Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Years from My Home...

Happy New Decade under a Blue Moon...


Wishing you all the best in 2010~

Happy New Year!

One of my Favorite Photos from 2009


From my 40th birthday literary party, January 2009. Come as an author...


Top row: Ronda Broatch as Cyrano de Bergerac, Annette Spaulding-Convy as Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ann Hursey as W.S. Merwin, Lana Ayers as Chu Shu-chen , Holly Hughes as Virginia Woolf, My Mum as Jackie Collins

Bottom row: Nancy Canyon also as Virginia Woolf, Jennifer Culkin as Dorothy Parker, Kelli Agodon as Sylvia Plath, Martha Silano as Gertrude Stein, Susan Rich as Anna Akhmatova, Kathleen Flenniken without her cape as Marianne Moore


if you're on Whidbey Island in January... Readings!

Readings by MFA faculty and visiting writers, free and open to the public, in January

Sunday, January 10: poets Tess Gallagher, Holly Hughes, and David Wagoner; fiction and nonfiction writer Craig English
Monday, January 11, a special appearance by writer Gretel Ehrlich
Tuesday, January 12: Poet Kelli Russell Agodon, fiction writers Bob Mayer and Kathleen Alcala, and nonfiction writer Susan Zwinger
Friday, January 15, Children and Young Adult authors George Shannon and Bonny Becker; fiction and nonfiction writer Melissa Hart; and poet and novelist Lori A May
All readings take place at Captain Whidbey Inn in Coupeville and begin at 7:30 pm.

Resolutions: 2010











Some of you may have read here that my family makes New Year's Resolutions for each other. For me they chose (after I lost and found my iPhone): Take better care of my things. My daughter has the same resolution. My husband's is to stay positive and happy when tired.

In the spirit of this making resolutions for others, today, I will take the liberty to make a few resolutions for you (and me):


1. Take more baths

2. Throw out all and any of your tattered, ugly, ripped, underwear and buy new ones.

3. Do the same for your socks

4. Remember that having a glass of red wine each night adds 6 years to your life (source: More magazine)

5. Remember adding meditation to your daily life adds 12 years (same source)

6. Give a "gift" to someone every day (it doesn't have to be material, but a kind act)


7. Less news and internet, more poetry and music

8. Write letters that need stamps

9. Tell someone how much you appreciate them

10. Live as if life is temporary, because it is.

11. Remember you are loved

12. Enjoy your life with coffee or tea

13. Have dessert

14. Yes, take more baths...



Happy New Decade!



I was reading Mary Bid's blog this morning and she wrote:

If you'd asked me on New Year's Eve 1999 (a day that I'm not sure I remember, for some reason) what things I would most definitely not be doing on New Year's Eve 2009, I am sure that the following would be among them:

Her list included a Disney movie and making mashed potatoes.

My list includes a Chipmunk movie and making chocolate cream pie.


I remember my New Year's 1999. My husband (aka the firefighter) was working. I was 2 months pregnant. I had 3 cats and a greyhound. I lived in a blue house on the hill. I wrote poetry. We worried about Y2K.

I remember just as it turned midnight some prankster in our group hit the switch of the fusebox and made all the lights go out. We gasped. 10 seconds later they were back on and it felt all was well in the world.

Now it's ten year's later, my life is that daughter I was pregnant with, the same firefighter husband, 3 cats (only 1 who was around in 1999), a hedgehog, 2 guinea pigs (one named after Sylvia Plath) and a golden retriever named Buddy Holly. I'm still in the same house. I still am writing poetry.



What I wish for you this new decade?

For you to live passionately, following whatever dreams you carry in your paper cup.

For you to find meaning when you think there is none.

For your world to bring you magic and optimism

and for you to have someone, like the photo above, to kiss you hard or hold you when things don't feel so good. May your life continue to be filled with friends and family and experiences that fulfill you.

Go forth into the new decade, grasshopper, mirror beetle, kingfisher
and may it be full of all good things.

Happy 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Confession Tuesday

Had I not seen January's confessions this morning, I would have completely missed Confession Tuesday. This is what Winter Break does to me, it makes me live the retired life where I'm not aware of dates or week days.


Reader, I have not told you all the information this year. I have left some things out.
This confession will confess to you all the things I haven't mentioned (or think I haven't mentioned).

Just as I am cleaning and clearing my home, I will end 2009 with Confessions I May Have Neglected Throughout 2009 or it could be called "My Shallow Life..."

To the confessional--


I confess I have read some books I haven't mentioned here.

As you read the titles, you can come up with your own ideas why I haven't posted them on my blog. Some, I just felt didn't really apply, but others, oh Reader, I ate the Twinkies in the closet of the wine tasting party, you will understand how they didn't make my list...

Books I Read, but Didn't Review Here--

Tim Ferriss'sThe 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
(which I was surprised to get a few good ideas out of, I wasn't sure it would apply to me give that my job is freelance and being self-employed)

and in a spontaneous act about two weeks ago, I chose Valerie Bertinelli's book Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time off of Paperback Swap * and it was mailed to me and is on my to-be read shelf.

And last summer, I checked out from the library, from the librarians who know me best because they see all the books I take home, I checked out and read Rosie O'Donnell's Celebrity Detox: (The Fame Game) (I did, Reader, I brought it to the beach and read the whole thing...and I enjoyed it.)

*

Speaking of Rosie, I realized yesterday while folding my laundry and watching Ellen, some of my favorite celebrity women host talk shows (or did)-- Oprah, Ellen Degeneres, and Rosie O'Donnell. Reader, I love (or loved) these talk shows, but I only allow myself to watch them when I am doing laundry. And to show my shallowness even more, I confess I also enjoy The View's Hot Topics and watch that at the gym when I'm on the treadmill.

*

Now the confession about the gym, I have a membership, but haven't been to the gym to "workout" (i.e. treadmill, weights) in months. I have gone to my yoga class. You may ask how a poor poet can keep her gym membership she doesn't use, all that wasted money... Dear Reader, I signed up for the gym when I first moved here because it was cheaper to pay the gym membership dues ($20 a month) than to pay for 8 yoga sessions a month ($8-10 a class x 8 = $64- $80).

Dear Reader, we are a small town with old contracts, I still pay that $20 a month.

*

Dear Reader, since we're on the topic of money, I think I could confess a few things.

I am a paradox when it comes to money, but if you look deeper, you will see I am not, that my values and beliefs remain true. I try to live simply and frugally, but I also believe in living "a good life" and do not believe that living simply = the art of self-sacrifice.

Here are things I spent my money on this year that were expensive--

1) A new MacBook
2) An iPhone
3) Hedgebrook with Carolyn Forche

Here are some areas where I didn't spend much--

1) Clothes (I haven't spent more than $20 for a pair of jeans in ten years)
I find most of my clothes in consignment shops and 2 years ago discovered TJ Maxx.

2) TV/Movies - we have basic cable $35 and pay $8 a month for 1 movie (& all the free watch instantly movies) on Netflix. Unless it's a great movie, I rarely see it in the theatre. Though we will do a kid's movie matinee with our daughter at our local adorable new movie theatre.

3) Eating out, we rarely do it. The exception is when it's a social event with friends or family for something special, then I love to take part. I am very much a believer in having experiences than having things in life.


I confess I believe you should use your money to buy you time and experiences in your life.

Also, on the things you love or will really help you in your life and writing life (i.e. a laptop, writing experiences, etc.), buy the best you can afford. Save money on the things that don't matter to you.


Things I remind myself off-
Try not to be dazzled by shiny things that I only "want" but don't need.
Never buy anything I don't love
Keep my receipts

*

I confess to save money, this year I downgraded our cable to "Family Tier," which basically gives us the regular channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS), Discovery, History, the food channel, HGTV, and about 10 channels of infomercials and did not tell my family.

What I love? Because there is NOTHING (literally nothing) on TV anymore, no one watches it and it's been so long now, no one complains because they've forgotten how it once was to live with 80 channels. Dear Reader, it's awesome! I should have done it long ago.

I also confess I've never paid for a TV. All of ours have been hand-me-downs.

*

I confess I believe having a housekeeper come in 2x a month is cheaper than marriage counseling.

*

I confess I constantly say, "Turn off the lights, you're killing the polar bears" in my house. It's an awkward reference to global warming and saving energy. I'm sure my daughter will need therapy later in life because of it.

*

As for poetry, I confess I've been pretty open. I've told you about my book rejections, my feelings about writing, about submitting.

I confess my goals for submitting this year are much less. In fact, I have no goals for submitting poems. If I send some work out, then I do. If I don't, then I don't.

I confess, I hate submitting work. I like the writing part of it, not the submitting.

* * *

And Paperback Swap-- I have been meaning to mention this to you. It's wonderful! You post your old books and if someone chooses it, you ship it to them (you pick up the cost) and receive one credit to choose whatever book you want to be shipped to you for free. It's a great way not to have to purchase new books while getting rid of books you no longer want.

And the books don't just have to be paperback either.

Anyway, it's one of my favorite websites.

* * *

Dear Reader, like cleaning and clearing my home, I am cleaned my mind. It came out kind of messy, but it's there. Confessions left and right, or left and write.

Thank you for listening to me confess this year. It's nice to know someone is reading this, whether you comment or not, I appreciate you showing up to my blog. Thank you.

all confessed out,
Kells

Monday, December 28, 2009

If you're in Washington- Support Poetry on January 16th!

"Poems About Place" at Village Books in Bellingham, Jan.16

Join the Skagit River Poetry Festival at 7 pm on January 16, 2010, when six of the Northwest's top poets will participate in a "Poems about Place" reading Jan. 16 at Villages Books in Bellingham.

The event, co-sponsored by North Cascades Institute, is free, open to the public and aims to raise awareness and support for the 2010 Skagit River Poetry Festival. In the lineup are: Washington State Poet Laureate Sam Green, Jim Bertolino, Michael Daly, Oliver de la Paz, Nancy Pagh, and Jeremy Voigt.

A private reception for the poets, with food and beverages, will be held after the reading. Tickets for the reception are $25 per person and all proceeds will benefit Skagit River Poetry Festival.

For tickets and more information, contact Kris Ekstrand Molesworth at (360) 708-6626 or kris.bayview@gmail.com.

More info at http://skagitriverpoetry.org.

Organizing My Life & Writing Life


I have started an interesting new habit of writing in the morning.

If you know me or have followed my blog, you might have figured out that my prime writing time was from 8 pm - 1 am, right after my family goes to sleep.

Maybe I have just become old, but I've found myself in bed at 9 pm this winter. This is not like me. . .at all.

I have tried to write at night, but I've only realized how tired I am and how blank my mind is. I can't pull up any ideas, images, or even basic words. It had become an evening meditation of staring at a blank screen.

But lately, I've found if I get up, grab cereal and coffee, I can write first thing in the morning. And not just journal-write, but write-write. Poems have come. You don't understand, nothing EVER came to me in the morning. I have always considered myself NOT to be a morning person. Most of my poems in Small Knots and in Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room where written after the sun had set. And now, here I am, a William Stafford-up-before-dawn writer.

I think it's important though to realize that sometimes our best times to write become our worst and to be open for change. Just try it out and see what happens.

I've been trying to revise my life this December.

My main goal is to keep the "retreat lifestyle" in my regular life as much as possible. I am kind of proud of myself to say I have done this pretty well. I have stopped going to news websites and feeling as if I must know all that is happening in the world. I have turned off NPR and instead have been listening to music. I have stopped checking Facebook and email as much as I had been and instead spending a lot of my free time with friends, family, pets and books.

I have found *my* work (and my work with others & with Crab Creek Review) gets completed faster because I'm not putting it off. (Amazing how that works.)

My mum got me this book for Christmas--One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good and honestly, I've completely organized the kitchen and pantry (month one) ending up with 3 boxes for Goodwill (including our giant George Foreman grill we never use) and 3 bags of food for the foodbank. I feel a little OCD as I'm totally loving this book.

It's also funny because I just read What French Women Know: About Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind, which I also really liked, but it is the really the anti-American belief about organizing and just living enjoying daily pleasures and being in the moment.

But maybe I can do both...

I guess because while I know w my writing is not related to whether I have utensils and odd contraptions I never use, but there is a freeing for me.

In Feng Shui, they say that cleaning (or clearing) a home with what you don't need opens a new flow of energy. I think one thing is does is allows you not to worry about "what you have to do" because it's done. Also, it saves energy in finding things as now I actually *know* where things are and am not running around the kitchen digging through every drawer saying, "Where are the scissors?" The scissors that last week were missing so we had to wrap presents with a child's pair from my daughter's room, after cleaning the kitchen it seems we have no less than SIX pairs of scissors. The problem was, they just weren't where they were supposed to be.

So, this Christmas break, my life has been about writing in the morning and making boxes for Goodwill in the afternoon. I think the Christmas-clutter put me over the edge as we had WAY too many decorations as even my husband said, "That gang of wooden snowmen was stressing me out..." And oddly, me too.

It feels like a good time of the year to be doing this-- cleaning up, starting new habits, especially writing habits because isn't that what New Year's is about? A time to start again. Of course, we can restart anytime, but there's a nice feeling when the clock counts down and we can say, "Well, that year is over..." and see the possibilities before us.


What are you clearing out of your life for the new year?

What are you bringing in?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Year's Resolution and January Gill O'Neil's new book: UNDERLIFE


I plan on keeping better track of the books I read in 2010.

I was reading January's blog and realized I hadn't mentioned Maya Ganesan's book Apology to an Apple, which came out last year. There were others. I'm going to try to be better with that. And especially with poetry books. I have a new notebook I will keep with me and on my desk called Favorite Books.

And speaking of favorite books (and favorite poetry books), the most lovely poetry book arrived in my mailbox. January O'Neil's Underlife (New Voices)

and wow, what a great book! First, the book is absolutely gorgeous to hold. It's an incredible quality and has French flaps* which I love in books! But even better, the poems inside! While there were some I recognized (one even appeared in Crab Creek Review), many of these poems were new to me and how I love them.

Self-Portrait, a short poem with a great last line is one of my favorites, but I also love "The Kerning," which is in Crab Creek Review. But there are so many others-- Permanent, She's Closest to Breaking, Take Care (which has the title to the collection in it...) and oh so many others...

I definitely recommend picking this book up for your 2010 reads. It's beautiful in so many ways.






*What are French flaps?

French flaps are simply extensions of the paperback cover that fold inside the book. Not only are paperback books featuring French flaps sturdier and more attractive, but they are also useful because the flaps can be tucked back into the book to mark the reader's place.

sunday word associations

  1. Classified ::
  2. ads
  3. Praised ::
  4. the Lord
  5. Censored ::
  6. books
  7. 2010 ::
  8. Year
  9. Lamp ::
  10. Genie
  11. Alternate ::
  12. music
  13. Script ::
  14. handwriting
  15. Handsome ::
  16. man
  17. Eager ::
  18. Beaver
  19. Meeting ::
  20. the parents


from Unconscious Mutterings

Saturday, December 26, 2009

hope you got what you want...




It's the day after Christmas... if you have kids, your house may be trashed (like mine). Or maybe you're a better housekeeper than I am. I must say, the domestic arts and I run in different groups. One day I will learn to cook and clean. But there are so many books to read. How to do both?

Santa brought me what I wanted for Christmas (and things I didn't even know I wanted). Books and books. One I can't wait to read is Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts and Affections edited by Arielle Greenburg and Rachel Zucker.

I also received The Best American Poetry 2009: Series Editor David Lehman
edited by David Wagoner (and has a poem from Martha Silano in it!), a book on organizing for the year (I know, so Capricorn to ask for this) and a book about how to do Mail Art, as I am one of the people in the world who still loves to write handwritten letters. I just wanted to add a little flair to them.

Also, a bag of Starbucks Christmas blend and an embosser for my books that reads (when pressed hard enough): "From the Library of Kelli Russell Agodon" and has a big KRA in the center. I love this. I cannot tell you how long I've wanted an embosser to mark my books. I'm kind of territorial about my books. They are my paper security blanket. I don't feel right if I leave the house without a book. I can admit this to you because I know there are a few people who read this blog that feel the same way.

My daughter's favorite gift (besides the electric guitar Santa brought her) were the Warrior books (specifically http://www.amazon.com/Warriors-Power-Three-Box-Volumes/dp/0061782297/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261841902&sr=1-6) she received. She loves these books. She started reading them when she was 8 and has been hooked since. I think it's pretty wonderful how kids are hooked on so many great series books. Warriors,, Harry Potter, Magic Tree House, even Twilight. Right now at her school, reading is the thing to be doing. I cannot tell you how it warms my heart to see her or one of her friends take out a book and start reading.

It's one of the reasons I get so annoyed when I read something like the poor next generation and their texting, their internet, their cellphones, etc. Her elementary school is beyond better than the suburban school I went to in the 70's. If anything, my generation was the TV generation, not this group. No one went to a bookstore at midnight to get any book being released in the 70's. I loved Judy Blume and Nancy Drew books, but I wasn't standing in line to get the next one (though Super Fudge came close...) I think adults are way too tough on this generation, maybe they realize just how much they know and how much smarter they will be than us...

But back to the holiday. It was wonderful being with my family on Christmas (all in a great mood), having our traditional Italian Christmas dinner (though we are French), wearing our paper hats (though only 1/2 of us are part English/Irish), and wishing each other a Happy Solstice (though we are Catholic).

I feel very thankful for the people in my life and who thought of me this year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from our Santa Poet




Because It's Christmas Eve

and past poets sometimes resemble Santa
without the red hat and suit.
Because it's Christmas eve and I write
poetry and try to work the holidays
into verse. Because Walt and his white beard is equal
or greater than snow, than Santa, than the Christmas cookies
I will wear into the new year on my hips. Because Christmas
and poetry can mix, can be the holly on your desk, the holy
in your manger, the candle burning
in the window saying someone is home
and quiet and writing.


Merry Christmas, Poets!

May your Christmas be poetic, creative, and full of all that brings you inspiration.

with love,
Kells

Merry Christmas Eve




In the mix of Christmas shopping, green iced sugar cookies, and holiday specials it's easy to forget there are a group of people who won't be coming home this Christmas because they are overseas. And even though the news reports on Tiger and his long list of lovers, there is still a war going on and many men and women who will not spend the holidays with their families.

So today, my thoughts are with these soldiers with wishes of safe arrivals home (and soon). And of course, what I've wished for each Christmas, for the war to end and the even larger wish of peace.

Peace on earth and peace within each of us.

Merry Christmas to our troops both overseas and here at home. May you travel safely through this world.





Tuesday, December 22, 2009

free Association

Saw this Michael Wells' blog. Here's where you get your own list

Here's how my head works (remember I am a Capricorn):


  1. Interest :: account
  2. Chase :: Manhattan
  3. Itch :: Seven
  4. Soothe :: balm
  5. Lamp :: genie
  6. Tutor :: Mrs. Robinson
  7. Nicole :: French
  8. Sloth :: Tree
  9. Burn :: bright
  10. Bug :: aboo

Confession Tuesday


Dear Reader, it's that time to admit I'm on the naughty list. Are you? Though I've always felt that they naughty list always had the best drinks.

Where to begin? It's been a busy week. It's almost Christmas. To the confessional--

I confess it's hard to be creative when there are Christmas songs playing in the background. For me, Christmas songs kill poems. If I want to write, I need to turn off the Christmas music, otherwise poems will be filled with chestnuts, bows, and snowflakes. All which is fine, but at some point Santa and his reindeer try to make an appearance in the poem ruining everything.

I confess this is the hardest time to write for the above reason as well as my house looks as if elves have gone slam-dancing through it. It is beyond cluttered and messy. Plus, I over-decorated this year. I just started pulling things out of boxes and placing them on shelves. It is not Martha Stewart. It is Scary Spice.

I confess despite the above, I am writing. It is hard to write, but I am keeping with my good retreat habits (I confess I went this morning on Facebook after many days without it - though I confess I wasn't really missing anything.) I write first thing in the morning which is new for me, I used to write only at night. I am amazed how much you can get done and then know you've written for the day.

It's hard to write this time of year, but not impossible. I confess I have to work at it. I confess I have to turn down the Christmas songs and turn down my mind of things I need to do, but I do try to write. It keeps me sane. It keeps me off the naughty list.




Saturday, December 19, 2009

gratitude Journal


Yesterday was comedy of errors, but in the end, all worked out and I'm grateful for a lot of it.


1) Thank you kind person who found my iPhone in the Rite Aid parking lot and brought it into the store in belief that I would return. I did.

2) Thank you MobileMe, an extra feature I bought when I purchased it my Mac because I thought it would make it easier to move my info from one laptop to another. I had thought you were a big waste of money. Who knew that "Find your iPhone" GPS feature would become my best friend and I will renew to you next year just for that.

3) Thank you husband for pulling me out of the way of a car backing up in a parking lot. I was 4 inches away from a broken leg or who knows what. I'm sorry I made the angry face at you first because I didn't know what you were doing and I thought you were just yanking me because I was walking slow.

4) Thank you older gentleman stranger for holding the door open for me when I was rushing in and wishing me a Merry Christmas.

5) Thank you to every person I asked "Have you seen my iPhone?" for not telling me "You should take better care of your things."

6) Thank you family for being honest with me and making my new year's resolution that is, "Kelli will take better care of her things."

7) Thank you strangers for putting colorful lights on your homes. When we drove to a local production of the Nutcracker last night, it made our evening.

8) Thank you gray-bearded man at the market for wrapping two bottles of wine in newspaper and saying, "And after you get home, you'll have reading material if you can't sleep."

9) Thank you sweet artists who live your life quietly, volunteering to bring art to a larger world.

10) Thank you Marilyn for adding white lights of peace signs to your Christmas decorations. When I drive off the ferry on the way home, I always see them glowing.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Small Town Life

This is the gym teacher's car at my daughter's school today. It made
me happy. Love our old hippies. Love this granola town.

Not About Poetry - But Gratitude and the New Year

We are working on being grateful at our house. Gratitude for the gifts we receive both material and kind acts given to us.
It's not always easy.

It is not always easy to be thankful for the people you are closest too and for what they do. Sometimes it's easier to see their flaws and creases instead of paper angels we all are.

We have a tradition in our house (one I started and haven't regretted so far), in which we make each other's New Year's resolution. My husband and daughter choose mine. My daughter and I choose my husband's. And my husband and I choose my daughter's. It's always interesting to see what others think I should improve on vs. what I think I should improve on. Also, we only get to choose one as we don't want a laundry list of what's wrong with each of us.

They are still working on choosing my resolution.

My daughter's resolution is to take better care of her things. We still have to choose my husband's as well, but think it will be something about patience with girl energy.

If I were to write my own resolutions, the list would be long and incomplete.

But I will try to be more gentle with all of the world's paper angels and to try my best to be thankful for what I have and for the people who continue to do things for me or who are there for me in my life.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Where I am.

More Retreat

View of Mt. Rainier from Hedgebrook Farm


My door with my basket of foods for breakfast and lunch.

The farmhouse dinner table where we ate each night.
Llamas at the farm across the street (and you can see how close you are to Puget Sound here).
Carolyn & me on our last day

_____________

A few more photos of Hedgebrook.

Michael asked about working with Carolyn Forche. She is incredible and probably one of the most generous poets I have ever met. She is very kind and very lovely in so many ways.

Our group met in the morning. We called it our breakfast club where we touched base and then wrote until 3. At three, we met in the longhouse (I believe they called it) and read our poems and talked about them and new writing assignments before dinner. Dinner was at 5:30 every night. Afterwards, we usually read anything else and talked before going back to our cabin and either going to bed or writing more.

Here's one writing assignment you can do from wherever you are--

Begin in your present landscape (the natural world) with specific items (examples: twig, stone, robin, etc.) then go back into your past to something that changed you and write about both places, the here and the past/then. Weave both scenes together.

___

Retreats give you a lot of time to think about your life and how things are going for you. The best thing they can do for you is kick you out of routine (and bad habits).

I believe that writers need this time away (a week or more is always best, but you can do a 4 day retreat if you have less time, even a two day retreat but usually what happens is that just about the time you settle in, you have to go).

So far since returning to the real world, I have taken some good good habits with me and am quite happy about that. It's been a lot of work though to stay mindful of what's good for me. I always think of Jamie Lee Curtis in Freaky Friday when dropping her teenage daughter off to school she yells out the car door, "Make good choices!" It's such a mom/daughter moment, and yet, I think of her (she is a favorite famous person of mine, high up on my list, next to Meryl Streep) and that line: Make good choices. Because our lives are built on them.

~

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Cottage

Here was my home for a week. It was the only cottage with a full
picture window of the woods (the other cottages had 2 smaller
windows). It's name is Cedar.

I cannot believe how much I wrote here. This tells me that I make my
own limitations. This is also the background image on my phone to
remind me of what I am trying to create in the real world. When I
look at my cottage, my cabin in the woods I see a peacefulness I have
not achieved in the real world. This is what. I'm aiming for.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

confession Tuesday

Every night after dinner we'd gather our lunch and whatever food we'd like for breakfast and carry it back to our cottage in a basket. This was my adopted basket for the week.

Me in my cottage. I look kind of sad (or maybe that's my thoughtful look). I'm not sad though, just finking about fings, as my daughter used to say.

~~~


Dear Reader, I am back from my week in the forest. It was an incredible time at Hedgebrook, a writing retreat created from women on Whidbey Island. If you have not applied to go there (and you're a woman!) you should. I wrote more there in 7 days than I did all this fall.

There is a lot to share and I'm not even sure where to begin!

I guess we'll just go to the confessional and see what comes out...


I confess it's so much easier for me to write when there is solitude, the energy of other writers (even if not in my cottage), and time. That might seem obvious, but I think I forgot how much you can get done where there's nothing else to get done.

I confess I am trying to recreate the Hedgebrook experience at home by staying off the internet, email, and trying to follow the schedule I created there, which was write first.

I confess it's harder to do this in the real world, but I am trying. I have been on Facebook to post photos, but I have not read or watched any news and only very briefly did I look at others status posts.

I confess that I felt a little overwhelmed when I saw all the status posts. I have been with 6 other women for one week. They were the only ones around me with the exception of the chef and gardener. I had downsized my social circle and seeing it expanded so much seemed a little weird.

I confess I wrote a ton. I had an incredible time and the memories, beauty, spirit of the place will never leave me.

I confess I had a hard time entering back in to "real life." I confess I cried the whole way home on the ferry and was told I was "emotionally raw," and "perhaps, vulnerable" (which I thought would make a great title for a poem or book of poems). My husband also told me he had never heard me so emotional before. And I would agree with that. There is a long story about the tears and fears, but I was surprised at how I ended up pretty much losing the whole first part of the ride home.

A friend said going away in the woods for a week was probably a bit of a spiritual journey. And it was.

I'll write more about and post more photos if you like.

I confess the real world is much more messy than the Hedgebrook world. Much more!

* * *

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What I'm Reading: literary mama Reading For the Maternally Inclined

If you are a mom and a writer, you need to read this book! I love the
website, but haven't read the book until now (published by Seal Press).

It's wonderful. I finally feel I am hearing the experience of women
who are like me.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Our Lady of Guadalupe day

6 word new years resolutions

I saw this on the writer bug's blog, the task, like 6 word memoir,
write your resolutions in 6 words only.

Here are a few of mine--

Try to remember: attachment causes fatigue.

It's about the work, nothing else.

Be open, be giving, be kind.

Never throw rocks at whales- never! (that was my dad's resolution
every year). ;-)

Keep faith close, assume the best.

Realize my path is only mine.

Talking about problems doesn't fix them.

Trust myself, but not my fears.

Stay off the grid a bit.

More quiet time, bye bye news.

Be good to myself and others.

Find art in my life daily.

Become a little more Frida Kahlo.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gratitude Journal

Time to write

New poems

Women writers and good energy

Owls

Vegan granola

My warm boots

The woodstove

Carrying our baskets with tomorrow's lunch in them back to our cabins.

Our own breakfast club

Walking driftwood beach

No interruptions

Christmas music

My new MacBook (it's awesome. Why did I wait so long??)

Reading poems in front of a fire

No news no Tiger Woods no outside world and their buzzing sounds

The time to be here

My family for taking care of things while I'm away.

Chocolate chip cookies

Not feeling as if running in circles

Time time time to read and write and take long lavender baths

The rubber duck with devil horns, the mermaid.

The forest

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Self Portrait in Window

I've been here 3 days. I decided last night that for mss #3 I am
going to start fresh. New work. New poems.

It's a good place to be. Starting over. I'm happy about this.

This is my workspace here and my electric blanket over the chair.
We've had beautiful weather but cold. I prefer cold to wet so I'm not
complaining here

If I stand so slightly in certain parts of the cottage, I get 3 bars
on my phone. And this morning I did. So here is a quick check in.
I more thorough account of my experience here when I return. For now,
stay warm and write lots. It's my motto.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Confession Tuesday

Confession: sometimes in the most faraway and closest places you find
both inspiration and Internet.

Stealing a moment to let you know I am here and writing much.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday Thoughts

Well, I leave for my writing retreat tomorrow.
I will take photos to share.

My cottage is heated by a woodstove. I will wear slippers and many layers of clothes. My favorite writing clothes which are thermal long-sleeve shirts and either my ripped jeans, green cords, or yoga pants.

I have not yet packed a journal, but have packed 2 bottles of Talking Rain, Total cereal, and cucumber/melon bodywash.

I have also not packed any pens, but have packed chocolate and a box of thin mints.

I am doing all the things I need to do before I leave. Like add things to my Christmas Wish List (hence all the Amazon links lately.) My mum joked that all I wanted for Christmas was "two stupid books." So now I have about ten stupid books on my wish list. Honestly, if you want to make me happy for Christmas, buy me a book or some nice pens. I'm simple that way.

Or don't buy me anything, but donate to my two favorite organizations right now.

Kiva (where you actually don't donate, but give loans to people in different countries and they pay you back. I've had every loan paid back, btw.)

Or to West Sound Wildlife Shelter (You know when you find those injured wild animals or birds that no one will take, well, these incredible folks take them. We brought them an injured baby bird and they nursed it back to health and sent it back into the wild. They do that for SO many animals. They are really the one of the best organizations I have found this year! I think every community needs a place like this.)

By the way, make sure to check out West Sound Wildlife Shelter's websitee for an incredible dose of cuteness. They have many of the baby animals they have helped and well, these photos always make my day.

So these are my thoughts on a Sunday morning. Getting ready to leave, but my thoughts scattered.

I'll pack a journal right now so I don't forget. And a pen. And some inspiration as well.


*

Letter Writers of the World...


So, I love to write letters.

I always have. Near my writing space, I keep postcards and in my closets, notecard after notecard. I'm highly unorganized though. But dedicated. And in love with paper. (Sorry trees, but I love you in both forms.)

So I found this blog today: Good Mail Day

And this book: Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art

which I have just added to my Christmas Wish List.

It looks mouthwatering to me. Letters sent and received. Is it a luxury these days? I'm not sure, but I cannot wait to learn new ways to make my letters even better than the handstamped quickies I send out.

Another way to create. Another way to put a little beauty in the world and into someone else's life. I love it.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Suitcase of Books I'm Bringing on my Writing Retreat

Yes, my books need their own suitcase. I don't travel light very well.

Note the cute golden who will be staying home.

Todd Davis' New Book!

I just learned a favorite poet of mine, Todd Davis has a new book just out!

I haven't read it yet, but plan on getting it very soon. Just thought I'd share...


Favorite Things

I have a habit of saying when I want something that's kind of an extreme luxury (or absolutely ridiculous), I'll say, "When I'm Oprah-rich, I'll have a ______________." 9 out of 10 times it has do with laundry. "When I'm Oprah-rich I'll have a person and all he or she will do is fold the laundry and put it away." "When I'm Oprah-rich, I'll have a room, that room will only be for dressing. It will consist of 3 large walking closets and there will be someone there who makes sure there is never a full dirty hamper anywhere in the house."

You see, more than anything in my life, the laundry kicks my butt. But this isn't about laundry, it's about Oprah.

One of my favorite Oprah shows is Her Favorite Things show, so this post, perfectly placed almost 3 weeks before Christmas, will be a list of my favorite things.

Many of the books listed below I read this year, a few are from years back, but they continue to be books (usually poetry books) I still return to. If you go to page 2, I have a few favorite DVDs.


Friday, December 04, 2009

Buy Poetry Books for Christmas and Hostess Gifts

This is just one small percentage of the poetry books I own and could
never see myself getting rid of.

This holiday give the gift of poetry, your favorite book, to someone
who might not read poetry.

And if possible, buy directly from the press as they get to keep more
of the profits that way.

This holiday message has been brought to you by a not-quite starving
poet who wants to share the wealth of reading poetry with others.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

don't lick the mushrooms...


They have a name: Amanita muscaria (aka "Storybook mushrooms")


and apparently "primarily famed for its hallucinogenic properties with its main psychoactive constituent being the compound muscimol."

The full article on Wikipedia


Writing Exercise: Use this magical mushroom in a poem.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

confession Tuesday, I Mean Wednesday

Dear Reader,

I confess I am late. How quickly a year/month/week/day goes by. To make up for it, I posted the photo of the storybook mushrooms I found today with friends. They honestly looked fake on the lawn of the antique shop, or what is the chocolate shop, I don't remember.

But since I'm late, I shouldn't keep you waiting any longer...

to the confessional--

I confess I won't be here next week as I'll be off to a magical place to write. I do not know if they have storybook mushrooms, but I will be looking for them.

I confess I have not been writing much this fall. Wait, I've confessed this before. I used to be someone who believed a writer must write every day, now I don't believe that, except that I do. I do believe it's important to write every day and I've been disappointed with myself for not. But I know that no one can stand behind me and hold up my pen but me. So, this is just a bad habit I've encountered recently/since May, I am the one who is accountable for how I spend my time.

I confess that since I've known I'll be having this upcoming writing week, I've allowed myself to neglect my writing because I know I have this time set aside for me. That kind of annoys me about myself, but I also know that sometimes when I don't allow myself to write, I write even more. We'll see what happens once I get there.

I confess I'll tell you more when I return.

I confess that today was such a beautiful sunny day that a friend and I went mountain biking! It was so cold -about 40 degrees, but so much fun. I should have worn gloves though. In trying to pull my sleeves over my fingers, I twisted my handlebars and crashed. Did I mention it was muddy? Oh yeah.

My bike is fine and clean though. And so am I now.

We were going to go again tomorrow, but I think I'll suggest a hike. My lungs are not at full capacity and they kind ache after today's ride. Does it sound as if I'm neglecting my writing? I kind of am. But I'm kind of not.

I confess there are many different ways to be a writer, but I like my writing life better when I am writing every day. That will be my New Year's Resolution.

I confess I sound a little wishy-washy in this post. Maybe that's the mud running off my bike as I cleaned it. Maybe it's the mud I washed off my hands, arms, side, leg and shoes. Maybe I'm more washy than wishy.

I confess I must leave to do the chores I neglected all day. Writing is not a chore, so it will not be done tonight. Laundry will. Lots and lots of laundry. Washy-washy. I guess I was made for this.

Amen.

Storybook Mushrooms

I took this photo today. My friend calls them storybook mushrooms
because they seriously look like they are from a storybook. (If you
know their real name, I'd love to know.)

I'll be writing my confession next, but just wanted to share these.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

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