Tuesday, July 29, 2014


1. Today, I will just begin with the ouchingest complaint. Somehow, a nice arts organization invited me to be part of their next art exhibit. I didn't even have to apply. I just got the email in my inbox. Resident-writer-type thing. But there are workshops, some of which are all day and all night, where attendance is required and I have guests in town that week who will be staying at my house, possibly in tents. For the grant, I and the other grantees would have gone to the North Rim. I would have learned more about climate effects on fire. I would have hung out with artists and foresters. There was an honorarium attached. It's part of my sabbatical project. Oh oh oh. Ouch. I cried for five minutes and then I felt like hell for another two hour. Three hours later, I am patting my self on the back for being resigned and recognizing that being mature is making choices and handling disappointment with grace. And then I threw my shoe on the floor.

2. Max is super sick. He has a fever that spikes. I give him Tylenol. It goes down. The fever spikes. I give him Ibuprofen. Rinse. Repeat all day. He also got like 90 bug bites yesterday. Apparently mosquitoes like hot babies. This is also slightly sad because I had some plans and some plans to make but I would rather hold hot Max and give him juice, so the plans will have to wait maturely.

3. The bathroom project continues. The tile guy was here all day Thursday, all day Monday, and all day today. He's not done and the rest of the tile hasn't been delivered yet. The tile looks good but I'm a little concerned that the bathroom area requires more tile than the Taj Majal which might make this project as expensive as building the Taj Majal and now that I didn't get my surprise honorarium that I didn't even plan for, I will have to sell my house and live on the North Rim in my tent that requires no tile.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Back to work, summer style, doesn't actually feel like work when work-work looms. Did I mention I have to go back into the office tomorrow? Just for a minute of a meeting but it does make whatever work I did at home today feel more like summer-work than work-work which just reminds me 12 is a number that I should behold. 

1. Making sense is exhausting. Again, revising is so not pleasant. It's like work-work instead of summer work. Writing first drafts is summer work. Revising is like making sure your annual report gets turned in on time. I knew I had trouble waiting for me to fix. I had A Winter's Tale trouble. "Exit, pursued by a bear," literally. In the YA novel, there's a bear. He just shows up. Why? I don't remember. Does everything have to have meaning? I think it was for plot but I'm afraid I already have too much plot. What to do with the bear? I let him stay but I had to do a lot of surround story and back story and fore story to make it worth it. The bear himself was interesting. "She could almost make out his ears, which, in the zoo, seemed small and cute but here seemed as menacing as his snout. All his orifices were focused on Marie." But, really, are ears that interesting? 

2. Then I had to make sense of this essay inside the book that is a book pretending NOT to be a series of essays because every agent in the world says, "Essay collections are very difficult to sell." The essay is about cautionary tales and just IS a series of cautionary tales as told to Max and Zoe and perhaps it lacks the ears of the bear story. I mean, it's a bit long-winded. 5000 words? On cautionary tales? I should probably cut it.  And there were typos. And there were gun stories, sex stories and fire stories that really don't relate nearly as much as ears do to bears and bears were already acting very "exit, pursued by." So maybe I fixed nothing today. Or maybe it's all good. Who knows? It's revision! A crap shoot of system that by tomorrow will need to be shot fully with more crap.

3. Speaking of bears, the hummingbirds, of which there were 1000 the other day, have somehow moved on. I'm not sure if it's our food, although we just gave them part 2 of what they drank down in 4 hours the night before. Maybe our neighbor, who has returned from her travels, has refilled her many feeders and they have all flocked to her (What's a group of hummingbirds? A charm of hummingbirds. A troubling of hummingbirds. A hover of hummingbirds. Oh my. All the emotions of the day at once). Maybe the Rufous hummingbird scared all the other ones away and he drinks tiny sips surreptitiously at night. Maybe they got sick of me typing about them. Maybe the bear scared them off. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014


There was much driving. We might have made it to Los Angeles had we driven straight through all day but instead, there was slow driving, driving by children, driving on gravel roads, driving on dirt roads, roads called 260, on roads called 87, roads through places called Pine and Strawberry. There was driving to lakes and walks to the water and fishing poles cast into the water. There were no fish but there were Triscuits and aged gouda and smoked almonds.

1. Max is a good driver but not as good a driver as Zoe. When Max drives, Erik still holds the wheel. When Zoe drives, Erik has the pedals but Zoe steers us up and down dirt and gravel and relatively untraveled roads. The photo is blurry because the road is bumpy.

2. The Mogollon Rim  is the end of the Colorado Plateau. From the top of the rim, you can see down to the other side of Arizona. It's like a green version of the Grand Canyon and we drove along the rim road so all you could see is the rest of the world. 

3. At the lake, we could see the fish jump. The ospreys flew overhead. The aged gouda was just as delicious as the Triscuits. Zoe ate all the Rainier cherries as usual. 

It rained after we left Knolls Lake and Bear Canyon Lake,  but never when we were at the lake. There was big lightning. Now we are home.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Today's blog post is brought to you by Zoe. 
Today my life was not fair. 
1. My Summer reading program ended before I got to put the rest of my input in. I would have gotten a new badge if they wouldn't have ended it so soon. 

2. The humming birds stopped drinking our food for no reason we can figure out. They drank the same food yesterday all day. We made them some new food so maybe they will come back. 

3. and we didn't get to go on our bike ride I wanted to go on. 

The only thing that was fair was that I got to wear my red shirt and we get to go to my friend's house for dinner.

By: Zoe

Friday, July 25, 2014


Perhaps I should start counting up again--16 tomorrow instead of 14? A countdown has its own grouchiness but he future is always open, full of arms. In the middle, you find balance. In the middle, you hang upon the fulcrum, ballerina. In the middle, you weigh neither more nor less. In the middle, you hesitate, bathroom half-finished, book half-finished, conference half-thought about, grant-half final reported, emails half sent. In the middle, there is still hope. In the middle, there is still despair. In the middle, it is Friday, which must mean that hope will outwin despair, the rains will come again, the August will be long and bright and the return of students will remind you that the summer part of the job is the tinny part. In September, heavier metals will ring more resonantly.

1. I slept no hours last night. I slept for a few in the morning, but in the darkness of night, nothing. I had the injustice equals itchiness. I couldn't see how the bed I was sleeping in could be so uncomfortable and so itchy when just the night before it had been totally not-itchy and comfortable. It was even cold last night. It rained hard, for an hour. In the not sleep, one bad thought leads to another bad thought that makes me think every decision I ever made was a bad one. Today, it is not going to rain. Maybe my decisions will prove good and let me sleep.

2. I am making churro lamb ragu. The recipe calls for Wild Boar but I have no Wild Boar or even Tame Boar but I have some locally grown Navajo lamb. I cut it up into 1/2 inch cubes. This is the key, I think, to ragu. Pancetta (aka, bacon, today), carrots, celery, onions, garlic, sage, thyme, chili powder and the last two jars of last year's tomatoes must mean that it's time to put up tomatoes again and pretend that it's cool enough to eat red sauce.

3. Did I complain about scheduling play-dates yet? I love Zoe's friends but her social calendar is far more complicated than mine. Not that mine is complicated at all. Nope. Not too complicated at all. Mostly, it's called, take Max and Z swimming. Which I did today. And to the store. We go to the grocery store a lot. It's kind of a leitmotif of its own.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


An abundance of riches. The grouchiness is, mostly, taken in perspective. For instance, it rained today. But now it is sunny and dry. Erik's building a fire. The kids are over at Bridget's, playing in her front yard. We swam today. We ate salad with pepitas for lunch. Summer is too short. Summer is too much. It is almost over. It has just started. I'm pickling cucumbers to remind me of how too much it is in winter when outside is a don't-sit-still kind of situation.

1. The hummingbirds are out of control. We have one feeder. Erik fills it up every other day. The whole back yard is buzzing with their dives and bombs. We have this guy. A broad-tailed hummingbird. Image source. 

And another broad-billed. 

They fight a lot. I feel bad for the little dudes. I just read that if you have one hummingbird feeder with a little more sugar in it and one with a little less, the dominant ones will flock to the overly-sweet one and the submissive birds will flock to the regular one. Such is the nature of privilege. 

2. After a marathon week of cooking: Brats (homemade sauerkraut. Not bad. A little salty. Nobody died), kabobs, tacos, smoked pork chops, we went out to eat tonight. Flagstaff has strangely excellent restaurants for the small town that it is. We narrowed it down to Coppa--super excellent, French-Italian offering moules frites, steak tartare, oysters, charcuterie, homemade Bolognese; Tinderbox with their own charcuterie,Dr. Pepper braised hog jowls, bacon wrapped meatloaf and fennel scallops; Fat Olives with their pizza oven and the 00 flour straight from Naples; and Lumberyard, with the Vietnamese Burger--a banh mi type hamburger and sometimes, a Utah burger, pastrami and fry sauce attached. We decided on Criollo which has 10 types of tacos, bacon nachos, vegetable rellenos, salmon tostado. We ordered the happy hour fish tacos, nachos and calamari for Z. We were home by 6:00. Now it is 7. The fire is almost going even though the wood is wet and so is the picnic table bench that is making my butt wet with its wetness. 

3. This. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I feel like I'm posting every twenty-minutes. It's a bad sign. The end is nigh. I was asked to come to campus for a meeting. A budget meeting. Twice, I have tried to imagine where the books I plan to teach this fall might be hiding. With great proximity comes great speed, so says JFK or Batman and even greater pretend-fatigue. I'm so tired but so little has happened in the past day that it's nearly impossible to imagine three whole items to write about but I have pledged my undying, 30 day devotion here and since I'm not so devoted other ways (except in the following enumerated bit), I may as well follow through.

1. For the first time in I don't know how long, I read an entire book in a day (24 hours). Yesterday, the library, which I forget actually has, occasionally books I might enjoy, emailed to tell me to renew my, Zoe, and Max's recent check-outs. But one of the books had a hold on it, which means, it turns out, that I can't renew it. This gave me 48 hours to read the book. So I did. It was not a great book. It has been greatly hailed. I read it quickly. It does have a lot of plot. But the depth of character was zippo. It may as well have been a murder mystery, like the Nancy Drew kind, which Zoe was reading next to me as I read. I like murder mysteries but this book promised to be the best book ever. How could it be? There were no leitmotifs! No larger political sentiments! No insight into how to be a person, or, even, really insights into how to be a writer. But it was highly readable in that the sentences were transparent. No fancy language or big words. I remember running into this problem last summer. I wrote an essay about it. The essay was full of leitmotifs complaining about the transparency of sentences. No one has taken the essay. Perhaps, if I actually want to publish, I should lay off the leitmotifs. But why would you write without leitmotifs? Apparently, I am 100% off in my own insight into books. My failure is secure. I find some satisfaction in that. Nancy Drew might even be the better book. Zoe, comparing the movie to the book, said, "The movie was a straight line, but the book was a circle." Like a whole world.

2. As Zoe read Nancy Drew next to me, she wanted to keep pace but I have had lots of practice. It has been so long since I just read a book--in the way that you ignore your children (only Max. I'm training Zoe into joining me on the ark side). I left him to watch TV and play ninjas. I do get updates every five minutes about which ninja is the best (Kai, Cole, Jay, and Zane) but I just nod at him when he tells me the sword broke or the car had no top. NONE!), in the way that you go outside first thing in the morning with your book and your coffee, in the way you sit on the front porch in the rain and read and read and read. It's almost the same zone as writing all day but in writing all day, there are many, many more interruptions and a better ability to understand Ninjago Lego. At least, thanks to this book, I saw no Facebook which has become my only goal in life.

3. Erik drove to work for the first time all week. He's been riding almost everyday since May, but not today. Max said, "So dad didn't get exercise but his car did." On Sunday, we biked all day and hiked far. Yesterday, I swam and ran. Today, I ran. It doesn't matter though. I always look the same. It is similar to writing. I do it a lot. Nothing changes. I am practicing finding satisfaction in that.