a visitation

I was holding his hand but talking only to her. Somewhere deep inside I knew who he was and that he wouldn’t speak, but his grip was strong. I tried to look at him but I couldn’t focus on the figure before me.

Then I remembered and began to weep, my own silent sob waking me. The tears, hot and fresh, were real but his hand was imagined, though my palm still felt a warm impression, as if he’d really been there.

I closed my eyes, laid my head on my damp pillow, and tried to fall to back to sleep.

It’s not the first time he’s visited in my dreams, nor I expect, will it be the last. It’s a rare appearance but if these are the only moments I can still spend with him, I’ll have to take it them as they are.

I love you too Pop, come see me anytime.


a different kind of year end post

So. I just can’t bring myselfย  to do one of those year end wrap up posts linking you to all of the so-called interesting things I wrote this past year. Yeah right.

First of all, I’m almost a full week late now. I’ve been planning to write this for two weeks but I have like 3,000 work deadlines this month and we all know this blog is the first thing to suffer the consequences of me having to earn actual money. (The second is housework. Or is it the other way around? Seeing as I’m sitting here writing in a very dirty little house. Ahem.)

Honestly though, nothing in my 2011 archives was all that entertaining and well, I just didn’t write nearly often enough to bother. Bad, bad, blogger I am. Lucky for me I’d rather read blog posts than write them! There are gazillions of good bloggers out there writing fabulous stuff every day. Lucky for you I’m going to tell you about a few of my favorites. ๐Ÿ™‚

These are women who write about anything and everything; work, relationships, kids, funny stories, heartache, whatever the topic, if they’re writing about it, I want to read it. Some of them you’ve surely heard of and others you might not have. Popularity doesn’t matter to me, good writing does. These are the blogs that when I spy a new post in my Google reader, I skip over everyone else to read them first!

I’m kind of a terrible commenter, so this is my way of saying thank you to them for being awesome. In random order here are some of my favorite bloggers of 2011:

So seriously, if there is ANYONE on this list you’ve never read before, GO RIGHT NOW!!

BUT WAIT! Before you go, tell me your favorite blogs? I’d love to find some new good reads. ๐Ÿ™‚


the swing

The wide wooden seat, it’s smooth board worn from use, called to me with its welcoming song of solitude. The thick old ropes reached high and wound around the sturdy branch above. The small patch of earth beneath, grooved from years and countless shoes dragged across it, was often muddy, and no grass could grow there.

It was my spot, though shared with a sister, I remember it being a retreat, where I could play and dream undisturbed.

In the spring you could look up through the dark branches and reach for the endless blue sky. Your toes would touch the clouds as you swooped higher and higher. Your nose filled with the scent of new white blossoms.

When summer came, a canopy of green would shade you from the heat of mid-day and create a theater for your songs.

Autumn would bring bright red fruit to snack on while you read your books. Winter would bury it in snow, the tree and the swing together in waiting.

Oh, the daily dramas it housed and bore witness to! It’s role was the mast of pirate ship, a surfboard on crashing waves, a tall mountain’s peak, or the tower above a medieval castle. It could carry the weight of two when asked, spider-like, or standing. But it was really meant for one, to carry one high, and, jump! That momentary feel of flying.

Both tree and swing are long gone now, a stump still there to remind of their place in the world. Blossoms still on nearby trees, where apples fall in autumn. Good climbing they are, low branches giving joy to other kids. None quite right for a summer swing, though, none could ever be as perfect.

In my mind’s eye I can picture it, still there, swaying in the breeze, beckoning me with a lullaby of childhood.

just give me something to blog about

(Disclaimer; If you aren’t blogger, most of this won’t make any sense to you. So don’t even bother!)

Somehow it’s been two weeks since I last blogged. As so kindly pointed out not only by the lovely folks behind the BlogHer ads, and by a real life friend who I didn’t even know was reading here but apparently is tired of looking at my last soup post. ~ahem~ So this one is for you Jen, such as it is. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, two weeks. There was a time, for a long time, when I couldn’t go two days without writing, much less two weeks. Heck, there were days when I posted twice! I know! What happened that I no longer feel like posting the exciting events minutiae of my day, every day??

Those were the days when I obsessively checked my stats, hoping for more than a handful of hits. I lived and died by how many comments I got in a day. I pimped my posts on twitter and commented like crazy on every blog in my expansive feed reader.

I got my own domain, and a unique design. I thought hard about branding, and niches. I got ads!! (A year and a half and $45 later…) I even started a second blog! Because one was not enough?!!

I envied those going to all the conferences and meeting each other in person. So I went to a conference, and I hugged people I never thought I would meet. I made real-life completely awesome friends. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,* and I loved every minute of it.

But my life got busier in so many ways, and twitter got boring and celebri-fied. I stopped checking Feedburner, and forgot my password to Google Analytics. I stopped using Stumble or Digg, forgot about Technorati, and I haven’t looked at my Page Rank in forever. Heck, I even forgot how to check my Page Rank. And Alexa, wha?

It’s the typical evolution of a blogger. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. (And don’t we all just love these posts?) I know I have, but I never thought it would happen to me! D’oh. and? Duh.

My kid is growing up, and doesn’t really want me telling stories about him here. Posting family pictures in public is getting awkward. One can only blog about a cat so often. (Unless I become the Crazy Cat Lady, and frankly there are too many doing it better.) Weight loss? Heh. Only if it was happening! I have no idea what to blog about. Or even if I want to bother figuring it out. Meh.

And yet, I’m not thinking about shutting it down. I haven’t lost the will to write, just the impetus; that driving force that can turn the smallest moment of the day into a great post. I’d like to be able to do that again.

* Yes, once-in-a-lifetime. I’m not going to BlogHer ’10. As much as I would love to go, I just can’t justify the expense. Sorry peeps. ๐Ÿ™

other people’s gardens

It’s a beautiful day today, the sun is shining and a light breeze is blowing. When we went down the road wait for the bus it was about 50 degrees. A perfect day for a long walk. As soon as I got Josh off to school I headed up the hill.

I took a slightly new route this time and I walked for just over an hour. My pedometer tells me I went 1.4 miles but Google maps says the route is 2.8 miles. Hmmm. I think I’ll believe Google this time thanks! I’m assuming since I was walking fast I was taking longer strides than what I set my pedometer for!

When I walk through neighborhoods I catch myself being a bit of a peeping tom. A typical nosy neighbor who can’t keep her eyes to herself. But it’s not people I’m looking at. (In fact the fewer people I see while I walk the happier I am.) It’s their plants, their trees, their landscape design that I’m checking out. Or lack thereof.

While I truck along I take it all in. Perfectly set rock gardens with phlox and alysum, mulched beds overflowing with gerberas and tulips, and shady spots filled with bleeding hearts and hostas. I love the big flowering trees, huge lilacs, and sweet weeping cherries. I wish I had space for all of them.

I have a soft spot for cute little japanese maples with delicate spidery red leaves. I had one at my old house and I loved it. I want one here but I haven’t figured out the perfect spot yet, and they’re expensive.

I glance a bit jealously at sunny yards, mine is so much shade. I envy the ease in which they can choose plants, everything is harder to grow on my lot and I have to carefully research what will survive here. But then I remember August and how my lawn will stay cool and green, if a bit mossy, while theirs will dry up in the heat. Maybe those people walk by my home and envy my towering pines and maples, even though they make my soil turn acid.

I keep going and I wonder at the houses with the neglected plants, weeds choking out the flowers, and overgrown bushes and dead limbs crowding my sight. Do the owners forget about it all out of hardship or just apathy? As I walk on by my brain can’t help but plan out their space. A rhododendron would be perfect here, a little trimming of the forsythia there, some grass seed to fill out the lawn.

Eventually I make it back to my own driveway. My critial eye takes in the stretch of land I work so hard on. I judge it harshly, but I remember how much worse looked when we first saw it a few years ago. I look at my thriving stonecrop and lilies and bee balm and I know I did that. I love the new butterfly bush and azaleas that I bought on mother’s day.

Other people’s gardens fascinate me, but I love my own little bit of earth.

daydreams and naps

For those of you who have asked, I fully enjoyed my three days of freedom. Though I didn’t get a single nap. I long for a nap.

The boy came home yesterday afternoon, and somehow he seems older, or taller, or something different that I can’t put my finger on. This happens every time he goes away. And yet when he got out of their car to greet me, he had just awoken from a nap, and was still sleepy. He leaned on me a bit for steadiness, started to walk to my car, then came back and leaned on me again. ~sigh~ He turns six next month, and in moments like this I can still see the baby he once was. Sleepy eyes and warm hugs do that to a child.

I remember when I was the child, waking from a snooze after a long drive in the car. Those were the best kind of naps; riding in the back seat, my temple resting against the cool window, listening to the sounds of my parents talking. Not really listening to the words, but to the melody of the voices. That and the music from the speaker at my ear just low enough to lull me.

Riding in the backseat means no cares in the world. No attention needs to be paid to road or machinery. Not even an obligation to stay awake for the driver’s sake. Just the free opportunity to let your mind wander, to let your imagination float before you, and let your daydream become a full out dream.

Sometimes I would sleep so hard in the car I would have trouble waking. I would get that strange tingling in my brain when you’re aware you’re sleeping and you know you need to wake but you just don’t want it to end. I would finally stir and feel the crick in my neck and cotton in my mouth. Those discomforts were no matter to a child, still lingering over the last remnants of reverie. Grasping at dreams of flying in the clouds, of playing in the snow, of what life is yet to come.

Now I wonder what he dreams of when he naps in the car, or gazes out his window in daydream.

I want to ride in the backseat with him, and doze right alongside. But I’m the mom, the driver, and I can only glance in my rearview mirror and hope his dreams are as good as mine were, back when I could still fly through the clouds.

you make me blush

Y’all gave me some of the nicest compliments evah! I got some of the sweetest comments and emails I’ve ever had here yesterday. I don’t know why that embarrasses me, but it does.

Here’s the thing, a couple of you called me a writer. I’ll take that as a huge compliment because I definitely don’t view myself as a Writer with a capital W. I know I can put a few coherent thoughts together, I know the rules of the English language, (whether I follow them or not!) and sometimes I get a creative thought. However. I’ve never aspired to write for a living. Somehow, to me, a writer is someone who makes money with their work, or at least has the will and potential to do so. Am I wrong about that?

Just by virtue of blogging, does that make me a writer? I don’t think so. There are many real writers who use blogging for practice, to hone their skills, and really it’s a perfect platform for it. Feedback is essential to a writer, and what better way to get instant feedback than a comments section? But that doesn’t mean every blogger is a great writer.

Most of the really good writers I know can’t not write. It’s part of them, part of their soul, and from what I can tell, they feel something akin to withdrawal symptoms when they don’t do it. I, on the other hand, could go for weeks or months without writing anything, and it wouldn’t bother me a bit.

Writing a little fiction is something I’ve dabbled at in the past, but have never been serious about. I discovered something about myself as I’ve done it more often this year; I’m really a better editor than a writer. Just like with photos. And I’m okay with that. I know one of my talents is having an eye for a great image, though not usually through my own lens. On paper, my talent is seeing how the words can be rearranged to make them sing. But when I try to edit my own writing, a haze shadows the page, and I can’t see it for what it really is. I’m okay with that too.

Anyway, this makes me wonder, how do you define a writer? Is it anyone who writes anything, or must you have a true passion for it? Does a writer need to be making money from it, or just be good at it? Do you have to have pure talent, or just perserverance to make it great? Or all of the above?

this bytes

I’m hope you’ll all forgive the following whine – I just need to get it out!

I’m a little disappointed in myself over what’s going on at ChapterBytes. If you didn’t notice, I put the site on hiatus awhile ago. It was fun while, well, while it was fun. But it hasn’t been fun lately, for me anyway. It’s nothing about what’s been written, I love the writers and I love the story. But when I started the whole thing I didn’t think too much about the administration of it all. And the finding of new authors, and the promoting, and the stats, and all the stuff that doesn’t make it fun anymore. And I don’t know what to do about it.

I’ve had some grand plans for it. I bought a domain name, with ideas of self-hosting, and having multiple streams of storylines, and all sorts of cool stuff. Then suddenly those things overwhelmed me. At the same time I struggled with finding new authors to keep the current story going. I felt like I was constantly selling it, always asking for more writers. I almost dreaded a new chapter arriving in my inbox because that meant I had to get the next writer going and I never knew what their enthusiasm level would be. At the same time the logistics were killing my own enthusiasm.

So now I’m left with decisions. Do I let the current site just die where it is? Do I move everything over to the new domain and try again? Do I start fresh with a new “book” at the new site? Do I use the new domain for just my own writing?

Should change the whole concept into a writing carnival with links? I could set a topic or a first sentence or some other prompt each week and let people who want to participate write on their own sites instead?

The thing is – I put up that hiatus post a week ago and I’ve not had one single comment and only one private email. Does this mean hardly anyone really cares? That I can do whatever I want and it doesn’t matter? If it does matter to someone then I’ll feel bad if I screw it up, but if it doesn’t matter to anyone then I’m free – but disappointed. Clearly I’m conflicted.

I’ve also found it really odd that I’ve had two completely different readerships between these two sites. Only rarely has a regular of one crossed over to the other and stuck around. Well, readership is a strange thing in itself anyway, fickle, unpredictable, and apparently inversely proportional to number of comments. I suppose that’s a whole separate post of it’s own though.

I’m digressing. What I’m really doing is asking opinions here – what would you do if chapterbytes was yours? Not that I necessarily do what y’all tell me to, I’m just curious what you would do.

bad guy byte!

We get to hear the inner workings of our bad guy’s brain over at ChapterBytes this time! AndreAnna has written Chapter 13 from Jack’s perspective as the conspiracy plot grows – go tell her what you think!!

Also, don’t forget I’ve started a ChapterBytes NING group for discussions. It’s not just for authors so come join us and you can give us your opinion too! I’d love to have your thoughts about our upcoming SciFi/Fantasy book and any other genres you’d like to see represented! It’s a perfect place to ask questions, and it’s also where I’ll be making announcements. If you already have a Ning ID you can use that, if not, it’s very easy to sign up. You can also follow ChapterBytes on Twitter.

my own byte

Mercy. I finally finished my ChapterBytes chapter. Just posted Chapter 12. This is the first one from a different point of view. Go tell me if you like it, pretty please?

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