Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days -2012, Flash Fiction Pieces, Life Writing, ROW80 2012 Round #1, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

ROW80 GoalsUpdate- “Recovering….”

It’s been a week tonight since the policeman knocked on the door and changed our lives.

A week of worry, and suspension of the normal to accommodate the unexpected and traumatic fact of the accident that could so easily have been fatal, but blessedly wasn’t.

Sima garo provides.  That’s become more and more a part of my thought patterns over the last several days.

I can’t say that we’ve found a routine, exactly, the children, Jim, and I.

We do, though, seem to have rediscovered the flow of life, and to be moving, more or less, along with it. I have seen Jim every day – until yesterday. He decided, earlier in the week, that he wanted his beloved bike to come home.  I think that’s vital to his mourning process – and he wants to know, for himself, if this machine he has spent years in intimate familiarity with can be saved. He needs to do his own grieving, letting go, or recommitting.

And so I called the tow company, and arrangements were made, at a price we can pay….

And the bike didn’t come. I’m finishing my coffee now, and will then call and try to find out why.  We were told it would be here yesterday afternoon or evening, and we waited, missing the hospital visiting hours in doing so…..

I’m a little angry, and a lot frustrated. Coping with this new reality has been possible in large part because I could see Jim everyday, see the advances and retreats of his recovery, and reassure myself that, on the whole, he is getting and feeling much better.

It's a dog's life - Corki at rest.

I feel as though I unintentionally abandoned him, and that leaves me a bit rudderless and out of sorts. I’m trying to breathe through it and relax-  it’s not affecting the kids much, because they’ve been on an every-other-day schedule, and saw Daddy looking far better – even walking in the hospital halls! –  on Friday.

Just your typical uncover-the-hand-me-down-couch-toss-the-cushions-and-get-comfy-with -electronic-media-kind of day.....

I’m feeling better.  There was a rational reason.  The tow guy had a call, and returned from it at a time he felt was too late to intrude upon our lives.  He couldn’t know that I was up until 6am! The bike should be here, soon, and then we  can go see Jim.

Hooray! The bike is here…..not as horribly damaged as I thought it would be. The faring Jim finally got on (after years of waiting and trying) a couple of months ago was destroyed, as was his trunk.  The bike itself l0oks better than I thought it would.  I think Jim will be relieved when he sees it…. I went out and took some pictures so I can show them to him. later.  I don’t know all the angles that would be most useful, but I  can give him at least a general sense of how it looks.

Another day has passed, and yesterday’s rambling has given way –  albeit a day late – to today’s sense of purpose.  So now, without further delay, I will itemize what I have done toward my writing goals since Wednesday:

The happy homecoming of a wounded road warrior.

Round of Words 80 Goals Progress – Round 1, 2012:

2011-2012 Second Quarter Reports – March 1, 2012

  • Jeremiah’s report was submitted, ahead of schedule, shortly before Jim’s crash.
  • Annalise’s report was completed and sent by email a few moments ago….
  • Which means that this goal has been attained, and, with the exception of yet another letter explaining that his continued insistence that Annalise is required to take standardized tests this year has no basis in New York State law, I will not need to submit any further paperwork until June 1. YIPPEE!!!
Side view.....the leather saddlebags (a gift to Jim from my brother Chuck) survived largely unscathed! =)

I will complete the rough draft of my unfinished NaNoWriMo novel, Chameleon’s Dish.
  • I have completed Chapter 19, and am now 1829 words into Chapter 20, “Nockatee”.
  • A character integral to Tisira’s climactic events has been introduced.  I am definitely now on course for the commencement of the endgame.  I have a general idea of what will happen and how, but am still very much along for the ride!

    Not so long ago, there was a plastic trunk here...and now, omly remnants...

I will update, keep current on a weekly basis, and add writing samples to my Facebook Writer Page, and I will  update, edit, and post to both of my regular blogs on at least a weekly basis.

  • My writer page has been slightly abandoned over the last week, as I deal with the more immediate concerns of home, family, hospitalization, solo parenting, and recovery.  There’s quite a lot to be done, and some things just need to give.  I have tried to remember to post up my 750 words stats each day, and links to writing I’ve done (not that much, really).
  • I posted to The Unfettered Life with this submission for the Unschooling Blog Carnival.  It isn’t as done, well formatted, or picture and link laden as I had hoped, but there was a deadline, and I can always go back , tidy up, and beautify.
  • I posted a piece of flash fiction based on the Making a Sandwich prompt at Terrible Minds.  “Life in the Sandwiches” drew heavily on my own family life, and I loved writing it.
There was a faring here.......also gone, now....

I will input one of my writing notebooks into Penzu, and clip all materials I would like to pursue further.

  • I did manage to get a few pages of my December 1999 Writing Practice Notebook input into Penzu.  I am now on page 36 of 141, and will begin the clipping process when I feel ready to do that.
What remains of the faring.....

So, I have made some progress. Writing remains my best therapy, aside from being with Jim and seeing that he is getting better.

I’ve completed a goal, and moved forward on others,  and have found a mostly workable balance between writing and the rest of life.

And Jim is better.  Tomorrow, he is scheduled  to have surgery on his broken right hand.  So long as things keep improving, he should be able to come home soon.

The trunk, from the bottom....

And then, we will find a new balance that blends around how our life will be, then –  in a sense,  that vacation he was on his way home to, when he had an accident instead.

All in all, I’m finding that having goals and a plan has helped keep me from flailing, or making excuses not to write.  It’s helped me to focus my energy in  the rest of my life, too, so that I can do what needs to be done with a minimum of fuss.

And, now, I’m ready to step back into the flow of life….

Folllow my fellow ROWers….

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Life Writing, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Friday Flash Fiction – “Making a Sandwich”

English: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, m...
Image via Wikipedia

I wasn’t in time for the official challenge, partly because I didn’t learn about it until after it ended, and also because, since Jim’s accident, I’ve been shuttling between the hospital, caring for the children, and hometending.  I’ve been getting in a bit of writing as relaxation and anti-anxiety therapy all week, but that’s been limited to things I already had at least somewhat in the works…..

Since I enjoyed this so much, I am going to link back to the original challenge, which was here at Chuck Wendig’s  Terrible Minds blog:

You have up to 1000 words to write a story — not a scene, but a story — where a character makes a sandwich. Any kind of character, any kind of sandwich, but the point is to infuse this seemingly mundane act with the magic story-stuff of drama and conflict. Make it the most interesting “person-making-a-sandwich” story you can possibly make it.

Peanut butter sandwich topped with bacon
Image via Wikipedia

Life in the Sandwiches

Written by Shan Jeniah Burton copyright 2012

“Mommy, will you make me a PBJ?”

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked that question.  If you factor in the variations, like peanut butter and honey, or peanut butter and Nutella, or peanut butter and banana, it might number into the thousands.

There was a time, not so very long ago, when my response would have been, “No!  We’re having dinner soon.”  Or, maybe even worse, “You know how, and you’re not doing anything, so make it yourself.”

I never thought anything at all about it –  I mean, I was justified, wasn’t I?  I am a busy mom.  I work part-time.  I homeschool full time.  I take care of husband and kids and pets and home and bills and appointments and lessons and and and…

Bread, bacon, banana, butter (peanut)
Image via Wikipedia

Besides, everyone knows that you can’t just give kids what they want, else they’ll turn into spoiled brats.

So Adam and Lexie learned that I was not going to make them any sandwiches, as I said, “until I am damned good and ready.”

They knew, before they were 4 and 5, that, when I did make a sandwich, I was not taking special orders.  I taught them that with the standard mom line, and was proud of not being a short-order cook.

I was raising good and respectful kids, and that meant I was doing a good job at being a mom.  They made their own sandwiches, and I made sure (with the threat that they would lose their TV privileges if they didn’t), that they cleaned up any and all sticky messes, before they ate.   I supervised until they used just the approved amount of condiments, and never more.

a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, top slice ...
Image via Wikipedia

Then, one afternoon a few months ago, while I was  reading a magazine in the breakfast nook and having a cup of coffee,  they came quietly into the room, and began making sandwiches together, meticulously following all the procedures I had laid out when they were small, even though they’re 13 and 14, now, and bigger than me.

They were teasing each other as they worked, and racing to see who could finish the process first.

Sandwiches (Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik)

I watched them a moment, and felt suddenly alone, and left behind in their growing up.   I had an almost desperate need for them to notice and include me.

“Hey, guys, will you make me one?”

Two sets of flashing green eyes settled on me, and I could see the satisfaction in those eyes as they said, in perfect sing-song unison, “You know how, and you’re not doing anything, so make it yourself.”

Our lives changed that day, when I first heard it with the ugliness they had, for all those years I denied their simple bids for my affection, in the form of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Since then, I’ve made it a point to bring them food when I think they’ll be hungry, no matter how close to dinnertime it may be.  And I make sure it’s food they will enjoy, no matter my opinion of it.

Peanut butter blossoms closeup.
Image via Wikipedia

I bring the food and set it before them without a word.  It’s a kind of atonement, although I know I can never recapture those days when they really needed me for that, and I wasn’t there.

peanut butter burger
peanut butter burger (Photo credit: misterbisson)

And, today, Lexie came up to me and rested her head briefly on my shoulder.

“I’m hungry, Mom.  Want a sandwich?”

With tears in my eyes, I told her.  “Yes.  Let’s make them together, and surprise Adam.”

And as we put together a plate heaped with sandwiches, chips, fruit, and vegetables, laughing and getting in each other’s way in the smallness of the kitchen, I finally realized that, in denying them, I had been starving myself.

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days -2012, Book Reviews, Life Writing, ROW80 2012 Round #1, Writing in Freedom

ROW80 Update – “Sudden Impact”

Chef Bluebeard, pre-accident.


As some of you may know, my husband was seriously injured late Sunday night when his motorcycle collided with a deer.

He was thrown about 100 feet.  He fractured 8 ribs, tore his spleen, and one of his lungs collapsed.

Needless to say, these last few days have been very intense.  We have two children, ages 10 and 7, and the hospital is nearly an hour from home.  I’m juggling everyone’s needs, and we are very much just taking things moment by moment.


A safer ride......

He could have easily died, right there at the scene.  I am still absorbing that, too….

Writing helps.

But I’m exhausted, and easily distracted, and a bit befuddled.

I’m not going to do an elaborate report, just a quick update on what I’ve done, writing-wise.

Progress Toward A Round of Words Goals

  • I’ve written at least 750 words of my WiP , Chameleon’s Dish, each day.
  • I completed and emailed Jeremiah’s second quarter report.
  • I finished my first book review and posted it here.
  • I’ve worked on the “Big News” piece I’m in the midst of over at The Unfettered Life.
  • I’ve approved some comments to this blog.
Jim is a physical guy. It's scary seeing him struggling to move.

That’s pretty much it ……

I do have plans afoot, for the next several days, to be worked on as the chance and energy exist….

  • Complete Annalise’s second quarter report and email.
  • Finish “Big News” post.
  • Write “Animals” post for Unschooling Blog Carnival.
  • Continue using 750 words to work on Chameleon’s Dish.
  • Input more pages into Penzu.
Jim and Annalise at Congress Park, Saratoga Springs,NY
I’m letting everything else rest for a bit, until things settle out some and a bit more predictability returns to our days…..Right now, my focus is on helping Jim to heal,  providing a nurturing one-parent home for children accustomed to having two involved parents,  and taking good enough care of myself well enough to do those things and  nurture me, too.We have an amazing and far-flung chosen family, and various members have brought groceries and dinner, filled our gas tank,  given the children a place to play with friends and have respite from the intensity here and there, and chopped enough firewood to warm us even if winter decides to kick in with ferocity.
So happy we are still a happy family. At Amigo's Cantina, Schuylerville. NY

That’s it for now.  I am very tired, and still have words to write.

Follow the other ROWers here…..

Posted in Book Reviews, Life Writing, Marketing my Writing, Writing Samples

First Book Review: A Quiet Place by Peggy O’Mara

Book Review A Quiet Place: Essays on Life and Family

For the most part, I enjoyed this book of essays from the editor of Mothering magazine.

The introduction sent echoes of recognition through me, as I felt a kinship with Peggy O’Mara’s journey to writing.

I also felt an affinity for the parenting style she espouses. Although we did not attachment parent, I have come to a point in my life when I can wish that we had continued, when Jeremiah was a baby, to do as instinct  led us. I remember feeling as though I was abandoning him each time I put him down, and I believe he did, too, judging by the power of his cries.

So, I read the introduction with a bit of sadness and wistfulness for a closeness to and consideration for my children that was missing, when they were very small.

I enjoyed most of the essays, although there was a streak of “Mother Knows Best” morality that seemed to suggest strongly that children aren’t capable of making choices that my own unschooled children and their friends make on a regular basis, and a seeming glossing-over of the effect divorce can have on children, even when the family remains close.

I was in full agreement with her attitudes on breastfeeding, on attending to the needs of healthy children and birth in a way that does not treat these natural phenomena as diseases. However, this seems to come at the expense of any discussion at all of the fact that birth can and sometimes does become a medical emergency, and that there are times when intervention may be the only way to save child and/or mother. Given my personal history, this lack of balance smacks of propaganda and worries me.

Still, I had respect for our differences of opinion, because the author had done her research, made a good deal of sense, in most instances, and I could feel her caring and genuine love for children.

I agreed with the critical view given in the essay “having a baby in america” ( ) of the American Academy of Pediatrics and their attitude toward cesarean births, medicated deliveries, and nursing, and the caution that an association with such obvious pro-early weaning and formula feeding biases cannot be fully trusted to give sound advice on breastfeeding.

So it was with a sense of bewilderment that I read the very next essay, “tv is not good for kids” (,in which the AAP is very heavily quoted as a trusted resource. It was especially jarring since the essay cited things like decreased imagination (the author avowed this was true for her own children; although there is substantial documented evidence of the rampant imagination of my kids and others like them who watch exactly as much or as little television as they choose each day), increased violence (my children, and others I know who freely watch and game as they like are, on the whole, less violent than many controlled children I have observed), and no mention at all made of the number of hours children spend in school and thereby cut off from parental emotional support (school and school-things very often occupy more of a child’s time than television does).

I understand that these essays all appeared as editorials in Mothering, and, as such, these two did not run in consecutive months. Still, it was a very poor choice of placement in the book, and the subsequent essays, although still deep, meaningful, and thought-provoking, had lost a little of their luster, and felt a little too much like they were serving an agenda more than truth for me to take them as seriously as I did those that went before.

That being said, there was the advantage of my critical mind being engaged, so that I could more fully evaluate each essay and the ideas it contained, comparing them against my own beliefs and experiences

The style of the writing was friendly, well-informed – perhaps, just a touch, like a lecturing mother who truly does want the best for you, but has her own idea of what that is, and that may well supersede your own. And, when it does, she is more likely to consider you in the wrong than to realize that there are many, many answers in life, and very, very few absolutes.

Ratings: Scored with 1 as low; 5 as high.

  • Readabilty: 3. I found the small-letter titles off-putting, and there was a pedantic, inflexible element there that soured the reading somewhat. The storytelling was well-done and descriptive.

  • Informative:4. I learned quite a bit, and found myself considering new ideas and perspectives more than once.

  • Credibilty:2. I don’t like having an agenda pushed at me so forcefully; I prefer to make my own decisions. Also, discrediting a source that is later used leads me to believe the author might not be remotely objective, and her research colored by her personal biases and beliefs to an uncomfortable degree.

  • Overall Rating: 3. I would recommend this book – and a cup of salt for liberal dosing alongside. There are quite a few wonderful, heartfelt essays – and those that seem meant to force the author’s own opinions into her readers’ mind sas though they were concrete, absolute facts.

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days -2012, Life Writing, Marketing my Writing, ROW80 2012 Round #1, Writing in Freedom

ROW80 Goals Update #13 – “Pondering Balance”

Carousel Peace....

It’s been an eventful few days, here.  On Friday, we again had the pleasure of Cameron’s company.  Cam is my 11 year old nephew, and brings a different energy to our lives whenever he’s here.

Cameron time is a busy time, for us.  There are places we go regularly, that he doesn’t usually go,  except with us.  And he is funny and physical, and just enough older than Miah to have that “big brother” feeling, and, since he has an almost-six-year-old sister at home, he is patient and gentle and fun with Annalise, too.

So, on Friday, before we came home, we stopped at a McDonald’s that had a PlayPlace, and the kids enjoyed some play while I used my laptop.  Eventually, though, another child started punching people, and they mutually decided that they no longer wanted to be there.  So, off we headed to the YMCA, for about two hours of swimming (OK, I only made it for about an hour and a quarter!) , and then a few laps on the track.

We were all up very late – actually, Jeremiah never slept, and then out early on Saturday, to give Jim a ride to work, since there was a chance of slushy snow that would make riding his motorcycle unsafe.  He works in a neighboring small town, and the New York State Museum, which we headed to afterwe dropped him off is another 40 minutes away, which made for quite a bit of driving for me.

From Drop Box

The museum, as always, delighted us all.  In a two hour whirlwind, we visited favorite spots and explored some new ones:

  • New York State logging exhibit
  • the antique, working carouse
  •  skulls and recreated faces found at a locally excavated historic  gravesite
  •  native rocks and minerals
  • animal bones, pelts, and specimens
  • mastodont exhibit
  • Adirondack wildlife exhibit
  •  NY Harbor and Metropolis exhibits;
  • the A train
  • the 9/11 Family Trailer (memorabilia of those lost in the attacks)
  •  the gift shop

    Bubbly travertine makes me Yellowstone homesick

On our way out, Cam and Annalise scaled a rock wall, and there was time to explore some shale that had broken off the wall.

By the time I reached home, all three kids had fallen asleep.

Lise and an old friend of mine I met at her age....

Their Saturday night was comprised of napping, eating, and Netflix.  Mine was tidying and writing, and going out to the store after Jim got home, to purchase a gift for my older nephew and his fiancee’s baby shower, today.Their Saturday night was comprised of napping, eating, and Netflix.  Mine was tidying and writing, and going out to the store after Jim got home, to purchase a gift for my older nephew and his fiancee’s baby shower, today.

Cam examines some minerals.....

Then some time with Jim, watching How It’s Made and Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Datalore” .

After he fell asleep, I wrote some more…..and now, it’s Sunday again, and I am getting these few paragraphs started before we leave to take Cam home and attend the baby  shower.

So, in short, busyness has abounded, and with an extra person in the

house.  I am very attuned to the energyaround me; an extra person always shifts the dynamic, often in unexpected and unforeseeable ways.   Even though I do what I can to prepare myself for this, it can still be a chaotic and trying experience.

With that in mind, I address the matter of my progress toward my writing goals:

Round of Words 80 Goals Progress – Round 1, 2012:

 I will write at least 10 essays and/ or photo essays, and post them publicly. 

  • This goal has been attained, and then some, as I just seem to keep on writing essays.
  • I’m not sure I realized before just how much I adore personal essays, and how much I love adding photos to them.
  • Now that I do, I see no reason whatever to stop just because I’ve met the current goal!
Annalise loves exploring wildlife - and habitats and specimens, too.......

I will complete all necessary homeschool reporting (2010-2011 end-of-year assessments; fourth request for approval of 2011-2012 IHIPs, and Second Quarter Reports-  all items for both children).  These will be completed and submitted as follows:

  •  2010-2011 EOY Assessments  –  January 31, 2012
  •  This goal has also been attained!
  • 2011-2012 IHIP Approval Request – February 15, 2012
  • This goal has been attained.
  • 2011-2012 Second Quarter Reports – March 1, 2012
  • Jeremiah’s report is approximately two-thirds of the way through link adding and editing (complete through sciences).
  • I remain ahead of schedule for completing this goal, and will likely have it completed and sent before the winter break ends in just over a week.
Starfish, Lovely...

I will submit at least one essay or photo essay apiece to Tiny Buddha and Sunday Surf.

  • The Sunday Surf post has been completed and posted at my unschooling blog, The Unfettered Life.
  • The Tiny Buddha piece, “Your Way or Mine –  Or Another, Altogether?” has one remaining rough spot to be polished.
  • Next, I will be editing, formatting properly, adding photos, and submitting it (although I will perhaps need to wait until March, if February submissions have already closed when I finish it).
"Mommy! I lost a tooth! A MASTODON tooth!"

I will complete the rough draft of my unfinished NaNoWriMo novel, Chameleon’s Dish.

  • I have completed Chapter 18, “Never Doubt I Love” , with a double cliffhanger of an ending that totally surprised me –  never saw it coming!
  • I have 1035 words in Chapter 19, “To Be or Not To Be?”.  This will be a tense, life-or-death chapter, and we may not know how it turns out for another few, after this…..perhaps, nor until very near the climax….
  • I feel that, if I’m not at the beginning of the end, I will be by the end of this chapter… feels, right now, like there might be about 25 chapters, with a prologue and epilogue.
Deer skull girl.....
I will submit at least four pieces, queries, or proposals to for-pay markets.
  •  I have rewritten my flash fiction erotica piece, “The Coupling”.
  • I want to revise it again – the current vision is much more sensual, but I feel there is more to go.
  • I plan to submit this piece to Clean Sheets.
  • I have rechecked guidelines for Clean Sheets and For the Girls.
  • I am contemplating more stories in this vein.
  • I have an idea for a top-five list for, to be titled, “Top Five Ridiculous Things People Say to Unschoolers.”  I could easily come up with a dozen or two, just from our own personal experiences, and it may help to build a bit of mainstream tolerance so that strangers don’t feel so justified coming up to us in a store and accosting us for our life choices…and so that perhaps certain family-of-origin members would allow us to simply live our lives in learning and peace, without emotional attacks or unfounded calls to CPS.
  • I remain a little behind on this goal, but expect to remedy that in the next week or two.
  • Her favorite since age 2!
I will update, keep current on a weekly basis, and add writing samples to my Facebook Writer Page, and I will  update, edit, and post to both of my regular blogs on at least a weekly basis.
  • I’ve posted some links, samples, and updates to my Writer Page, and it has garnered several new followers over the last several days.  That is really exciting!
  • I am in the midst of an involved and personally important achievement-oriented post at The Unfettered Life.
  • This post is taking longer than anticipated, because there is a lot I want to include, and a lot I am absorbing while composing it.
  • I have at least one more post mind-scheduled there, for after I complete the current one.
  • I have several other less-than-ready to write ideas still simmering.
  • I have posted once on this blog, with this  Trifextra entry, Hamlet: Hawk From a Handsaw.  It is a re-visioning of Hamlet told in exactly 33 words.
  • I have bought the domain name  Now begins the process of figuring out what I can do with it!
  • I have plans to add more pages to this blog in the coming weeks.
She was particularly interested in the whale's baleen (food strainers in the mouth), on this trip.

I will write at least one book review,  and a rough draft of a letter to my father-in-law.

  • The book review for A Quiet Place is written and waiting in my word-processing program.
  • I will move it here, format, perhaps add pictures, and post within the next day or three.
  • I have given more thought to the bulleted list for my father-in-law, but am not quite ready to write anything out as yet.    Soon, though.
Tradition! Cam always demands a refund from the wax oystereman; the way oysterman always ignores Cam.....a four year trend continues! =)

I will input one of my writing notebooks into Penzu, and clip all materials I would like to pursue further.

  • I am on page 32 of 141 for this goal.
  • I have found more useful nuggets to delve more deeply, later.
A pretty just for me.

Well, since I did get in some larger chunks of time here or there (and more tonight, as I was writing this goals post), some things did get accomplished

Jeremiah, after being up all night, and busy all day, chillaxes on the A train..

I’ve also, as I mentioned,  been branching out into projects I haven’t “officially” set goals for.  At this point in the process, I plan to save new goals for the next round.  I also don’t plan to put off what I am inspired to write, so some of my work is a bit invisible here.

As the non-winter fades away, though, and the air here is softening for an early spring, I can see that balance is going to be integral to the next phase in our very seasonally-oriented lives.   We’re already planning some activities and trips, and there will be more walks, more outdoor play, more swimming, gardening, and just being out-of-doors after the dormant season.
Balance will apparently be out the window over the next days….
The cathredral next door to the museum....
Jim had a motorcycle accident as I was typing the above paragraphs a couple of hours ago.   He was medflighted here to the large medical center almost an hour from our house.
 He is hurt – broken hand and ribs, collapsed lung, and lacerated spleen that is bleeding and may need cauterization….
Unsettled skies; unsettled life......
A goofy moment after working through her wall-climbing fears....

The next 48 hours of bedrest will be critical.  The trauma surgeon said, “Minimal risk of mortality” and “not out of the woods yet.”


Three friends, from behind.


We’re waiting anxiously to see him…..everything else has pretty much become inconsequential.

…….for now, here’s the update……..

I love the architecture of this cathedral.
 Please think good thoughts for us, and go do something sweet for someone you love. 
Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Life Writing, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Trifextra Challenge – Hamlet: A Hawk from a Handsaw

Horatio! Has all been seen to?”

“Aye.  What of vengeance?”

“I will die only in Ophelia‘s fair arms.”

“Only after the minister, my lord.”

We three fade like shrouded Blackfriars from doomed Elsinore.

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days -2012, Life Writing, ROW80 2012 Round #1, Writing in Freedom

ROW80 Goals Update #12 – “Owning It”

Clothing in history
Image via Wikipedia

The idea for this post hit me in one of the oddest places I’ve ever had a writing idea.

A place I am hardly ever to be found in, and one where only a very few of the many people who have known me have ever seen me.

It came – honestly! – in the dressing room of a clothes store.

It might help to know that I am not –  not even remotely –  a fashionista.  I’ve pretty much, with the exception of teenage angst, always thought that if people didn’t like the way I look, they could choose another direction for their eyes to face.

Lately, I’ve amended that.  I figure, these days, that the coolest thing I can ever be wearing is usually right here on display for anyone to see.  It’s my smile, and, if people can’t appreciate that –  well, I will smile a little more sadly, and hope that someday they can.

Finding me in a dressing room is hard, but, tonight, I needed to be there.  You see, I am so uninterested in the state of my wardrobe that very little of what I own (mostly others’ castoffs, some from thrift stores, but almost nothing even a little new, anymore) fit me properly.   Nearly nothing I owned was totally free of stains or holes.


It wasn’t intentional, but it was getting very, very hard not to look like a slob.

So something needed to be done, and that something was a trip to the clothes store.

I went fortified with  a generous budget mutually approved by both adult family members.  I went with an idea of what I was looking for (PANTS, especially jeans, because I tend to do things like garden, camp, and throw firewood around) and something looser, for t’ai chi and workouts.  Underthings, because what I had was  – yes, I’ll admit it-  years past its prime, and quickly approaching utter uselessness.  Something that would appeal to Jim, who donated personal funds to that particular mission…..he really appreciates having a no-muss no-fuss  wife who spends barely more time than he does at the mirror, but he also loves for me to decorate myself a little, from time to time, and he likes the saucier me that emerges, when I do.

Students in traditional dress at First Day of ...
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If all that worked out within the budget, maybe a pretty top or two, because I do like pretty things, so long as they don’t get in my way or require lots of care or a degree to get into and out of.

I picked the right store –  Lane Bryant – which specializes in clothing for the  – well, voluptuosly ample – woman.  Not matronly clothes; pretty ones.  That come in sizes and styles made for bodies like mine, and not only for slender women inches shorter than I am.

And I did myself the greatest favor of all –  I took the absolute best clothes shopping companion I have ever had, someone who has known me since I was a little bitty girl with crazy-long nearly platinum blonde hair, pudgy cheeks, and so coltishly thin I was desperate to gain weight and, later, curves.  The one person who not only knows my color palette –  blue, blue, and, oh, yes, blue! – but so many things about who I am and what suits and doesn’t, that she often finds me things I never would have noticed, were I alone.

And we went after writing, after white chocolate mochas shared at the Coffee Beanery, and after my t’ai chi class. –  So I was refreshed, fulfilled by my writing, and pleasantly aware of some of the really nifty things this big mama’s body of mine is capable of doing (for one thing, if someone puts me into a position where I need to throw a punch effectively –  well, I can do that now. =)).

It has been so long since I last purchased clothes that I really didn’t know what size would fit me.   Not wanting the humiliation of struggling and squeezing myself into clothes that might fit, or might not, in an effort to wear a smaller size, I instead chose things that looked like they  might fit, noting the sizes only for making new selections, if need be.

There was a brief moment of ickiness when I peeled to to the fundamentals to change.  Fluorescent  lighting and being so close to a mirror are not normal elements of my days, and seeing myself in that light, in that moment, was a little less than delightful.

But, as I began to try on the things I had chosen, something happened.  Things fit me.  Not tightly, so that I would end up doing what I have often done before –  rationalizing the purchase of an item because “If I lose ten or twenty pounds, this will fit great!”, and then not wearing it because, all of a sudden movement and eating were too tied to that garment, and the money I had spent.

No, these things fit me in an easy, flattering, comfortable way.  They looked good, on the body I have now, not some future or past body I might be aspiring to.   They suited me –  my shape, my size, my nature……me, right this moment.

Only one thing didn’t fit –  and that one was too large for me.

And, standing there, at long last wearing clothes that fit and flattered and inspired, I suddenly found myself saying,”I am owning this.”

And I am.  On many levels, and in many ways.

To begin with, this update will be a little different, as I suspect most of my Wednesday check-ins will be, from this point forward.

Rather than a comprehensive list with each goal and what I did to move toward them (or designating them as attained),  I am only going to touch upon the  goals I worked on, and sketch out the nature of that work.

When I finish that, there’ll be a bit more discussion about “Owning It“, and how that phrase and philosophy sums up the journey I am currently on.

So, now, onto the  abbreviated tallying up of progress on multiple fronts:

Round of Words 80 Goals Progress – Round 1, 2012:

2011-2012 Second Quarter Reports – March 1, 2012

  • I have edited and reformatted Annalise’s report into a bulleted list.
  • Still left:  adding links, final proofing, and sending.

I will complete the rough draft of my unfinished NaNoWriMo novel, Chameleon’s Dish.

  • I am   3966 words into “Bounded by a Nutshell“, Chapter 18.  I seem to have slowed down to really work through what might be the pivotal scene in providing the key to finding Tisira.  I’m willing to play around and explore various aspects of the story, until I feel I have enough….

I will update, keep current on a weekly basis, and add writing samples to my Facebook Writer Page, and I will  update, edit, and post to both of my regular blogs on at least a weekly basis.

  • I continue to use the Writer Page as a personal tool, but have begun interacting more naturally than I had been.
  • The page’s fans now number 26.  I invited some, and others have found my through the widening array of places I am posting, these days.
  • I posted here, with this entry to the Origins Blogfest .
  • That, too, has brought new followers here.  I plan on welcoming you all a bit more formally, soon, but for now-  thank you all for being here, reading when you can, and commenting when you are moved to.  It means so much! =)
  • I added a page here, as well, Unfettered Favorites.  It will house my favorite posts from  The Unfettered Life, my unschooling/life blog.
  • I edited several posts at The Unfettered Life, up to and including the post, “Six Years Later “.
  • I have ideas for two other pages here, and a new post is in my drafts folder at The Unfettered Life, to be unveiled a little later this week.
  • Ideas are still simmering for several other new blogposts.

I will input one of my writing notebooks into Penzu, and clip all materials I would like to pursue further.

  • I am now up to page 29 of the December 1999 Writing Practice Notebook, and have found more nuggets of goodness in those pages.


So, that’s what I’ve accomplished, goals -wise.  Now, back to the concept of “Owning It”, and how that translates to writing –  and to my life beyond writing, too.

Something is happening, in my writing life.  Something I’ve dreamed about for most of my life; something that, if I had listened to and heeded several naysaying people, would not have happened.

I am offering up my writing as a gift to a more diverse audience….I’m signing up for challenges, bloghops and fests, and collaborative efforts.

And no one is laughing at me,  or pointing their fingers, or ridiculing my words.

When I said that to my dear friend, Eden Mabee, she looked at me in that strange way that just makes me love her more, and asked,”Why would anyone do that?”

But, as I explained, it already had been done.  As a child, when I sang, my mother would complain that I “couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.”  When I made a mistake, I “had no common sense”.  When I spent hours with my notebooks, but avowed that I did not, by any means wish to be a journalist, tied to objectivity, my father told me that this  was a “pipe dream” .

My reaching for my dreams has, in some sense, always seemed to offend certain members of my family of origin, and often aroused efforts to “put me in my place” –  small and quiet, unobtrusive, making them feel better about themselves, even when that meant sacrificing my own emotional well-being.

But that is not who I am.   I am a wild thing.  I can be loud and boisterous, or cross.  I can talk for hours without stop (had I any interest in politics, I could filibuster with the best of them!).   I can be thoughtful or restless.  Life sometimes confuses me, delights me, or overwhelms me.  I am sensitive and easily hurt, and quicker to cause others pain, sometimes, than I would like to be.

I would rather look for good than for bad, which is why I strive not to dwell on the sorrows of my life as tragedies, but instead as huge openings where new learning and awareness can pour in.

I love to laugh, and I don’t mind wandering around lost for a while –  in the physical world, or in the depths of my own mind – because being lost always turns up things I wouldn’t have seen, on my planned route.

I love to love, and I love many, many things passionately and faithfully.

I’m a little crazy –  well, not that exactly.  It’s just that my perspective tends to be a few degrees  to the left of typical.

I’m not little or plain, inside, even when my clothes are battered.  I am rich and full, prowling like a hunting cat, burning like a comet, fertile as loamy compost.  I am deep, and sometimes conceal hidden dangers, like the lovely and  deadly Morning Glory and Grand Prismatic Springs pools I so loved peering into, imagining myself sinking deeper, and deeper, longing for that, although I knew the water was hot enough to kill me –  slowly and tortuously (I read Death in Yellowstone the first year we were there; some things you do not forget.).

If you believe in astrology,  it might reveal a bit about my nature if I tell you that I am a Leo, Leo rising.  All fire; no ice.

I’m not very tame, and I am beginning, now, to own that about myself,too, to stop pretending that I am just those labels I appear to be  from the outside, and nothing more.

And no one is asking me to pretend , anymore.

Which is fine with me, because I have no intention, anymore, from pretending that way, ever again.

Big things are happening, and I am opening to them.  And, if  I’m  not quite ready, I am closer than I have ever been. =)

Here’s the handy-dandy ROW80 Blog Hop linky!