Tuesday, August 30, 2011

So. Many. Words.

My book has too many words.

I think I mentioned that I turned Lulu’s adventure last fall into a children’s chapter book, didn’t I? I can’t find the post where I did. Hopefully I mentioned that I finished it. Sort of…

But it has WAAAY too many words. How can that be? Right? Words are good. Right? Except when you’re writing for young readers. You know.

And all those words? They’re intimidating! Especially when they’re all gathered together into one 62 page (!) document. It’s double spaced with annotations, but still. SIXTY-TWO PAGES! 17,386 words!!

You are going to be unimpressed with my solution to the problem of feeling overwhelmed by the word count. I have… and don’t say anything if this was obvious to you – I’m still recovering from the forced hiatus that was summer vacation… I have discovered that the best way to cut down the word count is to copy each paragraph, one at a time, into a blank document and edit it by itself and then copy it back into the original document. It feels way less immense to do it that way.

And then, once I’ve compressed each paragraph into something vastly more readable, then I can go back and make it all interesting.

I am hoping to have the first 3 chapters done by mid October so I can read them to Lulu’s class. Her teacher was intrigued when I mentioned my project. It would be fun to have a captive audience!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Here’s a Poem

The Old Piano

Once I am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut. *
Dust swirls up from the broad slat floor.
It dances in streaks of dim sunlight
From clouded windows, twirling toward
The upright in the shadowy back corner,
Pulling me toward the upright in the back corner.

The keys are covered by the mahogany lid.
I write “PIANO” with my finger in the dust
Then erase it with my palm and regret it.
I wipe the grime from my palm onto my blue jeans,
Leaving a gray-tan streak, and uncover the keys.

Everyone plays middle-C; I choose A.
The hammer strikes the old string,
Which rings, twangs, groans, plunks.
The note pulses in my ears, through the piano,
Vibrating the other A strings,
Through the room, swirling with the dust.
I add C# but then play C instead.

I look around for a bench, a stool, a chair.
I see a 3-legged stool that should have 4.

My fingers find the notes I know in my head.
The honky-tonk tone of the neglected strings
Dissolves as the music surrounds me, fills the room.

I wish I could say that the music makes the dust clear
And the sun shine brighter through the windows.

When it’s finished, the last chord rings
Until it is muted, swallowed by the gloom.
I close the cover on the keys,
Letting it thud shut.

* The first 2 lines are from "Church Going," from The Less Deceived by Philip Larkin (Marvell Press, 1955)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

That’s Some Bad Hair, Harry

Have you ever gotten a bad haircut? The kind where you’re just miserable and want to hide from everyone until it grows out? It’s awful!

I had been wondering since that day mid-winter when the city had been shut down from snow/ice for 3 days and I cut my bangs in a frenzy of stir-craziness, whether I might want all of my hair short. So early his summer, I got my hair cut off. I didn’t do it right, though. I went to one of those places where the cuts cost $13, and… well… You get what you pay for…

I swear the stylist got bored or something in the middle of my cut and just gave up because my hair wasn’t remotely even anywhere on my head. There were places she clearly neglected to cut. But I didn’t know this while I was still there to tell her to fix it or to ask for another stylist. It was so different from what it had been and I mistakenly trusted that she knew what she was doing, and I left with what turned out to be a huge mistake. HG said I should go back and make her fix it, but I wasn’t letting her touch my hair again. I spent $45 getting it fixed by a stylist I trust, but even that wasn’t exactly right. He left it too long in the back and too short on the sides, all mullet-y and wrong. I found myself saying to people who complimented me on my new look, “Thanks. I’m growing it out.” Or something along those lines.

The worst part was, though, that I didn’t believe my hair looked good. It startled me every time I looked in a mirror, and being a Person of Very Small Self-esteem, I spent all my time trying to hide it or fix it and waiting for it to grow. It was awful. It was way more consuming than it should have been.

Then Pete decided she wanted a new do. She had cut her hair into a cute bob back in May for Locks for Love and wanted something more interesting. Having had the experience I had with the $13 stylist, I took her to my $45 stylist to get it done. If it was that bad for me, imagine how my poor 9 year-old would have handled a hatchet job! Since I was still wishing my hair was different, I made an appointment for me too and we went together. Before we went, we spent time looking at hairstyles and deciding what we really wanted. We printed pictures and took them with us so he could see. And when we got there, we looked at one of the hairstyle books he had and found even better choices.

The result was that he was able to finally fix my hair in a way that I really like it. It is still on its way to growing out. But now I LIKE it!

Pete, on the other hand, had 4 or 5 pictures of what she wanted and spent a lot of time with the stylist picking and choosing what she liked from each and ended up with a one-of-a-kind, self-designed hairstyle that she loves and that looks Super Cute and very grown up on her.

Lesson learned: I do not want a short cut. Remind me of that if I ever say, “Hey, I’m thinking about cutting my hair off. What do you think?”

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Right Then, Here’s the Plan

I am completely failing at WFMAD this month. The girls “need” me. Pete and I went out of town. Play dates with friends. Back-to-school shopping. Laundry and dirty bathrooms. Carowinds. Etc.…

Instead, my plan is to WFMAD next month. Well, the end of this month into next month. The prompts don’t expire. I’ll just take it a day at a time, a month behind.

That way, I can stop feeling guilty about this. I will continue to squeeze in time for writing between now and then, just like last year at this time, while I wait to get these girls out of my hair off to school.

Bear with me.

Check back in a week.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Workin’ 9 to 2-ish, a couple days a week

That title totally works with the “Workin’ 9 to 5” tune. Sing it out loud; you’ll see.

I just saw a blurb in a newsletter about the job I applied for. It said this:

“The Administrative Assistant will support the CYRE program, our Director of Music, general office operations including bookkeeping, podcasting and an increasing number of unpredicted tasks.” [emphasis added]

I was a little put off by the doom implied by the last phrase. Wouldn’t you be? Maybe other candidates will reconsider sending their resumes when they read that, thereby allowing me to stay firmly ensconced at/near the top of the list. We’ll see. Some people are all challenged and inspired by stuff like that.

Oh well. Wish me luck. And if I don’t get the job, wish my friend Kate luck.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

FROGS!! (eventually…)

Earlier this summer, Husbandguy scooped a Copes Gray Tree Frog out of the girls' pool and returned it to the creek at the bottom of the hill. Later that day, when I went out to change the froggy pool water, I found these.

frog eggs 001

All over the pool. Apparently, Mama T. Frog left her family behind when HG relocated her. The girls both decided that seeing what happened with the eggs was more important than swimming in the pool, so we left them. Until someone wanted to see our house (which is never going to sell) and we had to take the pool down. We went out and bought these and scooped up the teeny tiny tadpoles to come live with us.

frog eggs-tadpoles 004

We got 2. This one is Lulu’s. Each habitat had dozens of little swimmy creatures in it, each with its own food supply still stuck to its belly (they start out with a little ball of yolk). Eventually, they needed food from other sources, and we were misinformed and fed them the wrong thing so they ate each other.

OMG, Bel! you’re thinking. Why are you telling us this Tadpole Horror Story?!

They’re not all dead/eaten. We still have 3 good sized tadpoles left. Oddly, these little guys seemed to get bigger overnight, the same nights that a number of their brothers and sisters disappeared.

tadpoles 004

tadpoles 007

We had more than that when Pete and I left for DC, but HG could only find the 3 when he changed the water while we were away. But I digress…

Copes Gray Tree Frogs make a LOT of noise. Click here to listen to what our backyard sounds like at night (that’s not actually our backyard…). We will be letting them go when they find their voices because as beautiful as the sounds of nature are, I like to sleep.

For now, though. We’re boiling lettuce (the right thing to feed them) and waiting for leg buds and giving them fresh, de-chlorinated water every other day.

Oh, and last night, Lulu and I discovered a planter full of water and TADPOLES on the patio. I was soooo tempted to scoop them into Pete’s critter keeper and watch them grow. Instead, I called HG, and he and Lulu carried them down the hill and let them go in the creek. I’m nuts. I’m not crazy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

WFMAD, day 8

Last year, I missed the beginning of WFMAD because the girls and I were at the beach with Moomie. Plus, I didn't know about it until I got back from the beach and looked up LHA's website.

This year, I missed a few days because I was in DC and VA with Pete. My beautiful cousin (who apparently reads my blog but never COMMENTS!) got married this past Saturday. Pete and I took advantage of the location and met the Grandpa a few days early and spent some time touring the Smithsonian Museums. Pete had never been to DC so I gave her her choice of things to do (see the monuments, go to the museums, tour the White House, a combination of those, etc.). She picked the museums, and there are plenty of them to fill up 2 days. It was fun. We rode the bus to the Metro station and then rode the Metro to Federal Triangle and then walked and walked and walked and walked all around. Pete was totally comfortable with the public transportation stuff. She'd be a great kid to live in a real city with.

Oh, we did visit one monument, the Washington Monument. Pete put her hands on it. When I asked her what it felt like, she said, "Stone... And history..."

And my cousin's wedding was wonderful. They did a great job of combining Catholic and Jewish traditions. I'd never danced the Horah before! Pete had a great time, too.

Plus, now my cousin and my new cousin live super close to HG's parents, which isn't far from here!

But anyway, I'm back on track with WFMAD. I might even take some time and try some of the ones I missed if I get a minute. Or 15... I'll share a little if I write anything worth sharing!

(And remind me to tell you about the job I applied for...)

Monday, August 1, 2011


Per Laurie Halse Anderson's encouragement, I'm writing fifteen minutes a day again this month. I did it last year too. You can probably find some of my stuff if you click the "writing" tag and go back a year...

You should WFMAD, too. The boost your creativity will get from just writing 15 minutes is totally worth it!
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