Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mountain Snow and Memories

Outside my window today, Mt. Mansfield has a fresh coat of snow high above the tender little leaves on the birches and poplars. I love the contrasts of this time of year. I love the tenaciousness of the fading season and the triumph of the coming one. I love Vermont.

It's been a strange week. I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time at my old college, where my daughter is preparing to graduate. I've been caught in one of those time warps that convince me time is not a line, but a spiral, constantly looping back around on itself. Watching my daughter perform her senior recital brought me right back to watching her father perform his on the same stage.

A few days later, I sat in the audience of the Honors Convocation and watched young men and women receive awards and scholarships in the memory of long ago professors. But the problem was that the professors now being immortalized by endowments weren't just names to me. Margaret Ottum was my vibrant science teacher who drove an old wreck of a car in the name of a brand new idea at the time -- recycling. Albert Swinchoski was a dear, sweet old violin player who taught music with a twinkle in his eye. George Domke taught world history sitting in a chair in front of us, just talking, for an hour and a half at a time, and picking up next class right where he'd left off, with nary a note card to be seen. And now they're all... names of scholarships.

My last year at school, I received an award in the memory of a writing teacher and a writing student who had both died tragically. I remember being thrilled and proud as I walked across the stage, a young writer bursting with ideas about to be unleashed on the world. I did make the effort to find out about the men whose names were on my certificate, but their lives, and deaths, seemed long ago and far away compared to the fact that I had just won an award given " the student judged to be the best writer in the B.F.A. program."

But this week, sitting there, I could feel the ghosts in the room. As I watched the young lady being honored with the same award this year, looking thrilled and proud and bursting with ideas about to be unleash on the world, I wondered if she knew any more than I did about the two men who had died, or if it might have occurred to her to wonder who else had won that award in the past, and what she might think if she knew one of them was sitting there, watching her. I thought about introducing myself to her later and congratulating her. But everything I might say seemed so trite -- stick with it, it's worth it, it might take you twenty years to get that first novel published, but don't give up -- all those things I heard back then but didn't believe. The world was waiting with bated breath for me and my first novel, after all. This young woman would have just smiled and nodded politely, and then hurried off to join her young friends who were also about to set the world on fire.

I walked out of the auditorium, cramped after sitting for two hours, feeling a bit like the ghosts I could feel around me. Before I left the building, I stepped into the large art gallery with the spacious windows overlooking the campus, the room where I'd given my senior reading. It, especially, was full of ghosts.

I paused a moment and looked around at them. Then I whispered very softly,

"Don't worry. I've still got my eyes open."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Silent One has a Cover!

I saw this for the first time yesterday, and I'm still speechless. It's just so perfect.

The artist who put this together from the vague concepts I gave her (um... canoe? Outer space?) is just fantastic. This is from my own photo of my own canoe and paddle, and my husband's life jacket. My oldest daughter helped me take a bunch of photos back in November before the pond froze. I knew then that I'd like the canoe to be on the cover, somehow, and I knew that everything would be frozen when it came time to submit any photos the artist might be able to use.

I couldn't be more excited! I mean, who wouldn't buy this book just for the cover?

It's really starting to sink in that in another few months, I'll have two novels in print. (Then I think about how  much work there is still to go -- two sets of proofreader comments to work through, then the final version to check one last time. It gets harder to go through each time, because I can change fewer and fewer things, until it's too late and it's finished and all on its own.)

Writing novels and raising kids has so much in common...

I just hope this thing will live up to its cover.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Next week is officially spring recess, and man, do I need one! How do people who have real jobs survive? I would explode if I didn't have these built in weeks off. (The answer probably has to do with the fact that in two weeks, I'll only get half a paycheck.) Regardless, I'm going to enjoy it, especially since I've been fighting a losing war with a cold all week and I could easily sleep for a month.

Yesterday was gay awareness day at our school, and this is the ribbon I proudly wore. End the bullying!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Yesterday was bark day at our house. Well, mulch, or whatever it's called. Normally we don't get to it this early, but for once, we were organized and decided to get a head start on the weeds. We have this odd shaped spot between the house and the pool where we can't really mow without spraying grass all over either the house or the pool, so bark and flowers and a few herbs live here. I honestly really don't like gardening (hot, dirty, buggy, boring, hurts my knees and my back, and the deer end up eating everything, anyway) so this tends to fall on the rest of the family. I enjoy looking at the garden, from inside the pool or a lounge chair with a large iced tea.

I'm normally a pretty quiet person, but not quite quiet enough for gardening. I like a bit of excitement in my activities -- chasing down an elusive bird, scrambling to get the perfect shot, even working in a high school, for that matter (way too much excitement there sometimes). Or writing, of course. That is one thing in my life that is never, ever boring.

Silent One is getting closer! Can't wait to see the cover! I'll post it as soon as I get a copy.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter!

This is our Easter Egg Tree this year.

It's been a long tradition in my family. We don't make new eggs every year, more like every two or three, depending on how the eggs are faring packed away in their special box in my closet. Each egg is carefully blown out, then colored, then has a bit of yarn glued to the top. We hang them on a branch which we put in water, and after a few weeks, it begins to leaf out. This year, the branch already had little leaves, which is very unusual, but lovely. We picked a lilac branch this time, and it looks like we might have little, indoor lilacs in another week or so. Some years, we choose a shad plum, and we get delicate white blossoms.

My mother made a tree with me every year, as her mother did with her, and as my daughters will do with their children. And it's the tradition that's even more beautiful than the tree, in my mind.