Thanksgiving Test Drive

I think I might have stumbled upon a tradition.

Not sure exactly what precipitated the madness, but I went out and bought a ginormous turkey (just the breast… all 7+ pounds of it) earlier this week. Stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce.

Oh, and it was delicious.

Just the two of us and our autumn-themed candles and jack-o-lantern cosiness. The last two years Thanksgiving has been fun but crazy—so much driving and dashing around in order to be with both families in that sort of home-but-not-home feeling that inevitably occurs when you start your own home. It sounded nice to have a little low-key test turkey dinner on our own.

And the brilliant thing is that it’s not going to spoil our appetite for the real thing, because with only two people you don’t really have a chance to go for all the yummy sides (like yams. Carl hates yams, so I’m still waiting for a crack at those). No pumpkin pie. No squash or green peas.

Just turkey and cosiness.

And more turkey.

7 pounds is a lot of meat for us, but I’ve got turkey sandwiches and a turkey pot pie lined up, and if we still have more I’m thinking about a turkey-spinach-ricotta stuffed jumbo shells in red sauce.

I think we’ll be okay.

In other, non-food related news, I spent the day mailing out query letters and trying to whip the synopsis into better shape. It occurs to me (as it often does in this stage of the process) that I would really have made an excellent secretary since I ADORE filing things and printing out extra copies and addressing letters and generally straightening corners.

Perhaps slightly OCD?


Speaking of, I took an “autism spectrum disorders” test the other day for fun, and it turns out those things aren’t ANY FUN AT ALL because apparently I’m knocking on the door of autism. Not kidding. Normal is 16. Autistic is 32. I’m 29.

I’m pretty sure it’s just rigged against introverts, because I kept answering a resounding NO, ABSOLUTELY NO when it asked if I remember numbers easily and see patterns in everything and can’t tell the difference between a frown and a smile… and then it would be all snarky and “are you self-directed and happy to work alone?” At which point I would have to admit that sometimes—once in a while—I kind of do.

Borderline autistic!

Well, one is rather savant-like in one’s abilities, it’s true. I celebrated by eating a sandwich and reading a couple of chapters in this really fascinating biography of Nancy Cunard (“Heiress, muse, political idealist” the tagline says, so really what’s not to love?).

Must dash.

Tuesday drizzle

Carl’s been sick for the last few days. To be truthful, my sinuses have also had more chic moments of being, but I’ve escaped the worst of it. And, when there are only two of you, it really is all about wellness by comparison, isn’t it?

I heard back from an agent the other day—the last of the Lilies batch. She’s had a full for 2 months and was just checking in, letting me know that she’s planning to get to it in the next few weeks, but unless she had an exclusive, she really couldn’t afford to invest the time in it.

Of course, I said yes.

Was lovely to be reminded that there are actual people on the other end of these things… actual people with actual idiosyncrasies of speech, you know? Well, and also that my book is not completely dead in the water.

Speaking of, we’re having one of those quintessential rainy, gray, October days today. The winds have been really strong since yesterday, and most of our leaves are now turning to wet rags on the ground.

And, my fam has just started madly emailing to and fro about holiday plans and wish lists and all those good things. I’m pretty much ready to gear up for holiday season—two months of savoring is not to be sneezed at.

Which brings me full circle to Carl. Shall go put on the tea kettle and move my computer to the dining room table to be within easy reach of the couch. I grew up having to hide out in my room if I wanted any mental space to myself, but Carl’s spent the last ten years on his own and occasionally becomes mournful if I’m home and yet out of his direct line of sight.

These are the tough issues of our halcyon days in Plyms.

That and being unable to squash my stupid synopsis for the new novel into the required 2 page limit.

Truly the evil of the day is sufficient.

Friends in Cowls…

Sometimes reading the Bible does me more harm than good. I don’t say this to disparage the Bible. But, I think, insofar as a person may have been damaged by a certain type of spirituality—or in this case a certain way of reading the Bible—the firm application of said spirituality sometimes isn’t the best option.

So, I stop reading for a while.

I used to feel badly about this, but I don’t much anymore. I’ve found that God is perfectly willing to show me what I need to know through random books or a friend’s conversation or just the slow churning of my own mind. I’m not saying I stop attending church or run screaming from all references to the Bible, of course. But all truth is, after all, God’s truth. Even the Bible makes it clear that the primary issue is always one’s heart.

Anyway, these last few sabbaticals have been fantastic.

I’m reading a lot from a couple of American monks—Merton and Keating, to be exact (and Henri Nouwen… though he was a priest rather than a monk). Am fascinated by Centering Prayer. Am relieved and excited to find an expression of faith that isn’t overly-hampered by its allegiance to Western values. Mostly, though, I just feel nourished.

I know that we all tend to think whatever we happen to be feasting on MUST be exactly what everyone else needs too, so you may not find this Merton quote particularly interesting, but, for me, it’s incredible.

The eyes of the saint make all beauty holy and the hands of the saint consecrate everything they touch to the glory of God, and the saint is never offended by anything and judges no man’s sin because he does not know sin. He knows the mercy of God…

Be blessed, friends.

He Returneth, Hallelujah!

Carl’s been in Haiti on a shoot for the last few days, documenting the rebuilding and spending time with our mission team down there (our church has been involved in orphan care ministry there since the earthquake last spring). We were able to talk briefly yesterday, but conditions are pretty primitive, so it’s been mostly zero communication.

Which is less than awesome.

Also been difficult trying to figure out how to sleep alone. First I was too cold, so I put on an extra blanket, but then I woke up in the middle of the night STEAMING. Have tried changing the thermostat, tried various blanket arrangements. Never did figure it out.

Guess it doesn’t matter now.

My excellent friend Mel spend the last two evenings with me—chatting about deep things the first night and watching Shakespeare and the most bizarre documentary EVER the second. The documentary was supposed to be about this transgender person going back to his (her?) highschool reunion as a woman (mind, was the football quarter back 15 years ago). Bizarre enough to start with— Mel picked it out while we were waiting for dinner to be done as a conversation starter. Except the documentary totally got away from the filmmaker and suddenly it was about the quarterback’s adopted brother whose birth family—surprise!—turns out to be Orson Welles’s!! So then the story switches to random celebrity bio, and then suddenly, the adopted brother is melting down and the docu changes again to be about this brother’s descent into total mental breakdown, hospitalization, etc.

Could easily have been divided into 3 separate documentaries. As it was, every 5 minutes we kept turning to each other and saying: “Could this GET any weirder?”

And, then it always did.

Must dash, but in short on the rest of my life: am reading about monks. Am going to a coffeeshop to see if the change in location and caffeination will produce wondrous results on my synopsis (consider this ploy of the day for getting a pumpkin spice latte… Don’t knock it. They’re only carried seasonally. Time is running OUT). Am going to hustle through the list of tasks I set out for myself, um… DAYS ago.

Cheers, everyone.

Shall go dance my dance of jubilation now.

An evening with Pushkin


It’s two in the morning. Carl’s at a shoot—which could mean intensive work on synopses or dishes or something vaguely connected to one’s responsibilities, but I went for the triple bliss of lush costume drama, Russian poetry, and opera—resulting, as it so often does, in morose romanticism and intoxicated hyper-idea production.

I saw Onegin, one of those costume dramas I’ve been meaning to watch for ages, but couldn’t get past the opening credits for one reason or another. But, about half way through I started to perk up.

Do you know that sudden jolt of recognition when you see something that’s going to be important to you in the future? Onegin is like that for me. I’m not sure why. The story is almost too pretty, too perfectly constructed to allow the right inversions just at the end.

But, I don’t know. I just kept thinking this is important. An exciting flash of recognition. Something about the characters, the settings. Everything felt evocative. Like I would happily borrow the sets and construct my own story to play out in them.

Or maybe it’s just the recognition of myth; always fertile ground for improvisation and adaptation.

Anyway, must just scramble off a few quick sketches while the ideas are fresh.

But, can I just say how NICE it is to get a transfusion of art again? I’d been feeling utterly realistic lately. It was getting annoying.


Autumnal is a great word

Actually, it’s also been a really great season so far. Lots of blue skies and glowing colors; warmish days and crispy nights; cider and pumpkin bread (with chocolate chunks. Do NOT scrimp on the chocolate chunks).

And, the query insanity of yesterday is calming down a bit… now that I at least have a rough draft. Still too long. My queries are ALWAYS too long, generally because I forget that there’s a synopsis for plot details, and I want to jam every little plot point into those two (or three) paragraphs.


Been trying to ignore the political boil lately, although Bill O’Reilly raised his hornéd head on The View this morning during my workout and succeeded in disturbing the calm surface of my internal zen pool. (Ha). Seriously, dude, what the h? Seems like it’s impossible for him to open his mouth without insulting something—whether people or intelligence.

I asked Carl how he was planning to vote for our governor race here in Michigan.

Carl: “Who’s running again?”

Me: “Bernero and Snyder.”

Carl: (promptly) “Snyder. He makes good pretzels.”

Me: “Pretty sure this Snyder and the pretzel one are different.”

Carl: “Oh. Then I’m  not voting.”

Which, if you account for the usual dose of irony, is actually some pretty fantastic political commentary. Somebody get CNN on the phone.