Friday, November 30, 2007


yesterday, the most peaceful hours of the day were spent at the purple rose, putting stickers on bags and boxes. my afternoon was spent juggling baby jake, my grandmother, my mother (who spent an hour complaining about my sister) and three of my daughters.

today im taking time for me. i have a manicure at noon and coffee with a friend at two. this morning i'd like to finish the first draft of my first new sarah chapter ... i have about a thousand words and they all read like sludge. then i'm planning to put up the holiday decorations i got for my bedroom. my theme this year is "ornate-but- tasteful." it's been a real challenge to navigate that thin line, especially since Beloved's style is best described as "ornate-and-over-the-top" - but it's allowed me to use every blessed ornament and decoration we own.

if one of my children takes pity on their less-than-cyber-literate mother, maybe i can put up some photos.

but don't hold your breath. ;)

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


of all the steps in the delicate dance i weave between the worlds, the most difficult by far is the leap across the chasm that separates THAT world into THIS one.

by THIS one, i mean the world of the mundane, of the ordinary, the place where time is measured in one way grains of sand. by THAT world, i mean the place beyond the hill of five-sensory perception, beyond time, beyond space, where all that's Real resides, a world that's far more Real to me than THIS.

it is a chasm i have learned to navigate, over time, with a lot of practice. what i've found is that while it can be easy to enter THAT world, it's not always so easy to leave. and how could it be...if we're the stuff that dreams are made of, then THATs' the world where dreams are made.

but i have six children, two dogs, one husband and an enormously extended family that's best described as the addams family meets the sopranos... not as much black, just as much blood. at various times in my life since my Muse yoked me to Her Service, i was executive director of a small non-profit, taught aerobics, worked in corporate communications, attended graduate school, and endured the Divorce From Hell. the demands on my time, my energy and my attention are many, rich and varied.

as i said, its a delicate dance. to become adept, one has to first understand that a shift is demanded. some never seem to understand this, and i think they're the ones who wander through the world in a glazy-daze of half-fermented ideas that never seem to form. many are wildly talented, but without a sense of that sharp and utter demarcation point, obvious as night from day, they can't ever seem to focus long enough to bring anything to real fruition.

the next is to understand that one is always in control. it might not always feel that way, but it's entirely possible to tell a character politely to stop. do a word count, tidy up the last sentence, jot down a note or two, and tell Everyone you're done. anyone who's pagan understands this principle - when you cast a circle and invite the Denizens of the OtherWorlds to come, all those Seen and Unseen, you thank them when your ritual is over, and bless Them on Their Way.

the next is to tie some physical action to it. turn off the light, cap the pen, close the journal, save the file. speak something aloud. i always like to hear praise, personally. something along the lines of "GOOD JOB ANNIE" even if i know ive written shit keeps me humming right through the most mundane of tasks.

eat something. time spent in the OtherWorld burns energy. it wears you out and thins you down. drink something, bracing but not so bracing you fall right back into the OtherWorld's Embrace. tea works for me - coffee is what i drink to fuel the Flame.

move. chances are that's the reason you came out in the first place, but don't just leap into action. THINK. stand. stretch. gently. DECIDE what you are going to do next. consult, if at all possible, the List you keep beside you to anchor you.

pay attention. breathe.

Real Magic

i knew Beloved would read my post. i didn't know if he would get it. but by george, Beloved - who may be many things, but insensitive isn't really one of them - seems to have got it. time will tell, of course, because the Stranger never goes entirely away. that particular mask is too necessary to one's own survival. but having recognized it, having peeked behind it, having exposed it to the light for just the time it took to read a few paragraphs...was enough to do the trick.

that -to me - is Real Magic. it doesn't require elaborate rituals or involve the chanting of arcane incantations. it involves observation, perception, and empathy.

but most of all, it requires love.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

the stranger beside me

at some point in any long term relationship, one inevitably turns to the other person in the relationship and wonders, how the hell did i get HERE, and who the fuck are YOU?

i reached that point last night.

i won't bore you with the details. suffice it to say, that the Beloved i thought i knew and loved has somehow morphed in the last few months into a bizarre combination that strikes me as a cross between napoleon, mother theresa, attila the hun and henry ford. having known none of them personally, not even in a past life (except possibly attila) i can't be sure but i am not at all liking this do-gooding autocrat who puts his method of Saving The World before anyone else's desires, wishes, needs, or wants.

it's too bad his vision of Saving The World isn't more like MY vision of saving the world, because there is much to admire about the energy, passion and sheer conviction with which Beloved attacks the task. already his accomplishments in the four short months he's ruled - i mean been President of the Board - aren't simply laudable but exemplary. if one could make a DVD about appropriate goals for the chairman of a nonprofit for a year, one might point to Beloved's first two and a half months.

but nothing comes without a price, and in Beloved's case, he seems to have paid with his lovable side. and that makes me so sad.

not just because he's a bear to live with, but because he seems to have lost all joy. with his eyes so focused on results, on accomplishment, on getting the job done, Beloved reminds me of the character of Abelard, in daughter of prophecy, who gained a kingdom, but lost his soul.

changing the world in my opinion is about changing the way people live and work together. in my opinion, changing the world begins when you treat others with love, kindness, empathy and respect. HOW things get done should be at least as important as WHAT gets done. HOW people and the greater world are affected in the process should be at least as important as WHAT we do.

changing the world in my opinion is about valuing each and every human being as the unique facet of Spirit that they are and acting out that valuing in each and every interaction. it is the very antithesis of the methods that the sranger in my Beloved's skin has chosen to apply, that are spilling into our life together. i don't like this Stranger, and i am not shy about saying so.

changing the world is not about winning or losing, accomplishing or failing. changing the world is not so much about changing yourself but coming to Know your Self so well you don't have to morph into a tyrannical Stranger to get a job done.

because behind that little hitler, hiding in the shadow, is the Child my Beloved was, the scared and terrified little boy for whom the world was full of very real monsters. i hope i can find a way past this nasty Mask to connect to that little Boy, because he is one of the pieces of my Beloved that i love and cherish the most. he is the counterpart to my own terrified little girl. our experiences as children in some way mirror and reflect each other's so uniquely i am totally convinced it was part of some Greater Plan, some pre-determined contract to chisel fit more perfectly the pieces of our souls.

i am reminded i have a Mask of my own, a Stranger just as angry, just as sullen, just as dark. i turn my head to look outside my window but all i see is a perfect image of myself, staring back at me. she winks, and turns away.

and furthermore the war must end. blessed be.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

on the wane

the waning moon brings with it, at least for me, a flood-tide of release. i noticed on a mothers' forum i belong to that the posts are watery, more emotional, but not as frantic as last week's. yes, im sure thanksgiving contributed to much of the madness, but i'm certain the full moon the next day had a lot to do with it. i spent that day, as i more and more do, hunkered down beneath the weight.

i stepped outside this morning into a world as wet and warm and bright as spring. it was one of those trickster days - the yin within autumn's yang, when the weather itself goes retrograde and shows you a glimpse of the opposite season. the light is gold on the lush green lawn. three ravens screamed at me at the top of the hill, three deer have come to drink at the lower pond. three ducks paddle serenely across the surface of the upper.

this is the moon under which i was born. this is the moon i prefer the best. i write better under a waning moon - i get more done. it's in the release, on the exhale, as it were, i get the most accomplished. over the years, i noticed a similiar pattern with my menstrual cycle. as its influence has waned over my body, the moon's has increased. as once i was aware of the hormonal tides, i am becoming more aware of the moon's.

the ace of wands winks at me from the corner of my screen. it's time to ride this mother moon-energy all the way down to the dark.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Monday, November 26, 2007

monday, monday

i woke up early to the sound of pouring rain. this is the time of year that when that happens, my first thought is always thank-god-its-not-snow. i lay in bed a while, cuddled up with Beloved, listening to the water drip off the eaves and rustle the rhodendrons under the window. when i got up, Beloved said, somewhat disapprovingly - it's 430.

oh, the joys of going to bed at 8:00.

so early in the morning, the day spreads out before me like a banquet, the hours like covered dishes, each one full of pure potentiality. of all the hours in the day, surely this one holds the most possiblities. then i remember all the chunks of time already committed, and the banquet table groans as they fall, gray granite bricks: VISIT ROEY...BABYSIT BABY JAKE...ORDER PEAPOD...GET WASH N FOLD TOGETHER...BETTER MAKE THAT GIFT LIST.

in this sweet silent darkness, broken only by the tap of my keyboad and the steady drum of rain, i light a candle, i draw a tarot card. the ace of wands smiles up at me. i know someone else who's dancing with this card. my desk lamp makes a circle of light on the ground beneath the birch trees, through which something darts across, sleek and wet. i glimpse the flash of a flailing fish tail. the candle snaps and steadies, the rain continues to fall. i close my eyes, and breathe.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

what do i mean by "Witch?!"

i received this letter today from a new friend i've met online.

Hi Annie,

I just wanted to tell you that your blog is one of the best ones I visit. Your writing is beautiful, especially your descriptions of nature. I feel inspired every time I read a post. I am glad you post so regularly.

If you don't mind, I have a question. I have never before met anyone who called themself a witch. Of course, I am not so ignorant as to think that a witch is someone with a pointy, black hat and a broom, or even an evil, old woman who is in league with the devil and casts spells on those who cross her. But I don't know what being a witch really means. I have heard of paganism, but don't know much about it. Would you mind enlightening me?

this is what i wrote back:

hi stacie -

ty so much for all your kind words about my blog!! of course i don't mind explaining what i mean when i say i am a witch. the word witch itself comes from an old anglosaxon word -wicce - pronounced weecha - that means wise, or a wise feminine person. a wise masculine person was a wicca - weeka. witchcraft - or literally, the craft of the wise - means the practices of those who are wise.

so what does it mean to be wise? the first place the witch looks for lessons is in nature. the craft of the wise, therefore, is primarily a craft practiced with the goal of bringing oneself into alliance with the natural world. one of the tenets of modern witchcraft which you may hear is "as above, so below; as within, so without." in other words, one way to figure out how to live your life is to try to live as harmoniously within the natural world as possible. unlike monotheism, however, where the natural world is seen as something less than the supernatural, or divine world, the natural world is alive with the essence of the divine. i dont believe god created the world, i believe god IS the world and that the world is continuosly being created all around me. there is nothing that separates the creator from created, in the same way nothing in the natural world separates a mother from her child, except the child's own natural processes of growth.

i guess the reason my blog reflects so much of nature is because i believe that that is where the Divine lays out the Great Order and that's where we can find it. it's not up in some heaven, or in some place we can't see. the miracle is all around us, the answers are right there before us. it's really easy if you pay attention. it's paying attention that's hard. :)

i am not necessarily a typical witch. i didn't reject the teachings of monotheism, so much as i outgrew them. i was raised catholic, and belonged to the episcopal church for fifteen years. i have a very clear idea about the differences between what i know for certain jesus really preached, and what mostly men in the intervening centuries since he died, SAY he preached. in my own spiritual practice, i adhere very closely to what i believe to be true about his teachings, and i reject absolutely all those things that do not. for example, i am pretty sure jesus would be horrified to see that his so-called church is getting ready to canonize the pope who protected pedophiles. (if the god of abraham isaac and jacob doesn't see that as opportunity to unleash armageddon, he's a way more patient god than i've been giving him credit for.)

the way i look at organized religions, systems of spirituality, and the world's mythologies, is that they are like those boxes of crayola crayons, the ones with the 8 and 16 and 24 colors. every box has its shades of different colors, and each one is beautiful. but no one has THE red, THE green, THE blue, because there isn't one.

a single shade of every color isn't enough for me. i want to see them ALL.

i think you helped me write my blog today!! thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i hope this helps... please feel free to leave me questions on the blog.. if you like :)

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Friday, November 23, 2007

going to ground

as unseasonably warm as yesterday was, today is raw november. the sky is studded with sullen gray clouds, the trees are whipped by a wind that comes roaring out of the west in freight-train gusts. today is traditionally the day the holiday mayhem shifts into high gear.

today is a day the world shops, decorates and spins in double-time rotations, at least at the malls.

today is a day i do nothing.

im not sure what kind of nothing i will do - so far i've had chocolate cake and potato chips for breakfast, which is a fine way to start off a doing-nothing day. i may lie on the couch and find a movie to watch - something Beloved would fall asleep on and the children would groan to see. i may indulge in long soak in a lavendar scented salt tub.

i might go visit my grandmother. i might go have tea with a friend. i might think about my wedding anniversary which is in ten days, or hanukhah, which is in eleven. i might think about solistice and xmas which are both about a month off. i might think about libby's 14th birthday and my sister's 37th, which are before and after xmas.

i might even make a list or two, plan decorations and gifts, foray into the attic to check what i think i remember seeing up there.

or, i might not.

and furthermore the war must end. blessed be.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

in the interests of posterity

here's what i am serving for dinner today:

turkey w/ pan gravy
cornbread stuffing spiked with honey ham and jack daniels
cranberry-orange relish
cranberry sauce (courtesy of ocean spray)
mashed potatoes
petit peas in butter sauce (courtesy of the jolly green giant)
maple baked squash
string bean casserole
crescent rolls and buttermilk biscuits w/ maple butter
apple pie
pumpkin pie
pumpkin-gingersnap cheesecake
chocolate espresso cake w/ cream cheese frosting

how bout you? ;)

five things im really thankful for this year

1) my great-grandfather. he was an illegal alien. at the age of 13 he stowed away aboard a steamer, jumped ship at ellis island, walked the streets of new york, hungry and wet, until he heard his own language being spoken. his first job was watering the donkeys at construction sites. he died at 87, the embodiment of the american dream. thank you, poppy, for not only being so brave, but showing me there are some rules worth bending as well. you gave me courage.

2) my mother. she caused a scandal in our very small town by running off with a catholic priest when i was 8. he left the priesthood, they got married, and are still happy today. thank you, mommy, for not only being the hellion that you are, but for giving me permission to break the shackles of anything - including 2000 year old cultural instutitions, traditions and beliefs - that would attempt to bind me down. you gave me audacity.

3) my children. six little strangers, you showed up on my doorstep and challenged me to help you thrive. now you stand before me, mostly launched, and i am dazzled by your beauty. live long and prosper, my darlings. you give me immortality.

4) my Beloved. you make all my dreams come true.

5)all the people who've ever troubled me in anyway at all. you're the ones who made me strong. thank you for your lessons, painful though they may be. i bless you all on your journey and thank you on your way. you are the ones who've really showed me who i really am.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

first snow

it snowed all morning today, big fat wet flakes that dusted the ground and dripped off the pines in splatters and clumps. i rested mostly. tomorrow we begin the cooking.

i've made fast progress on seventh son. i've gone through all the jack and nicholas chapters, extracted the bits from nicholas i want to keep, woven them into the jack portion. i've also softened lila, and made the ghosts jack sees just a bit more creepy. the next thing to do is to write the three new sarah chapters that will replace the nicholas chapters. but i'm letting that piece stew until after all the turkey-cooking's done :).

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

the sun also rises

i had an interesting discussion with Beloved this morning. he's reading an "auto"biography of eric clapton, and i've happened to read a bit of it myself. i put auto in quotes because its pretty clear that a hapless ghost wrote it. what's even more clear is that while mr. clapton may be in Beloved's estimation a "guitar god" as a human being he's been mostly pretty worthless.

maybe im being harsh. its not that i don't expect my icons to have feet of clay. (on the other hand, i don't have many human icons.) but i do look for a certain empathy, a certain awareness that tells me the icon in question understands that she or he is not alone in the universe, that the icon exhibit kindness and consideration for people like women and small children before i'm impressed. talent alone is not sufficient.

it occured to me that's why i don't like hemingway, even though i certainly acknowledge the debt i owe his writing style. i don't like the sensibility of hemingway the man that leaks through his stories. the characters are unpleasant, unhappy and unkind. i know more than enough people like that - the last thing i want to do is read about them.

tonight, the cosi-girls book club meets to discuss my first novel. it's been an interesting exercise to re-read it. i wonder if they will realize how much of me leaks through.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Monday, November 19, 2007

darkness falls

i got a lot done today...more, in fact, than i expected. i plowed through a mountain of tasks i'd been putting off and managed to accomplish the bulk of the thanksgiving shopping. there's a few loose ends to tie down, of course, and i can already see a few holes in the meal - i totally forgot to add potatoes to the list, for example - but i could put together a pretty decent dinner if i had to right now.

but the price of all this efficiency, all this activity, is that im tired... bone tired. i feel a bit chesty, a bit head-achey, nothing that a dose of elderberry extract, a hot whiskey toddy and a warm milk bath wouldn't cure.

i'm supposed to go out tonight. i'd like to go. i want to go. i committed to this group of women six months or more ago. tonight the spirit is wlling, but the flesh is very tired.

tonight, i bow to the will of my body. i'm going to eat a nourishing supper. im goign to run a hot bath. im going to add milk and lavendar oil. im going to use some of my friend rose's mud mask stuff. i'm going to dress in comfy sweats and fuzzy socks. im going to curl up under an afghan on the couch, and read.

and i will light a candle in honor of my friends.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

tempus fugit

the hustle of the holidays is upon us. i feel the urgent press of time, the need to list, to divide, to delegate. my housekeeping spreadsheet no longer feels like the wooden framework of a dwellng, now it feels like the steel that spans and creates otherwise impossible structures. i have all my tools at hand - my calendars, my lists, my holiday journal from last year.

i happened to glance outside my window and i noticed first how absolutely still the morning is. a paper-thin sheet of ice cracks the surface of both ponds, the trees outside my window are winter-bare at last. not even a crow cries distantly, despite the pale pink sun. from the window, the sky looked sullen, leaden gray, but at the top of the driveway i saw a golden burst of blazing blue. the air is cold, and very calm.

i love you, mommy, said libby as she hurried out of the car.

what matters today is not how much i do or how much i get done. what matters today are the promises i make and keep, the connections that i spin and weave. what matters today are not the tasks i complete, but the people for whom i do them.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

frere jacques

my brother john arrived last night, a little on the late side, his daughters allie and zoe in tow. allie is getting tall and looks a bit like libby, zoe is now four and is seriously cute. she has the most gorgeous blue eyes. my brother looks exactly the same... a little grayer, a little more tired, a little more, every year, like our great-grandfather.

for the first year, ever, when i look at him, i don't feel the sting of sibling rivalry. for the first time, in nearly fifty years, i understand its source. no one who doesn't have a sibling could ever understand i think, the hot and bitter hatred that can burn within a sibling's breast. of all the stories in the bible, the ones involving siblings are the ones i understood the best.

no one had to explain to me why cain killed abel, why jacob stole esau's birthright, why joseph's brother's ganged up on him and sold him into slavery. when you steal a piece of someone's paradise, even just by accidently showing up, you can't expect not to have to pay. and pay my brother did.

older now, wiser, maybe, i look back across the years and i understand now how his birth was connected to my place of deepest wounding, how fate and accident combined to usher his appearance on my life's stage at its bleakest hour. i was less than two. the monster created by my infant mind as it attempted to make sense of the un-sensible then has cast a long and ugly shadow down across the years.

im free of it now, of that particular demon. the work ive done this past year has led me to the place where i can now embrace it, and see it's not a demon after all, just the unresolved emotions of someone who suffered a very deep trauma at a very young age. this work i've done has led me to the place where having confronted the biggest and the darkest demon of them all, i can now turn and deal with all the others.

i'm finding that just like this one, they ain't so tough.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

but first, a pause

the day is just about half over and already i feel as if i've been a million miles and done a million things. my brother arrives at nine pm this evening and except for some basic cleaning up, i haven't done much yet to prepare for his visit. there's still a bathroom to freshen, towels to count, sheets to put on. i'd like to make some pumpkin bread to have waiting for them when they arrive.

so far, i've taken my grandmother out to brunch, brought her to have her hair done, shopped for gifts for 8 people, and one baby shower present, as well as bananas and wrapping paper, wrapped said shower present and delivered it. now libby is doing her homework, and i

... am off to take a Nap!

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Friday, November 16, 2007

dead wood in winter

last night i heard Hecate and her Hounds come roaring through the trees. this morning when i walked the puppies, they were skittish, easily spooked. dead branches littered the ground, and the trees were mostly stripped. the leaves swirled in russet whispers across the ground.

last night i worked through two chapters of jack, slicing through the manuscript with the cold clean abandon of hecate on a mission. i have an invitation on my calendar, for an evening to celebrate the element of fire, a particularly appropriate element it seems to me, as i can feel the wind slicing through the window frame.

beneath my window, on the ground, the dead-wood scatters, wind-tossed, there for the taking. as the temperature drops and the world goes to ground, it lies, offering itself to the eath, to the wind, to the fire of those with the will to pick it up and throw it in. every year, i think, the world shows us what must be done - that that which no longer serves has to be shaken off, buffeted away and ultimately, offered back to the elements from which it came.

but that which we offer to the fire... to the most transformative of elements.... i think should be offered with the most deliberate of intent.

and furthermore, the war must end.... blessed be.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

once more, into the breach

i had a good conversation with jenn yesterday regarding seventh son. we talked more specifically about her comments and the revisions i should make. fortunately, we are on the same page - what i am most happy about is that she loves the stuff i love and doesn't like the stuff i wasn't sure about either.

so today i will print out another copy. today i will begin another read through. tomorrow i will begin the work. i leave faith, peter and ana-elena about to explore the rainforest. but that's one of the best parts of writing, i think... you can put a story down anywhere and when you go to pick it up again, it's EXACTLY as you left it.

there's not too many things in life like that.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

lessons from a loser

any time i begin to doubt whether or not we are truly in charge in the creation of our individual realities, i have only to look at my ex-husband. at first glance, he seems like an upstanding enough sort - former eagle scout, member of various local, state and federal bars, devout church goer and choir singer. to look at him, you wouldn't know he'd (almost) rather go to jail than pay child support.

yesterday, i received a love-note, in the form of a court notice, informing me that mister ex has filed to have the amount of child support he's ordered to pay reduced to "the minimum the Court will allow." it's the song he's been singing every year since we split up - times are hard, business is bad, the law practice is dying. now, apparently, he's closing it.

in the long run, it means that if mister ex has to get a Real Job- which i believe the reverend ms. vicky must be advocating for - his wages will be garnished, a Good Thing for libby who's the beneficiary of the support. (i will simply have to remember to tell myself not to expect him to hold the job long.)

last time we did this, two years ago, they knocked off one child (which they were going to do anyway since meg graduated high school) and reduced the total by twenty-five dollars. i wondered then if twenty five dollars a month was worth all the time and hassle.

for mister ex, i guess it had to be, since for him, it's "the principle that matters."

what's really sad is that he doesn't understand the REAL principle behind it all - the one that says parents shall be responsible for their children's survival. but what's even sadder is that he doesn't see the court-determined amount to be a challenge, a bar to jump, to overcome, to possibly be able to do better than.... he sees it as an inescapable burden. and because he sees it this way, his entire world vision is shackled by it. mister ex will never be a success not because he's so burdened by this horrible thing that keeps him from achieving, but because he won't allow himself to be. if he were a success, he'd have to share it.

with his children.

mister ex is not alone. i believe the psycho-social influences that combined to produce this pathology in mister ex and all the other men around the world who don't believe they are responsible for their children are the root causes of all the evils in this world.

i used to think i'd done my children a disservice by choosing such a lousy father for them, but now im not so sure. it's harder to point out the lessons when the example is a shining star. the light of accomplishment blots out the failures, the second chances, the lucky guesses, the eleventh hour saves. when the loser stands before you unveiled and naked in all his shameful glory, it's a lot easier to see where and how and what he did that went wrong.

one of the biggest mistakes i see mister ex make, over and over and over again, is to fail... because he thinks he mustn't dare succeed.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

let the nail-biting begin

yesterday, i was finishing up a reading when i happened to notice that my email box was still up on the computer screen. i glanced at it, and saw that i had Something from my agent. i don't know if the customer noticed that my hands were shaking as i completed the reading.

jenn's comments were mostly positive but for a few minor tweaks. the major problem she id'd and the one i agree with is the problem of point of view. written in the first person, from three different characters points of view, the voices simply aren't distinct enough. which leaves me with only one thing to do.

go back. and write it better.

i AM going to speak to her first, of course, see if she will agree to market the piece if i send her a synopsis which will be so much easier to write because the book is done. i also want to tell her about my nanowrimo book - which i will continue to work on daily, but won't pressure myself to finish.

in the words shakespeare gave to henry v at agincourt, once more, dear friends, into the breach. :)

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Monday, November 12, 2007

charting a course

i think my friend rose who calls herself a recovering rigid would be impressed. the spreadsheet (my first!!!) that now hangs on the refrigerator door (askew amidst the vertical clutter of business cards, testamonies of academic achievement and protestations of undying love) is a thing of such logistical beauty i am tempted to recreate it here. (if anyone wants it, just email me and i will share.)

it reduces to approximately 30 minutes per day all the necessary chores and weekly maintenance tasks necessary to keep a house running reasonably smoothly. it doesn't include paperwork, errands or meal-planning, three categories it occurs to me i might want to include for my own benefit, if nothing else. but at least, the part of my brain that manages the chores is now made visible.

its got enough repetition of tasks that one could skip things for a day or two or even three without anything totally collapsing into chaos. no one task takes more than ten or fifteen minutes at the most to complete. it assumes each individual takes responsiblity for managing their own bathrooms and bedrooms.

libby loved it. meg rolled her eyes. but she cleaned up the kitchen last night after dinner without being told and EVEN WASHED THE POTS. then she cleaned her room last night and left the vaccumm downstairs, because tomorrow (today) we clean zone one.

after i picked myself up off the floor, it occured to me that every thing in nature responds well to fluid structure.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.
nanowrimo word count: 20,025/50,000

Sunday, November 11, 2007

across five generations

the photo session went swimmingly today, far better than i could've predicted. at least my grandmother managed to look alive. it helped, i think, that baby jake was at his most charmingly placid. for a four-week-old baby who needed to be fed, changed and napped, he was as imperturbable as a buddha.

he lay in his great-great grandmother's arms for a full fifteen minutes, alternately drowsing and cooing and chewing his impressively sizeable fists (for an infant.) he slurped his afternoon feeding with vigor, enthusiasm and commendable preservation of his mother's modesty, then produced gas from both ends right on cue. he allowed himself to be passed around the room in an endless round of stretches, fleeting smiles and momentary fusses.

baby jake won't remember today and with every passing day, the odds such an opportunity will repeat itself grow less. but he will have a picture, and the rest of us will always have the memory, of the day he was held in the arms of his mother, his grandmother, his great-grandmother and his great-great grandmother all at once.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

blog & bake

so many thoughts are swirling in my head today its hard to get a handle on just one. my mother's coming today to meet baby jake and we are planning to take our five-generation picture. bagels and cream cheese at my grandmother's doesn't quite suit the wishes of The Queen and so after the picture, everyone - but my grandmother of course - will decamp to my house.

i'm really glad i had the little meltdown with the kids yesterday regarding the chores. the house was getting Out of Control, mostly because no one does anything unless i tell them to. and i'm sick of it. one of my short projects today is to create a chore chart of sorts so they can know what to do without being told.

as i explained to them at the top of my lungs at one point at least, its aggravating and frustrating to know that i can't trust a grown woman and a child of nearly 14 to do a load of dishes when they need doing or a load of laundry when they run out of clothes.

consequently the house looks a lot better and i made some headway on some projects that HAVE been lying around growing mold. and on that to make several - if not many - Lists!

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.
nanowrimo word count: 18,773/50,000

Saturday, November 10, 2007

and they lived happily, ever after

shortly after my friend, lorraine, died last winter, i looked at my Beloved and i realized that if this was my happily ever after, it was headed toward a very bad end.

one of us was going to have to die first.

the loss of my friend and the realization that either i was going to have to experience an ever more terrible loss, or Beloved was, sent me spiralling into a nine-day depression. i remember the day the gray cloud descended, i remember the moment i felt it lift.

i was in the bathtub, crying my eyes out not just because i'd lost my best friend, but because i also faced the inevitable loss of the best friend i had left. for nine days the Reality of The End wrapped itself around me like an iron shroud.

if all love ends in loss...why bother to love at all?

and then i heard lorraine say, clear as a bell: STOP CRYING.

lorraine, i remember i sniffed. is that you? i whispered.

it was her.

suffice to say that my experience was sufficient to pierce that suffocating night. i climbed out of the tub much more at peace. the depression lifted... i was able to allow a new clearer day to dawn.

but what i carry forward from that nine-day walk into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, like a sharp pebble stuck in the bottom of my shoe, is the bittersweet awareness that each day, each season, each life... inevitably ends.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.
nanowrimo word count: 17,645/50,000

Friday, November 9, 2007

hitting the wall

anyone who has watched my word count rise has probably been thinking something along the lines of:

well, of course she can pound out a lot of words every day - she's a writer. what ELSE would she do?

the answer to that question is anything but write.

yesterday, i hit a wall. not an enormous wall, because i can see the rest of the story behind it. but a wall, nonetheless, implacable, immoveable, and one i can't leap over in a single bound. it's a transition place in the story, a bridge between the beginning and the middle. i can't skip the scene, because the story has an ebb and a flow and a rhythm, and this scene - whatever it is - has a place in it. in order to get from points a-b-c to d-e-f, i have to make this leap. the problem isn't that i don't know what has to happen in the scene, i just don't know how.

i can see the rest of the story, beckoning over the wall like the emerald city of oz. i just can't see how to get there from here.

anyone who's ever attempted to write a story longer than a few paragraphs will understand what i mean.

so what will i do?

well, one option is to just quit. the wall is there, the wall is high. i have lots of other ideas, anyway. as self-defeating as this option might seem, i believe it is important to recognize it. if you don't, it can just fester until even an uncooperative sentence feels like the rock of sisyphus. and if you allow yourself to consider this option, it means that to continue the story, you must make a conscious decision to do so. this means that all parts of your mind and heart and soul have to sign on for the rest of the ride, which is important when you have to get over a wall. the last thing you want when attempting to overcome any kind of obstacle - writing or otherwise for that matter - is for some part of you to remain stuck fretting that the wall is just too high, cause if that's the case, you won't ever get over it.

so... having consciously decided not to quit...what will i really do?

im going to take half an hour this morning. im going to explore the character in the scene, and try to get a better handle on who she is, what she wants, what the stakes are for her. i may sit down at the keyboard, open a fresh document and let her spill her guts for fifteen minutes or so. then i'll go back to the scene, and see if i can see my way over or under or around the wall. i'll give myself a few minutes, and if that doesn't work, i'll try digging some more.

and if that doesn't work.. i'll make a list that looks something like this:

Chapter 14

AE discovers proof that one of her bodyguards is actually working for the other guy.

AE realizes she has to kill him.

AE realizes she's pregant with his child. (no, not really)

then i'll insert a page break,and move on to chapter fifteen.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.
nanowrimo word count: 17,029/50,000

Thursday, November 8, 2007

where there's a will...

...there's a fight.

so used to proclaim my great-grandmother, according to my mother. it was certainly true enough about my family. my mother always made it clear she bitterly resented being written out of my great-grandfather's will, at the behest of my grandmother. my mother always made it clear to me that she expected "what's hers."

yesterday, the Great War of my childhood ended in a lawyer's office in farmington, not with a bang or a whimper, but with the whispered scratch of a pen. at approximately 2:22 in the afternoon, my grandmother signed the document that gives, devises and bequeathes to me, her only heir, everything she owns in the world.

between my power of attorney and the will, my place is cemented in the Great Succession. there will be no trusts, no administrators, no executors. in the words of walt whitman, and the mind of my mother, the victor ship comes in with object won.

it will be for me now to share whatever's left.

or not.

last night meg asked what this meant, if anything, for her and her sisters and brother.

it means you better be nice to me, i said, with an attempt at my grandmother's vinegar.

meg looked at me and laughed.

the queen has abdicated. i hope the heir-apparent outlives her.

and furthermore, the war must end... blessed be.
nanowrimo word count: 17,027/50,000

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

what i know about fear

during a break tonight, i happened to read a post from a lady online who's in the process of taking a really big step toward establishing a better life for herself and her child.

it was one of those posts where something says:


this is what came out.

it's okay to be afraid. change is a very scary thing, and you are about to take a huge step out of what you have known into something you don't. of course you are afraid. you are human and that is part of being human.

the trick is to acknowledge your fear and let it come along with you, kinda like a litlte kid. your fears aren't there to terrify you, they are there to help you survive. if you weren't afraid of some things, you wouldn't survive. so be kind to your fears, you need them.

but you don't have to LISTEN to them, and you don't have to allow your fear to control your life. acknowledging that you are afraid is a huge step, but then you do what you need to do anyways, in spite of being afraid. this is a scary time in your life but its also a very exciting time. try to focus on the positives, what you will gain, whenever you feel your fears raising their ugly heads.

you see, courageous and brave people aren't any less afraid than anyone else.... they just do what has to be done anyway.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

temperance and tools

when i picked up my tarot deck this morning, two cards fell out. laura and i call those kinds of cards "jumpers" and we always pay close attention to them. they are the cards that Spirit has chosen - the cards that always seem to "set the tone" especially if they fall in the beginning of the reading.

when i picked up the cards, i saw the first card was The Magician, the second Temperance. since they are both cards of the Major Arcana, i decided to pay close attention.

so here they sit... the magician with all the tools... temperance with her channels, focus and drive. they are exactly the energy i need to tap into today.

one of the most difficult things about being an artist of any kind is to navigate the way in and the way out of the World Beyond the Veil. the place Where the Magic Happens is a wonderful place, described a thousand times in a thousand ways by poets and writers down through the ages. it is the song of odysseus's sirens, it is the balm of gilead, it's valhalla and the summerlands and whatever you need or want it to be.

and yet, you can't stay there.

i don't know about anyone else, but when im writing - really writing - and creating at the pace at which i've been working - i get really really hungry and really really tired. when i was writing the silver books, if i spent more than a few hours at a time working, i could feel my brain swelling against the inside of my skull.

it comes to me that this nanowrimo exercise i've set for myself isn't really about whether or not i can finish a first-draft in a month. what it is REALLY about is learning the steps of this delicate dance - back and forth and side and side - in a new and deliberate way.

because it is easy to find the way In. it's the way Out that's tricky and treacherous and frequently full of unnavigable shoals.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.
nanowrimo word count: 15,372/50,000

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

feminist thoughts on election day

its raining again today... hard. i have errands to run, a gramma to visit, a friend to meet. i'm not thrilled about the prospect. town hall is in the opposite direction.. i have no other reason to go that way. it would be easy to tell myself that this is an off year, politically speaking - we're not electing a senator or a congressman or a president. it would be easier to turn right at the top of the driveway, instead of left, toward townhall.

but i won't.

i won't because less than a 100 years ago, a brave group of women fought and suffered to give me and my daughters the right to vote. what some of them suffered was unspeakable - if you doubt me - google women's sufferage movement and read what you find. they faced five thousand years of patriarchy, they faced ridicule, ruin, and abuse, but in the end, they won us a voice.

it seems to me that every time a woman chooses not to vote on election day, she does a dishonor to their achievement. and those women among us who believe that THIS is the best system of anything in the world would do well to remember that less than a hundred years ago what a woman believed about anything didn't matter at all.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.
nanowrimo count: 14,147/50,000

Monday, November 5, 2007

the feast of all souls

last night during one of my breaks between paragraphs, i happened to read an online journal post from a young mother who had just given birth to a stillborn baby boy. blinded by tears at the poignancy of her grief, i clicked over onto another site, this one about a little girl, around two years old, found by a fisherman stuffed in a plastic container of some kind and thrown into the ocean.

the last day of the samhain season, november 2, is celebrated by the tradition in which i was raised as the feast of all souls. i always thought it a curious kind of feast day no one ever explained to my satisfaction - who exactly were we remembering? bad people who didn't qualify as saints? why did they get a feast day, i'd wonder.

but now i think i understand the origins of all souls' day, and i think i realize who's day that really is. that is the day when we are meant to mourn the loss of all the children who died in the last year, children who died by accident, by disease, by war and all the terrible things the innocent are prey to.

so today, a bit late, perhaps, i'm lighting a pink candle and a blue one on my honor all who've lost their children, and for all the children who've been lost.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.
nanowrimo word count: 11,876/50,000

Sunday, November 4, 2007

fall back

there is a deliciousness to the hour before dawn.

every year, when the clocks change, i look forward to the sunday where when you get up, its an hour earlier than it feels it is. it is the deepest, darkest, most silent part of the night. it is an hour i am very seldom up to see.

because even if, as sometimes happens, im awake in the middle of the night, there's something about that time as it approaches that cloaks me like a shroud. i can feel the drop in my own temperature, i can feel my arms and legs turn into weights. i can feel my head cloud, and my eyes blur. inevitably, i am usually sound asleep.

for me, it is that hour, ... not midnight... that's the witching hour... the hour that turns the night-time into day. that's the hour the magic really happens. and almost always, i sleep through it.

every year when i wake up, an hour earlier than i think it is, i think, what shall i do with this precious hour, these sixty minutes of banked time? it seems to me if you're going to save an hour for nearly a whole six months, you should make it count when it comes.

some years ive slept through it. some years ive cleaned with it. some years i've frittered it away, like a pocketful of loose change. this year... im giving it to my story... 9,856 words/50,000 and counting. ;)

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

red sky at night

the sun set behind the trees today in a fiery blaze of brilliant red. it was a sight i haven't seen in quite a while - not since the spring, at any rate, before the trees outside my writing window burst into full leaf and blocked the view.

the red light flooded across my desk.

i read the rules at the na-no-wri-mo site.

you only have to write fifty thousand words, and i already have twelve thousand.

can you guess what i'm thinking?

perhaps it's the perverseness of my nine retrograde planets that always makes me want to try to do a lot of things i don't think i can do and even more a lot of people would tell me are downright unwise to try.

or maybe it's just that bloody Hag's light glowing once again out of the West.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

recipe for Date Night

- one Beloved tired from a long week of work

- one annie tired from a long week of taking care of people

- one early dinner reservation (no later than 6:00)

- one still-quiet cause it's early restaurant (preferably with a bar)

- two hours of reconnecting

- two cape-codders

- four glasses of zinfandel

- two satisfying meals

- one shared dessert

- one leisurely drive home

- one early bed time


and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

over the hills and through the woods

yesterday, katie and i took baby jake to meet his great-great-grandmother. i had a camera tucked in my bag but didn't use it, because predictably, my grandmother was in full invalid form. lying in her bed with her pink hair net askew, wearing a raspberry-checked flannel housecoat that she insisted in exchanging for a bathrobe with a broken zipper, she reminded me of those pen and ink sketches of the slums of 18th century london. since there was no sense in presenting jake with a memory he'd only shudder with relief that he was too young to remember, i decided i could only sear the event into my memory.

jake was as engaging as a three week old baby can be - he pooped, cried, fussed, burped, spit up on me, ate, and bobbed his head. even katie was astonished by the resemblance between the living jake and the photo of the ancient newborn who once was me. when he cried, my grandmother said... walk him. just walk him a little bit. he'll be fine.

at one point, katie looked at her and laughed and said, how far are we supposed to walk him, roey?

my grandmother looked blank. then she smiled. as far as it takes, she said.

i remembered both my parents relating tales of late night marathons around the living room in the flickering blue-gray flare of the black and white tv. i was a night owl from birth. and in my grandmother's parchment voice, i heard an ancient echo: walk her...just walk her... walk her a little bit. she'll be fine.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Friday, November 2, 2007

autumn's edge

"autumn fell like an axe, with a rush of cold wind out of the north, that bit through nydia's thin clothes like a blade. overnight, the trees burst into a crazyquilt of color, suddenly saffron and cinnamon, russet and flame."
daughter of prophecy

i think of those words i wrote long ago every fall, because it always seems to me that's how it happens - one day you don't need a coat, and the next you do. one day the car doesn't need starting first, and the next day it does. there's always a definite point, i think, where if you're paying attention you realize there's no going back, that summer is a memory and if you haven't dragged out your boots and socks and gloves you'd better get to it, because ole man winter is just around the corner.

i can already hear him howling in the trees late at night.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

sweet november

as befitting the holiday that celebrates the Long Sleep, i came home from the purple rose this afternoon and curled up for a long nap. the sky was a soft gray blanket, the air was deceptively warm and wet. when i opened my eyes and looked across the pond, i saw Winter, clad in naked trees and quivering branches stripped nearly bare of leaves, staring back at me.

mommy, said libby, are you ever going to wake up?

so i did. i have a workshop to attend tonight, clothes to fold, dishes to wash, paper to sort...dinner of some sort to put together. i heard from my brother today that he and his family are coming to stay with us the weekend before thanksgiving... (i told you november is the month for lists!)... hard on the heels of the holy-day, i can feel the the winged chariots of The Holidays - driven by Time's - hurrying near.

and so, as the sun sets on this holiest of holidays, and i prepare to step back into ordinary time, i watch the darkness deepen this sweet november night.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.


today is the beginning of na-no-wri-mo. for the uninitiated, na-no-wri-mo is not an obscure pagan feast. it's not rooted in celtic lore, it's got nothing to do with gods, goddesses, the natural order of things or the mysteries of the universe. unless of course, you want it to.

na-no-wri-mo means something like national-november-write-a novel-in-a-month month. the idea of writing a novel in a month is something that has always intrigued me. a whole novel, tidy and done in a month! possibly only people who've actually attempted to write a novel at all can appreciate the seductive lure of a program that promises a novel in a month. a first draft, of a novel, to be sure... but a novel - or at least the completed draft of one - in a month is the kind of consummation not only devoutly to be wished in my world, but one of i've only ever dreamed of.

alas, na-no-wri-mo doesn't work for me.

first of all, november is probably the worst month of the year for me in terms of writing. november is the month i begin to gear up for The Holidays. from thanksgiving through twelfth night, we celebrate thanksgiving, hannukhah, christmas,the winter solistice, twelfth night, my wedding anniversary to Beloved, my youngest daughter's birthday, my mother in law's birthday and my little sister's birthday. i have baking to begin, presents to buy and wrap and send (my christmas list last year was 25 people - and that was just my immediate family - and doesn't include the birthday presents for the people above), meals to plan, logistics to execute. any writing i do in november tends to be in the form of a list. also, november only has 30 days. what were they thinking, whoever started this, to choose a month with only 30 days? if i really were to contemplate write a novel in a month, at least i'd pick a month with 31 days.

but the real reason i haven't tried yet is that stories just don't come that way for me. i can't force a story to come beyond a point. it's like trying to induce labor in a woman whose just not ready to give birth. you can do it, of course, if you apply enough of the right kind of chemical, but the process will be long and painful and tortured. i had that experience with silver's lure. i may not be real sure of what does work for me in terms of writing, but after silver's lure, i'm very sure of what doesn't.

but the idea of a draft... a whole completed draft... is such a delicious tease every year i struggle with the idea and every year reluctantly conclude november is just not good for me.

and so i bid my na-no-wri-mo sisters much luck, as many appropriately caffienated beverages as required, and perserverance on the road ahead. strength to your sword arms, sisters!

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.