Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: September 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


“Mom?”  Squints shouted down the stairs, even though he knows we have a rule in this house against shouting.
“What?”  I shouted back up the stairs.  I was busy crocheting; crocheting a hat to go with the scarf I made him last week.  After that I’d have to make hats to match the scarves I’d made my daughters two weeks ago.  I took up my crocheting again and began counting stitches to see where I’d left off. 
“You know how my glasses are always slipping off my nose ever since Zoe crashed into me?”
“They just slipped off.” 
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Monday, September 26, 2011


This post was written in response to an Indie Ink challenge.  The Drama Mama asked me to "write an ode to chocolate Dr. Seuss style."  I challenged Diane with "three drops of rain in a deadly sky."

It happened every Christmas.  A certain special tin
Arrived in Grandma’s glove-ed hands; creating quite a din.
This tin bore handmade chocolates; chocolates filled with creams:
Spearmint, orange, maple, the stuff of children’s dreams.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011


From the vantage of the back seat, my sisters and I could immediately tell when we were in danger.  In the rearview mirror, Mom’s eyes would get a wild look in them; she’d hum a little under her breath; drum her fingers innocently on the steering wheel.  But we knew.  Oh, we always knew.
It was the turn signal that confirmed it.
“Oh, just for a couple of minutes.”
The three of us would stagger out of the back seat of the station wagon; toe the asphalt with the white rubber tips of our tennis shoes; drag our feet, sighing exaggeratedly all the way to the entrance.
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First Love and Distant Dreams

“Believe me, Ellie, you get yourself a man, you’ll be the happiest woman in the world.”  Lilly Jean extracted a tube of red lipstick from her gigantic purse and uncapped it.  “‘Sides me, of course.  Ain’t no one happier than me, and you can thank the Daddy Sheriff for that.”  She ran the lipstick across first her lower lip, then her upper one before squashing her lips together. 
Watching this from the breakfast bar, Bitsy was reminded of two thick worms competing for space on Lilly Jean’s impossibly small mouth.  “How did she ever win all those beauty pageants she’s always yammering on about?”  Bitsy murmured to Spank, who’d emerged from the kitchen with a dish towel slung over his shoulder. 
“Be kind, Bitsy,” Spank said.
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Liebster Blog

Spent the afternoon freezing several quarts of local vegetables for the winter: broccoli, cauliflower, the last of this year's corn.  Made a couple of loaves of banana bread and several quarts of my sister's potato-leek soup, using local potatoes and the chicken stock I made last weekend.

There's something about tucking things away for the winter, knowing that, as the snow begins to blanket the ground and the roads get icy, delicious food is just a few steps away.  So far, I've frozen over twenty quarts each of strawberries, peaches and blueberries; several quarts of raspberries; too many peach pies; chicken stock; soup; and vegetables of all sorts--greens, onions, celery for soup, carrots, soybeans, corn.  My only disappointment this year was the failure of the blackberry crop, which prevented me from getting the thumb-sized berries that grow at an orchard just down the street.  In a week or so, I'll make my applesauce and apple pies; and if I get my courage up, I may just try my hand at grape jelly as well--That same orchard sells concord grapes.

It's been a good season.

And it's a good time to thank Elizabeth at The Garden Gate for awarding me a Liebster.  Originating in Germany, a Liebster (meaning beloved) attempts to attract new readers to blogs with fewer than 200 followers.

To some, less than two hundred followers may seem an embarrassment.  But I consider myself lucky, even blessed, to have each of you.  Because, eight months ago, before I mustered the courage to share my writing here, I had no one following; I had no one reading. 

One of my characters, Lilly Jean Jacobs, recently said, "half a man is better than no man at all."  And while I'm not so sure I agree with that sentiment, I do firmly believe that 60-some readers is better than no readers at all.

Writing is a lonely occupation--in my case it could hardly be called an occupation--and I often wonder if anyone cares what I have to say.  Seeing my list of followers tells me that you do.  And so I thank Elizabeth for this lovely award.  And I thank you, beloved readers, for choosing to spend some of your precious time here.  I appreciate your readership. 

And I pass on this award to the following blogs:
  1. Two Kinds of People - From Susan's blog: "There are two kinds of people in the world: those who garage sale and those who don't. And, of course, the subset of those who do—buyers and sellers."
  2. What I Saw - I'm actually not clear how many followers Melissa has, but she deserves every one of them.  Inspiration for writing.  Gorgeous photography and nature.
  3. Coming East - Another Susan! Lovely essays and memories here.
  4. Lit Endeavors - All things reading and writing.
  5. Meandering Homeschool - Hampchick writes of her adventures in homeschooling.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011


I see that the temperature is supposed to go down into the forties tonight.  This morning, I threw open the windows to chase away the heat and the humidity that has hovered in the air since May.  The flies appear to have been listening to the weather forecast: A group of them has taken up residence in the kitchen and I find it fair sport to chase them with a dishtowel.  It’s a battle I often lose.
A couple of days after I lost the War of Tug with Destructo, my eye started flashing—a quick burst of lightning that disappeared immediately.  The flashing began on an inconvenient day: the day of Filibuster’s photo preview: The studio owner greeted us warmly at the door and seated us upon a plush velvet couch before a gigantic movie screen.   She dimmed the lights.
My eye flashed.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Half a Husband

“You here for dinner again?”  Spank said, as Lilly Jean settled her sorry ass on the stool closest to the diner’s entrance.
 “What’s it to you?”
“You got a pout on your face the size of Texas.”  Spank polished a fork on his apron and Bitsy suspected that, had she not been looking, he would have spit on it to remove the bit of egg stuck between the tines.  “What’ll that make, the third time this week?” 
“I ain’t counting.”  As she looked at the menu, Lilly Jean spun herself back and forth on the stool with the tip of her toe.  She reminded Bitsy of a pendulum: Lilly Jean was all wound up; full of energy with no place to spend it.  Lord knows, there wasn’t anything to do in Medford.  And so, back and forth she went.  This way, then that, history repeating itself again and again until time stopped altogether.  Daddy Sheriff’s first wife had spent many a night on that very stool until she’d stood up and walked out of Medford for good, just after Jonathan’s son had run off and Howard had made up his mind to become a monk, confusing the entire town with his undeclared vow of silence and poverty.  What had happened to Howard’s dreams?  What had happened to her own?  
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Friday, September 9, 2011

The Gathering Time

Night falls gently as my husband and I walk the dogs this evening: The last of the lightning bugs flash lazily.  Clouds gather thick and close.  Water rushes along the sides of the street, but for now, the rain has passed.  From the trees, the katydids sing and respond; sing and respond a harsh percussive three note tune while the crickets offer a gentle lullaby from tall grasses.
Autumn is a time of gathering up: a time for the bringing in of the harvest.  It’s a time for shaking the sand from one’s feet and for folding up the beach towels; a time for exchanging flip flops for sturdy shoes and backpacks. 
Autumn is a time to gather in one’s family; to sit extra long at the dinner table, exchanging stories of the day; a time to see the yellow glow of lights in the windows of other houses and know that they, too, have gathered together.
The sun reels in her arms of gold a bit earlier every day; lazily casts them out a bit later; a bit closer every morning.  But it’s too early in the season to tire of the darkness: the change is welcome; comforting; new.
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

To Cool in the Peppermint Wind

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

My husband and I went to the pet store today to pick up tick medicine for the dogs.  It’s one of those massive pet stores—a department store, really—for owners of dogs and cats; rodents and reptiles; fish and birds.
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