Category Archives: Darwin’s View

My Goals for the End of April, in Preparation for May

GOALS:

On Saturday, today, attend the People’s Climate Mobilization March in Keene, thereby combining relative Climate Action with errands, thereby lowering carbon footprint by not driving to Concord or Boston, thereby alleviating sense of “Is this enough?” with reality of daily life.

Print out “No Ban. No Walls. No Raid.” signs to be put up at our house in Providence.

Spread POV (peas, oats, vetch) seed.

Stir and spread BD preps.

Host Apple tree grafting party with Ben Watson at Darwin’s View.

Jump start blog.

And clean up basement in anticipation of the extreme organizing because here is my May goal: Sell our house in Providence.

Yes, we are putting our Providence house on the market, hopefully by May 12th.

OMG. However do that?

Breathe.

Go step by step.

Rememember this: loss happens. Letting go. Change. Every minute of the day, there is change. Today. Now. It is a beautiful day here at Darwin’s View. The clouds this morning looked like glowing, puffy gray pillows. Mist on the hills. Tom Turkeys gobbling. Barn swallows swooping. Chickens cackling. The trees are as amazing in spring as in the fall with their variety of greens. Carl’s peach trees are covered with buds. (Not bugs!) The clouds are now a haze that allows the sun to warm the backs of the browsing turkeys.

May 1: Drive to Providence to put up “No Ban. No Walls. No Raid.” signs. Meet with real estate agents and staging consultant. Greet the 15 yard dumpster. Remind Carl to go to his 2PM dentist appointment. Prepare to pack.

May 1-4: Rip out our raised beds. Pluck the iris out of the ground. Roll sod. Mulch.

Pack. Preferably not everything. There is no room for everything at Darwin’s View.

Contemplate the consequences of my choices. Badabing! Done.

But first a march and rally to keep the bigger picture in mind: that we must each, individually, act now, in however big or small a way, to change our habits for the good of the environment. Each and every one of our choices matter. How we get from point A to B. What we eat. How we relate to one another: with compassion or hate.

The words “trump” and “nasty” have been forever ruined for me.

By May 12: Assist Carl in building Chicken Coop 10 for the chicks that are supposed to be pullets but one of the buff polish chicks has a head top that looks remarkably like a mohawk, not a muffin top. His sister (I hope) has more of a muffin top than a mohawk. Thus their names, tentatively, Muff and Moe. And all of these chicks, frankly, have “stand up and look at me” attitudes a la cockerels.

That would just be bad luck to pick six sexed chicks and have them all be boys.

Two trips to NYC.

. . . and move out of Providence.

Even if I move, it exists in my heart. And I imagine what it must be like for refugees. How awful to be forced to leave home, lives in danger. Hunger, thirst, fear. Great fear opposing their longing for home. The unfamiliarity of here. The necessity of enduring, living, loving.

Loving is so much better than hating, giving so much more fulfilling than clinging.

But this is just a rough list. No times to deepen or truly think. It’s time to rally, to march.

There is a Storm Coming. No. It’s Here.

Ever since moving up here to Darwin’s View four years ago, I have been in a holding pattern.

. . . Holding pattern might not be the right term. Holding pattern implies stillness, a lack a change, not the hyper-activity, both outside and in, that has occurred. The pattern I speak of could be considered, dare I say it? an evolution. Writing a book in which I am the main character, riding a familial roller coaster that takes me away, even as I seek to root. ADD and OCD. Hot sweats and cold sweats. WtF moments. From Bernie to HRC to Orange Julius in the White House, this day is as pivotal for me as that, five years ago, when I stood in a grocery store debating, for a crazy length of time, which might be the happiest eggs to buy. That interior dialogue determined me to buy six chicks because I would have the happiest of eggs. Thus, here I am at Darwin’s View.

Life is not so simple. That rendition of reality ignores a number of other factors but it gets me here, living off-grid, dipping into permaculture, and distracted by the activity of building an addition to our perfectly-sized house.

Carl commented yesterday that our house is like U.S. politics, in renovation mode. I pointed out, grumpily, that that is what I have been attempting to write for the last four years: how our lives here are a microcosm of our nation. And that, at this rate, the world will end before my book does because on top of everything else, now we must work to save our democracy.

Must. As Paul Gilding wrote in his book The Great Disruption, this in no longer a case of what you want to do, but of what you have to do. 

Through my evolutionary process I have learned not to get overwhelmed by doing this: Go step by step. Don’t look too far ahead. Hydrate. Especially when sprouting seedlings.

And so, what am I doing in these interesting times? All the things that everyone says to do. In cyclical moods, I think these things only to keep us busy. The petitions. The donations. The phone calls. Do they really make a difference? At least I will have tried.

To repeat, in part what I said in my last post: I am calling my senators and representatives, at the state and national level, a minimum of once a week, preferably every day. Each day, a new concern and new outrage. When it gets too overwhelming and there are too many outrages? I focus on environmental issues because I still, in the background, have my war against climate change to fight and win.

I have printed out my Indivisible Guide and read . . . most of it.

I am going to go to my town hall and learn more about how local politics work by finding out how to submit a petition to support our first amendment rights. And will get that petition signed.

I have not yet but intend to read conservative, preferably sane and civilized, articles on the environment and/or daily events so as to attempt to understand the “other” side. Because we have to find common cause. It’s there. When I went door to door for Bernie, I met a lot of people who were waffling between Bernie and the too soon to be Orange Julius. We Americans are far more alike than we are different.

I am participating in marches. They might be feel good events but the numbers that are turning out is heartening. We are doing what “they” fear: We are sitting up and paying attention.

In response? They ignore us. They ignore We, the People.

Hm. That brings to mind the William Congreve quote, Hell Hath no Fury like that of a woman scorned.

Imagine the fury of three million and counting. And their spouses. And their children.

This week, the wall between the old house and the addition will come down. Isn’t that fitting? Tearing down a wall between the past and future is symbolic of this time. We plan to serve tequila and avocados because if Orange Julius builds his wall, those won’t be available to us anymore.

I would prefer to sit in my office and tap at my keyboard, read, pet the cats, hang out with the chickens. But if I am complacent, who can I blame if Orange Julius wins?

Nasty New Cocktail Recipe

Take 8 ounces of Flint water. (Swamp water or water found near fracking facilities can be used as substitute if Flint water is unavailable.) Add one rotten egg. Stir until thoroughly bruised.

Pour into a chilled martini glass.

Add orange peel.

Voila: An Orange Julius, for those who want to be a Caesar with an Orange Complexion.

This is a nasty drink. Disappointing to be sure. Don’t bother to buy one. It’s already been bought.

Alcoholic version: Putini, a vodka martini with orange slice. Or an Orange Russian. Both hard to look at but worse to drink.

Chase with this:

I don’t know. Is it poisonous? Kind of looks like it is. . ..

Silver-Lining Anyone?


Every day, the world breaks my heart. The destruction of the environment. The horrors of factory farms. The rending of our social fabric by alienation, disrespect and deceit. Every day, I fail to live up to my hopes. My war against climate change, declared so quixotically back in March of 2013, has come to naught. Ditto my quest to save democracy. If anything, both are worse off than when I began.

Maybe I aimed too high. As more than one person has told me, one person can’t change the world.

. . . An arguable point. Think Hitler. Think Mahatma Gandhi. Going forward, think Vandana Shiva and Bill Mollison. Going backwards, think Orange Julius.

Orange Juliu is assaulting our rights, insulting our citizens, spewing hate and greed, casting aspersions on truth and holding the flag of deception high and proud, all the while ignoring the no longer hypothetical warming of the planet.  Orange Julius and his diabolic appointees exude that gross ethos that has evolved in certain strata of America. Not that around Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness but around money. Moneymoneymoneymoneymoney gives meaning and purpose to life. And if you don’t have enough of it—and there is never enough—you will be crushed. Thus, those with it grasp, in terror, for more, and We, The People are in a “crossfire chicken wing”—one of the top ten best wrestling holds used to bring the enemy to its knees.

The enemy, apparently, is us.

The good news? Our infantilization is over.  Orange Julius has wiped the vernix from our eyes. It is now perfectly clear what We, The People are up against: Demo-n-Capitalism. Like  Orange Julius, it doesn’t care about right or wrong. It has the power and will do anything, anything at all, to keep it.

More good news: Had HRC won—which she did but who’s counting? And had she been the one inaugurated today, We, The People would have continued as we were. We would have popped some GMO’ed popcorn and settled in for another four years of Republican rabidity, searching for something, anything, that would stick against the Clintons that the Republicans were not, themselves, guilty of. We would have continued to watch the lowering baseline of our environment, our economy, our politics and our humanity. In short, we would have maintained the entirely unsustainable status quo.

Instead? We have a choice: Door number one, change and sacrifice in the name of a greater good, or door number two, wait for someone to save us, with that someone not being anywhere in sight.

Four years ago, in a baby step way and not really aware of the extent of the consequences, I chose a prototype to door number one. I moved to Darwin’s View. Here, I am looking deep, trying to find my heart’s purpose and how I might fulfill what potential is me.

Each of us has that: potential, a heart’s purpose.

This Tory is a liberal, and proud to be. And I have never had my life, liberty and happiness threatened as deeply as it is today. I am not black nor brown. I am not poor. I speak English with an occasion dip into a rebel Rhode Island twang or a New Hampshire drawl. But, as are so many black, brown, poor, non-native speaking people living in this country, I am an American. I might not be proud of what my country has done in the name of progress and oil and money but I am proud of what this country might become—will become if We, The People look deep and find how we each might act out our life’s purpose, and help others to do the same.

The best news of all: Today, the inauguration of  Orange Julius, is a 9/11 moment. People all around the world are marching with us against misogyny, sexism, racism, zealotry, ignorance, and for the planet. We are not alone if we choose not to be. We are not alienated unless we opt not to see how connected we are to each other and to this beautiful planet. It has taken decades for us to get to this point of change. It’s a personal choice how we each will act. To march or not. To fight—literally or figuratively—or not. But this need not be a lonely work.

To save the world and its soils and water and sentient creatures, to save our democracy and the freedoms we hold dear, is actually very simple, if a challenge to implement. We have the tools to heal and the power to shift from greed, domination and consumerism to compassion, equality and sustainability. Think local. Think community. Think solar eclipse. The moon, feminine, covering, calming, nurturing the sun, masculine in the midst of a two year olds tantrum of mememememoney. The mother asking us to listen, not the father requiring us to submit.


My baby steps.

For the past week, I have been calling my senators and representatives, speaking of my outrage at  Orange Julius’s nominees. If nothing else, I now have a rapport with the folks who answer the phones. This will become a dialogue. I will learn from it.

This morning, I was disappointed in myself. I didn’t have the courage to go by myself to march anywhere. And then I spoke with a friend and tomorrow, she and her husband and Carl and I are going to Concord to march. And we will meet up with this friend’s friends and now, instead of judging my limitations, I am excited to be with people, meet people, maybe even volunteer to help.

And soon, I will plant seeds in soil, and Carl and I will begin to implement what we have been  preparing, in our ad hoc way, for four years. The way forward. I come back to Vandana Shiva and seeds, and to Bill Mollison and permaculture.

Is that my path?

I don’t know. But I do know this: Our democracy, our planet and we are in grave danger. Our government doesn’t care. Each day we each must choose and every one of those choices matter.

HOW YOU MIGHT SAVE THE WORLD!

IMG_4328It’s been too long. Like Nick, I’ve been in a box called Writer’s Block. But I just finished draft 5 of my next book, and now have time to restart my blog . . .  with this message, a tag on to my war against Anthropogenic Climate Disruption, previously referred to as Climate Change and Global Warming, all of which are currently present in this Primary Season.

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No, not our ducks. But someday. . . ?

Have you heard the joke about the guy who wanted to win the lottery? Every week, he’d pray to win. Not only that, but he explained to his god why he should win. It was not just for himself, after all, that he wanted the money. No! After he paid off his mortgage and paid off his kids’ college loan debts, he planned to start a life of philanthropy. He’d give away all the money he won so that others could have education, food and shelter, fresh water.

He prayed so hard. Purely. Selflessly. Weeks and months went by. He could hardly believe how fervently a person could pray and yet not get what he hoped for. Finally, he said as much to God. He said, “God, why won’t you let me win?”

A tremendous BANG! Flashes of lightening. And God’s fiery voice.

“I’d let you win but you have to buy a damned lottery ticket!”

A winning lottery is remarkably like voting. If you don’t buy the lottery ticket, or vote, the likelihood of things working out the way you hope is nonexistent. You’re leaving it to everyone else to take up the flag, to remember all the women, the blacks, the principled who suffered and fought for the right to vote in this country. They knew what life was like without that right. In fact, they knew it was worth dying for.

Republicans and the Righteous Right know this joke. They know that, in fact, their vote matters because when people vote, things can change. For the better or worse, depending on your beliefs. Thus they come out in droves, even through rain and snow, to exercise their right to vote.

Democrats seem to think like the guy in the joke. They think that good things will just happen. Things will work out.

Or why bother. My vote doesn’t signify.

Really?

I would suggest that if you think your vote doesn’t matter, you might try to make it matter. If you think the elections are rigged, get out and protest and/or call your representatives. And if you think it’s too late? Almost, but not quite.

This election has the potential to be a debacle (Drumpf), more of the same (Clinton) or a triumph (Sanders). I believe it will usher in the end of democracy—and thereby the world as we know it—or a new beginning.

IF we vote in the primaries. IF we vote in our Local and National elections. IF even after the elections, we stay involved at a local level and begin to pay attention and support the change we have voted for. Only then do we have a hope for a better, fairer world, and a chance against Anthropogenic Climate Disruption.

In short, Democrats, you have a choice: get out and vote. Or stay home, eat bonbons, and pray.

And if you want to hear why I support Sanders, not Hillary, drop me a line. I’m happy to discuss it.

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Malls, Shopping and Saving the World

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_8604It’s a long story. Or not really. Maybe it is just a short one that’s been going on for months. But months ago, a friend asked if I’d like to join her at the ARIA Author Expo in December. In April, that sounded fun. And good for business. Then my friend got an offer not to be refused and told me she couldn’t do it. I had the option of opting out. I opted out but the guy running this ARIA event is convincing. So I stayed in.

IMG_2900Three or four other opportunities have come up in the past months for me to opt out. Each time, I have opted out, only to be convinced by friends or fellow writers that, really, I should do this. It’ll be great, right? Meeting people. In a mall. During holiday season. Maybe selling a book.

Being at a six foot long table, all by myself, while people wander past, smiling brightly, trying not to look self-conscious, resisting the attempt to run as far away as possible. But I can’t. Because I am to stay there until 5. It will be dark then. I have a one hour and forty minute drive back to Jaffrey. I don’t like to drive. Especially at night.

 

So this is going out to all my connections. If, by happenstance, you are out and about and near the Lincoln Mall in Rhode Island, please do stop by. I’d love to see you. But, if you are like me and don’t like malls. Or shopping. Or crowds. Please go to a small local, independent bookstore and buy a book to give someone for the holidays. Supporting local bookstores is cool. Books are cool. You will be really cool buying a book a an independent bookstore. And then drop me a line or a facebook message telling me you did that. Because then, as I sit at the mall, I can have something to do, like read my email. And the Scrooge in me will be happy to think that a small business, rather than a chain store, will have been supported. Because it’s not bigger is better but local and small that is the future. And that, my friends, is doable.

And so is getting myself to the mall Saturday morning. Right? I can do this! Wahoo!

 

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NANO & Big Red!

NANO & BIG RED

Steep slope of Mount Monadnock.
Steep slope of Mount Monadnock.

I have come up with an idea to combat my writer’s block: NaNoWriMo! November is National Novel Writing Month and I have taken the past three weeks off from my nonfiction book on . . . . well, I don’t know what it’s about. That’s what I’ve been seeking: the story. And, after three plus months of flailing about for said story without success, I thought I’d veer off back to fiction and work on the novel that has been percolating in the background for three years: Mother Daze. It is the story of Eloise Fletcher (what do you think of the name?) and her hopes to save the world and her sick mother (Victoria Forrester, widow of Graham Forrester. Why are surname different? Eloise married Arthur Fletcher. I know this because I wrote a story in my twenties called “Love Chapel”. Although her name was Cody in that story, it was/is Eloise’s story. At least it is today. Who knows what will happen in the next weeks. . . .)

All to say, I have spent my days outlining Mother Daze. What fun! To make things up. Trying to braid the different threads—all three, maybe four, of them — together and ever aware of how much I like to complicate things. The book takes place in 2012-2013. In Providence. I get to remember the blizzards called Juno and Nemo. That warm December 22nd in New York City when the temperature reached seventy degrees. All and none of which might be relevant but it’s fun to toss the information into the puzzle.

I only mention any of this because I need encouragement. To write 50,000 words in one month is a snap. To have them tell a story isn’t so easy. And to write that 50,000 word story in the month of November which, in case you have forgotten, includes the lift off of the holiday season?IMG_8604 It will be a challenge and one I do not take lightly. I am going to do this. Carl has been warned: I’m upping my hours in the office. I will rise at 6AM at the latest every morning. . . .

I practiced today. 4:10AM and I was up and at ’em. Streeeeeeetching. Petting Nick while he enjoyed his early morning nip of butter. I enjoyed my morning cafe latte . . . and a sweet treat called a Dirt Bomb, what I have always known as Frenchies, which are mini-muffins drenched in butter and rolled in sugar; truth be told, mine are better than the ones I bought yesterday but who has time to make Frenchies when she has a novel to prepare?

Up at 6AM. I will not answer the phone. Unless it looks important. The cats will be banned from my office. Unless they meow too persistently. I will be focussed. Heartless with my time as I attempt to write my heartbreak.

Ironic, isn’t it? Both my books hold the same theme: to save the world from its budding hell of mass species extinctions, arctic cold in all the wrong places, deathly heat and no rain, and pending winter winds that will likely give both our roos frostbite.

IMG_4040YES! We have two cocks here at Darwin’s View: Big Red yet lives and Little Big Man is strutting about, if with a piece of hay caught unceremoniously in his throat. I actually had a moment with him last night. He looked so ridiculous, shaking his head in an attempt to get the dratted eight-inch piece of hay to come out of his mouth. It was dusk. For his entire two months of life here, I have respected his boundaries and not tried to catch him. Last night, I made an exception, with the result being he raced out of the coop, crowing unmentionable insults at me. With all the compassion I could muster for the little guy, I followed him in a loop around the chicken area and back into the coop where I eventually caught him. The hay remained. I pulled. It lengthened, then caught. Past memories: if a thread is stuck in a cat’s mouth and has trouble being pulled out, do not pull! It will rip out the intestines.

Unhappy thought. I got a pair of scissors out and clipped.  Hopefully, he will manage to digest the rest today.

But I digress. “Big Red yet lives,” I said. What!? you might ask. Was he in danger?

A long and weary story but yes. He is not the Big Red of yore. A skinny runt of a roo he is these days. He crows two or three times in the morning and is done for the day, leaving the yeoman’s task of threats to the wind and rain to the pathetic, cartoon character crow of Little Big Man. Big Red, meantime, lies in the coop. Occasionally, he gets up to limp his way to the door and look out over his hens who maybe aren’t his hens anymore. They keep him company. There is always at least one hen hanging out with him. Bu,t though I have seen the hens practically beg for him to jump aboard, squatting down in front of him, he sighs and looks away. Faces the wall. Squats, too.

Impossible thought, isn’t it? The tough, randy roo begging off his duties. How could it be true?

Worms. After a trip to the vet, and two weeks of Vitamin Drench, I finally got a sample —trust me, egg collection is far more enjoyable than matters fecal—to the vet who found worm eggs. And this morning, Carl found some really skinny worms on the poop board. Two conclusions: one, Big Red has gape worm, thus he has been opening his mouth and bending back his head, trying to swallow past those nasty bastards in his throat. And two, all of the hens need to be treated.

Natural treatments? Cayenne pepper has been suggested. Chickens don’t mind it and the worms go out the back way. The vet sounded dubious. Use the real stuff. Go for the gusto. Wazine.

The problem being, google says Wazine doesn’t kill gape worm–assuming I have prognosticated him correctly. In any case, de-worming is a priority here at Darwin’s View if Big Red is going to make it through the winter; he needs to gain some weight.

Some might suggest this would be an auspicious outcome, given I have spent the last almost three years whining about how it is Big Red’s fault that we are up here at Darwin’s View, he being banned from Providence. But in the past month, as he has become an old man limping across the driveway, getting thinner and more gaunt, unable to crow, I realize what a wonderful rooster he has been. A boisterous crow. And he is, relatively, a very nice rooster. If he has chased you, it’s only because he had a job to do—and who knows what kind of roo Little Big Man is going to become. A beauty, yes but will he be nice?

For the record, the above is 1,168 words. That is six hundred words short of what I have to write every day of November to reach the 50,000 word goal. It is doable but I wonder: I will be posting on facebook and here on my blog my daily word count. Because at some level, it is about accountability and knowing that others are out there, rooting me on. Will you? I hope so. Because both Eloise and I have a great task ahead of us this next month: to save the world, her mother . . . and, in the end, herself; and to write a great story.

Meantime, come to a reading of the “Varied Paths to Publication: Women of a Certain Age and Attitude Book Tour”! We are at The Toadstool Bookshop this Saturday, October 31—Halloween!—at 2PM. And at Books on the Square in Providence November 7th at 4PM.

Toot!  Toot!

 

The Varied Paths to Publication Book Tour & Its Consequences!

IMG_3943Jaffrey to Hartford to Jaffrey to Providence to Stonington—twice—to New York City to Providence to Jaffrey to Saratoga Springs to Jaffrey (and up Mount Monadnock to celebrate our 25th Anniversary!) to Burlington, VT to Randolph, VT to South Burlington, VT. to Jaffrey to Providence to New York to Providence (Happy Birthday to me!) to Boston to Providence where I type now. In one month and one week. 2214 miles. 41 hours and five minutes of  movement over the course of 36 days. Which equals 61.5 miles a day at 54 miles per hour. Thank goodness for calculators and thank goodness it’s over. We had a great time but my soul is huffing to catch up. Even Carl got a bit confused when we were leaving Boston the other night post a Boston Community Capital celebration: as we approached the entry to Route 93, he had a moment: where were we going? North or South?

Between family commitments and The Varied Paths to Publication Book Tour, our carbon footprint has been shocking this month. Too, I raised the heat in our Endless Pool in Providence from 50 to 86 so that I can use said pool, thereby exposing the fact that I am my own worst enemy in my war against climate change. Granted, the trips to New York were made by train, and once we got to a city, we stuck to walking but my feints at change have been as vexatious and quixotic as a regular American’s hope to find a drop of democracy in the tea party’s vitriol, or a vertebra of backbone in too many Democrats. But before I go too far down the Road of Rant, let’s return to the over two thousand miles Carl chauffeured me through in the past two weeks.

Varied Paths Tour

SaratogaSprings flyer 8.8.15 final JPEGIn Saratoga Springs, the Northshire Bookstore hosted Nina Gaby, Tammy Flanders Hetrick and Celine Keating and me. We had a great discussion with a small but interested audience. Yes! We had an audience though we knew only our spouses. It was, indeed, an auspicious beginning and fun way to get to know these three authors. I had read their books (Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women; Stella Rose and Play for Me, respectively) and it was quite wonderful to hear them read their books, and talk about writing, publishing and being women of a certain age and attitude. Which is the sub theme of the tour. I found it incredible and slightly intimidating to be with such energetic, cool women.

IMG_3789Back in Jaffrey, Carl and I did some amazing foraging and then climbed Mount Monadnock to celebrate our 25th if-you-can-believe-it anniversary. It was the first time Carl had climbed the White Dot and I saw him bristle when he had to pay to climb his mountain. But the five dollars goes to support the maintenance and oversight of the mountain and so, with that justification, we proceeded on a perilous, vertiginous climb.

IMG_3813May I just say, we aren’t as young as we used to be but we still know how to climb mountains: with each other to help!

 

IMG_3820 As we cheerfully commented after making it to the top: It’s all down hill from here! Via the White Cross trail, which was touted as less steep yet was more slippery and painful to the knees . . . but going down hill always is, isn’t it? Half way down, as I slipped on another slick rock, I had to wonder: why cross?

That weekend, we drove to Burlington for the Burlington Book Festival, and two Book Tour events, one in Randolph and one in South Burlington.

IMG_3884At the book fest, we had the pleasure of hearing David Macaulay, Paul Muldoon and Abigail Thomas speak. And of being interviewed by Lesley Nase for her radio show Books, Yarns and Tales.

IMG_3889 And onward to Randolph, where we ate fantastic cronuts (who needs NYC!) and drank decent espresso—who’d’a thunk!—at the Three Bean Cafe—and enjoyed a great gathering at the Art of Vermont Gallery. There we dug a bit deeper into our personal stories and I had the pleasure of meeting Alexis Paige, one of the contributors to Nina’s book and our special guest that day. And then we headed back up to South Burlington’s Barnes and Noble.

IMG_0984Ironies abound, don’t they? Years ago, I wrote a short story called “Chain Material” about a dastardly chain bookstore that, like an octopus had spread its tentacles. A chain rather like Barnes and Noble—which today is almost a local bookstore. Certainly this one supports authors and building community.

We drove home to the light of the moon which later that night eclipsed. We made it about a third of the way through before passing out.

IMG_3845The next morning, during a lull in our active driving schedule, I briefly faced the dilemma of our dapper Little Big Man. There is no mistaking his rooster-ish ways anymore and I keep thinking how this should not have happened. He was supposed to be a she. But I could say the same about Big Red, previously Rhoda Red, who is now three. It does make me a bit sick. Last year was so easy! We adopted the sex-link girls Brownie, Clownie and Downie. Yes, Opie, too. Who for all I know was a boy and was kind enough to die so I wouldn’t have to deal with another Roo. Just as did Little Big Man, Surprise and Exclamation’s brother who died four days after his arrival. Thoughtful boy. But really? I ordered auto sexed chicks. A no brainer. No mistakes possible! And still we received two boys. I appear to be irresponsible but really, I think these things through. Maybe stopping short of thinking it through to all possible consequences. But we now have two cocks and Big Red is being strangely obsequious. IMG_3869He’s sleeping on the coop floor. Leaving Little Big Man to get an ego.

All to say, we aren’t there. We are here. Again. Heading there shortly. And I have signed up at NaNo to write a novel next month. Even as I struggle to find a story for my soon to be trashed book that was supposed to save the world and now?

Writer’s block sucks.

IMG_3898Which leads me to suspect that all the movement might be having consequences I hadn’t anticipated. Or maybe, unconsciously, I did. Maybe I don’t want to find the story? Or write one? Maybe I’m supposed to be paying more attention to other things. Like my cats.

Final note: a new person that I met on the road wrote on his facebook page that he “was going to write like a motherfucker” last weekend. Excellent goal except. . . . has anyone read the definition of motherfucker recently?

So instead of wanting to write like a motherfucker—I know, it’s just a saying but my grandmother berated me once for using such language in my writing. There are better and more interesting phrases—next time I sit down to write I will hope to write like someone who has something true to say, and —most important—that I figure out a way to say it.

Writer’s Block & Electra

IMG_3590I am not writing. I’ve been blocked for weeks. That’s my excuse anyway because then it is within my power to overcome the block and write again. Far worse would be if it is a conspiracy of the swirling energy around me. The negative ones determined to prevent me from reaching my goal of writing a book that might save the world. A big goal? Yes. One that might have something to do with this wall I keep knocking my head against? Could be.

IMG_3589Three days ago, those negative energies had succeeded. I decided to dump the book I have been working for two years. It has, as one reader put it, everything but the kitchen sink. An off-grid memoir. An environmental eulogy. A political rant, and diatribe against our Demo-n-Captialist society. A chicken drama. Yes, this book was to have been a call to arms for an Attitude Change Time-ion (A.C.T.)

It was too hard. Hopeless. I decided to add the sink and throw in the towel. Who was I fooling, right? After all, too few people care enough. Those that do are overwhelmed. Not even the surge of Bernie could uplift spirits beaten down by the disappointment of Hope and Change. So what if our current president had prevented a global economic meltdown, passed healthcare reform, has lower gas prices and higher employment than seen in recent times. Obama is seen as a failure because that’s how Fox News will have him portrayed.

And then I read about the Bohemian club. Have you heard of it? Talk about Sickos. And those Sicko Homo satanicus-types run the world and so I decided to hell with it all. I was done. I would move on to the novel I have outlined in my mind. It has been percolating for the months and months I have been working on Darwin’s View One Breath After Midnight. How could I have ignored it for so long? Because at least in fiction I could control things.

Well. Except my subconscious and unconscious but that’s another conversation. Part of the below mentioned Varied Paths I am going to be walking this month. My point here being, maybe Eloise could save the world given if I can’t. Mother Daze has potential. All ideas do. And it is fresh and new. I could get fired up! and ready to go! and write again!

IMG_3499But this morning . . . I wasn’t settling in. I had been verging two days ago but yesterday we drove to a family memorial in Connecticut. And so my energy was disparate this morning. It takes two or three days for me to settle in again after a day away. We are going to be away a lot this next month or two. Driving the northeast for the “Varied Paths to Publication: Women of a Certain Age . . . and Attitude” tour I am participating in. And if we add on eight hours of road time/carbon footprint by going to the Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine?

Swirling energy and there are not three days together in one place in my near future. Not for about a month or two, so starting a new book? Really?

I bethought myself. How to settle one’s energy? MEDITATION. Of course. Deep breathing. So I stepped outside my office, set my timer for five minutes—I would be breaking a record if I managed to sit still for that long—and settled down on the solid, granite step. Grounded and grounding. I closed my eyes and Om. A noise. One eye opened. A humming bird in the sunflowers. How cute is that? I couldn’t see it clearly as I didn’t have on my glasses but I was mediating. Calm focus. Rustling to my left. In the garden. Had Brownie gotten into the vegetable garden again? She has figured out a way to leap over our electric fence and scrabble about in there. I peeked. There was definitely something over there. I attempted to ignore it but we still have plant life in the form of tomatoes and eggplant and swiss chard and none of it is ready to be uprooted by a chicken’s scratching. I decided I would free said chicken and return to meditation.

IMG_3594. . . Not a chicken. I yelled for Carl.

I don’t know why. That seems to be my reaction whenever something out of my comfort zone and particularly nature-ish happens. Train of thought: Nature . . . danger . . . who got me into this . . . CARL!! COME QUICK! PORCUPINE IN THE ELECTRIC FENCE.

This brought to mind our previous experience, years ago, with groundhogs also known as woodchucks and/or little bastards. They ate our first garden when we lived on Angell Street. Our beautiful cabbages gnawed on. I hired someone to catch and relocate said L.B.s. They never caught the groundhogs. They did capture two possums on two separate occasions, and I found out that they were not rehoming them.

IMG_3596All to say, I reached for the phone to call a humane society or an Animal rescue number while Carl approached, very carefully, our resident porcupine. Carl and I by now had reached the same conclusion: Sh**.

I brought Carl wire clippers. Lowered the fencing. He clipped the fencing. The porcupine panted in terror. His struggles only got him more enmeshed, his arm more fully tangled in the fencing.

For the record: porcupines are really cute. This is a full grown one but he has a pudgy little face. Very dark brown and soft looking. And the quills don’t look so terrible though both Carl and I maintained a very, very healthy respect for the ones on his tail. Porcupines are rather hedgehog-ish that way. Cuddly looking. Bringing to mind the phrase don’t judge a book by its cover.

It was emitting an odor of fear. I was grateful it wasn’t a skunk. It breathed heavily and it was not Bhasktrika pranayama yogic breath. I wished we knew porcupine language. Instead, we spoke human as soft and reassuring as we could.

You will have to take my word about the cuteness level. Though I had my camera in hand, I didn’t take photos because I thought it would be irresponsible to be taking photos while Carl tried to free the porcupine. Instead of photos, I got a blanket and placed it between Carl’s bare arm and the porcupine’s tail. I found a useless pair of garden clippers. And shooed the chickens—who were all excited! by the excitement! and raced in our direction! to see what was going on!—back into the coop. Where Little Big Man raced about and then out. All the others were in but he was out and so I was chasing him while Carl continued to wrestle with the fencing.

And the porcupine struggled, his left arm entirely wrapped up in the fencing material. If we had been able to hold onto him for a half hour and gently untangle him . . . which was clearly not going to happen.

IMG_3598IMG_0723That was the morning’s dither. The fence is down and fairly well wrecked. Electra, the porcupine, is exhausted and hiding under our deck, his/her left arm tightly wrapped in fencing. I worry if s/he will be okay as I begin to pack up my office. Because my writing day is over. It is time for other projects and more travels. Instead of debating which book to focus on, I contemplate priorities, and how close I was to a porcupine and what photos I might have taken if only I had opted for photography instead of  moral support and an apprenticeship in toreador-ism with a green wool blanket. Next time, will I opt for the camera, only to capture Carl attacked by a rabid skunk?

The only other news from Darwin’s View is that Little Big Man is testing his vocal chords. Both Carl and I heard a stranger noise earlier this morning. Ironically, we thought it was an anonymous porcupine. I looked out to the coop, thinking perhaps a hawk had once again landed on the bench in the run. There was Little Big Man, stretching his neck, lifting his head. Ra-row-a-doodle.

IMG_3602Big Red’s crow is boisterous relatively. Big Red is still three times Little Big Man’s size. And Little Big Man is beautiful, reminiscent of Cornelius two summers ago . . .

Two summers? Is it already so long ago? I was supposed to have finished my book by now. Instead?

Electra. Chickens and hawks. Gardens and forests. Travels. Sunrise to sunset, life happens. Just like that.

Sunset
Sunset
Sunrise
Sunrise