my journal, even took a few classes, but to say life got in the way would be an understatement. I actually quit a job I hated giving the reason: I have to finish my book. My loving husband told me years ago, as we returned from a party, “You really shouldn’t tell people you’re writing a book. It’s like crying ‘wolf’.”
Last week, my book hit “soft ball” stage. It’s ready to be pulled off the stove and stretched and pulled into the finished product. The book doesn’t resemble the purple prose versions I labored over years ago. It has structure, defined chapters and most importantly, my truth.
I’m incredibly grateful to all of the people who smiled politely when I mentioned the book, yet it never appeared. It’s a lot like announcing you’re on a diet and working out, only to not lose an ounce. Yep, I did that too. There is a schedule in place, a self-imposed deadline, and so far I’m hitting the mark. Thank you for your generous patience as I stumbled and quit this marathon so many times. The finish line is in sight.
My how time flies. When we last chatted, winter covered the land. Now spring has sprung, there are buds on the trees and I’m buying sandals. You’re right, it doesn’t take much to get me to buy things, but the change of seasons helps.
I dusted off my hosting skills and sat twenty-four for Easter dinner last weekend. It was fun for me and the weather in Mpls certainly cooperated. We had all of the windows and doors open. The bugs haven’t descended yet so all is well.
The title of the post is a two-fer. I’m back blogging and the state of Minnesota sent me a postcard in the mail informing me they finally figured out how to transfer personalized license plates between cars. I kid you not. The system was down for two years. In that time I bought a new-ish car and wanted my CBD plates to stay with me.
I bought the plates five cars ago so we go way back to my minivan days. I’ve owned those three letters for almost twenty years. Now, however, guys that look like Jerry Garcia are giving me the thumb’s up at the gas station. It seems my monogram has become the calling card for oils, bears and other cannabis products. Great, I’ve never gone near the stuff and and now I look like a dealer.
I prefer the association with downtown, aka Central Business District. My fantastic husband has toiled there for most of his career. He loves showing up to industry functions like golf tournaments sporting the CBD plates. Then again, he gets a kick out of life in general.
The book is still humming along and speaking of it, I should get back to it. Thanks for reading this post and I will check in soon.
Alright, it’s winter in Minnesota, I get it. But I’m crying, “Uncle!” Not that it will do much good. My driveway is hopelessly covered by a deep blanket of the white stuff and I had to, again, cancel appointments today. I’m back in my purple bath robe, writing.
My progress on my memoir probably is aided by the snow days we’ve had this winter, so there’s that. My house is as clean as it’s going to get. If I start alphabetizing my bookshelves, I may draw the line. My husband and I are sharing a cold virus and are in competition for who recovers first.
I’ve tried to stay away from TV but I did rent The Wife from Amazon Prime Video. Since the subject was writing, I found it fascinating. Glenn Close was riveting in the title role. She portrayed her character’s wide range of emotions superbly. My favorite moment was watching her hear her grandchild’s voice for the first time.
Speaking of grandchildren, I picked mine up from school last week and noticed the pile of snow next to the parking lot. It got me thinking of my childhood school days spent sliding down what felt like mountains of snow. Either those hills were huge or I was closer to the ground. Some future engineers made multiple twisting ice slides out of the snow pack for all of the kids to enjoy. Invariably, one or two per recess would bang their head but we were willing to take the risk.
Cooking is easier when you’re home all day, too. I’ve tried a lot of different homemade soups, roasts and meat sauces. With my background as a stay at home mom, I have no issue finding things to occupy my time. It’s the idea I can’t leave should I want to that bothers me.
We live in a town house and pay dearly with our management fees to have our walks and driveway cleared. This doesn’t preclude us from clearing it ourselves, but geez, it’s a pain in the rump. All they can manage is once during the dump. As I write I just saw my shoveler has arrived. Hope springs eternal.
It’s been almost a month since I’ve posted and some things have changed. I’m adjusting to an unusual surplus of a valuable commodity: time. My schedule has more breathing room now, yet there are occasions I find myself banging on my helmet ala Tom Brady and changing it up after the play’s been called.
I’ve been buried in my manuscript for days, churning out new material to make my deadline. Now I’m watching the snow swirl outside. It’s the first of two polar vortex days my grandson’s school has declared. And it’s supposed to get colder. I’m having fun since he brought over walkie talkies and Nerf guns. He turned ten earlier this month and as all of the other digits have been, it’s the perfect age. We had to call a truce because I got an instant bruise from a shot to the hand.
Today is an unexpected break from routine. I had planned to write a post about how much better my time management skills are when I call an audible. For instance, I’ve got fifteen minutes to leave the house. Curling iron is heated, teeth are brushed, face is washed. Suddenly, my contacts refuse to go into my eyes cleanly and require much urging. I opt for makeup and skip the big hair. Schedule maintained.
For some reason, I could never do that when I was younger. Stubborn to the core, I would be habitually tardy due to refusing to alter my original plan. I definitely had to do it all, regardless of the cost of time.
Next time you’re faced with doing it all or being on time, think about letting a few spinning plates drop. Or if you prefer to stick with one metaphor, call an audible.
As 2018 winds down we wrap up another whirlwind vacation featuring my Fab Four. No longer children, they are adults in their own right. This seems impossible, considering I will never age beyond twenty-five. But my crew are all thirty somethings and I couldn’t be prouder of the human beings they have become.
Today my daughter and her husband return to Nashville. We’ve had a wonderful week filled with museums, movies, music and the mayhem that ensues once a year. My favorite moment was the organized chaos we orchestrated to prepare dinner. All hands were on deck, four burners and six people created the food while more veggies were chopped and the table for nine was set. We worked together and enjoyed a great meal, accompanied by a rockabilly playlist.
When I set up the Christmas decorations this year, I kept getting a vision of how I would feel when it was all over. I tried to push it away since the presents were still wrapped and the air was filled with anticipation. Now I look back on the week I waited all year for with a certain sense of satisfaction.
Despite running their own respective households, all the kids meld under one roof once again. At the risk of conjuring up memories and nostalgia best lived once, for one week a year we gather together.
The eventual let down of watching everyone return to their lives and adopted home states cannot be avoided. I’m reminded of Brene Brown’s concept of foreboding joy. I could circumvent the denouement but only by never engaging in the first place. So I decorate to take it down, make plans to execute them and revel in the company of my family only to miss them when it’s over.
On the horizon is a year full of promise. January will bring renewed commitments to exercise, lose weight, organize and produce a body of work. Godspeed to you in whatever you pursue. I look back on the last week of the year and the last day of 2018 renewed, refreshed and happy.
Well, the 2018 version of the holiday letter is now in the capable hands of the USPS. I’ve had a merry band of family and friends follow this little blog since I started it on November 5th, 2018. Now I’m ready to open it up a bit.
I usually have a case of writer’s remorse after mailing the letter, but this year it’s extraordinary. I’m thinking of all the things I didn’t say about Gus and the kids. And I’m wondering why I prattled on so long about myself. Oh well, that’s why I’m back at the table in my fuzzy purple bathrobe. I now have a better chance to redeem myself…or not.
We sold our beloved cabin Up North this summer. The chances of retiring there were slim and the market was good for sellers. We cried on the dock before we headed to the closing and the end was certainly bittersweet. Despite delaying the closing date until after July 4th, we were still running around hours before signing it over to the new owners. Cleaning, packing the few belongings we didn’t sell with the place and racing against the clock. In a scene out of Prohibition, I was pouring old beer down the drain that was probably in the back of the fridge for four or five years. Yuck. We will miss our dear neighbors Andy and Marilyn and all of the fun we had at Birch Point.
Without a cabin, the need for an SUV greatly diminished so I traded it in for a sedan. I went shopping for at least three months and tried out a variety of vehicles. One feature I decided I must have was a heated steering wheel. Luckily, I found one and it happened to be attached to a used car that was a tad out of my price range. Jim flatly said, “No, you don’t need that much car.” I whined, pouted and emptied my savings account to purchase said sedan.
I had been enjoying my car for a few months when winter set in hard core. I found the button to activate my coveted heated steering wheel and felt I had arrived at a new level of luxury. A few days later, I said to Jim, “Wow, I must really be hitting the keyboard hard. My hands feel raw.” Then I noticed little blisters had formed where my palms gripped the wheel. My fancy schmancy cold weather package was working overtime.
In the dead of a MN November that car’s seat heater also scorches my rump even on the tamest setting. I had to share because I can’t think of a better example of a first world problem. Next thing you know, my ice cream will be too cold.
I remember reading the story of the flying elephant to my kids when they were little. It begins with the other circus animals welcoming their miniature versions of themselves. Each takes a turn, but no baby arrives for Mrs. Jumbo. Hold it right there. Sure, she’s a tad larger than some of the other performers. But who in their right mind decided to name a pregnant female anything, Mrs. Jumbo? And then, just to add insult to injury, call her (overly endowed in the ear department) child Dumbo?
I often wondered what lessons were supposed to be absorbed by the child reading the story. Elephants have a long gestation period? You can’t always get what you want? Good things are worth the wait? Women don’t care what you name them in stories as long as you throw MRS in front of it? I had such a hard time with the premise I hid our copy in the bottom of the box of books.
As an adult, I related strongly to Mrs. Jumbo. I felt like I was always waiting for something just out of reach. When it arrived, I’d place some new goal on the horizon to try to achieve. It sounds admirable but it put me in a perpetual state of anticipation. Makes for a good song but not a fun way to live.
Which brings me to the topic of writing my book. For the past umpteen years, I’ve written, “Finish the Book” in my journal on January 1st. It was nothing more than a wish. I wanted to be done, but had no plan or structure. Like Mrs. Jumbo waiting in the corner, confused and sad.
I waited so long for this incredibly perfect, magical tome to appear I could barely stand it. I realize now how futile that is. Birthing a book is a tempting metaphor but simply misguided. It’s art. And that takes inspiration and plain old work.
I plan on having a lot of both come to the fore as my book takes shape. And it’s guaranteed to be more like Dumbo than I ever realized. Flawed, different, but stands on its own as completely mine.
How was yours? Mine was definitely the least stressed out holiday I can remember hosting. My locally based son and daughter helped with the cooking and shared the day with us. My grandson travelled over the river and through the woods to see his great grandmother with his Dad. And my out of town son and daughter dutifully phoned home while celebrating with friends.
I had lift off of my magic turkey timer three minutes before the scheduled oven timing was to end. I then found a pair of turkey lifters in my gadget drawer. That made my professional mom stock soar higher than a balloon in the Macy’s Parade. I was quickly brought back to earth by Gravy 1, CBD 0. It was not dark or flavorful enough. Oh well, I’ve accomplished other culinary feats and the stuffing was superlative.
After dinner we went to share pie with my family of origin gathered at my sister’s. We played a warm up round of Catch Phrase. One by one the adults migrated into other corners of the house and in their place were my teen and twenty something nieces and nephews. My first reaction was to press my napkin to my lips and quickly excuse myself, but I decided to hang a bit and visit.
They grew weary of not understanding certain phrases on the screen of the ticking game (New York Minute) and switched to 5 Second Rule. After modifying the rules a bit we had a rollicking good time. Two of my nephews started their first jobs and they were making me howl with stories of surly holiday customers. It was delightful getting their perspective on fraudulent coupon use and the complete failure to prepare these kids before throwing them into stores to deal with the general public..