Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ploughshares Post: Nightwood, Revisited


I've always been fascinated by Djuna Barnes. And perhaps a little intimidated, too. A while back I challenged myself to finish Nightwood and report back to the Ploughshares community.

Read my mixed review here. And then consider giving the book a peek, mostly because I'd love to chat with you about your experience. I'm still mulling.

Photo Source

Holiday Week Recap



Am I allowed to say I'm glad this week is over? I loved the extra time with my family, but the extra chaos, extra calories, and extra snow are exhausting!

Extra Chaos: Renovating a house, book edits, toddler hopped up on Christmas. Although said toddler is amazingly cute, even if she doesn't know that she shouldn't sing Jingle Bells after the 25th.

Extra Snow: Two feet of it! See snow leopard, Dogtor, Wumpus, and icicles on the old clinic above.

Extra Calories: I made homemade cinnamon rolls for the first time on Christmas morning. Dangerous new skill. (Anyone else have this thing where you think just because you're a mom that you need to have some sort of culinary tradition? I'm experimenting.)

The sun is shining today (you actually need sunglasses for once), and I'm determined to get out for a snowshoe. And we're going to hit the thirties this weekend - whoever thought I'd get excited about temperatures in the thirties?!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kitteh Edits


Why must cats nest on whatever you're working on? What makes them think this strategy will endear them to you and not send you into a blind fit of rage?

Narcissism -that's what. It is completely incomprehensible to a houselion that they are an inferior priority in any circumstance.

I'm working through book-length edits and will probably owe my editor an explanation about the hair and drool spots.

Luckily, kitteh makes such a pleasant sleep-purr that instead of shooing him away, I pull out the pages I need and let him sleep on my work.

Update: Kitteh #2 has moved in. It's like hard work is some sort of challenge and they must reaffirm their ability to distract you with faux-love. Like, okay, whew, still got it.

Always professional in VT,
MMB

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pizza and Snow Leopards





We had a great weekend at home. Our winter farmshare is still providing culinary adventures (see acorn squash pizza with feta and arugula). Holiday parties are keeping us busy - and yet we're still in bed by 9.

We spent a good amount of time in the snow this weekend. I knocked out a few snowy runs, one of which felt like doing a Running Man with each step. Fray got some legit snow boots, and waddled around quite effectively in her purple Teletubby-esque snowsuit. We took a long walk in Mile Round Woods, and a few around our property.

When we walk the property line, Pi the cat-dog follows us. His nose gets pink with the cold, but otherwise he blends in and has earned a snow leopard moniker. So, as of this weekend, there are three house lions, and one snow leopard. Perhaps that explains the constant discord in the house.

In other news, Fray is delighting us with renditions of Jingle Bells and the voiceover parts in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (Like Dumbo! Whoopee! etc.)

I continue to appall the Dogtor with my dismal and wasteful present wrapping skills. The man never wastes a square inch. My corners look like they were fashioned by a two year old. One thing I can assure him of: I'll never learn.

**Last two photo credits: Dogtor

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Equal Opportunity Bedding


...in close proximity to the woodstove.

The Night Train





The Dogtor and I are just home from a whirlwind trip to NYC, where we got to visit our fantastic friends and I was lucky enough to join a reading at KGB Bar.

Monday was a marathon. We were up early for a walk in Central Park. Hyper-stimulated by all the diversity and commotion - Shaftsbury, for all its pleasures, is a little homogeneous - we drank the people and the place in. (Side note - Nothing hurts me like seeing people run in jeans. Why?) We hit the Neue Galerie for breakfast at Cafe Sabarsky and then indulged in Schiele, Klimt, and Messerschmidt's "character heads."

The wind picked up as we left. We paused for a moment in Rockefeller Center - it was a mob, albeit a happy one. Then I had a delightful lunch with my editor and got to meet the Scribner folks I'll be working with.

From there, we met up with some lovely relatives for tea. Then, onto an early dinner with my agent, and from there to KGB. The place was packed, and I was delighted by all the friends who came out to support me. I was feeling the love! Thank you, friends!

Sadly, Bo and I had to sprint out of the place at the first intermission to catch a train home, which we barely did. Picture us on the streets of NY, hurtling toward Penn Station, snow swirling around us. (I actually choked on a snowflake while running. I live in VT, and even I didn't know that was possible.)

At midnight, we drove home from the station through thick snow. Our little farmhouse looked so peaceful after the hustle of the city; the snow has a way of putting a hush on things. We peeked in on Fray immediately; a day and a half and I was desperate to be close to her again.

This morning we took a snowshoe around the property (See MMB-too-cold-to-smile-properly photo). Pippa, the corgi, did some excellent dog-plowing, and the three other dogs followed her lead. The snow is resting inches-high on the branches, and for now, everything looks clean.

KGB Bar Photo Source

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Vick, Frey, and Redemption


I have a love/hate relationship with stories that fall in my lap and demand to be written. This essay on Michael Vick, James Frey, and Redemption Narratives was that way.

It took me a while to write, mainly because I kept revising. One version was too choked up with my strong feelings about Vick and my ESPN obsession. Another was long and winding. But it kept clawing at the inside of my brain until I got it all on paper, and I felt a strong urge to get it right.

I'm not sure I got it right, but I got something, and as always, I'd love your thoughts.

For your reading pleasure: My latest Ploughshares post on Michael Vick, James Frey, and the Power of Redemption Narratives

Thanks for reading,
MMB

Photo Credit

Cold Chickens, Birdseed Meals, and New Words



The snow is here, and will be here intermittently until, say, April.

It was 16 degrees out this morning, and I forced myself to take a walk in the backyard. I take walks whenever I find myself angry at the cold weather, because I inevitably find it beautiful if I can quiet the nagging Southerner within.

The birds - the ones that are left - are out and easy to spot in the bare trees. We have a giant, forty pound bag of feed, and the Dogtors keep the feeders stocked so that Frasier and I (and the dogs and cats) can watch the birds from the kitchen windows.

The dogs - mostly lead by Monsieur Scooty Beags - are also fans of birdseed. Scoots nibbles it up from the snow and does the work of 100 chickadees. The habit also causes him some intestinal distress, and us some annoyance. He begs to be let out so he can eat seeds. Then he beagle-yodels to be let back in. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

The chickens are cold - they aren't spending much time in the snow. The Dogtor is letting them peck around in the goat stall. I went to visit them this morning, and they complained as loud as my inner Southerner about the chill. But they are still laying - check out our first silkie egg! We have one silkie hen, and I know the little dear worked awfully hard on this one.

Frasier debuted a new word last night as I was tucking her in: cozy. It was precious - the first z sound I've heard from her, and certainly an important word for the Vermont winter.

I'm wrapping up year-end grading and starting in on book edits, which is exciting. But I'm also recovering from food poisoning (five days ago!) and am still on the toast train. I love food, so it's really depressing to be anti-food for so long, especially when there are stacks of holiday cookies in the pantry.

We head to NY for the KGB reading this weekend - if you're in town, come see me at 7PM on Monday!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Story and an Explanation



It's a weird day. This morning I nailed myself in the forehead with the lid to the diaper pail. A wind storm is raging outside, and the doors are threatening to blow open. The dogs have muddy paws, but they are staring pitifully through the windows, begging to be let in out of the wind. The houselions are wild with energy, play fighting until they forget themselves and get serious, shuttling across the kitchen floor with puffed-up tails, claws out.

But there are still some lovely writing updates:

The very kind folks at One Story have put my "Housewifely Arts" out as their current selection (with an interview!), and provided a lovely introduction. (You can even download it onto your Kindle!)

I cannot say enough good things about my experience with this journal - they are good to their authors!

I also have some new posts up at Ploughshares:
Enjoy! (and thank you for reading - and supporting- these journals!)
MMB