Posted in Life Writing, Saturday's Share...

Saturday’s Share: Book Love

A small sampling of my bookish love…..That’s my D.H.Lawrence over there on the right. Circa 2010.

I learned to read at 4 years old, but I know I loved books long before that.

My parents kept a bookshelf in the short turn of hallway just opposite my bedroom door, so, throughout my childhood, those books greeted me each time I left my room.

They were also there when I was punished, made to stand in the corner by the door.  I was supposed, then, to keep my face aimed closely into the corner, but that generally inspired a type of claustrophobic reaction born of the encroaching walls, the smell of the paint, and the moisture of my own breathing.

Those books were a solace, then, something new to focus on, a way to get my face out of the corner.  Long before I was allowed to touch those books (off-limits until shortly before I was a teen), I was reading the titles on their spines in fascinated intrigue: Lord Foul’s Bane.  The World From Rough Stones. Sybilso many more, and then the rows of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.

I read some.  Lord Foul’s Bane drew me completely into the world of a leprous antihero for whom white gold brings magic…Sybil showed me the depths to which a human mind can be broken…

I read many stories, generally those about animals and children, from those Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. Favorites were The Camerons, about a poor Scottish Family, and The Diddakoi, about a half-gypsy girl.

My own bookshelves are a constantly evolving affair, and, these days, my Kindle Fire carries a small but growing library of titles a well, in a streamlined, tidy, and highly portable way.

What I love about this image is the life in this short row of books.  It’s hard to read the title of Stranger in a Strange Land – I’ve read that book so many times, carried it around the country, so many times, that it fell apart completely sometime after this picture was taken.

Some of the books on this shelf left me, unread, to go on to their next home, another unknown chapter in their lives.  Some are still on the same shelf, now in my office space in the making, and others are scattered elsewhere in the house.

Looking at my bookshelves today would reveal different titles, and a more tumbled appearance, because it’s been a writing season, and things were grabbed up and plunked down again in whirlwind style…

Still, even cluttered and rumpled, my bookshelves hold my friends, the potential for long visits and life-altering discoveries…time to commune with others, and deepen myself…

What’s on your bookshelves, or tucked safely in your e-reader? If you’re inspired, share your stories and links to your bookshelf photos in the comment receptacle below! =)

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2013, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, Round I 2013

Trusting Through the Ebb – #ROW80 Update, 2/13/13

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It’s been an odd session, and I seemed to have trouble getting to, and focusing on, writing projects. It’s an ebb tide – I am refilling, gathering, readying, grokking…lots of projects, moving gradually forward…

  • On Sunday, I had a migraine that made editing unthinkable, and writing unlikely – so I used that time to answer a few blog comments, until I couldn’t, anymore.

  • I spent Tuesday with my lifelong friend, Eden Mabee – working out together for the first time in years, having dinner (avocado bacon turkey burgers – yum!) at Ruby Tuesday, then heading down to the Desmond Hotel in Albany, to enjoy strawberries Napoleon at Scrimshaw, a fine dining restaurant, then head out to the covered and heated courtyard, a magical place of trees, streetlamps, brick, a large fountain pool, and koi. Ostensibly, we were going to write, but we did more chatting, photograph hunting, and peace-absorbing. I am completely okay with that – what a lovely respite from the midwinter browns and grays….

  • Today, Annalise needed to be near me. She was seldom further than arm’s reach, all day, except when I was hometending, and that made concentrating with any depth near impossible. Also, Achoo the kitten apparently got into the used guinea pig bedding while I was away, yesterday, and so, today, I gave her a bath. She did not appreciate my efforts, but I have bathed maybe thousands of cats in my life (I spent a few years working for a vet and boarding facility), and I emerged nearly unscathed, and with a sodden but sweet-smelling fluffball…

  • Amongst all that, Google seems to have decided to play a poking game with me. Picasa decided not to recognize me, after it froze my laptop and lost some really nifty pictures I had taken (which is why I can’t show you the gorgeous baby grand, nor my scrumptious desert… I also accidentally downloaded an AVG program that, three days later, started forcing a useless search box on me, shoving aside all my Chrome settings….not good for my “writing as a grand buffet” approach to things. Lots of energy given to ironing these out, and now I see that Chrome wants me to sign in yet again…..sigh. Not tonight, Google dear….

I love street lights….

I’m tired – no, bone-weary. Sleep will come soon,

For Blogging for Brand WANA 113:

  • I worked on my cloud project (#2 Grokking) …there is more, of course….I am big and wide and deep, and one session is not enough….

  • I prettied up my WANATribe page – go see the gorgeous blue-accented umbrellas!!!!!

  • I commented on some posts, and begun connecting with classmates across whatever media they are using. Still a ways to go before I have everyone, but I will by the end of class.

  • I revitalized my long-ignored Flickr account, and begun adding pictures to my photostream there. I have a lot to learn…but I am now poised and ready to begin learning it.

  • I bean reading the first lesson – fascinating, and I think I grok it on a deep level.

Writers at rest…..sort of….

Finding Esta edit –

  • I am making progress, although a migraine, a day off with Eden Mabee, the kids needing more of me, and, today, extreme sleepiness has made for much slower going.

  • Three more chapters done; I am ready to start Chapter 25, 70% complete.

  • I am hoping to pick up the pace, but, as the children and I are likely traveling out of state this weekend to visit friends, that might be more wishful thinking than reality.

Homeschooling reports (due 3/1/13)-

  • Finished Annalise’s FLA, Health and Safety, and most of her Physical Education section.

  • I wanted to be finished, and might get to it, but I am not sure I can stay awake.

  • Once I finish the last three objectives for this section, I will begin Jeremiah’s, then tabulate the attendance, and be ready to proofread and send – hopefully, early.

Koi loveliness…

ROW80 Sponsor duties –

  • I am still a bit behind with sponsor duties – not technically, just in my own mind. I want to do every check in, but am only obligated to do one a week.

  • I didn’t do last Sunday’s yet, and, although I did do them all last Wednesday, I haven’t yet posted the links,which I like to do to help bring readers to my 4’s, and also because several people have mentioned that they think it’s a good idea.

  • I am hoping to get these all caught up, maybe over the weekend, because they will be easier to fit into small spaces of free time that some of my other projects.

Posts from Sunday, 2/10/13 –

Fountain…edited in Picasa.

Posts from Sunday, 2/3/13-

There’s been other stuff, but I’m done looking back, for now. Jeremiah is giving Annalise a haircut; I just got a set of pictures which will become a photo essay on The Unfettered Life.

Self-reflection has been a big part of the last few days….

And there’s more writing, learning, growing, and evaluating to come…look for some big changes, on Sunday….

Till then….It’s a BLOG HOP!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, OctPoWriMo Challenge

Yet Another Love Poem – Oct. 25, 2012

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Yet Another Love Poem



Love you.

Is a phrase

Often spoken

Yet seldom defined.

What does it mean to love?

Of what benefit is it

To lover and their beloved

Beyond the sweet-nothing empty words?

I have been trapped in love’s cruelest prison

Where my love was commanded but not earned.

Where I was a mannequin, unreal

My purpose to feed hungry need

To give love but not receive

My own soul discarded

Unknown and unseen


To the one

Who claims



There is


Way to be loved.

It does not depend

Upon anyone but me.

Only I know how deep I am

The thoughts and feelings in my soul

The swirling firmament of selfness

The universes of things that are me.

We too too often give ourselves away

Pursuing love, chasing affection.

Selling out our own truest selves

Hollow vapid lost touches

Shadow touching shadow

When we are our own.

Hold and cherish

Your treasure

Above all


Me loving myself by singing at the NEUC 2011 talent show.

 It’s a BLOG HOP!



Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days -2012, Challenges and Contests, ROWnd #3

A Slow, Smooth ROW:ROWnd 3, Update #5

What’s ROW80 about? Click the picture!

I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I write since I began ROW80 this past January. I’ve learned that forcing myself never works, but writing in joy and passion creates deep and true writing, and the desire to write more, and then more, and still more, until it seems that every moment, awake and asleep is filled with the thoughts and emotions and fantasies that spring from my writing, and feed, not only it, but the rest of my life, as well.

I’ve learned that setting goals only works if the goals arise from within me, as the organic result of where I am and where I want to go. This changes from day to day, and has little or nothing to do with anyone besides me.

I’ve learned that I can accomplish an amazing amount, and well – so long as I am focused on my goals, and in harmony with my own energy and attention and mood, and with the life flowing on around me.

Lego Tornado, by Annalise!

I’ve learned that when I share my passions with my family, give to them this part of myself that I held separate from them for so long, they are not only supportive, but they will often share in my passion, to some small degree.

I’ve learned that sometimes I have more to say than I can write down, and others, when I am mulling and composting, almost nothing.

I’ve learned that both of those are OK, and so are all the points in between. For me, things build and grow from beneath, and trying to stop that beneath the surface time, or turn it into something else, dams up the process, and leaves me rudderless and powerless, unable to do either.

It’s been a deeper time, here. My focus has been less on new writing (although I have been indulging all my whims for my McCoy / Spock Chameleon’s Dish fanfic prologue), and more on things like homeschool reporting, transcribing an old writing practice notebook, cleaning up email and the house, research, new reading, and rereading the first of the two drafts of Trueborn.

Photos by Annalise, age 8.

It’s a little deceptive. It has seemed, often, like I was in a rut or just spinning my wheels, going over the same things again, and again, and again, with very little new thrown in.

I tried, several times, to add in a book review, or go to blogs to comment, or answer comments, or begin new blog posts, flash fiction, or essays….

Those things really haven’t happened yet, but here’s what did….

ROWnd 3 – Update #5



Trueborn Series:

  • Trueborn:

  • Reread current rough draft from 1998-9ish and 2000.

  • I have reread and jotted notes up to Chapter Thirty-Nine (page 154 of 240) in the loose leaf binder.

  • This leaves only 86 pages for this draft.

  • Once I complete it, I intend to give myself a little space before beginning the reread of the spiral-bound raft.

  • Triage existing research.

  • I have decided that I will do the triage in the break between rereading the two drafts, and I will use my recently-cleared large worktable space for this project – likely on a “Daddy Night” when Jim takes the children out for several hours so I can have a bit of solitude at home.

  • Chameleon’s Dish:.

  • Compile a print copy for editing, page count, and to see what it looks like!

  • Go through each scene to edit, take notes, and list research questions.

  • Complete basic research based upon library books and websites; looking for information to enhance later digging and prevent hugely obvious gaffes).

  • Hamlet – Completed.

  • Shakespeare‘s England – page 68 of 252. I am no longer taking notes – just reading for the general feel, because the notetaking was ahige job that was threatening to take over the entire research project, and what I am looking for now is a more layered and true vision of the time Henry lived in, and in which Tisira’s portion of the story is set. Deeper research will likely not come in until after I have written the second draft (maybe before the end of the year, and maybe not….).

  • Shakespeare: His Work and His World (reading aloud with kids) Completed. Jeremiah, in particular, loved this book, first asking to read quotes, then sections, aloud. He learned how to read the notations for Acts, Scenes, and Lines, and the flavor of the language, and some translations. He demonstrated that he can read Roman numerals, and he learned a bit about using punctuation to control the meter of poetic lines, and about several plays. He is interested in watching the Mel Gibson Hamlet that caused me to fall in love with the play, in The Reduced Shakespeare Company, and in seeking out other plays (Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and King Henry VIII. We talked about canals in Venice, Jim and I walking across London Bridge – in Lake Havasu, Arizona, believe it or not! – and about Shakespeare in Dead Poets’ Society and Star Trek. So, not only did this book give a lot of information, lovely art, and a sense of the times, it inspired a lot of learning (awesome to put on those silly reports the state demands because they can’t see how kids could possibly find value in Shakespeare if not forced to it!), and a wonderful bonding time. Annalise came and went and learned and shared, but the book is geared toward 11-15 year olds, and some was boring for where she is, right now, at 8.

    Annalise, Lego Man, watercolor, and Barack O’Llama!
  • The Colonial Cookbook – page 102 of 128. I am considering attempting several recipes, or adaptations of recipes, in this book. I like the simple ingredients and low-cost approaches, and the labor is often not intensive, which would allow me the feeling of playing with the food – my favorite thing about cooking. This will also offer me a more sensory understanding of food at the time I am writing about, here.

  • Experiment with removing Tisira’s story as a YA novel, with a potential optional add-on of the fanfic elements….not sure how this will work, exactly, but I think it might be the best approach to have something marketable without sacrificing my vision.

  • I am still playing with the fanfic Prologue scene, between Spock and McCoy. It seems to be a good place to let my mind wander and flow, and I feel a wave of creative expression building and spreading to other topics….

Flash Fiction WIPs

  • Go through old story notebooks for source material.

  • Although not technically from my old notebooks, I have found several old stories, poems, and bits of sketches in the papers I will be triaging for Trueborn. I have set these aside, and will explore them in further depth, likely during ROWnd 4.

Homeschool Administration Ad Infinitum….

  • IHIPs for both children (due four weeks after receipt of packet from school district).

  • I have completed the Social Sciences section for both children.

  • I have adapted both children’s Social Sciences Resources sections

  • I have completed the Visual Arts sections for both.

  • I have adapted the Visual Arts Resources sections for both.

  • I have completed both children’s Music sections.

  • I have adapted the Music Resources sections for both children.

  • I have completed the Foreign Language Arts (FLA) sections for both children.

  • I have adapted the Foreign Language Arts Resources for both.

  • I have completed both children’s Health and Safety sections.

  • I have adapted Annalise’s Health and Safety Resources section.

  • The rough drafts of both reports are nearly completed.

  • Once they’re finished, my plan is to set them aside for, as Miah used to say, “a few whiles”, and then revise, add, delete, attach links, and polish.

  • My ultimate hope is to have them waiting in my email drafts folder, when the district finally sends the packet they are required to send (as every other year, they are already overdue with this, which should be sent within 10 business days of their receipt of our letters of intent (emailed on June 26). Last year, the package arrived toward the end of August, and I didn’t begin the IHIPs until then…this year, I would like to be finished, so that all I will need to do is verify that the law hasn’t changed in any relevant way, and send them on their way! =)

    Learning just as they please!
  • Begin setting up portfolios for both children – invite them to be a part of this process! =)

  • I have taken a few more pictures – of current as well as past creations.

  • Both children and I have discussed my purpose in recording their projects, and various old forgotten favorites found along the way. I stack of things Lise created at age 4.5 were fascinating to her, now, at 8, and I am glad to have them!

  • Relax, enjoy, learn, grow, laugh, and … BREATHE!

  • So far, so good! Lots of baby bird observation, Lego building, link sending, Netflix watching, hometending helping, party planning, Shakespeare exploration, watercoloring, Plate Defending and pet loving going on around here. Far more laughter than tears, and we are regaining our energy and balance post-camping. A very mellow, introspective run of days, for all of us…a place of deepening on many levels.


  • Continue reading books for Bookmark Break Challenge – aim for 7 in July, 8 in August, and 9 in September, but these targets will be flexible – summer is prime traveling time for the kids and I and we have things planned and others we’re considering.

  • I am considering dropping out of this challenge. I seem to have a lot of trouble remembering to update, although I want to, and I feel I am not quite meeting the purpose of cleaning up the books I’ve begun – I seem to add more new ones, than I do finish old ones….

  • If I do drop this challenge, I still intend to aim for the number of completed books over 100 pages, but my criteria will expand to include a few books I can’t include in the challenge, so most of my reading, even research reading, will count toward my goal.

  • I will consider this until I am certain, and will make a decision by the end of the month.

  • Guerrilla Learning – 194 of 206.

  • Hamlet – Completed.

  • Shakespeare’s England – page 69 of 252.

  • Container Gardening – page 100 of 256.

  • The Mermaid Chair – page 46 of 335.

  • I have completed 2 of 7 books for this month.

  • Continue reading an average of three articles from my To Be Read files, weekly.

  • I have read an average of 3 articles per week.

  • I read Goals, Resolutions, Words.

  • I read Still Waiting.

    Lego Joy, Colorful Lives…..

Other Writing:

  • Write 1 book review each week.

  • Little on this goal since last update – beginnings of a rough draft I really didn’t like.

  • I am considering altering this goal, perhaps to an average of 1 review a week. I know I can complete 2, and possibly 3, in a week, if I am in the proper space – and I clearly am not, just now.

  • I will contemplate this one, and decide by the end of the month.

  • Play with essay ideas as desired; aim for three submittable essays each month.

  • I have been in the composting (not writing) stages of two ideas. One I have written on and need to mull a bit longer, and the other is waiting its moment ot break free.

  • Again, I seem to need to be in a different mental/emotional space for writing. I feel it approaching, but it’s not here yet, and I have learned to go with that sense of things (a big reason why I have so many diverse goals – to take advantage of whatever energy I have, in any given moment, without wasted energy in pursuing things that would be forced and far from joyful!).

  • Write at 750 Words every day, with possible hiatuses for Unschoolers Rock the Campground (July 12-16); Learn Nothing Day (July 24); Northeast Unschooling Conference (August 23-?); and kids’ birthdays (July 8, September 2).On my birthday (July 29), I WRITE!!!

  • I’m still on track for this goal. With the exception of the first day of the ROWnd (when I was so busy posting my goals that I just plain forgot and caught up the next day, and the travel days to and from Unschoolers Rock the Campground 4, I have written at least 750 words every day.

  • I have a request in to join a brand new 750 Words Facebook Group, which will likely provide me with even more incentive to get to the site and do my words each day (I haven’t checked back there, yet, but intend to,perhaps tonight).

  • Use 750 Words for whatever – flash pieces, essays, venting, ranting, reports, book reviews, etc.

  • I have been focused on the fanfic Prologue for Chameleon’s Dish, playing with ideas and plots.

  • I have written the too-autobiographical beginnings of a review draft for To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Midnight (and Corki!).


  • Aim to post at least twice a month to The Unfettered Life. Make one of them an update, perhaps roughly categorized to make creating reports easier.

  • I have not posted a second time. I do have three posts in mind – Annalise’s birthday, Elijah’s birthday, and recent activities, growth, and projects.

  • Begin using this blog in a way that really supports documenting, so that it does double duty as a personal tool for me in the way it once did.

  • Each of these posts will achieve this guideline.

Organizing/Tootling my Horn….

  • Continue inputting June 2000 Writing Practice Notebook, if not completed before ROWnd begins.

  • I finished this notebook, and have attained this goal.

  • Choose a new notebook; input into Penzu.

  • Jeremiah selected my next notebook, from April of 1999, I think. I have not yet begun inputting it.

  • Continue sorting and filing files on laptop.

  • I worked on this rather suddenly, when Google Chrome suddenly dropped all my apps and my Theme last week. I also noticed that FaceTheme had gotten loaded (not intentionally!), and I deleted it and a few other programs I do not use or want.

  • After deleting, I added back the apps I use most often. Fortunately, I didn’t lose any of the app account information. I still have apps to add, but I have gone from three pages of apps (many of which I never used), to less than one. I like that.

  • Set aside time each week to winnow email. Read items being saved for later reading, sort or dispose as indicated.

  • My Inbox currently has 52 messages. I have not checked email for 2 days, and I suspect most of these are blog digests, as per my settings.

  • My Leisure Time Reading file now has 99 messages. I suspect it may go up a bit today, before I get to reading again.

    Three faces of Annalise, by Annalise!

Celebrating Life!

  • Add some form of specific motion (t’ai chi, swimming, hiking, biking, skating, dancing, etc) to each week. Keep track of what, where, when, for how long, and how I felt during and after.

  • I have mostly worked at hometending this week. After the physical exertions at camp, I haven’t had energy for much more. I have felt my energy returning, and am looking forward to a more active upcoming week.

  • Fill us all up with joy, and continue cultivating family peace.

  • Did well here. Lots of reading together, some watching TV, a more workable plan for our common spaces, gave the kids more latitude for working through their own issues before I became involved – and, mostly, they settled things without my help. =)

  • Spend time cleaning and beautifying my personal internal and external spaces each week.

  • I have improved the state of my bedroom and my office.

  • I have spent considerable time exploring my own depths, and honoring where I am.

  • Embrace and be present in all my moments.

  • I have been quite present, and am working on embracing and letting be the trickier ones.

  • Allow my emotions to be as they are. Practice expressing them calmly and reflectively.

  • I am allowing my emotions to be most of the time. I am feeling less guilt and fear of my darker places, and, perhaps as a result, I seem to be able to express them more calmly and productively.

So, now, as so often happens when I stop to recount what’s gone on in one of the ebb times, I look up there and realize that there was far more happening than I thought there was, at the time.

  • The notebook has been transcribed, and another chosen.
  • The rough drafts of the children’s IHIPs (Individualized Home Instruction Plans) are nearly complete.
  • I am less than 100 pages from the end of that rough draft.
  • My email is becoming more and more manageable.
  • I delighted in my reading, and shared that delight with the children.
  • We have a saner way of dealing with our common spaces that may even outwit my monthly “48 hours of hormonal hell”.

And, while doing these things, I have been renewing from beneath. Long days at home, where we all orbit each other, but mostly are engaged in our own projects….

And the ideas have been flowing, and growing, and are now beginning to rise to my surface, in a series of tickling little bubbles, each one a delicious surprise.

Soon, I feel, the shift will come, and I may find myself too energized and fertile to be content with the organizational projects I’ve been working on…

Then, I will need to WRITE…Yes, in big capital letters, and with fierce tenderness and truth. I have things to say, things that are beginning to bubble up on the rising tide of my soul. Things that will, soon enough, refuse to remain unsaid….

I expect that, just as today’s heavy, humid calm has given way to spates of rain and the rolling power of thunder, this pregnant pause I have been in must give way to the rolling power of my need to set forth my truths…..

I always wonder how others approach their writing…

How about you?

Do you have goals for every mood, and are you inclined to honor your own shifting balance of energy?

Are you more likely to force yourself to work on what you feel you must work on, whether you feel like it or not, as a matter of routine and discipline?

Is writing your passion, joy, and place of revelry, or is it something you come with determination, prepared to do the hard work of perfecting your craft?

My original ROWnd 3 goals, in their entirely.

The ROW80 Blog Hop!

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

Story a Day May #2 – “After Supper”

“I will harbor it, and shelter it, as the shrub outside my bathroom window harbors the sparrows and chickadees and cardinals that take refuge there…..”

“I don’t even know what that means,” snapped my mother in irritation, and her lips tightened and thinned as her jaw set. Her teeth were clenched when she spoke again. “I know what will happen. You will end up forgetting it, and leaving it somewhere, like outside, in the rain. I am NOT paying a hundred dollars for some damned book about Shakespeare. You’ve got plenty to read, right here, and, if you want more, go to the school library.”

“Neither of them have this book, Mommy.” People have told me all my life that I am a born optimist, like my father – but i never met my father, so I don’t know whether that’s true or not. But I figured calling her Mommy might -just might – get her to allow me to use my own income, garnered from watering a neighbor’s collection of fowl, from babysitting, from a summer job I would soon begin, and from cleaning my grandfather’s house – to buy the book. “And the book isn’t just about Shakespeare. It has ALL of his plays, all of the sonnets, and a lot of history. It’s a book I could treasure for the rest of my life.

“Besides, I don’t want you to pay for it. I just want permission to use my own money to – ”

CRACK! I registered the drawing back and surging forward of her hand too late to do anything at all to avoid the backhanded slap that rocked my head and, although i couldn’t see it, a fire-red, heated imprint on my right cheek.

“YOU don’t have your own money, you ungrateful little BITCH! So long as I feed you and pay for your clothes and put a roof over your head, I am entitled to decide what you get and what you don’t. And you are not getting some stupid book by that idiotic Shakespeare. Besides, you would just sit there, sucking your finger and twisting your hair, reading THAT BOOK instead of doing your homework. And you are supposed to be so smart! HA! You’ve got no common sense at all.”

She stalked away, and I thought that might be the end of that – but, before I could draw two breaths, she was back. “Now, clean up this kitchen, take out the trash, and do the laundry. Then get your disgusting little self clean, and DO YOUR HOMEWORK, and go to bed. I don’t want to hear another peep from you until morning…..but I know how you like to run your mouth and act like you’re smarter than everybody else, with your fancy Shakespeare, so I’m going out.”

She said it like it was a surprise. Like she didn’t go out every night. Like she hadn’t been wearing that slutty scrap of fabric she called, “my little red dress.”

I didn’t say anything, just put my head down and started cleaning up the half-burnt Hamburger Helper pan, and emptying her ashtray. She would want it to gleam like crystal when she got home, as though her ashes and butts must be cradled in luxury.

When the door slammed behind her, I counted to a thousand – better safe than sorry – before I allowed myself to whisper my thoughts very softly. “I’m pretty damned sure I’m smarter than YOU, you bitch.”

I had long ago developed a system to get the work done as quickly as possible. I flew about quickly, tending to all that she had asked, making sure everything was just as she expected it. I made sure her bourbon and glass were set at her place at the table, so she could have her “liquid breakfast” when she got back – long after I was in school, usually, and then she would sleep until just before dinner, the one meal she insisted on feeding me. I thought she did it just so she could complain bitterly about it until she left again….

It only took an hour and a half, and then I went to my room, where my laptop sat. It had been a prize in a local poetry slam, and Mother liked to brag about how I had won it – not to me, but to the other barflies and whores she hung out with. She even paid for the Wi-fi, just so she could tell them all what a generous mom she was…

And, best of all, she never touched my computer; she didn;t even know how to turn it on.

I went to the site I had found last night, my fingers trembling and an excited sweatiness shivering over me.

I had already drawn up my profile; and used my webcam to take a few shots of me in what I hoped were “fetching” poses.

Now, I opened my file – and saw that I had been searched six times, already.

And, fifteen minutes later, I was slipping out of my window, past the bush that sheltered the songbirds my mother never noticed, my backpack filled with my few precious things…..certain I would find joy and peace at the other end of my journey.

As I looked up at the night sky, a star fell….

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days -2012, Life Writing, ROWnd #2

ROWing into the Surge – ROW80 Goals Update #7

It’s been a mellow and very creative few days here.  I’ve been giving myself to my writing, to reading, to hometending and family time, and, more than I have since  Jim’s accident, to myself.

It’s been renewing and I am emerging from my home-centric cocoon refreshed and feeling the surge of new understandings and ideas –

I’m not ready to talk about yet, for fear of freezing the blossoms before they’ve attained full bloom….

Instead, let’s just ROW along, skimming close to shore, feeling the coming of spring wrapped in the chill of winter’s lingering caresses…..


  • Read at least 3 articles a week from my To Be Read files on computer, and categorize those I choose to keep or share.
  • I read this list of 50 Life Lessons.
  • I read and reblogged because i, too, have a dream.
  • I have one more article to read to attain this goal for the week.


  • Complete the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.
  • I have written and edited the text, and am lingering over an extensive and nostalgic array of photos, which I am turning into a series of collages.  

  • I am hoping to have this project finished by Friday, but have until midnight on Monday to post it, if need be.
  • Create a “flow chart” for posting to shanjeniah and The Unfettered Life.  Use these, and adapt as necessary, throughout the round (with allowances made in April for the challenge).
  • I have begun using the flow charts –  but not yet both each day.
  • On Monday, I began my first weekly review on The Unfettered Life.  It’s not complete, yet, but it is a beginning.
  • On Tuesday, I updated my Bookmark Break Challenge page to reflect my April reading.
  • I began a post for my Write 1 Sub 1 Monthly Challenge.
  • On Wednesday, I worked on my goals update post.
  • I hope to be  following both charts at least a few days a week by May.
  • Add pages/ edit sidebar layout on shanjeniah.
  • I have begun a page for guest bloggers.
  • I hope to have the page ready by Sunday’s check-in.


  • Comment on and share blogs regularly; share my blogs as widely as seems feasible, and in diverse ways.
  • I have shared I is for Intuition and J is for Jeremiah to the ROW80 Facebook Page.
  • I have also shared my Unschooling Blog Carnival post. “I’m THAT Mom…Naturally!” to the ROW80 page.
  • As mentioned above, I have read and commented on several blogs.  I have been working my way through some of the many comments building up on my own blogs.  If you’re waiting, I am getting there! =)
  • Do 3 guest posts and  host 3 guest bloggers this round.
  • I have begun setting up a new page here, Your Soapbox Awaits…, which will become a home away from home for my guest bloggers.
  • I am in the process of contacting my guest bloggers, and those who have offered me places on their blogs.
  • I hope to at least have all the posts scheduled, if not posted, by the end of May.
  •  Submit at least 10 pieces of flash fiction or poetry this round.
  • I  have reread and made notes for my flash fiction piece “The Coupling”.  I plan to have it ready for submission by May 1.
  • Continue submitting to hops, challenges, fests, etc.; at least 3 each month.
  • I have attained this goal for this month.

  • Learn how to watermark pictures.
  • This goal has been attained.
  • Watermark all photos that appear on my blogs, and all those I post going forward; begin watermarking favorites not on blogs.
  • I have begun watermarking the collages I will use in my Z is for Zoo blogpost.
  • Add JOY to every day!
  • Monday: The pleasure of a leisurely day at home; lingering talk; minor hometending.  Coffee and love.
  • Tuesday:  T’ai chi, singing in the car with the window down, all alone…taking the time to watch the hawk swoop low over the fallow corn field.  Reading and writing.  Working in my library.
  • Wednesday:  Reading, writing, collage-making, hometending, blue corn tortilla chips, snuggles with both kids.
  • Add movement to every day, too!
  • Monday: Hometening.
  • Tuesday: T’a chi (first time since Jim’s accident)!; hometending, a little dancing.
  • Wednesday: Hometending and a little dancing.
  • Add self-decorating to every week!
  • I cut my wavy and very forgiving hair on Tuesday, a first step in a several step process……stay tuned!
  • Add more of my passions to each day, in as many ways as I can manage.
  • Monday: Leisurely day with my family. Bliss.
  • Tuesday: T’ai chi!; car singing; solitude; writing and reading.
  • Wednesday: Working toward many goals, passionately!
  • Add all these for my beloved others, too!
  • Annalise: Laughter, games; snuggles; reading together.
  • Jeremiah: Saying yes to his request to bake a cake,  chats, cuddles.
  • Jim:  Snuggles, coffee, and conversation.  Couples stuff.

 Administrative Stuff:

  • Input two writing practice notebooks to Penzu.
  • I am on page 20 of 12o  of notebook #1, June 2000.
It’s been a busy time, and productive, but in a quiet, calm, no-fanfare kind of way.Jeremiah baked his very first from a  box mix.  It took him two days to bake and frost it – he’s 10, and a friend’s invitation to play took precedence over baking.  And he’s growing fast –  an inch or so in the last few weeks –  he was up to the bottom of my chin, but now he’s just below my bottom lip, and I am not short….anyway, he’s sleeping more, these days, and the cake waited for frosting while he recharged.

Annalise began reading silently, here and there, and learned that she can now do a 100 piece puzzle.  She watched Tigers in the Snow and an episode of Nature that explored the wolves of Chernobyl.  She looked at first Elijah’s scrapbook   –  “There’s only three pages, Mommy” was her heart-tugging comment when faced with how brief a life 12 days is –  and then Jeremiah’s  “Seeing him as a little baby makes me feel older.”   And that, for a younger sister who chafes at being the littlest, is an evener, if only a temporary and fanciful one.

Being so close to 8 is hard on her, sometimes.  She seems to view it as the magical age of big-kidness, and early July seems both very close and very distant.

She wants a motorbike for her birthday, like the one her friend Ryan has.
I’ve found that I am even more serious about my writing since claiming a space for it.  Here, in the bedroom, where Jim and I have spent the majority of our intimate moments, where there is morning coffee and snuggles and ticklefests with the kids, and the TV and the amorous hijinks even middle-aged and long-married folks  can still get up to when they really like each other in a way that ignores baldness, creaky joints, and much extra padding, my mind wanders into imagery and symbolism.At my desk in my library, I am a more focused and businesslike version of me.  I’m relaxed, and peaceful – and the vibe is that I have things I want to do, and I am doing them.

The bedroom is for dreaminess and my library exudes purpose.

That’s good to know, as the surge comes up  on the bow….
And now,  for a few more of my followers…

And, last but not least, here’s the nifty little ROW80 Linky, where you can follow the other ROWers……

Posted in 500 Words On..., Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

P is for Playfulness

500 Words On….Playfulness.

Flying play on a giant jumping pillow, fall 2011.


This morning Annalise came to us, playing a game of Filly Needs to Cross the Raging Rivers to Get to Her Mommy!” All of Annalise’s games involve exclamation points – she is a passionate soul.

The game began at about 1pm on a Monday – most children Annalise’s age are in school at that hour, following a schedule built around  curriculum and lesson plans, and with little room for individual passions.




Learning play with stuffed intestines, Journey Through the Body, spring 2011.


She was the filly who had made it across the Raging Rivers to me,  with two very wet legs that troubled her until I, her mommy, licked them dry (no, not really!), We had a nickering and nuzzling session together as we celebrated her victorious conquest of the powerful waters.






Just then,  a mountain lion appeared!

Pattern and magnet play, artfully explored. 2010ish, I think, by Annalise, then about 5.

I assured her we were okay, as I happened to be a were- mountain lion.  I roared fiercely to warn the stalking predator, and Lise discovered that she was  a were-lynx kitten who began with a tough little meow and then found her roar, too, until we frightened the marauder away with our sheer power!

Tthe play morphed into a snuggle,  and I read her the remaining four stories in her Mad About Madeline book (“Madeline’s Rescue”; “Madeline and the Gypsies”; “Madeline in London”, and “Madeline’s Christmas”).

Butterfly play - antennae self-created from giant pipe cleaners, spring 2011, age 6.5.

She wanted the written for adults notes, Introduction, and the Origins of Madeline read in their entirety, too…

…Which evolved into a tickling and giggling session that lasted for about 10 minutes before we both went on to do other things, filled up with happy companionship and unbounded energy…..

I believe today’s fun stemmed from her play with Crayola Paint’n’Play Ponies , where she loves to color, name, and decorate a whole herd of mares and their little fillies, narrating their stories as she creates.

Sudsy "salon" play, summer 2011, age 7.


When I think of how  school as it  currently exists  might fairly easily be changed to accommodate the types and methods of learning that suit children best, my mind turns  to play.

Children learn best through play – and so do adults.

But not the “play” we’ve come to accept as normal – sports, classes, activities,clubs, or any form of play orchestrated and directed by an adult.

Mini-marshmallow/toothpick construction play; Jeremiah, age 8, winter 2010.

Children were meant, as all mammal young were, to make sense of their world by interacting with it through free play they initiate and direct.

To the extent that schools seat children in groups of the teacher’s choosing, to the extent that their day is planned with no alternatives possible, to the degree that the items in the classroom  have arbitrary conditions upon their use, children are not free to play as they choose.



Independence Day at Saratoga National Historical Park (the "turning point" of the Revolution). Our British officer was 4 days from turning 6, July 4, 2010.


To the extent that certain colors, activities, learning, or play are forbidden; to the extent that children’s activities are known as work, rampant imagination is discouraged, and teachers decide readiness for this set of materials or that lesson; – to that extent, free play and the learning that comes with it – the random, chaotic, unpredictable growth that can never be taught, only grasped on one’s own – cannot exist.

 The most vital parts of learning – relevance and personal capability – suffer, and the result is likely to be a decrease in self-motivation, creativity, ingenuity, and adaptability – all things that children gain, with great joy and a natural ease, through  being allowed as much time as they need, when they need it, to play as they choose.

Cryptic word play by 5 year old Annalise, using kindling wood Jim had just chopped. AXAXA, baby!