Dear Sunshine

"Dear sunshine, what a potent medicine you are."  

Before the current day trend of addressing personified seasons in clever Instagram captions and other social media platforms, L. M. Montgomery was a woman ahead of her time. Clearly I am still in the throes of the Emily of New Moon series. Every three paragraphs I pause and marvel at her use of metaphors and impeccable clairvoyance.  I may as well be enrolled in a writing class.  Today the sunshine was the perfect remedy. It appears that New Englanders may be served up a Spring this year. A scandalous claim at this spot on the calendar, but the hope is real.

I am working on a middle-grade piece of historical fiction, so yesterday when I visited my ninety-five year old friend I shared a bit of the story with her. She then looked at me hard and asked me what the resolution will be. "What is your heroine getting at?" I stared blankly for a minute searching for a simple reply, but nothing came. It was exactly what I needed to be asked and I give thanks for her wisdom and the work that is before me to answer that question.

"Oh, God, as long as I live give me, 'leave to work.' Thus pray I. Leave and courage."

I will stop with the Lucy Maud quotes now.  The other day at the library, this book was lying next to the checkout counter and Myles exclaimed, "Mom that's what Ms. K is reading!"  In a classic moment of, "I'll have what she's having," I plucked this book up and have been gripped ever since.  Ms. K is Myles' heralded English teacher and we all take her doings very seriously.  See what you think. 

And this one too; such a heart warming tale.



A Farewell

Yesterday our cherished local children's librarian retired. There was a farewell gathering hosted in her honor and it was standing room only.  Many, many people were touched by her kindness.  She is someone that you feel lucky enough to know. As my sister and I stood together listening to her co-workers speak of her unique ability to show love to each patron, young and old we knew we were witnessing a special moment and a precious chapter coming to a close.   Her service to her community is something that we will never forget.  She created a space between her shelves that sheltered us.  It was a comfortable home that we returned to again and again. Whenever we checked out an old, favorite title of hers she would smile and say, "It makes me so happy when I see this go home with someone." And then we would smile thankful to know we were meeting one of her friends.  My sister lives on the same street as this local branch, so my nieces and nephew have grown up in her reading room; truly an extension of their home. She blogged about it here.

It is not often that one experiences life the way it should be.  But at this place, this sanctuary; one does. Cue the Cheer's theme song.  Thank you, Lise for all that you gave us.  May you enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Here's one of the newer titles that she acquired that I will always remember on account of her.



Yesterday was a snow day.  One of those glorious snow days that you pray for on a Sunday when the reality of a full week looms before you.  I was returning home on the train after attending a conference for writers and illustrators when I heard the news.  I shared an Amtrak four seater with three other young women who were congratulating themselves on a job well done after a victorious law school feat that landed them a trophy (which was on display) and a delicious looking chocolate cake which they cut, served, and ate right in front of me without offering me a morsel. I found this rude considering I could smell the desert and obviously would have politely declined had they thought to make the gesture.   But they had the manners of pigeons and even after I laboriously inserted the ear plugs I conveniently acquired earlier in the day at one of my workshops titled, Unlocking the Power of your Unconscious Mind they failed to dampen their loud conversations.  My hopes of getting some writing done were dashed, therefore the phone call telling me that school was canceled was music to my ears. 

I was reading, Emily Climbs, of the, Emily of New Moon series by L. M. Montgomery. At first I was concerned that the young lasses were going to think I was reading a trashy romance novel due to the dated portrait of a starry eyed damsel on the cover, but as the enchanting and skillful writing of Montgomery swept me away, I proudly held the paperback before me.  It was and is the perfect post conference read.   

I learned some things this weekend at the conference. Brian Collier challenged us to make people feel something. Andrea Pinkney said to kill the committee that stands in the way of your writing.  Sarah Pennypacker said the story is the boss.   And then there was the lady next to me who wants personify her guinea pigs in her next manuscript. Go for it, my friend.

And so I am back at my kitchen table determined to do these things and hope that one day I will find a home for my stories. 



Postlude to Christmastide: The review on the back of Rumer Godden's, The Doll's House says it best, " For little girls who love dolls, women who remember dollhouse days, and literary critics who can recognize a masterpiece."  This book took Fiona and I on a ride to the edge of a cliff where we stared into the dark abyss below and pleaded for mercy. And we were granted it.  Mercy and honor and sacrifice were put in their rightful throne and we will never see things quite the same again.

Tomorrow Myles turns 11. Asterix and Redwall will always be his first loves.  I can still picture his four year old self curled up on a red beanbag chair flipping through the pictures, or listening to Brian Jacques and his band of storytellers read aloud the tales of heroism in a woodland abbey. This past week he has picked Redwall up again to read before bed. How interesting it is how much they change and how much they stay the same.

Tomorrow we will give him this:



When I want to remember my mother I turn the oven to 425 degrees and roast onions.  The delicious, comforting smell that wafts through the kitchen tells me that I am doing something right.  My mother loved onions with a passion that caught my attention as a child. I can still hear the delightful crunch they made as she ate smiling while we watched, envious of her pleasure.  I remember the feeling of wanting to enjoy something, anything as much as she enjoyed onions.  

The holidays, when virtually everything I do I learned from my mother, are very complicated.  I am thankful for the many yuletide traditions that she taught me, but I also feel her absence acutely in carrying them out.  Merrymaking and festiveness, together with sorrow;  always and forever.  This Christmastide week has been quiet and therefore most welcome.  There is time to read, reflect, and roast onions and toss them with herbs and a vinaigrette.  And then to munch happily in the knowledge that I come very close to matching my mother's enjoyment level of onions and hopefully many other things. 

Here are the books that were given in our home this year:

PS. I read this today and was swept away.  Thanks be to Myles' literature teacher for I am now acquainted with Rosemary Sutcliff.