Friday, November 26, 2010

Stocking Up

Last year we had a billion (or so) walnuts and hickory nuts; this year very few.  Slim pickings for the squirrels and chipmunks.  First snow is forecast for today, so this guy is doing some late scrounging.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stones and Story

November brings stillness to the lake: tourists are gone and boat traffic is down to the occasional fishing boat. It's a good time to work, and sometimes 'work' entails loosening or emptying the mind, or, what Grace Paley once referred to as 'sitting like a dope in a chair time.'

If it's possible to be outside, that's where I'd rather be. I could sit here:

But I am unable to sit for very long in a chair and do nothing, so my empty-the-head time is down by the water's edge, poking through the rocks, walking the shore.

No matter how many times I walk the same stretch, I always find something new:

That something 'new' might be something very old and much like the 'new' stones uncovered in writing a story. There is this one, that one, and ah, look what's under here.  And in that one stone are dozens of new pieces to explore. Sometimes the most challenging part of writing a book is not what to include, but what to leave out. There is so much world out there.

Back up the hill now, mind refreshed.  Pause here at the swing:

And now: ready to get on with the story . . .

Monday, November 15, 2010

More Distractions

I'm working at desk. Molto diligent. And then, glance out window. Is that a squirrel poking head out of hole?

Is that squirrel going to come out of that hole?

All right. I'm hooked.  It runs down the tree and onto deck and selects five or six leaves and crams them into mouth:

And then it runs back up the tree, taking the leaves into the hole/nest:

A couple minutes later, it repeats the process: down the tree, gather the leaves, return to hole.  After three or four of these treks, it emerges from hole and stretches:

First right side up, then upside down:

Then time for a pause and some sun:

Then a snack on its front porch:

And then some rest, perhaps a nap:

And then the squirrel starts all over again. . .

Its schedule is rather like my own: run around, gather things together, stretch, snack, nap, and repeat . . .

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pleasant Distractions

Sometimes an idea is peck, peck, pecking at you, and you have to get it down while you can, and then you look up and there, outside the window, such a pleasant red-headed distraction. . .

Thursday, November 11, 2010


What does it all mean??

Sunday, November 7, 2010


My parents. Look at them. The photo says it all.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Reader Suggestions

I'm pausing today, having spent long days polishing a fourth draft of the next book. For a change of pace, I turned to some reader mail.  There's always at least one letter that makes my day.

This reader has already read these two books, Love That Dog and Hate That Cat. Both are novels-in-verse and are as much about a boy and a dog and a cat as they are about poetry and teachers and finding a voice:

This is what the young reader suggests: ". . . you should make a new one called HATE THE NEXT DOOR SNAKE. I can already read it in my head."

I just love that.

And now, to close with something completely unrelated (except that it is also yum), I've just made, for the first time, skillet cornbread and it is molto, molto good.  (Recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, by Ree Drummond, William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2009):

Go on. Have some.  Mmm, mm.