Hi, there.  I’ve packed up and moved over to Blogger.  Come see me there; I have cookies.

From my window where I should be writing, I’m watching a sailor.

He’s hoisted his crisp white main sail, rimmed with a smaller triangle of ink; ten inches of black noir, like a contemporary dinner plate. It’s late, around eight; odd thing, being on the lake at full mast after dark.  He’s losing wind fast during this static air night. I know he should consider bringing both sails down before dark, yet for some reason he resists and both are billowed full.

Just another boat, but this sailor caught my fancy.   While most of the windmen around here boast main sails bearing flashes of gaudy color, angular rainbow stripes and the like — this one is remarkable.

The attire? Simple and clean. A garment Jackie Onassis Kennedy (or her sister) would have worn: not too much color, a subtle statement in a Walmart world.

An elegant dress for a windy day.

It reminds me of writing, how as authors we are tempted to pack our manuscripts with ancillary words, and how sometimes, we need an oddly placed reminder that one well-chosen word is better than many bright sails.

Sparkly Hubby walked into the kitchen this morning and sniffed. “What are you doing?”

“Making soup,” I said.

He peered into the steaming pot, grabbed the spoon, stirred the carrots. Sampled the salted rice and onions. “You know, it’s going to be eighty today,” he said mid-taste, as though I couldn’t feel the humid air flowing in from the kitchen window.

“I know.”

“Having trouble with something?” he asked.

I nodded.  “Third to last chapter.”

“Still?”  He closed the lid with a tinny clang.  “That’s what I thought,” he answered.  “At least the soup’s good.”

He was right, the soup’s good. The writing? Not so much. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do, the words don’t flow.  Taking a physical break works for many writers.  Me too.  There’s nothing like slathering a fresh coat of paint on a wall to dislodge the verbal logjam, but I can’t do that today: I have a Frankenfoot.  A walking cast, the result of a nicely *don’t ask* broken toe.

So today, instead of ladders and latex, a stainless pot would free my words.  Jerry Seinfeld would be proud, ’cause the guy, well he’s funny, uses lots of words, and he likes his soup.

Beef with brown rice on the menu. I chopped veggies and mixed broth, all the while plotting.  “Do I really kill off  X?” I wondered to myself, “or will a nice maiming do the trick.”  I continued my mental diatribe: “Will anyone notice if I switch point-of-view, because honestly, X’s ‘big scene’ would resound so much better in first person, not third.”  Important things, killing-off and point-of-view, at least to a writer; quandaries best solved over a glass of Cabernet, but not this early. It wasn’t quite wine-thirty anywhere in the midwest.  Maybe in Germany, where they sip lager with their Goetta and eggs, but around here, I’ve got a rep to maintain. At least around my kids: no wine before noon.  Just broth.

Around lunchtime, the rice cooked al dente, the buds still firm but plump and full, we gathered on the deck in swimsuits, and ladled up a steaming bowl of soul-warming, word-inspiring soup.

Served best today with a glass of icy cold tea, because after all, it was eighty degrees outside.

Here, it’s ski-thirty.  I meant to write all morning, I really did, however I got a *little* sidetracked.  Have a super Saturday!

As luck would have it, we’d parked the truck and its padlocked trailer right by the “No Overnight Parking” sign, safe and out of the way.  The accident happened at that marina, three hours from home after we’d spent the day Waverunning through the bayous and channels of Spring Lake Michigan — research for Webbed, my Badass Novel.  Car burglary? Nah. Fender bender?  Nope. 

The accident was far worse than either of those:  You see, I dropped our keys in the lake.  It’s a murky lake with zero visibility, but that wasn’t the bad part.  The missing key ring, wedged somewhere in the muck and mire at the bottom of Mill Point launch, included two keys — the ski trailer’s padlock keys, and our truck keys.  Yes, the truck that would drive us out of the marina and back to our room promising warm towels.  Back to dry clothes.  Out to a nice dinner.  

The Black Keys, the band (not to be confused with my keys in a black lake) under a very cool neon sign.

Did I mention GMC emergency lock-out service doesn’t stay open past five o’clock anywhere in this world?

With nary a word other than, “I can’t believe you dropped the keys in the water,” which he repeated over and over, Sparkly Hubby searched for almost two hours, treading water and diving for stainless.  In the meantime, I pled with GMC on my cell to please find a dealership, locksmith, Harry Potter, anyone who could make our two keys magically appear.  I’d have settled for a time traveler even, a shape-shifter to help me backspace to the moment right before I lost my grip on the wet metal — sunk in half a second with a sad kerplunk.  But alas, there was not a car dealer or time traveler available, perhaps because it was past closing time:  time traveler’s must be nine to fiver’s too.

Finally, as dark threatened, my friend Blackberry, not GMC, helped us locate a locksmith who could carve a truck key for just under a couple of hundred dollars. A key which he would personally deliver . . .  in the morning!

A frantic call to the harbormaster at our hotel secured a rare available boat slip for the night — the Holiday Inn housed a marina.  In the dim light, we bid farewell to our truck and trailer, but first, we left a note under the windshield wiper, on paper bummed from a Good Samaritan, penned for the Spring Lake police, pleading to please not tow our stuff. 

We loaded up shivering and bemused, yet in amazingly good spirits onto the Waverunner and idled up inky Grand River to the hotel.  Maybe this was how Ernest Hemingway felt coming in from the beach.

In the morning we climbed back on the Waverunner and met the locksmith at Mill Point launch.  Two hundred dollars lighter, we opened the door to the GMC.

The moral of this novella?  Every writer needs a terrific support system, and I am glad to say that my support system is unparalleled.  You may think you have a super Sparkly Hubby, but mine is the bestie-best.  Because he didn’t kill, or even yell at me when I dropped the keys.  And he still thinks I am a good writer.  And today’s his birthday.  Oh, and we found the perfect location for my story. 

I need to find a way to write-off that two hundred dollar key as a research cost.  I’ll reimburse him, just as soon as I sell my book.

photo by TIME

A war, not a wii. A demonstrator accidentally lights himself with his Molotov cocktail during a skirmish this week in Bangkok.

Busy Son book time tonight. He scanned his book shelf and asked, “Mom, what is dubayou, dubayou, eye, eye mean?”  Me, the Chief Finder of Things to do in a video-game-free household, continued folding socks, misinterpreting the question as another nudge in the gaming arena of Things Wanted Really Bad.   

“That’s a wee, honey.  A computer game by Apple,” I answered. “You know, like an XBOX.” He pulled out the old National Geographic off the shelf, Sparkly Hubby saves them, and showed me the mushroom cloud.  He pointed to the cover.  “No, like this,” he said.   

World War Two, I saw with a jolt.  Oh. Just a war, not a Wii. 

I’d dumbed my son down. A random question; a busy mother’s 2010 answer, age appropriate, so I thought, for a tiny dude.     

That said, I’m fortunate — no spoiled — that the first that comes to mind is a video game, not a war.  Hopefully our not-so-tiny dudes never will know what it feels like to beach on Normandy, rifle in hand, or swelter in a quiet tunnel in Vietnam.   

I’m following the political strife in beloved Bangkok, not prime time for American news, but rich fodder for the BBC.  The subway station we had trouble exchanging ride tokens?  Gone. The humongous shopping mall at the end of the MRT line? Demolished.  Burned to smithereens by the rebel supported Red Shirt Army.  Seriously, how close can close be?  

How much do we take for granted our freedom?     

On this Memorial Day, a sincere Thank you to all who have served.

My Midwest Fellow Fellow Lara just blogged about the most appropriate time to use the word sucked. When? Whilst talking about high school gym, of course.

Dropped off Sparkly Hubby at work due to a minor car malfunction. On the XM? His favorite news program: CNBC. Keep in mind, I’m a Fox news girl, but it was on, so I listened.  An announcer commented on a story, and used the term “that really sucked.”  It piqued me.  Then he used it again, same context, next sentence.  That did me in.

Now, I’m supposed to be writing so I’ll make this quick (I’m good at that). I’d like to know: “when did the word “sucked” become mainstream?” 

I’ve heard it often– news commentators, radio personalities, everyday conversation — even my favorite librarian at the downtown branch. Kelly Clarkson sings that her life would suck without me.  Well, that’s getting a little too personal, and to be perfectly honest, I really don’t know Kelly that well.  Still, does all this mean saying something sucks is okay?  Is this the bottom of the word barrel?  Perhaps Webster or Oxford and the rest of the word dandies gave suck a greenlight.  I must have missed the announcement.

I looked up sucked on thesaurus.com, one of my all time favorite websites.  Though dictionary.doc acknowledges the use of sucked as slang, my friend the thesaurus ignores it, as if it will go away real soon.

When did it become *okay* to use  slang, wavering around the derogatory area of colloquialisms? Is to too darn hard to say, “it’s terrible that you dropped your iPhone into the Lake,” or “the fact that I wrecked your new Prius makes me feel terrible.”  Or, “the sushi could have been fresher.”  Do we really have to tell our mother or father, co-worker or lover, that our day, hamburger, drive to O’Hare really, breath, sucked?

Well, maybe everything except the drive to O’hare, which really does suck . . .

Every year dozens of the white winged birds converge on our lake, landing like ordinary seagulls, until you look close, and the birds loom large.  Only in pairs.  They stay awhile, honking and flapping, until the anglers scare them off.   The same duo visits every year – I’m sure it’s the same; and they come hungry.  My Busy Son snapped this pic as they swooped into our beach for a snack.

I know.  I’m cheating.  Wasn’t actually writing whilst gazing through my writing window, but give me a break; it’s spring. Now, how do I work them into a story?

My Fellow Fellows.

May 10, 2010

What an experience.  Back home from my Fellowship weekend with nine other amazing writers. 

Many thanks to the Ball Foundation and Jama Bigger of the Midwest Writers’ Group — it was the weekend of a lifetime for any writer.