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I’m not fully convinced it’s snow. I always believe its ice, down here in Louisiana. Ice is a pain. Snow is fun! Either way, state and city government buildings are closed so I have the day off. Probably without pay, too, which really sucks. But the extra free day is nice! I can work on my resume, work on Hellgebra, clean my house, help my niece do her taxes, get the StarRise stories organized for editing, cook up some food for next week, for lunch and for class night…

Wait. That’s not a ‘day off’ is it? Huh.

Today begins the real test of resolve for the South Beach Diet. Home all day, I might get bored. I probably will. Boredom leads to snacking. Snacking is bad. It happened last night – but last night I managed to just snack on permitable things: roasted chickpeas and almonds. I over indulged in the almonds. And I wasn’t even really hungry. But, I didn’t reach for anything I should not have had, so – yay, me! I’m now approximately 2 lbs less than I was on February 1st.  I’ve been weighing myself ever day, as soon as I get up. The second morning alarmed me, since that day I weighed more than I had the day before. But I stuck with it! Cathryn, a coworker, is doing this with me, so that makes it even easier to stay focused. 

I need to go to the store at some point this weekend and replenish stuff for my breakfast casserole, and get more veggies. Maybe. I have to re-evaluate how many veggies I have now! I should go ahead and just premeasure them into two-cup portions so I can really plan. So far, so good, however. It’s before 9am and I’ve just finished breakfast. 

My brother is a sweetheart. When he came home this morning – very early this morning, around 2 or 3 am – he woke me up to suggest I take his car to work because the roads were getting bad. Waking me up isn’t a bad thing – he knows most of the time him just walking in the door will be enough to wake me up. But it was very sweet of him to be that concerned for me driving to work. I think I’ll keep him around a while still. 

I WANT this quilt…

I’ve been feeling an urge to redecorate my bathroom and bedroom lately. Considering today is my second anniversary for being planted in NW Louisiana again, this shouldn’t be surprising. Usually by this time, I’ve moved on, or I’m planning to!  We all know that if I’m not planning a move, then something needs to be changing.

I have been contemplating for some time now setting up my own domain and web page again. I would like to use that website for hosting a forum for writers and artists to gather and discuss, trade advise and resources, ask questions and get answers. I know there are already forums like that out there so there’s probably no point it in, but I think it would be nice. Set up a separate shared-world forum for folks who like to write and RP. Maybe publish a bi-annual magazine of stories from that shared-world.

And yet another forum for fanfiction escapades. 

But I’d really someplace where I could invite experts to share their knowledge. Someplace I could go, or any writer could, and ask, “So, if I want to feed a community of 500 through a 7 months cold season, how much land do I need to have under plow, and how much food will we need? How much corn is grown in an acre? How many people will that feed, for how long?” Or if I want to ask, “If Betelgeuse does go nova, how long will it really take for that to reach us? Would the light travel faster than normal, or would it take 640 years, since Betelgeuse is 640 light years from us?”

Or even, someplace where I could go and ask guys frank questions about their thoughts and motivations so I know I’m writing a male character as realistically as possible. And in return, male writers could ask women frank questions to make sure they’re writing female characters as true to life as they can.

I really, really want to do this. I just have one little problem: coming up with a domain name. I want something that’s short and easy to remember, something that indicates what the site is about, something that doesn’t sound new-agey, because this would actually become my ‘professional’ email address and since I’ll be using it on resumes to be sent out soon… gypsy.anna just doesn’t sound very permanent to a prospective employer, does it? 

I thought of – merging together writer and envision. It also sounds like revision, which is suitable since writers tend to do a lot of revising, and what is writing but a revisioning of reality via words?

But I don’t know if I like it. And I need a catchy slogan. I don’t want this to be something that’s just me, but something a lot of people will enjoy and find useful – and something that professionals can be lured into checking out and participating in. I imagine that it’ll be a lot of work, initially. I think I’d have to end up seeking out the professionals for specific questions and relaying question and answer – if I get an answer! – back and forth… But hopefully I’ll get other Type-A like people who wouldn’t mind helping out. 

But still! The problem of a domain name! I’m begging for suggestions!
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My first creative nonfiction assignment has been graded and returned to me. :) I'm posting it here, complete with instructor comments.  The assignment was a memoir.  Instructor comments and corrections are in blue.

Green Were the Hills


I was a teenager—thirteen or fourteen, somewhere around that age—this particular summer that we went to see my dad’s family.  We went to Missouri every summer to visit both sets of my grandparents.  Mom’s folks lived in and around Poplar Bluff.  Dad’s family was south of that, just outside of Campbell.  Two miles from town, at the top of a hill on a state highway, we turned off onto a gravel road.  A power-center was right there—one of those snaggled and tangled constructions of power lines and poles where many lines seem to collect before they go swooping off again.  We followed that road straight for perhaps a quarter mile before we took a sharp right.  [This is a “set-up,” in a sense.  Instead, why not locate us at a particular place?  Give us the view of the place you ended up, then provide the back-story to tell us how you got there.]

            Tucked into that area formed by the two arms of the road is an old graveyard.  We would walk down there sometimes, my sisters and me, when things grew boring at Grandpa’s house.  The tombstones are broken and leaning.  The engravings are nearly illegible.  Snakes slither through the grass, bushes, and tumbled stones.  I haven’t been to that graveyard for years, but I know it hasn’t changed.  Not much does, in Campbell.


            On this visit, as usual, we follow the road another stretch of straight, perhaps a half mile.  The ride is bouncy and rough from the gravel.  Dirt and dust fly out from either side of the car, and all three of us girls are hot and sticky with humidity and sweat.  Summer visits to Grandpa Claude are never very comfortable.  Where the road develops a T intersection, the driver can make a choice—go right and eventually hook up with another road that’ll dump him back on the state highway, or turn left and pull up the small hill to Grandpa’s house. 

            It’s a small house.  Grandpa built it decades ago when my dad was a kid after the first house they had—the one my dad was born in—burned down.  It has a sizable kitchen with many cabinets, a smallish dining room, a decent sized living room that holds an old wood- and coal-burning black stove, three bedrooms, and one bath.  He has a window unit air conditioner in the living room, but Grandpa never turns it on. 

            The morning after we arrive, I go for a walk.  One of my cousins is visiting, too, and he is willing to show me around a bit.  But my sisters follow, and he goes racing off with them.  I am not interested in racing around.  After crowded car rides from Louisiana to Missouri, I am ready for peace, quiet, and solitude.  My sisters never seem to enjoy their own company that much, but I like mine just fine.

            We never spend much time at Grandpa Claude’s.  Mom isn’t comfortable with Dad’s family.  I never really had a chance to just...walk around.  Once Katie, Beth, and our cousin go off, I head outside.  I go down the four steps from the door to the ground, pause a minute to look around, and another minute to push Grandpa’s dog No-Name’s big head out of my way.  I circle Grandpa’s garden, and wonder if he has any peas ready for picking.  I want to try shelling peas.  I’d never done it before.  The string beans look just fine, and I know my brother will like them.  The yellow squash is ready for picking, too, so odds are good we'd be allowed that Grandpa will allow us to waste a few in mock sword fights. 

            The garden isn’t big, but it is enough to keep Grandpa busy.  I wander away from it and down the track that leads to the old barn that looks more tumbled than standing.  Enough of a roof remains that the Duster that will kill the bull and save my sister in a few years will be able to shelter under it.  That’s another story.  I don’t go into that barn.  I am deathly afraid of snakes, and the country has more than its share of them.

            I follow that path past the old barn and wonder—where did they build the first house?  Will I be able to tell?  Young trees line the path, flexible and skinny in their youth.  The grass is high, and birds sing in the nearby trees.  The air lay soft and cool on my skin.  No road noise intrudes.  No shouts from parents and no petty bickering from siblings disrupt the peace.

            And then Then the path opens and the trees end.  A panorama spreads before me.  Hills—rolling, green, and lightly veiled in a mist that caresses the ground—stretch before me, to the right and to the left.  These hills aren’t plowed and muddy, or prickly with cotton bushes.  They lay fallow, left to green and grow as they will.  Overhead, the sky stretches endlessly, puffy white clouds sedately drifting in its depths and casting shadows on the hills below.  Sunlight flows in gold-gossamer streamers through the wisps and feathers of white that pass before it.  A bird, probably a hawk, wheels high up in the sky, and nothing disturbs his flight.

            In that breathless moment of perfection and wonder, I feel something I’d never felt before, something that is larger than the world in which I stand, more powerful and potent than anything I’d ever dreamt, and more humbling than any mistake or failure made in the past.  I cry under that touch, and I think, “This is the day the Lord hath made.  Let us rejoice and be glad.”  These words became more than something recited in church.  For the first time, I feel the words, understand their meaning, and revel in the gift of the day.

            I don’t know how long I stand there, at the break in the trees, and drink in the pastoral perfection.  Noise slowly intrudes.  My sisters and my cousin run by, and their laughter and shouts shatter the quiet peace.  My dad follows them down the path and stops beside me.  He looks out over the hills; the cloud-shadow dapples the grass, and says, “Church isn’t always in a building.”  We stand quiet for a bit longer, then he goes back to the house.


            I always knew that my dad had been born at home.  I always knew that his mom had died there, too, when he was just a little kid.  That was the day I realized that day that he had tucked a big piece of his heart into that quiet corner of Missouri countryside, and he planned to go to that corner when he retired.

            My aunts nagged Grandpa to move to town, so he sold the land.  I think it broke Grandpa’s heart, in the end.  He died just a couple of years after that.  Dad lost his inheritance, and I’ve not been back to that path since.  The path and that breathtaking view belong to someone else now. 

            The memory of that day and the perfection of that moment stayed with me for twenty years.  It was the first time, I think, I felt a sense of God in the world around me.  Afterwards I began to question certain foundational attitudes in my life and in my upbringing.  Part of this was because of age.  Teenagers always question and push boundaries.  Part of this was because I realized that I didn’t have to find God only in a church.

            I am not now, nor was I then, overly religious.  I believe in God.  I have many reasons for this belief.  This day is one of them.

You have a wonderful descriptive ability.  Work on the opening, though; make it more “scenic.” After reading it the third time, it seemed a bit too “telling,” too much of a setup.  A view of you, standing in that special spot, would be good; then you could “begin at the beginning.”  But always locate us at a particular place, at a particular time.

A good essay, in spite of my lament!


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On Debbe's recommendation, I've invested in the Holly Lyle writing clinic bundle. :-) I'm rather excited about this. I can't wait to do the download and take a look at the information.


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June 2012



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