Monday, August 31, 2009

Shifting


Today is the last day of August. This week my son starts back to high school. In a week my daughter will be back at college. My routine will be shifting to get up earlier. I tried this morning and did not succeed.

The garden (mostly weeds) is having it's last gasp. It's not been a kind year for growing in the Northeast. The weather is shifting - we're actually going to have a whole week of nice weather - sun and temps in the seventies. I'm starting to crave apples (I don't buy them year around even though I could). Already, October and November plans are shaping up.

The shift of seasons always brings a shift in mood for me - on the one hand I always find myself regretting the things I missed out on this passing season. It was summer, but I didn't swim even once (a large part of that was the weather). We never really had a heat wave. My garden was a failure for the most part. And I didn't get nearly as much writing or reading done as I would have liked. So there's a sadness with that. But with the coming autumn there is anticipation. Crisp days (always my favorite) and the lovely colors that follow. Flavors of apples and pumpkin and venison (hopefully). The changing of the wardrobe - bringing out the clothes that have been packed away for months - the wonderful fall colors (plum, amber) that I know are waiting. Yeah, I know that autumn is followed by winter. But I also know that all seasons have their treasures and their horrors.

The passing of time is weighing on me more heavily than it used to. My oldest child is the same age I was when she was conceived. There are only a few more years until my nest is empty. But I know it will never truly be empty, because I will fill it with the many twigs and fibers that hold my interest. I used to be afraid of the future - always worrying about all the dangers. There are times when the unpleasant things get the better of me and I sink into the sadness of contemplating them (the loss of friends). But because I've always celebrated the change of seasons, I know that the spiral just keeps going.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Grand Spicy Summer Sunday Finale!

As summer draws to a close and autumn drops hints of it's soon-to-be arrival, the Spicy Summer Sundays Blog tour concludes at the blog of Danielle de Santiago. In the tradition of preserving the bounty of summer, he's preparing chutneys, oils, and vinegars with some of the same spices we've touched on this summer. And even though I just ate dinner, my mouth was watering reading the recipes. So head over - I swear I can smell the bubbling chutney through my computer.

It's been a wonderful summer full of delightful food and wonderful discussion. Going back in time...

Emerald pleased us with poppy seeds in a delicious summer salad.
Scarlett Greyson showed us a good thyme.
Gina Marie did not make cinnamon toast.
Neve Black got all cilantro on us.
And Donna George Storey started off the summer with a number of spicy numbers.

So thank you Donna and Marina for putting this wonderful tour together. It's been quite a summer!

Now, if you haven't already, head over to Danielle's!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Might be quiet this week

This is the last full week of "summer vacation" before my son starts back to school and we have to move our daughter back to college and I am so fucking far behind on so many things that I think it's best if I keep my blog posts short and sweet. Though they may be a little sweaty too. But I think I should save my long, rambling ones for September. If you're wanting to read more, hit the archives. I've been doing this since last December.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

P.S. Haven is a Salty Dog - Spicy Summer Sundays


Today is P.S. Haven's salty turn at the Spicy Summer Sundays blog tour! He's tickling our fancy with a mouthwatering pickle recipe. I've never made pickles myself, but I'm sorely tempted to try this recipe.

Since "salty dog" means (among other things) "libidinous male," as soon as I heard that Haven was doing salt, I thought of this here song. Because Haven is definitely libidinous. Duh. We all are! So here's some vids. We got some Procol Harum and then some Flogging Molly (with some lovely Jack Sparrow footage).




Then our Haven has an incredible amount of reading material for us, including a brand spanking new one just for our Spicy Summer Sundays! In all that, he reveals his obsession and asks about ours. But I'm not even giving a hint, you have to go read.
So head over to Haven's blog - Faster, Baby - that is if you're looking for a salt lick.

And since one of the things I'm obsessed about is just weird stuff, here's a video that is definitely in the weird column. Takes me back.



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why he writes

If anyone is interested in reading Stephen Elliott's essay "Why I Write," it's posted on The Rumpus today. A month or two ago I paid $3 to download it and it was well worth it. Stephen had said he was going to post it, but I was impatient. I'm not sorry, that's how good it is.

Except that I don't have time today (due to frantically trying to get ready for a short out-of-state trip with Hurricane Bill making me a little nervous), I'd put a snippet here. Maybe I will later if I can get my shit together.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Looking beyond the dog days

They're finally here - hot, humid, hazy. Haven't taken a walk in days because it almost hurts to breathe the air. A bit late. Usually this kinda weather comes in July. We're in the second half of August. And it looks it - just the way all the green has changed. That coupled with the fact that school is starting soon for my kids (son's back to high school and daughter back to college) has me contemplating what I'm going to do this fall.

Lots of stuff has been marinating in my brain over the summer. I liked doing the interview with Randy Lagana and have more planned (if the various folks will agree). But I'm thinking of doing them more as a conversation than I did before. Not sure how that will work, but like I said, marinating.

I've also got to get myself some structure. I work better with routine, but I'm not good at making one - I seem to need them to come from the outside. This summer has seen a lot of floundering on my part. Deadlines passing by, neglected notes to self, and a sort of suspended animation brought on by my own lack of focus. I do a lot more than just this blog and I tend to be sporadic with everything. Which frustrates me. I am my own worst enemy. Somehow I have to change that. I've thought about doing the public to do list - but my fear of making a total and complete ass out of myself prevents me from doing more than let the thought spark from one neuron to the next.

Hopefully soon I'll get a post up about my impressions of our Gettysburg eroticist summit (or however Craig put it. I think it was Craig. Yes it was - found it while getting his link). I also want to get into the whole getting books signed thing - I'm gonna take pictures of some of my signed books to go with it and that's one thing that's holding me up. Also, to latch onto a current topic, but in a different way, I'm going to get into some nostalgia about Woodstock (no I wasn't there - I was only 11 years old at the time and lived in San Jose, California) - because it was one of those "formative" events in my life. Yeah, you're wondering how the hell?

I'm also going to slowly let my "other" writing self merge more with the Erobintica one. I just want to write and I think it's been counterproductive for me to try to keep everything separate. It's a bit of a mind fuck, and not in a good way.

So, those are just a few of the things I've been thinking about. There's lots more, but that's enough for now.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pop over to Emerald's for Poppy Seeds

Spicy Summer Sundays continue at the blog of Emerald today. Her spice is poppy seeds. She's made a delicious summer salad and some autumn muffins in honor of this time of year. I was just saying to my husband yesterday that it definitely feels like the end of summer out - plants look different and there's some subtle change in the air. The topic of discussion is transitions - so pop on over to her blog and join us.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

First 1st!

So I've been entering Alison Tyler's flasher contests at her blog Trollop with a Laptop since December of last year. I've missed some, but not many. I don't know how many I've entered - all I do know is I have a shitpile of buttons from the contests and more. So many I've forgotten what some of them are for. These stories are fun to write and there are some I've really liked and others that well...

But I'd never had one of my stories take 1st place. Until this past week.

And there's a now funny story about it. I wrote it while sitting in my husband's truck on the side of the Mass Pike as he tried to fix a leak and salvage a weekend trip (for just us two) up to Maine. This truck has a lonnnnnnnnng history. Let's just leave it at that. So I wrote this in a notebook and typed it into Alison's blog comments on my husband's computer in the motel room up in Maine. Needless to say, things didn't happen quite this way...

Roadside Discipline

The state trooper just left, warning us that if we’re not gone next time he comes by we’ll have to be towed. Tommy’s under the car, oil all over his face. I’m sitting here, pissed. Another trip screwed over by his insistence we take one of his precious project cars. He’ll pay. Soon his smiling face pops up in my window.

“All fixed!”

I say nothing. Just glare at him.

“I’m sorry honey. That hose needed replacing but I hadn’t gotten to it. Good thing I had extra with me.”

“Yes, good thing.”

He goes back to gather up tools. I step out, look around. Traffic is thinning with the coming dark. Headlights cast shadows as I bend down and pick up a piece of hose. Just long enough, I think, flexing it.

Tommy comes around the side of the car, sees me with the hose and gets this look.

“Come here.” He does.

“Hold onto the mirror.” He does.

I take the hose and wrap it around his wrists and the mirror.

“I’m really sorry honey.”

“Shut up.”

He knows what’s in store. Maybe. I rummage in his tool box until I find something suitable. A rubber belt of some sort. I don’t know car parts. But it will do. Then I yank down his board shorts, exposing his ass. I kick his legs apart.

“What if the cop comes back?”

“Shut up.”

The belt thwaps across his ass. His yelps are drowned by passing trucks. It’s too dark to see his cheeks redden, but I’m wet and wanting to fuck him so bad I can taste it. I reach around and feel his hot rod.

Hissing in his ear I tell him “You better make me come in record time.”

Not long after, the trooper returns just as Tommy starts the car.

“Looks like you got her started just in time. I was about to call the wrecker.” He looks over at me. “ And Ma’am, you have the patience of a saint.”

I smile at the officer.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Treading Water


Just now I realized I hadn't posted anything here since Monday. And it's Friday. Where did this week go?

Though I have lots to say, I don't really have any time to say it. Somewhat frustrating.

Seems I'm treading water - not going anywhere in particular - just biding time. Hopefully soon I'll be able to gather my thoughts and paddle in one direction or another. Till then - splash!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wake up and smell the laptop

There is an article in The New York Times this morning about how people are waking up and turning on their laptops before they even have their morning coffee. Umm. Yeah. I turn my on first thing when I get up. I actually don't like to eat when I first get up anyhow. So it works.

They use some family whose morning "routine" has changed drastically with the introduction of technology. One of those mythical families that used to gather around the breakfast table. Like in movies. I have been a mom now for over twenty-five years. Only rarely do we all sit down together - most often on a weekend if I or my husband is fixing something "special." During the school year, my kids have had wildly divergent schedules, with the oldest (high school) having to be up at six am. For awhile I had three different morning schedules when my three kids were in high school, middle school, and elementary school. It went for almost three hours. The younger ones sure as hell didn't want to get up early so they could join their siblings around the table. And now that they're older, I let them sleep. Unless they need to be up for some reason.

It's summer, so my routine is not the same (no 6ams) - but I still usually turn on my laptop. Like this morning. Even though I'm in a hotel. I checked my email. One piece of junk and one thing I subscribe to - The New Verse News. It's a blog of "politically progressive poetry on current events and topical issues" and I've subscribed to it for a couple of years now. Nothing else this morning yet. It's summer and it's early - email has been slower than usual.

I know that lots of folks decry how technology has made us less something - fill in the something with whatever behavior you wish. But I always have trouble with those Luddisms. That it's somehow made our lives less rich.

Last night twelve of us, erotic writers/bloggers and some family members, took over a portion of a restaurant and closed the place down. We all "met" online. It was pretty cool. So tell me - how is my life less rich?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bad Ass Rosemary


Oops. Wrong Rosemary. Hehe.

Today's Spicy Summer Sunday takes us to the blog of BadAssKona and he's cooking with Rosemary - the herb that is. He's sure to have some delectable dishes for us as well as other treats. So grab a sprig and head over there.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's Like Camping!


Again an update! I am having a wonderful day! If I have time I'll post more later.

Update update: I got to sleep in so just up now at 10am. It's sunny and breezy so no need of the air conditioner which guess what? Is working fine - it apparently is on the same circuit breaker as the well (or at least it seems so - we're hoping the circuits weren't mislabeled and hubby did all the work on a live circuit with just the switch to the power turned off! So, no HVAC folks need to be called. We have water, and I'm hoping no leaky connections.

Update: Yay! It's 3am and we just finished the job. There were some leaks that we had to figure out, but we figured them out.

We're without water (no flushing toilets or running water for doing dishes) and the air conditioner is not working. Luckily the weather is pleasant. I noticed earlier today that it didn't kick on when the sun started beating on the house in the afternoon. Right now we'll worry about that tomorrow (it's central air and is tied in with our heating and hot water so maybe the fact that all the water drained out of the boiler flipped some SYSTEM IS FUCKED UP switch and once the rest is fixed we'll be okay. Otherwise we'll have to call the HVAC guy. We were do for a service call anyway - we'd just been holding out because of the fact it costs money.

At least we have electricity (goes to knock wood) - so I fixed tacos. Only the tortillas I bought were all broken when they came out of the package so I fried them up and we had tortilla chips and taco salad. And my husband is back to the big box hardware place because they didn't give him all the parts he needed when he was there getting everything he needed.

I washed dishes camping style and then threatened everyone with dire consequences if they dirty any more. Not being able to flush toilets is going to get old real fast (I know I know, I'm grossing you out).

Oh, by the way, that picture above was taken last year on our anniversary - yeah, we camped. I like camping. Honestly.

With everything that's been going wrong the past week (it was last Friday that hubby's truck broke down on the Mass Pike) I'm beginning to think we might have to make a sacrifice or something. I tried to find that scene from Help! when they're going to sacrifice Ringo, but couldn't, so here's the trailer - I gotta get me that on DVD. I remember standing in line to see that as a kid in Philadelphia. It was one of those movies that was formative. So, hopefully things will start looking up soon. I'm in a surprisingly good mood. Weird. I expect a medal for this - or something better. ;-)

When it rains it fucking pours


While I was out this morning doing some grocery shopping and picking up a job application, I got a call from my husband. Seems our water pressure tank - we are on a well and the well pumps the water into the tank and then it's ready for if someone turns on a faucet - and the whole setup is quite old and it's been on it's last legs for some time - you know where this is going don't you? Well, he was moving a saw (to clean it up and sell on ebay) and bumped something and ...

suddenly water is spraying all over that side of the basement (where he has all his tools and machines) and when he tried to turn the valve to stop the water it just turned and turned and turned and ...

So he turned off the power to the pump (before it pumped the well dry and burnt out) both at the switch and the circuit breaker. He thinks all the water in all the pipes in the house that could flow that direction did - and we have quite the nice wading pool in that corner of the basement. Also, now we have no water - to drink, wash with, do dishes, laundry, flush toilets. My daughter had just gotten back from a walk and was looking forward to a shower. I have a ton of laundry. So he's off at the plumbing supply place spending money we don't have.

It's hard, all this shit is happening to us and I really didn't want to sit here and complain, but hell.

That's all, just hell.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Slogging Forward


So, I risked being uncool and got my copy of Happy Baby signed by Stephen Elliott last night after asking him a question that I'd wanted to ask during the class but was just not in my strong place, so I couldn't. But afterwards I did. I asked him "how do you get past the fear" (or something like that) and he said "you already know the answer" (or something like that) and ya know, he's right. Part of what he wrote in the book was this - "Don't question, just go forward."

Ha - I have a poem with the following lines:

I will not question
leaf
raindrop
wind

this

yet I always question

Today was one of those days when bad news just seems to show up with a gleeful grin on it's face. A kick 'em when they're down kind of day. My husband makes his living in the publishing biz. The sinking in quicksand publishing biz. Today he got unpleasant news about health care coverage. It basically amounts to a huge pay cut. We're trying to figure how to manage this. Yeah, and I feel silly complaining - at least he has a job. But things are so different from just a year ago (for us and just about everyone we know) that the mind reels at times.

So, I of course go to a very negative place. I'm trying to be a "writer" and right now it feels self-indulgent. Especially because I'm a "stay-at-home mom" - a luxury right? Who am I to complain about anything? We've managed this long because we have always managed to make do. Oh, I've gone out into the work world on occasion - but it was always something to tide us over or give me a little spending money. I have a college degree (in Geology of all things) that probably wouldn't do me a lick of good these days. I don't have any real marketable skills and very little experience. My husband would argue with all these, but then he's a glass half full kinda guy, while I on the other hand see the glass as empty and smashed on the floor. I've made a little bit of money with my writing, but not enough to even pay for the paper and pens I've used at this point.

Many people start writing when they're young and keep at it. I stopped at about thirteen/fourteen and didn't start up again until I was in my thirties and really didn't get serious until about ten years ago. I'll spare you the math - I'm fifty-one. That means I can't waste any more time. I need to write. And now (and probably always) the only person stopping me from writing is me. I have to admit that. Oh, I can complain about time suckers and stress and whatnot, but when it comes down to it, I'm the only one that can pick up my personal pen or tap my own keyboard. Or not.

When I first started doing this erotica writing thing it was because I'd written some stuff in the past and wanted to again. The stuff I wrote before was "sweet" and though one piece has been published (and I've yet to hear of anybody reading it unless I showed them the story) - it was an old one - written 18 years ago during one of my brief forays back into writing. Now though I find that the erotica (or whatever you want to call it) I'm writing is much darker. Sex is a fraught subject for me. And like Donna has been blogging about, it's not always happy and "sex positive." I want to be able to write honestly about whatever I write about, even if I'm writing fiction. But also, I (god this is hard to write) want to write my own story. And as soon as I even start to think that, the tabernacle choir in my head starts up with all the reasons why I shouldn't and why nobody could possibly be interested and they never shut up. This is something I've been struggling with for several years (or my whole life, take your pick). It's why the novel I've tried to write several times runs off into a ditch.

So when I saw this class I immediately signed up. "Writing From Experience" from Stephen Elliott in NYC. I was in a funny place for most of the evening. Wish I hadn't been, but that's what was.

One reason was I was suffering from what I term environmental whiplash - walking the streets of NYC when 36 hours before I was in Maine, helping clear our land and peeing in the woods. Hell, it's hard coming home from there anyway and we don't live in the city. I love NYC (more so than my husband) - I love the woods too. Well, I love them much more.

Sometimes it's hard to reconcile my conflicting loves/desires.

Anyhow, I sunk into my shy place for most of the evening. Just listening mostly. Silly (hmm, why did I say silly?) observance: his little notebook had a cool kink.com sticker on it. I noticed that. I took a few notes, did the couple of brief writing exercises. Interesting where I went with them. I didn't read any of mine. Some highlights - things that either I made note of or Stephen mentioned they were bolded in his notes so they were important. They're almost quotes, though maybe not exact - I'm bad at notes.

- The filter is your most important tool after your pen. Your own experience processed through your own personal filters are what make you unique.
- Never let the truth get in the way of the story.
- A book that everybody likes, nobody loves.
- Write it and then worry about it (publishing something that someone might not like).
- You might not have another story if you give away your story (by not writing it or not writing it the way you need to in order to protect someone).
- Who owns the story?

If any of that interests you, you might want to check out his "Why I Write" - available to download for a few bucks (if you're impatient like me) or soon on The Rumpus for free.

Afterwards most of us went around the corner to a bar and it was hard for me to hear anybody - my hearing is funky when there's a lot of background noise. I used to pretend I could hear what was being said, but anymore I just zone out.

I did write four pages of stuff on the train ride home. Not about to write it all down here - I go off on some tangents that I ain't about to put down here - for some of the reasons that were talked about in the class. But I will put down this part even though I worry some of it may sound stupid and self-absorbed:

Had an attack of shyness. I was just the second person to introduce themselves so I didn't say much - just my name and that I was down from CT - nothing about my writing or why I was there. Most folks were considerably younger than me, in fact, I may have been the oldest there - or close to it. I don't want to disparage anyone, including myself, but I kept thinking "these are real writers" and then would immediately castigate myself for such thinking. I was back in the space I used to be in writing classes/workshops - afraid I don't belong. I don't need critics, I'm my own worst.

I liked him - would have liked to have a real conversation with him about writing - not a shouted over a noisy bar me afraid of sounding stupid one. And I had to guzzle my beer to get the nerve up to say anything - but I did because if I had of left without asking the things I did I would have been kicking myself. Had my chance and blew it. I don't know why I feel so strongly that Stephen Elliott's writing is going to be critical to what I want to do - but I do.

I don't hear well in crowded noisy places. Can't pull the conversation out of the swarm of sounds. So I just tend to hang back. And I realize that my hanging back could be - probably is - interpreted as standoffishness. That my natural shyness is mistaken for snobbyness. When in reality I'm again the little girl standing on the edge of the playground, lonely and wishing someone would come over and be friendly. Unable to walk up to another kid and say hi. And I'm here on this crowded train and I want to cry. But I can't. Why do I want to? Because ... go ahead, be brave - I wanted more. And not in that way. I wanted what I'm always searching for - sometimes getting a slight taste - but it's always gone so fast I often can't believe that it even was real.

What I'm talking about here is connection. I go off and talk about specific people and our conversations or lack thereof. And that includes written conversations - emails and such. I think I'm much better at communicating through written words (or typed) than talking. I stumble over what I'm trying to say and I usually end up feeling stupid.

There was a lot of talk about communication in the class - or at least it seemed that way to me. It's funny though. I've taken lots of classes/workshops/whatevers and one thing that seems to enhance the experience for me is if there's time to talk to other participants beforehand. You can get that at workshops that last long enough - like weekends - so that there is connection between the folks when they go into the class. I wonder if there's a way to bring that to shorter classes. (okay, this is just me thinking out loud right now).

Anyhow. I liked the class. It was worth the time and money and effort to get into the city. I'm glad I didn't chicken out and not ask him my question afterward and I'm glad I got my book signed (and my copy of Why I Write). I found it odd that nobody else seemed to have one of his books with them to get signed. Was everyone else too cool for that? Hmm. That's an interesting topic. Maybe I'll blog about the whole book signing thing another time.

There's a shitload more I could write, but it's after midnight and I really need to sleep. It will be interesting if anyone reads this fucking long post. I've had to go back and fix a few typos (the ones I never seem to catch until after hitting publish).


Monday, August 3, 2009

So what did you do this weekend?

After my meltdown last week, I'd decided to leave my laptop behind when my husband and I went away to Maine for the weekend. Of course, he took his, and I did peek at email and blogs, but I really did a little bit of writing in my notebooks.

We tried to get an early start on Friday, before the rain hit. But. We had a wee bit of a technical difficulty about an hour and a half into the trip (on the Mass Pike) and the rain caught up with us. So, I sat and wrote a very short story and then finished reading a book I had along with me. We then got going again (basically lost 2 hours) and drove the rest of the way in the rain.

Along the way...


both the Springsteen and Aretha songs were going through my head at a gas station in Kittery.

North of Portland pulled into a rest stop at the same time as a van of a Quiverfull family (their license plate gave them away - ha - my husband thought it had something to do with archery at first). I rushed in ahead of the tide. I'm not sure how many kids they had, but it was at least 8.

Once we left the freeway it wasn't raining as hard. We got to our destination and checked in, then went for dinner. I had a lobster roll and a glass of white zin. Then for dessert I had a piece of homemade blueberry pie while this song was playing.

As we drove back to the motel, there was a spectacular sunset over the mountains. I tried to get it with my phone's camera, but I didn't have enough memory.

It wasn't the best of days, but let's just say it ended well.

Saturday morning dawned clear and beautiful. I wandered down to the lake while waiting for hubby to check his email.


We stopped and got gas for the chainsaw and picked up some breakfast and headed up to "our land" for a day of cutting wood and hauling sticks. But first we got to sit here for a bit. Usually at this time of year the waterfall is not this vigorous. It's been wetter than usual this summer.


We worked hard and got sweaty and tired. I got cranky. Very cranky. Part of the reason is that we are up there so infrequently and for such a short duration of time, that all we do is work and there isn't time to play.

Oh, and I've decided to change the location of my writing cabin (still in the planning stages) because of a number of factors. I'll talk more about that another time.

Our trip home on Sunday was uneventful (thankfully) and we got home last night about 9:30pm. Long tiring weekend. I don't feel like I got much accomplished. Today I'm doing laundry and then will head into NYC for a workshop. Yesterday tromping through woods, today through the city. It's a strange life.

I'm still in a weird place mentally. Maybe I just need a little space to not do anything in and that's certainly not going to happen any time soon.