Yes, it's been more than a year since my last post. I'm amazed I could even remember how to log in. So, um, how ya doin?

Enough small talk. Let's cut to the chase: my friend Steve Watkins just won the Golden Kite for "Sand Mountain!!!" It's a great book. READ IT!

I'm excited for Steve, and I'm excited for me because now our families will see each other again when Steve comes west to accept his award!!


First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

So last night I had dinner with my lovely and amazing Great Aunt in Southeastern Pa (where I am from), who I call Zia. Zia is 80 and a hottie. Is there a better word choice for someone her age? She's been a widow for about seven years now & would like to find a companion. I told her that I don't think many men her age could keep up with her, and she shot back "I can slow down if you find one!" Seriously, she gets on her tractor and mows her 10 acres every year, tends an enormous garden, sews, cooks, reads, goes to Women In Black vigils, and paints & sketches. Every thing she does is artful. She is kind, smart and well-traveled. She would like to travel to Europe again. She's a longtime leftie & is in excellent health. She's tall and slim and the would-be suitors who've asked her out have all been younger. I think she would like a clever, charming, independent, healthy, attractive man with compatible interests and politics. My feeling is he should be younger, like maybe ten years. So...anyone out there know any wonderful and eligible 70 year old men?

Tomorrow we board a plane to return to Ca. It was good to see my family again after a year away, and it was also good to tour around the beautiful region where I was raised that continues to tug at my heart. Even with the trees bare and the ground muddy, I will miss the stone farmhouses & barns, the low-rolling fields and the narrow, bending, tree-covered roads. And, yes, I also miss the biting cold from time to time & the sound of rain and sleet on the roof.

Musings and mirrors

Yesterday my daughter sat on Santa's lap for the first time & had a little chat. In the course of this chat she revealed, also for THE FIRST TIME, that she would like Santa to bring her some new trains and tracks. HUH?! COME AGAIN?! I'm down with trains and tracks, but why weren't they on the lengthy wish list I was given a few weeks ago?! Apparently this is because X. is a sensible girl who doesn't want duplicate gifts! Unfortunately Target didn't have the wooden tracks & now it's a scramble to get them before Xmas morning. Wish me luck!

Imagine a smooth transition here.

Recently a new friend moved back to India despite my best efforts to steal her passport. Before she left I had lent her a book of poems by Claudia Emerson (I don't think there's any relation to that other famous Emerson guy), but she didn't have a chance to read it. So I'm posting two poems here for her benefit & for all poetry lovers out there in lj-land.

I was introduced to Claudia Emerson's poetry when I lived in Fredericksburg, VA, where Ms. Emerson resides. She teaches at The University of Mary Washington. I never met her, but after her book "Late Wife" won the Pulitzer, her face was all over the local media. Well, there was an article in the local paper and a display at the library anyway. "Late Wife" is something of a departure from her previous books, which focused on themes pertaining to southern, rural identity; it is an excruciatingly personal, but cool-headed, collection of poems narrating the demise of her first marriage & her eventual second marriage late in life to a widower. The two poems I have chosen to share are about framing, about moments in life that enable us to step outside ourselves to view the ways in which we have changed and been changed and continue to change. The first is from the first part of the trilogy entitled "Divorce Epistles" and the second is from the last and third section entitled "Letters to Kent."


Most of the things you made for me--armless
rocker, blanket chest,lap desk--I gave away
to friends who could use them and not be reminded
of the hours lost there, the tedious finishes.

But I did keep the mirror, perhaps because
like all mirrors, most of these years it has been
invisible, part of the wall, or defined
by reflection--safe--because reflection,

after all, does change. I hung it here
in the front, dark hallway of this house you will
never see, so that it might magnify
the meager light, become a lesser, backward

window. No one pauses long before it.
This morning, though, as I put on my coat,
straightened my hair, I saw outside my face
its frame you made for me, admiring for the first

time the way the cherry you cut and planed
yourself had darkened, just as you said it would.


The camera is trained on the door, no one
in the frame, only the dog sleeping. And then
finally, I see this was to surprise you,
filming your arrival, the dog's delight. Only now,
six years distant, can this seem scripted, meant:
the long, blank minutes she waited, absent
but there--behind the lens--as though she directs
me to notice the motion of her chest
in the rise and fall of the frame, and hear

to understand the one cough, nothing, the clearing
of her throat. Then, at last, you come home
to look into the camera she holds,
and past her into me--invisible, unimagined
other who joins her in seeing through our
transience the lasting of desire.


"It's the most remarkable word I've ever seen. I wish I knew exactly what it means."

What does jonowrimo mean?

There's no way I'm making my three chapter goal. What was I thinking & why do I always set the bar impossibly high? I *may* finish chapter three, however. I have *some* pride to protect.

But I won't be able to report until Dec. 4 because I'm going away on a writer's retreat. One I created. I'm taking a new friend with me & we are going to spend the weekend typing at 6,000 feet above sea level. Hopefully the altitude will do wonders for my brain. And wordcount.

To everyone else--keep chuggin'! GO YOU!


Since joining jonowrimo, I am pleased to report that I have written *something* every school day (meaning every day my child was at school). I started with 200 words & built up to 400-500. That may not seem like much but we're talking dissertation here, not fiction. So I'm moderately pleased with myself.

Except today I goofed. I didn't write anything at all & barely made it through a research-related essay I checked out from the library. A mini crisis of confidence. I will recoup tomorrow.

I also want to mention that I read & loved Linda Urban's "A Crooked Kind of Perfect." Great main character, nothing extraneous in the prose or story, lots of heart and some deftly funny touches.

Lastly, the other day I was typing at my dining room table when I became aware of a strange presence along the periphery of my vision. I looked up and there, just outside my window, was giant buck staring at me less than fifteen feet away. As with my word count, this may not seem impressive until you understand that this was 10:30 in the morning and I live in a dormitory apartment complex that houses about 350 people. This buck had come up from the nearby canyon was creeping along the sidewalk doing I don't know what. Looking for food I suppose. It was such a strange occurrence, made stranger by the fact that NO ONE ELSE SAW IT! But you believe me, right? Someone kindly suggested that perhaps I'd experienced a Native America visionquest. That would be cool with me, but that's not what happened. And if that were the case, what does it mean?!


Did you know that the State of California requires all state university employees to sign a loyalty oath?

I was under the impression that loyalty oaths were a thing of the McCarthy past, as out of fashion as a vacuum tube television. That they were unconstitutional when applied to citizens with no access to state-sensitive information. That religious minorities such as Friends (Quakers) were exempted from swearing out oaths.

I was misinformed.

I won't bore you with the legislative ups and downs. Suffice it to say that current Ca law does indeed require all state employees to take the oath, but written into the legislation are loopholes. One loophole, intended to protect "academic freedom," allows for employees to attach "memorandum of understanding" to the oath. In other words, if I object to the oath for whatever reason I can state the nature of my objection so long as I do not nullify the oath. I can clarify for my own peace of mind what "defend the federal and state constitutions from all enemies, foreign and domestic" means to me.

Unfortunately the administration of a certain state university which shall remain nameless is either unaware of this provision or is knowingly breaking the law.

I can't say more at this time because my case is currently under review with the ACLU.

Looks like I will have more time this semester for writing.

Boxes and boxes of books!

Hello everyone in L.A! I know I said I would meet up with you there, but that was before I knew that I was moving Aug. 1. Sorry, Kelly! And all other ljers & blue boarders I won't yet get the chance to meet face-to-face. I look forward to reading post-scbwi posts.

Well, here I am on top of a small mountain next to a wilderness park. So far I've encountered a road-runner, screech owls and a coyote skulking around. The smell of sage envelops me when I step outside. Aaah!

No closets and fifty-two emails about next semester's classes in my inbox, but I'm not complaining. Life is good!

Hope to catch up with everyone next week. 'till then....

I am...

The Harry Potter Personality Quiz

You're Albus Dumbledore! You're wise (one might say wise beyond your years, except you're 150...)You are an excellent judge of character and people are always coming to you for advice. You tend to be a bit eccentric, but that makes everyone love you even more. Hey- when you go back to your office, would you give my best to the Sorting Hat?
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

I hope D. doesn't go totally evil or something. I've only read book one.

I haven't been gone THAT long!

lj greets me with "Welcome back, wgwriter."

I did try and keep up with my flist while I was gone, but if I missed any exciting news please accept my apologies and congratulations.

Family arts camp was a blast! There were exhibitions, recitals and classes. There was yoga, recreation and socializing with other families. My daughter brought home a beautiful batik that she made herself (with COLD wax)and an equally gorgeous decorative wooden mask. She also got to experience the thrill of an audience's cheers. She performed in three separate shows and loved it.

As for me, I got some writing done and learned to sew. I also did yoga every day, which is the most exercise I've had in four years.

Now we are camped out at a friend's charming home in Laguna for the next two weeks, dog-sitting and koi-fish-feeding. The Pacific Ocean is visible from the kitchen window and deck, hummingbirds are darting around the trumpet vine and bougainvillea and the neighbors below have a funny pet pig. Plus I've got a week's worth of free yoga classes at a nearby center.

In short, life is good. Except my daughter is exhausted and won't nap. She prefers instead to interrupt me every ten minutes and weep over stubbed toes and toppled block towers. I guess she misses the excitement and constant activity and companionship of camp. Hopefully she settles down tonight.