Monday, December 31, 2007

happy new year

Over at Murderati, a sort of New Year's mantra formed yesterday, one I like so much I've adopted it as my own for 2008.

Write More. Write Better. Write Faster. From The Heart.

I also aim to Ride With Schwung.

And to Treasure My Family.

In an odd moment of whimsy I said to my husband I intend to Have More Parties.

Imagine what a year it will be.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

it pours

And thunders. And lightnings.

We have rivers running through the front field.

And guess what? I'm the mom of a teenager!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

when it rains

We've suddenly got rainfall, days of it, at year's end, as though the earth and sky are playing catch up. I'd forgotten how mucky the paddocks get when we have days of rain and four horses weighing in at 650 lbs. up to 1200 lbs. marching through many times a day.

Yesterday they had blankets on but today they'll come off and our break from grooming mud-slicked hides will be over. They seem to take perverse pleasure in rolling just after being groomed.

Today we'll get enough of a rain break for a couple of riding lessons.

Inside, it's raining pages of novels. I have three word docs open right now and have added to them all this week, randomly, as the words came out.

Cranky cats are ambushing one another, bored but not wanting to go out in the wet. One black cat sits snoring by my left ear while another sits at the sliding glass door gazing, pensive. The corgis love the rain and often stay out in it, but this morning Kyra has spent her time herding people out of bed and cats around the living room. Intervening in the cranky cat play when it gets too ferocious.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

christmas day pause

We've spent the day together but now everyone has wandered off to their own pursuits. Daughter to her art studio where she is enjoying new oil paints, blank canvases, empty sketchpads, and charcoal pencils. Her first sketch was of Keil Bay, and she captured his eye and his whiskers with perfection.

Son is in his room listening to a new soundtrack he bought with an iTunes card from his stocking. It became apparent this year that he spent most of his gift budget on me: a pair of moonstones in a filmy bag, a tiny flask, and a skeleton key, all of which will find their way onto my little writing shrine in my garret. His blank canvas is money in his account, which he's saving for something special.

Husband is on a reconnaisance mission in town.

Horses are making peace with the little electric car across the road while they munch their hay in the front field. They've all galloped up the hill a number of times, more frolic than fear, heads high and ears pricked forward.

Cats are curled in various spots in the living room, worn out from new toy play and too much catnip.

Corgyn are outside sleeping flat out; after turkey necks, iced dog biscuits from the doggie bakery, and a few regular biscuits, what more is there to do but dream of running wild with a pack of their own kind, across a misty moor in Wales?

Merry Christmas! Don't forget to stop for a moment and let it all sink in.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

solstice gifts

This year, it was ravens in the barn and a baby raccoon in the paddock. For whatever reason, I found myself writing about both those things in my nonfiction book rather than here. Which in the big picture is a Good Thing, but I couldn't leave camera-obscura sitting abandoned, so here's a photo of the solstice baby. The perfect balance of light and dark in its coloring.

And what's up with sitemeter? I'm taking this as a humorous holiday gift - at the top of the page was an ad for an iWife, while on the side an ad for Ambien was scrolling. Hilarious.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

map and light

This afternoon I was on my way out the door when I noticed the light and shadow making its own path along the map on the wall.

There was something about the thought of light, shadow, and a map showing the way that gave me pause. It seemed to be a message.

Among other things, I love the idea that the light lies across the mountains.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Today I had the windows open, went barefoot, did some spot cleaning of horses with shampoo and water, sweated for no good reason, and watched my daughter sponge her sweat-soaked pony after his work-out.

I also had a few biting flies go after my ankles, and swatted one mosquito off my arm.


It was funny to have a warm breeze blowing through the house, making the Christmas tree ornaments swing.

The horses didn't seem to mind.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

friesians in motion

Yesterday we went to see a horse and carriage Christmas parade, which was wonderful. Unfortunately, my camera battery was near death and so I have no photographs.

There was one very long carriage that held more people than you would think possible, pulled by two huge and gorgeous Friesians. Oh my gosh - they were slick and shiny with sweat, all dressed up in huge harness bells and fancy holiday harness.

Their hooves were big and feathered, their tails short and curly. The sound of their floating, powerful, synchronized trot was both calming and mysterious. The clop-clop and the rhythmic low jangle of the bells was mesmerizing.

I came home full of inspiration and wanting to drive those black beauties down a long, isolated carriage path on a cold winter morning.

Friday, November 30, 2007

seeking light(ness)

This week has been full of changes regarding horse management and riding methods. On Monday a new barefoot trim practitioner came to do a consult on all four horses' feet. At the end of a nearly 3-hour no-charge consultation, I had four horses in the front field encircling him, completely absorbed in his presence.

As a result of his visit, I'm feeling good about a number of things I already have in place that lead to good hoof health. I'll be cutting back on processed feed - slow but steady until we cut it out entirely. Keil Bay is getting hoof boots to wear on his front feet while under saddle so that he can get the comfort he needs to land heel first. I have a new remedy for thrush/yeast. And finally, I'll be learning to trim their hooves myself!

It was cool and misty and foggy on Monday morning but it felt like we'd found the light in an area of horse management that's been very murky for me.

I've also been working on the issue of lightness with the driving aids. We've struggled with the instruction to "smack him harder" - him being the pony. It's gotten to the point I feel like screaming when I hear that phrase. We're ditching the whips to work with Marlis Amato on what she calls effortless cooperation. A touch of the leg to the horse's side is all it takes. The first session is scheduled for, appropriately, the afternoon of winter solstice.

All this is coming to pass this week as I ready to begin work on the YA "magical pony" novel I've been simmering for several years. I'm seeking light in that area as well. A title for this story whose action begins on the eve of winter solstice.

In a way, I'll be writing toward the light that winter solstice brings.

Here's to a light-filled December.

Monday, November 26, 2007

nearly full november moon

A few nights ago, my daughter and I were out doing barn chores when I noticed this gorgeous moon had risen over the back field. Suddenly everything became quite magical and I realized that exact feeling is what I want to capture in my YA novel that thus far has one chapter written over a year ago.

Starting December 1st, I'm planning to get busy and get a first draft done. I hadn't planned this until late one night near the end of October when some writers were posting about doing NanoWriMo. I got excited and jumped on the bandwagon. As is typical for me, I took the whole thing a step further and decided to do not only a November writing project but a December one too.

It never occurred to me until several weeks later that the YA novel begins on the winter solstice, so doing it in December will be perfect.

This photo is a reminder to me of the mood of that evening. I'm looking forward to some writing in the barn.

Friday, November 23, 2007

back to work

I've taken a bit of a break on my November writing project, giving that energy to mystic-lit the past week. Now that the new blog is rolling somewhat independently, I've returned to the nonfiction book.

This morning I typed into 22k, which means I'm continuing to inch along. What I have is fairly complete, but more like the skeleton and muscle. Now I'm fleshing it out.

I'm planning to continue until the last day of November. December 1st, I'll begin the YA novel in earnest. More about that then.

If you're working on a writing project this month, feel free to share your progress, your stuck places, whatever.

And, if you visit here and consider yourself a writer, think about submitting something to me for a guest blog slot over at mystic-lit.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

thanks giving

I'm reprising the Wendell Berry poem I've shared here before:

The Wild Geese

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end. In time's maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I'm blogging today at mystic-lit, so after you're done here, come on over there and say hello too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

two little bits of magic

Over the weekend I was out at the barn and found this tiny nest. The winds from the day before must have blown it down. I was immediately charmed by its size, but when I looked more closely I realized it has tail hairs from each of our horses woven into it.

Keil Bay's black with burnished brown, Salina's true black, Cody's chestnut, and Apache Moon's white. What treasure for our nature shelf.

Today I was raking leaves in the fog while the horses ate hay nearby. Our fields have trees and this time of year I try to keep up with the falling leaves as best I can so the winter grass will grow in.

Raking leaves is tiring work. It seems to particularly stress my right shoulder, so I alternate. I still manage to end up with a blister and an ache.

Even so, something about raking leaves has always appealed, and I figured out why today.

It's like when you clean up after a wonderful party. The left-behind glasses and plates remind you of who ate what and which conversation from the night before took place around that end of the table.

Raking leaves is like cleaning up after the the trees' fall fling. If you do it early, as the leaves fall, it's like raking color into piles. Painting with leaves.

And one's progress is so easily seen, the earth seems bare without its leaves, but today the bits of green meant forage for horses and also that it's rained.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

dragons as princesses

How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

-Rainer Marie Rilke


I'm taking a wonderful workshop this fall that has to do with using fairy tales in psychotherapy and sandplay therapy. Yesterday we discussed the fairy tales we each selected at the beginning of the workshop - the one fairy tale that resonated with us at this point in our lives, or at any point.

My immediate thought was The Princess and the Pea. I discovered yesterday that my memory of the tale was very different than the actual tale. I had forgotten that the Prince was looking for a "real" princess, and that his mother, the Queen, had instituted the peas (not one, but three) beneath the stack of 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds as a test to find the true princess - the one sensitive enough to feel the peas.

I had forgotten that the real Princess shows up at the palace gate in the midst of a terrible thunderstorm, and that she is put to bed on top of the stack of mattresses and peas. When she awakens black and blue she is announced to be a Real Princess and marries the Prince.

Part of my work at hand is to discover the meaning of this fairy tale to me personally. Why did I immediately think of it when asked about a fairy tale?

I'm looking at the characters in the tale as aspects of my self. The Prince is the masculine energy and the princess feminine. The Queen mother is a sort of taskmaster and manipulator who devises tests and determines results.

I'm still working on it. I suspect the key has to do with the quest for something Real and the extreme sensitivity - how to transform that into power without turning black and blue in the process. The marriage would be the union of masculine and feminine into wholeness.

What is YOUR favorite fairy tale? Or the one that comes to mind first when you read this?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Mystic-lit is a project I've been simmering for at least 6 months, and I'm really happy to announce that it's officially rolling as of this week, thanks in part to the energy and enthusiasm of a a very gifted writing colleague.

I'll be blogging on Wednesdays over there and I hope you'll take the time to come say hello. We've got a line-up of writers ready to talk craft and process and all things writerly.

Come join the conversation!

Monday, November 12, 2007


The colors this fall are stunning. My landscape photographer husband says drought makes for gorgeous fall color. Every time I drive the past week and a half, it takes a mammoth effort to keep my eyes on the road. They wander to the trees, like looking at a sweeping canvas, except no painting I've ever seen manages to capture the color of sunlight through autumn leaves.

Nevertheless, those of us who write and paint and photograph seem bent on trying.

This year there are two trees bordering the driveway that have made me happy every single day. My own private gallery showing. I've not managed to bring their vibrancy to this page, but the photo is in honor of all the trees.


On other fronts: I am hovering at the 19k mark with my writing project, and hoping to get back to a routine this week.

I spent yesterday at a Pony Club clinic with my daughter and her pony, and Saturday was spent getting ready. Yesterday we were up at 5 a.m. and got home in the dark. After a really long day riding and wrapping pony legs and learning about things like horse deworming strategies, she unloaded her pony and the next thing I knew, she was riding him bareback in the pink haze of our lighted arena.

There isn't enough time in the day for all the horsey things.

Today I have Salina and Keil Bay to ride. Cody has a young woman coming over to ride him (her horse is on stall rest), and my daughter has a lesson on her pony. I'm thinking about taking the laptop out to the barn and writing in between all the riding.

A final note for today: assessing vs obsessing worked. I have a highly-regarded barefoot hoof practitioner coming in two weeks to consult about all the horse feet here. If you're not a horse person, you probably don't know that farriers and trimmers, the good ones, are hard to come by and often not taking new clients. So I'm relieved and thrilled to be on his schedule.

And - it's raining! And the tarp is off the shavings pile, so I have to run.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

finding the flow

Monday my daily word count dropped to 800 words, which I was okay with, and yesterday was a total wash. Tuesdays are my busiest days and I got sidetracked after the farrier's visit. Keil Bay has mild thrush in his hind feet and this led to research and more research today. Apparently thrush is most common in horses with contracted heels, which can result from poor trimming or simply be the natural shape of the horse's foot. Either way, I need to assess this. The operative word here, for me, is ASSESS. AS opposed to OBSESS.

Writing-wise my goal for today is to find the flow again and get at least my daily quota. Generally what works is to re-read the entire piece and slide back into the rhythm of the writing.

Fortunately, today is much less structured and I have the time to do that.

UPDATE: I managed to get around 1k written yesterday and another 1k this morning (Thursday) and just topped 18k total - so I feel I'm back in business! I hope to go into the weekend with 20k. We'll see...

Monday, November 05, 2007


Funny - after my last post I woke up this morning to find the "word of the day" in my inbox was ... woolgathering.

Perfect! I'll be imagining myself collecting bits of brightly colored wool all day, and weaving them into something lovely tonight.

Just had to dash out the door to see what Keil Bay was hyena-shrieking about. Alas, he and the pony were having one of their frosty morning play sessions. Keil Bay goes down onto his knees in order to bite the pony's belly. They ended with a flying gallop up the hill and some quite lovely trot circles.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

time changing and other things

I'm feeling sad about the time change tonight. It will be dark when I GET to my office some days, and the horses will come in earlier now.

I'll adjust, but I expect to feel perpetually behind for a week or so, and I already feel like that enough of the time.

A good thing for the writing life, though, more hours in the evening, and I came upon this quote just now that seems appropriate:

"Stories are medicine ... they have such power; they do not require that we do, be, act anything -- we need only listen. The remedies for repair or reclamation of any lost psychic drive are contained in stories."

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.

I have an aspiration to sit by the woodstove on a series of cold winter nights and knit myself a poncho. This is complicated by the fact that I don't know how to knit. I'm not likely to tackle this complication in time for this season, but instead I'm going to think of myself knitting with words. A story that remedies.

Addendum: I was looking through some old writing this a.m., looking for a particular passage that I thought might fit into the work. Didn't find it, but did come upon this dream I had back in 2005:

a huge garden (writing) spider built a gigantic web over my bed - it was thick and wide, the shape of a book when lying open. woven into it was a cross (runic cross??) there was a beautiful hummingbird hovering behind the web, trying to get through, but the web was so thick ... and then it began to glow, gold and green.

My gosh - I have absolutely no memory of that. What a wonderful dream. This is why we should write them down - we forget, even the ones we don't think we will.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

first day - writing update

I tried to get a photo of the partners in zen today to kick off this month's new project writing frenzy, but the battery in my camera died and I haven't had a chance to recharge.

However, I did get my 2k words done and am quite pleased - I had writing group today and so had to prepare the section from my second novel to read there. I was worried I'd get crunched and start off behind with the new work.

Hope everyone else doing this had a great first day. Here's to the second one!

UPDATE: As of right now, Sat. evening, I am inching toward 11k total words. And very happy with how this is going!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween and Sense of Place

We have giant orange pumpkins on the front porch and smaller "ghost" pumpkins inside, painted by the kids in celebration of the season.

The horses got fall shots today and were perfectly behaved. They're now prancing around the front field, showing off in the cool weather.

While mucking this morning I was thinking about home and homesteads and how many of us are so mobile now we've lost some of the sense of being in a place for a long time and what that offers us.

My childhood was quite stable that way, although we moved to a different house when I was 11 and so my childhood years were in a different house and neighborhood than my adolescence. During college and graduate school I moved so many times it's hard to remember them all.

There was one rental house, though, that I rented for 3 and a half years in my later 20's and then again when I moved back from California. I came back to a house where I'd lived through some major angst and two painful relationships - but I returned with a professional degree and a career and a heck of a lot more insight into myself and life than I'd left with.

The dating I did then was smarter and the men more mature and emotionally healthy. As it turned out, I got married while living in that house, and we stayed there for several more years because it was such a great house. My son was born while we lived there and it strikes me today as somewhat remarkable that I went through my first major relationship angst, my first real therapy, marriage, AND my first pregnancy and childbirth in the same space.

This all has a point, I promise.

Earlier this week I was reading Toni Magee Causey's Murderati post on ghosts, and it made me think of a paper I wrote in high school about paranormal phenomena. Part of what I wrote about was the idea that houses, places, store up energy from the people who live in them.

If that's true, imagine how powerful it is if you have lived through major life phases in the same place. All that energy. all that knowledge and insight. I wonder if this explains what often happens when families go "home" for holidays and major intensity occurs. Sometimes it's negative.

But today I was thinking of it from a different angle and realized there's a lot of potential there if we choose to tap into it.

Embrace the ghosts. Celebrate the struggles. Create something good with all that energy.

Here's to a happy and insightful Halloween.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

writing in November

There's an annual writing challenge called NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month - where you write 50k words of a novel during the month of November. I'm not generally one to go for this kind of thing, but someone on Backspace wondered if we could do a smaller-scale version of this on there, and reading everyone's comments got me excited.


I've decided to keep doing my second novel edit much as I have been, allowing my writing group to keep me focused as I read sections and get their feedback.

And starting Thursday I will simultaneously take the November mad dash approach - with a goal of writing 1500-2000 words per day on a totally new project. A nonfiction book on women and horses that I've been simmering for several years now.

If anyone wants to join in, feel free to use the comment section to describe your work, your goal, and your progress as the month rolls on. As you can see, it doesn't have to be a novel. It could be a journal or a book of poetry or a recipe book.

I aim to hit 2008 with lots of rough draft material to edit, query, and sell.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Salina's Gift

Two weeks ago we hosted a natural horsemanship clinic here at our farm. Marlis Amato is a wonderful horse trainer I discovered when searching for someone to help us with trailer loading issues following a traumatic loading incident with our pony at a Pony Club clinic.

Marlis came out and in two extended sessions, helped us learn to load the pony with zero drama and without force of any kind. I recognized a teacher in Marlis, and felt she had her finger on the pulse of something I've been learning since we got our horses.

I was thrilled when she agreed to do a clinic here, and we prepared the barnyard and arena for guests. It was a gorgeous fall day and as each new person arrived, the excitement grew.

Three of our four horses actively participated in the clinic. Keil Bay kept a close eye on things and at times he stood in the paddock by the arena and seemed to be taking notes.

There was a lot to take note of - but the most potent and powerful message came from Salina, my 25-year old mare who has one eye and mild arthritis. I knew she was a special soul when I bought her, but her presence in the clinic was profound.

Salina was handled by a woman who had not ridden in three years and was struggling with some fear and confidence issues due to a knee injury. We all watched as Salina reflected the anxiety and frustration perfectly. She pulled and tugged, circled and side-stepped, but finally, as the handler was able to follow Marlis' suggestions to center herself and quiet her requests, Salina too calmed.

I have experienced this with Salina many times. She's like a living, breathing biofeedback machine. The louder and more agitated one gets, the more she mirrors back. She and I have had some power struggles, and the best lesson she's given me is that less is very often more. And that centering myself is the most powerful tool I have in changing what's going on around me.

During the clinic, everyone watched as Salina went from dervish to attuned. She responded to hand signals given ON HER BLIND SIDE. There was no way she could see the signals. They were silent and subtle and yet she intuited them perfectly.

Her handler made the decision to ride Salina during the afternoon portion of the clinic. The day ended with a woman who hadn't ridden in 3 years achieving a beautiful relaxed and swinging walk on a mare no one could believe was 25 years old. Salina's black coat was dappled in the golden sunlight and the women (we were all women that day) simply went silent in awe.

Marlis has since commented that Salina profoundly affected her that day, affirming everything she has learned and observed and teaches about communication with horses.

She wrote:

"Now I teach that all you need is intent and clear direction for the horse - no touch, but I can't tell you just how profoundly Salina pointed out for every horse that we tend to overdo everything. They are the masters of the subtle and the invisible - and for the most part we are the blind. Ultimately - since they can "feel" energy, we end up confusing them tremendously with all our fuss and that's what causes so many problems. We are the weaker of the species in use of our senses, so we often cannot communicate effectively because of our limitations."

It is very true that even with Salina's missing eye, she "sees" so much more than we humans do. She is teaching me how to use my own knowing energy. It is her primary gift to me.

The day wrapped up with our wonderful equine and human massage therapist, Harriet Ling, providing massages for anyone who wanted one. Mine was last, in the quiet barnyard that still held the magic of the day. When I got up, a small herd of deer had come up through the back field and into the arena. I think the energy drew them in. It was just that powerful.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

hiatus and fall line-up

Camera-obscura is on hiatus while I focus on writing and riding and enjoying the transition to fall.

I'd also like to post goings-on for the next few months:

October: I'm hosting a clinic on partnering with your horse, given by Marlis Amato, a natural horsemanship trainer who focuses on communication between horse and human. She uses no gimmicks and teaches her students how to do what she does - you see results immediately in what YOU can do with your horse.

November: I'm offering my annual writing workshop, Writing With Horses. This will be an all-day workshop where the horses assist in deepening a work-in-progress, unsticking a stuck place, and/or jump-starting new work. This does not involve mounted work - all activities with horses are on the ground and no experience is required. There will be plenty of writing time built into the day.

December and January: Writing in the Sand, a one-day workshop that incorporates Jungian-based sandplay with writing exercises. Excellent for developing characters, unraveling sticky places in plot, and getting new work started.

If you're interested in any of these offerings, send me questions and your email address via the comment feature. Comments with email addresses will be kept private.

Enjoy the season!

Saturday, August 25, 2007


I've decided to go on hiatus here at camera-obscura to focus on writing and riding and spending whatever extra time I have enjoying the transition from summer to fall.

Take care, and check back in later in the season!

QUICK UPDATE on Sept. 13th:

Good week, although hectic. Keil Bay and I had a fantastic lesson yesterday. He is moving like a dream and starting to get so responsive to my half-halts, which makes transitions from walk to trot to canter and back down again so much better. We are doing turns on the forehands and haunches now and FINALLY I'm making some progress getting my legs independent from one another with the leg aids. And working on hands and rein aids as the rest of my body is stable.

Writing group - read pgs. 85-100 today and everyone said HUGE leap forward after the editing. Lots of banter about the characters and the story and where it's going - excitement all around. I am thrilled.

It's supposed to rain a LOT here tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed that it does, as we desperately need it.

Onward with the skeet shooting items on my to do list.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


For some reason I'm ending the week in a state of exhaustion - there has been a lot going on and while most of it is good stuff, I'm drained.

My revision is going well, but it is not a quick process, and every change seems to involve deeper digging to get the exact right tone and voice. It's pushing me to "earn" every line, and I love it. For some odd reason when one ms is going well, ideas for other ones seem to increase exponentially. I have been making notes for other books in progress almost every day.

I've been busy with clients. This is a time when lots of referrals seem to come through. And former clients return for booster shots. It's an honor that also demands balance to do well.

I'm doing Adequan injections this month for the seniors (equine) and that involves, of course, needles. Another energy drain. But wonderful for the equines.

The pony is jumping 2'9 - big wow - not so much that he can do it, but that he's doing it so beautifully. This means he will likely do beginner novice events in the late spring. Lots of work to do toward that end.

The summer is feeling endless and a bit unbearable to me right now. We need rain badly. It feels like a good thunderstorm and an inch or more of rain would clear the air, quench the dry earth's thirst, and boost my spirits.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

look who we met today

His name is Rafer Johnson and he is coming to live with us in the new year, after he weans from his mom, Contessa.

It is just not possible to describe how cute and sweet he is. He's very good at conveying that himself!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


For those following the writing journey here, the above is a direct quote from my writing group today. I've been working very hard on revising my second novel and have specifically struggled with making the two voices distinct. Getting down to the bones worked - today's version won their hearty approval. Yay!

Then I came home and found an email from a new writer friend who recently swapped first 50 pages with me. Her take: "I think your writing is lyrical, haunting and multi-dimensional. Reminds me of Anna Quindlen."

Yay again!

It was a real treat to read her pages as well. The writing life is good right now!

In a few weeks I'll be heading to a 5-day writing sojourn where I'll have the first 100 or so pages in great shape and a goal of carrying that on through the book. And I'm reading again next week in group so will have that much more feedback to tuck in my duffel and take with me.

In the spirit of sharing the wealth, I invite you to comment on your own breakthroughs here. Let's make a big pile of them and celebrate. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

autumn aubade

Yesterday morning summer suddenly turned to fall. The blue of the sky was different, the angle of sun had shifted, and autumn's breeze blew through here like a song.

Today we hit 99 and tomorrow 101, then one more 99 degree day on Friday before the highs drop into the eighties for the weekend. This is how it starts. Hours of autumn and then days. And then somehow it is here.

In the meantime the butterflies are keeping me enchanted.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


It was a long week with the heat, but it broke on Friday and right now it's still in the seventies outside.

The heat and the fact that I had to miss my writing group this week have put me off course with editing. Wednesday evening I came home and worked hard, but not reading on Thursday was disappointing and I haven't yet gone back to the pages. Today's the day, because I've promised to swap my first 50 with another writer.

Yesterday morning I did the usual Saturday morning feed store/errand run, but then met a friend for coffee and we both lost track of time completely - what had been intended to be an hour or so of chat morphed into four hours! It was the angle of the sun that made me think finally to check the time.

It's rare I get the chance to do that these days, and it reminded me of Saturdays when I was twenty-something, and losing time with friends on the weekend was the way of things.

As soon as I got home my children and I took off for my parents' house, where we celebrated three birthdays: a forty -year old brother, a fifteen-year old nephew, and a four-year old nephew. There was steak on the grill, Blue Moons and Cokes, an impromptu pomegranate martini for me, and sips of coconut rum all around. And cake and ice cream, of course.

We got home just before eleven and it felt like I had spent the entire day in one long, continuous conversation.

It was nice.

Now I'm going to create my day by writing it here: a shower and some yogurt with granola, a walk to the barn to deliver a hello and treats, (I had the morning off barn chores, thanks to Matthew) a long and productive writing session, a late lunch, and a ride on Keil Bay when the sun drops. And I plan to end this day with a gin and tonic on the front porch, listening to the horses snorting in the front field.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

102.3 in the shade

The horses lined up when I got the hose going around 4. What a week.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

heavy heat

The temps have gone up again here and we're expecting high nineties all week with 101 on Wednesday.

Our weekend has been quiet, mostly getting outside chores done before the heat sets in, getting horses comfortable in the shadowy barn with their fans for the heat of the day, and offering cool showers with the hose around dinner time, when it seems to be the worst.

Yesterday I did my Saturday morning feed store run (two kinds of horse feed, black oil sunflower seeds, a new natural oil fly spray concentrate) and then stopped by the library. While looking for something they didn't have, I found Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres and decided to read it again.

Later in the afternoon, my daughter and I went out to lunch and then to the food co-op for Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap (great for cleaning bits) and eclairs (great for us). On to the drug store for a new stash of hair bands and stain remover for the chocolate I managed to get all over me from the eclairs.

In between, my husband got two loads of hay, 76 bales, which cleaned our wonderful hay grower out of his first cutting of square bales. The feed room is packed now and we're all hoping for more good rain so his second cutting can get safely baled and in the barn. His hay is the best I've seen, and when he runs out my stress level rises. His wife sent us homemade grape jam along with the hay.

After the horses ate dinner and went out for the night, we settled in for the first season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After watching Firefly in the spring and becoming a huge Joss Whedon fan, I'd held off on Buffy. It's not Firefly, but Whedon's sense of humor is very much there and I am getting fond of the series.

This week is going to be all about managing the heat. Thank goodness for cold water!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

getting down to the bones

Today was my day to read in writing group, and I was eager to move on to the next chunk of the novel I'm editing right now.

I've been reworking the structure and now my focus is the voice of the main male character, a CIA agent who is struggling with the ungrieved death of his wife 26 years ago and his 26-year old daughter who has run off, south and west, in response to a marriage proposal.

I'm shifting the Scott sections from first person present to close third past, trying to find a more distinctive voice. What I have captures his sensibility but the expression is too lyrical. Too similar to the voice of his daughter.

Today's advice is to dig right down to the bone of the matter. The rhythm of the sentences and the actual sentence structure itself.

I have an undergraduate degree in English but if someone asked me to parse a sentence I'd be about as horrified as I was taking the GRE math section.

But as we talked about how to tackle this task, a group member read some of my sentences out loud and suddenly I could hear the voice differently. I madly jotted down notes and some very concrete things to try with those sentences.

I might have jumped right in upon arriving home, but made the mistake of opening my cell phone bill and discovered $600 worth of TEXT MESSAGING charges that are NOT MINE - I don't do test messaging!

I'm officially on a tear and have clients tonight so all this will have to wait.

But I have the notes. Will get to the bones. I read again in two weeks and I'd love to knock some socks off. :)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Keil Bay comes for a visit

I was sitting on the sofa just now finishing Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns when I looked up to see Keil Bay watching me. I think if he could figure out how to get up on the deck, he'd come right in.

Hosseini's newest book is brilliant and heartbreaking. I think everyone should read it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

the mysterious muscadine caper and the very loyal sidekicks

Monday morning Keil Bay ate breakfast as usual. From his bright blue feed tub, he munched two spare scoops of Vintage Senior, one cup of black oil sunflower seeds, licked his Glanzen and DE and Source, crunched his carrots, and did the grand panther walk back out to the field.

Within five minutes he was back, hanging his handsome head over the stall door, just looking at me.

I knew something was wrong.

He'd torn his hind leg up, not hideously, but inside and out, and the bright red of the blood was most alarming.

I washed it with chlorhexadine, gave him Bute, cold hosed for twenty minutes, and applied triple antibiotic ointment. Walked the back field and discovered he had tangled with a wild muscadine vine. The evidence was laid out perfectly. One pile of horse manure, a number of very hard green grapes scattered on the ground, and a vine, just behind the manure pile, broken.

Tuesday morning his fetlock was swelling. I called the vet. She arrived within the hour and assured me I'd done all the right things. She taught me to put on a standing wrap and remarked how amazing the Big Bay is - how smart and kind and good. I heartily agreed.

So twice each day since, he gets all of the above and fresh wrapping. By Wednesday the swelling had decreased significantly and he was whinnying and cantering through the field to claim the apple offered by my daughter.

Apache Moon has stuck like glue to Keil Bay since Monday.

I think he likes wearing the wrap. He does look quite regal with it on. And he seems almost eager to get his special attention. Walk out to the field to take a picture and... here he comes.

This morning I was so caught up in re-wrapping his leg before leaving for my writing group, I forgot to bring Chase in with me. He was found shortly thereafter, waiting loyally by the barn door.

Dickens E. Wickens was keeping him company.

It's been a notable week. Time to go cold hose.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

butterfly bath

We are members of a vast cosmic orchestra in which each living instrument is essential to the complementary and harmonious playing of the whole.

-J. Allen Boone
Kinship With All Life

Sunday, July 22, 2007

second bloom

We are not here just to survive and live long...
We are here to live and know life
in its multi-dimensions
to know life in its richness,
in all its variety.

And when a man lives
explores all possibilities available,
never shrinks back from any challenge,
goes, rushes to it, welcomes it,
rises to the occasion
then life becomes a flame,
life blooms.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
The Sacred Yes

Saturday, July 21, 2007

oh my gosh

My quest for the photo of the three crows has ended.

"Wherever crows are, there is magic. They are symbols of creation and spiritual strength. They remind us to look for opportunities to create and manifest the magic of life. They are messengers calling to us about the creation and magic that is alive within our world everyday and available to us."

-Ted Andrews, Animal Speak

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

striking balance

I'm starting to become much more aware of a somewhat delicate balance that exists between mood, creativity, and for lack of a more precise word, physical zen.

This past weekend my daughter and I were in charge of all the farm chores. By the time we did all the things that needed doing each day, we were in no mood to ride. I had come home from writing group on Thursday with a mission, and it was quiet here and very easy to sit in my garret after doing the chores and dive deep into the first 62 pages of the book. Everything was flowing.

By Sunday evening I'd reached a stopping point with the writing. I needed to back up the new document on my external hard drive, needed to print out the newly revised pages so I could read them on paper instead of the screen, and our house regained its male contingent and the noise level went up.

Monday I had a meltdown. It felt like something was out of balance. My initial reaction was to skip my riding lesson (after a near two-week break, partly due to trainer being out of town, partly due to the heat, partly due to Keil Bay's chiro work). But on a deeper level I knew I really needed to ride. Immediately when I got in the saddle I felt better. The lesson was not pretty but it was good. Keil's hip is moving correctly again and everything clicked. I got off feeling like I'd had an emotional tune-up.

Later in the evening though, I had a second meltdown, but it felt more like getting rid of the dregs at the bottom of the barrel than anything else. And it was true, I slept lightly and well instead of the heavy, dream-riddled sleep I'd been having.

And woke up ready to ride again, and did. Today's ride was sharp with crisp, clean transitions between gaits and some floating moments over trot poles. It did indeed feel like with Keil Bay, as well as inside, I was back in balance.

I'm curious about this, as there seems to be such a connection between mood and writing and riding for me. When I write I tend to get lost in the story. When I ride I get lost in my body and the connection to Keil Bay. Both are immensely pleasurable, but I absolutely need both to create the balance that results in a stable, peaceful mood.

If you've noticed similar balance issues in your own life, I would love to hear about them.

Friday, July 13, 2007

there is a chorus outside my window

Tree frogs and cicadas and crickets, so loud I can't hear my daughter's voice from across the hall.

She and I spent the day together, looking for an alarm clock (she wants one), having lunch at the local cafe, library and dollar store and bookstore, feed store and grocery store.

Finally we got home, just in time to feed the horses, who were all pacing the paddocks because they just rotated fields and the grass is so good that first few days.

I've spent several hours today shifting several chapters of my book from third person present to third person past. At one point I didn't like it and then I did. I've decided it's too soon to know - I just have to try it for longer in the book and see.

We did stretches with Salina and then some groundwork. She was very flexible today and moved well. We played predator with the pony and Cody, who put on quite a show. The pony is like a little warmblood, he just floats through the air when he puts on his big trot.

Feeding dinner we had cat company, all three of them sitting on the tops of fence posts like owls, watching horses come and go.

And now we're serenaded by a million little voices. It has been quite a day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

the mysterious congress convenes

After many months of failed attempts to photograph the crows and ravens, I actually succeeded. Sneaking, crafty, using the little zoom feature, but here you go. You'll have to zoom in to see them. I wish I could share the audio of them calling when they realized I was there.

Something big must be about to happen.

Addendum, afternoon: They're outside my garret window calling and calling. I think they enjoyed the game. (or have a message, or both)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Keil Bay's Chiropractic Delight

Last week before my lesson, Keil Bay indicated his pelvic joint might be rotating out again, and then cantering left it became obvious something was off. He's been doing lots of yoga "cat" stretches over the past week too, as though trying to work something out.

This morning our equine chiropractor arrived and adjusted Salina first. Salina, by the way, has been cleared for three months! We were not expecting to get this much success with her so quickly. She's doing well.

While Salina was getting adjusted Keil Bay went into the stall most visible to the chiropractor and proceeded to shove his big butt against the wall, quite dramatically. Leaning against the wall that way is a big red flag for pelvic issues. He was determined that she see this - it was hilarious.

When it was his turn, he waited until she got to the left pelvis and then started bobbing his head up and down very quickly. That's the spot! As soon as she started the adjustment to that area he relaxed and let her work.

But at the end he kept backing up toward her as though she had missed something. She got the green box she uses to stand on back out and let him point his back end to her so she could work on the exact right area. He let out a big sigh and leaned back. All done.

What a guy! He gets the rest of the week off and then we're ready to canter left again!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

a special day

I just now noticed and feel the need to point out that today is:


Just FYI.

thinking blogs

Camera-obscura has been named a Thinking Blogger site twice now, a few months ago and more recently by Matthew at Science Is A Method, Not A Position. I appreciate the nod and hope you'll go visit his site.

I'm not much for the blog tagging thing and am quite finicky about the way my blog looks, which is why I don't list favorite websites, blogs, etc. in the margins.

But there are some wonderful blogs out there, and this gives me the opportunity to point you in their direction. I also highly recommend visiting the blogs of anyone who comments here at Camera-Obscura - if they're here it usually means I'm a regular visitor to their blogs as well.

A few places I frequent:

Peggy Payne's Boldness Blog





Faster Than Kudzu

French Toast Girl

Confessions of a Psychotherapist

Mantis In A Teacup

This also gives me the opportunity to invite you to comment, if you don't already. My intention here is for each post to open the door to conversation. Share your thoughts, experiences, and don't hesitate to ramble. I certainly do!

Enjoy the blogs!

Friday, July 06, 2007

making space

This month I've consciously pared down activities on the calendar to create some empty space in midsummer. It feels good to see blank squares.

Like Keil Bay, going for something a bit different than the usual fare.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

riding lessons

I haven't written about Keil Bay and riding lessons recently, and the past two lessons were very interesting.

Last week we had not ridden in nearly two weeks and my expectations were low. But Keil was relaxed and loose, I had done yoga right before, and the saddle fitter had been to adjust Keil's saddle - the combination of these made for a wonderful lesson. We had some very grand moments together and it remains one of my favorite things in the world when he moves through his back, fully engaged, and I am right there with him.

Yesterday was similar but with a glitch. In the canter, going left, I could feel my left hip torquing oddly to the right - he was on the left lead but his hind end was torqued to the right as well. The amazing thing to me was that I am getting good enough to feel these things instead of having to have them pointed out to me. My trainer hopped on so I could see from the ground what was happening.

And then it clicked. He'd done many yoga stretches during the day and had also stamped his left hind foot as I was grooming his right flank. I'm almost positive his pelvic joint is rotating out of alignment again. It's subtle, which means it's probably not too far out, and it definitely happened since last week. Thankfully, our chiropractor is already coming early next week to see Salina, so we can get this taken care of quickly.

It feels like so many pieces of a puzzle are coming together. With the massage work, the chiro, the excellent training, the saddle fitter, and our progress, the rides become better and better. One day I'll have to do a video of Keil's amazing extended trot. The way he moves says it all.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Writing group today was very provocative. It came up that I might consider switching POV of one character to a very close third instead of first. The prospect is intriguing - I'm eager to try it out and see how it works for this particular character.

In a tangent from that idea, it occurred to me that one of the POV characters I'm having the most trouble with might be better w/o his own POV sections.

These ideas mean lots of work, but this is just the kind of thing I love doing when working on a novel. I get impatient b/c of the time issue and wanting to have finished mss ready to go, but finding the right way to tell the story is one of the best things about writing.

Now, I just need a solid month at Weymouth.


Addendum on Friday:

If not a solid month at Weymouth, an afternoon of solid thunderstorms and a gorgeous book written in close third by my side to read excerpts from now and then.

I've gotten through the first 30 pages doing the revisions as noted above and am now going back through to incorporate the other feedback from yesterday's group into the new pages. And having a tremendous amount of fun doing it.

The book by my side is FINN, by Jon Clinch. I will be diving in properly later this evening, but I can tell by the first page this one will be a favorite. My daughter is, in an unrelated but yet perfectly related coincidence, walking around with her nose quite literally stuck inside The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, reading about the son while her mom reads about the father.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

tree spirits

Every time I walk outside I am drawn to this tree's strong spirit. The split is visually appealing and its position on a rise in the earth, surrounded by a bed of moss, invites anyone passing by to stop and sit for a while.

Behind the tree there's a little clearing, almost like a secret room, currently occupied by our compost bin and a broken chair awaiting a new purpose. I have an idea that I'll get a camp desk and chair and set it up in there, the perfect spot for composing scenes, poems, blog entries.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

summer solstice/the longest day

This pretty much says it all about the longest day of the year:

And our little strip of unmown "meadow" with its volunteer wildflowers is my new favorite image of summertime.

Enjoy this longest day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

raccoon synchronicity

My last night at Weymouth I glanced out the window and saw something very small scurrying along the ground. My first thought was that it was an injured kitten, so I ran out to see. It wasn't a kitten. It was a baby raccoon!

The baby let me get incredibly close. I went inside for the camera and took these photos - very blurry as it was deep dusk and I wouldn't use the flash. Still, you can see the characteristic markings that make raccoons so very charming.

The most amazing thing about this sighting is that the main character in the book I was revising has a significant encounter with a raccoon - she looks out and sees one, though it's not a baby in the book.

When I got home I immediately turned to Ted Andrews' wonderful book Animal-Speak. This is what he has to say about raccoons:

Raccoons are extremely curious, which is partly why they often get into things they shouldn't. They love to explore. Their nocturnal excursions can be likened to mini-adventures. They can be very curious about new realms and will examine anything that fascinates them.

One of the most striking features of the raccoon is the mask that it wears. Although some associate this with thievery, it actually gives the raccoon a very powerful mystical symbolism. The use of masks to achieve altered states and for other healing and ritual purposes has been a part of every society. Mask making is an ancient art employed all over the world for ceremony, celebration, and in magical practices.

Concealed behind a mask, people could become something or someone else. Masks are invested with mystery. They are tools for transformation. The hidden aspect, the secrecy , helps promote the transformation. It helps us to change what we are to what we want to be.

Just as there is with the raccoon, with masks there is ambiguity and equivocation. When we wear a mask we are no longer who we thought. We make ourselves one with some other force. We create a doorway in the mind and in the physical world a threshold that we can cross to new dimensions and new beingness.


All three main characters in my book are on this journey, but the female who sees the raccoon is the one whose path most matches the words above. Amazingly, the above passage has given me a much-needed clue to my character, an aspect to her that I had not yet discovered. It's already layering into my next edit.

The raccoon sighting is a gift. A synchronicity. Being so close to a baby raccoon was itself magical. That it fit so perfectly with what I was working on went even further. Discovering the deeper layer is part of what makes me love the writing process. Every day is a treasure hunt. Every character is a mystery.

Friday, June 15, 2007

breaking news!

Cody, our 4-year old Quarter Horse, did his very first jumping lesson today. He trotted and cantered, on the lunge line, over 18"cross rails and then 2' verticals. And did it quite beautifully, too!

I was simply unwilling to take my eyes off him long enough to grab the camera and take photos.

I told my daughter, "well, there's your C-1 horse." To rate C-1 in Pony Club, you have to jump 2'6" - and we're not sure the pony can do that before my daughter outgrows him. No worries now, at least not for my husband, who has been watching me careen through "next horse" adverts for the past year.

Cody was so proud after. And snuggly. A great Pony Club mount. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

out and about / more photos

I loved this sign alerting visitors to the garden that the ants are beneficial and not the fire ants many of us are encountering lately.

The view toward the frog pond, from the writers' kitchen:

A particularly friendly bunny:

A clematis points the way to the gardens at the foot of the writers' kitchen stairs:

Monday, June 11, 2007

where I was/what I did

My room this trip, where I managed to get through the entire ms and dropped the page count by 45 pages!

The writers' kitchen:

The writers' library:

The writers' porch:

Another view:

Saturday, June 09, 2007

process at weymouth

I've taken a few photos but will add them later, as the dial-up here is slow and I'm not wanting to take much time away from writing to upload them.

We have a full house of wonderful NC women writers, and the writing energy here is lovely this trip. It's part of the magic of this place - the mansion's aura and history of the Boyds who owned it, and the ripples left here by all the great writers who came to visit, and still do.

My work started well and has continued. I'm reordering some of the novel, adding in some new pieces, and editing as I go. For some reason the re-sequencing is particularly difficult for me, but being able to do it here, with absolutely no interruption, makes it seem easier.

Once I do it I immediately realize the improvement in the book and then I'm fine.

It always seems I know on an unconscious level what it is I need to do, and once my conscious mind accepts that, trusts that, really, it falls together perfectly.

I'm noticing too a clarity of vision as I edit - which I suspect comes from the writing group - that's making it easy to cut the superfluous words and phrases. Again, it is stunning how cutting the fat makes what is left so much sharper and more powerful.

I've not ventured out as much this trip, although I will put in a plug for a new restaurant in town, The Bell Tree, which has yummy shrimp and grits and a gorgeous bar for later night drinks.

There was a benefit auction here Thursday night, and a wedding today, but somehow all the activities downstairs seem to stay separate from the writers' haven upstairs.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

happy tuesday

First, my daughter and I went to CDI-Raleigh this past weekend to catch some Grand Prix level dressage, and found this gorgeous hand-painted Welcome plaque for the front door. Frederique, the artist, has so many gorgeous things for horse lovers. Check out some of her wares here.

Yesterday, another agent requested a full ms of the first novel, so off it went. I am delighted to be getting such a wonderful response to the queries I've sent out.

Also yesterday, my husband brought home these gorgeous hanging baskets in honor of our wedding anniversary! The front porch just gets more and more beautiful. I may have to move out there for good.

Happy anniversary, Matthew, and thank you!

And, finally, I am heading off for a very long weekend at Weymouth, where I'll be enjoying the company of a good writer friend Lela and also working hard on the second novel revision. Weymouth is a tremendous gift to writers here, and I am thankful it's available for writing retreats.

More on location!

Friday, June 01, 2007

good news Friday

Another first novel full is going out, and the "to whom" is the best part. Being discreet, though, I am not naming names on here. :) Keep fingers crossed.

Read the first 25 pages of the second book in writing group yesterday and got amazing and helpful feedback.

On the home/farm front, we have a 4-foot black snake living in the vicinity of the house/barn, which makes me very happy, as black snakes do a great job eating mice and keeping other (poisonous) snakes away. Sadly, I did not get a photo. Maybe the next sighting! Or else he's been talking to the toad prince and they've conspired to avoid the media.

It's been appliance upgrade month here and we have a new dishwasher, new vacuum cleaner, and new espresso machine. (thanks to Matthew who offered them up as bribery for a solo photographic trip to see the rhododendrons in bloom!)

The full moon last night was golden and gorgeous.

Daughter just came in to tell me she read her science in the stall with Cody, who was lying down for a mid-day nap. "He looked up when I came in the stall, but when he saw it was just me, he went back to sleep." It would have been my total dream as a girl to read science in a horse's stall. It makes me happy now that my daughter can do it.

What a great way to swing into June.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

rain, divisadero

We finally had some rain last night, need more, please send.

The new Michael Ondaatje novel, Divisadero, is in my pile, which is getting to be like a pie full of plums.

Friday, May 25, 2007

why writing groups?

Because after just one meeting (yesterday) in which I didn't even read, I have already tackled the new opening to the second novel, rewritten the blurb, and gotten some key things straight in my head.

Because this particular writing group has been there for a very long time and will be there for as long as I'm likely to need it. It has roots. (and in returning to it after a two-year hiatus, my roots are still there)

Because just this one question, "Billie, can you read next week?" has catapulted me into major writing action.

Because these writers and their feedback are stunningly good.

All hail Laurel's Thursday morning group and my summer sojourn there. :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

the catkins are blooming and the toad prince is back

The toad prince continues to elude the paparazzi (me and Matthew) but I am still trying to get his photo w/o using a flash. Meanwhile, he is doing a wonderful job eating flies in the barn.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

tree of enchantment

Couldn't resist - this lovely creature showed up in my garret last night. From the gift tag:

The weeping pussy willow is among the most graceful of trees. It is connected with all that is feminine - dreaming, intuition, emotion, enchantment, healing, and revitalization. The willow has long since been recognized as a sacred tree by poets, philosophers, and religious leaders because of the flexibility of its twigs. The willow's flexibility symbolizes resilience and inspires us to move with life rather than resist what we are feeling.

Legend has it that willow is bestowed with magical power capable of fulfilling wishes. For a wish to be granted, ask permission of the willow, explaining your desire. Select a pliable shoot and tie a loose knot in it expressing your wish. When your wish is fulfilled , return and untie the knot. Remember to thank the willow for your gift.


What a wonderful thing to find. Will let you know if the wish comes true. :)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

taking a break

I'm taking some time away from camera-obscura to focus on book stuff, riding schedule, and some projects around the farm that need doing.

I'll check in with any news/announcements/updates, but otherwise, will plan on being back here regularly in the fall.

Have a great summer!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

new location/writing update

I've brought my laptop to the big front porch that overlooks our front pasture. There's room for a crowd here, and I've often imagined a writing group meeting here some evening, reading out loud with glasses of wine and horses blowing in the background.

Now, it's mid-morning, I'm alone, except for the illustrious black cat Keats, a fitting companion for a writer, the low-flying small plane passing overhead, and four happy horses grazing and snorting to my right.

There is an easy breeze rustling the leaves, sounding a bit like distant surf, or waterfall, and it's one of those sunny spring days that prefaces summer but without the heat.

I've come out here mostly to enjoy the atmosphere, but also to get a new perspective on my writing agenda.

The official work-in-progress is on the back burner, simmering quietly but absolutely still in my head. Every few days I have a thought that needs jotting down in the black moleskine and it will be a wonderful day when I open that file and have several pages of notes to incorporate.

The main project right now is the second novel's revision. I've been fortunate in the past month to have two new reads to add to a previous read done last fall. And one close read of the first five or so pages. In June I'm heading to Weymouth with all these notes in hand, and a serious intention to dig in and implement some very good suggestions.

Next week I'll be rejoining my Thursday morning writing group for a summer sojourn - through mid-September - to focus on the second novel and gear up to query it after Labor Day.

And in little creative bursts on the side, my daughter and I pulled out the picture book we started a year ago and made some progress continuing the story.

I rewrote the first chapter of the YA novel I'd started a year ago and am awaiting feedback from my son, who can spot a plot hole a mile away and will also tell you without the blink of an eye if you're not hooking the reader.

All this should get me through 'til fall, when I hope to get back to the work-in-progress. There's a kaleidoscope-making workshop that figures largely in my plans to dive back into that ms.

And finally, the first novel is still being considered. Send it some good energy and if you have time, tell me about *your* creative agenda. I have lots of good energy ready to send.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

loudon wainwright on songwriting

"Writing songs is like fishing. You sit in the boat and you wait. It's true you have to know the best spot, time of day, which bait to use, the difference between a nibble and a strike, and most importantly, how to get the damn fish into the boat. Talent is essential, craft is crucial, but for me, it's mostly down to waiting and luck."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

the cure for anything

The cure for anything is salt water, sweat, tears, or the sea.

-Isak Dinesen

And gorgeous horses in fly masks in the back yard. :)

Some things...arrive in their own mysterious hour, on their own terms and not yours, to be seized or relinquished forever.

-Gail Godwin

I was thinking about this quote on the way to my office today, how fleeting things are sometimes and how easy it is to miss them altogether. There's an art and a talent to seizing the moment. There's an art and a talent to letting one go.

Just as I was thinking that, a song came on XM and while I've heard it before and liked it well enough, this piece resonated today:

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders
These twists and turns of fate
Time falls away
But these small hours
These small hours
Still remain

The small hours and little wonders of horses munching first cut organic orchard hay soft as silk, children with sore throats sipping ginger root tea and soup before napping, the gift of a much-wanted novel in the mailbox today.

At the office, walking in, this, which seems to mix spring, summer, and fall all into one:

Inside, seeing clients, the small hours became therapy hours and the little (and not so little) wonders continued.

I was not in the best mood earlier today, but by the time I came out of work into a soft but steady rain, that had shifted.

Seize. Relinquish. Knowing when to do which thing. Being present enough to see what's landed at your feet.