Category Archives: Writing

Deserving

I don’t deserve the day I had today. The weather: 70 degrees and sunny. Light breeze. The plans: fun small-town events, gardening, playing with kids, and finishing my grading for the semester, grilling, running around until everyone was exhausted, and then tucking the kids into bed with sweet, cuddly stories. I know I don’t deserve it, but I’ll soak it in.

All this goodness can feel bittersweet. These pink flowers were a gift today from our local greenhouse. We’ve been going there for years and wimg_8296e always get our Christmas tree from them in the winter. Lately, I heard rumors that they were closing after this season. I bought the first plants in my first home just before the birth of my first child there. Now, kids in the stroller, the woman at the counter hands my daughter these pink daisies I was eyeing. “Are they perennials?” I had asked the woman earlier in the visit.

“Annuals. Beautiful ones, though,” she said.

When she tucked them in my daughter’s hands, she rubbed her toddler nose deep into the center of the flowers. When she pulled back, it was pollen-covered like yellow powdered sugar. I planted them in a pot in the backyard after we got home.

And so I know that it’s okay that beautiful things don’t always last as long as we hope they will. I won’t get to enjoy these flowers again next year– no guarantees. This greenhouse, in fact, is closing after this summer. Retirement meets realities of modern agriculture– it just wasn’t sustainable any more. This won’t be my greenhouse again, but I’m enjoying it this season.

Not every day is a good day. We’ve had some hard ones lately, but I’ll take the good when it comes, even when I don’t feel deserving.

 

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Honey

I have quite a few kitchen gadgets, but there’s something that I’ve always wanted and never had need to buy… until now:

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I’ve always been a squeeze-bear honey chick until last weekend. We went to a fundraiser and bid on a quart (!) of honey from a local farm. As it happens, the apiarist sat at our table and we got to hear the story of how this honey came to be. This honey came from a swarm that he caught one afternoon, completely by chance. We’ve got a local honey connection now, and you bet I’m not going back to the bears. Needless to say, it’s pretty awkward to get honey out of a quart mason jar, so we invested in this beauty, perfectly labelled little container.

It makes me feel incredibly adult.

Living in Iowa means little joys like this, running into someone who taps Maple trees or keeps bees or chickens. Butchered hogs? I know a guy. Fresh sweet corn? Take all you can carry. Don’t even start on pumpkins. Acres of them. On days when I miss city life (concerts-book readings-movie theaters with more than one screen-trivia nights-Thai food), it’s nice to look at my honey pot. It’s pretty full as it is.

This little jar is extra sweet right now, because my son (almost four) just started getting into Winnie the Pooh. He tucks his body into mine, oversized book in hand, and wants to read all about the honey tree and Pooh getting stuck in Rabbit’s house. The days go so fast that sometimes it’s nice to have something to hold onto– a child’s hand, a spoonful of honey, a warm mug of tea or honey toast.

No recipe this time, just sending you sticky-fingered good wishes from rural America.

 

via Daily Prompt: Label

What is 2 AM good for?

As I mentioned last week, I’ve finished my first novel and have been shopping it around to agents.  The whole business of writing query letters and finding representation was entirely new to me.  I turned to The Writer’s Market and Your Novel Proposal for help and then began the mad process.

Finding an agent feels like online dating, and I’ve had so many crushes.  Oh, look at their favorite authors, I gush internally.  They’ve represented THEM?  Is it creepy to follow them on Twitter?  The question of When do I follow up my query? makes me feel like an anxious high school girl again.  I’ve had a few interested agents; none interested enough to take on the project, but a few interested enough to read and give feedback.  From those, and from my helpful beta readers (aka, very good and patient friends), I’ve changed the novel so much from the finished draft I was sending out in January.

The biggest change happened just two days ago, thanks to my daughter and Peter Hedges.  I’ve been reading many of Hedges’ books lately (he’s an Iowa author, most famously of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? and An Ocean in Iowa).  In What’s Eating, a character makes the choice early in the novel to run over the lawn chair that his sister had recently been tanning herself in.  The action so surprised me that I had to put the book down.  It was such a cinematic moment (and it’s no wonder that Hedges focuses mainly on screenplays now).  I realized that my main character wasn’t making enough choices, and no real choice was made at the end of the novel.

Two AM two nights ago, my daughter called out from her crib for some food, and while feeding her, the idea came to me.  A big decision that would tie together the entire novel.  I don’t often feel grateful for my daughter’s multiple wakings, but this time I couldn’t have been happier (even if I had been more well rested).

The point of this musing is to commiserate with current writers, out there in the midst of agent-hunting.  Hopefully our novels find literary homes.