lisamoniquekent

Finding Home

Breathing clean air.

Hello from dark and cold Vermont. I’m blogging late because I stopped being able to get into WordPress through my regular browser and didn’t find a work around until last night (Tim was my workaround). So now I can catch you up.

I have fallen deep into writing With Regards, Stella Ramone. In fact, when I finish this post, I’ll head right into Word and keep on typing. It’s so FUN to write again! And with it being so gray outside for weeks on end here in Lamoille County, I need some pleasant distraction. Saturday I rearranged the plants, decided to keep the tree and its twinkling lights up until April, and we met my brother and his wife for lunch. That helped. Then Sunday I headed to Burlington to see the sun, but even there it was cloudy, so I got some yarn instead. Where is the sun? Are we overcast because of Australia’s fires? If so, that puts things into perspective. My family is safe, we haven’t lost our home, and we are breathing clean air. Therefore, I can put up with this weather a little longer…

I’m slowly getting more feedback on Quill Point, so far all of it positive. One satisfied reader just asked if I would do a sequel. So far, no plans for that, though I do have an idea for extending Evangeline’s story. I’d like to see her grown up, but that means Lucy would be, well, elderly.

The results are in regarding our booth in the mall. We almost broke even, which is really good news, because next year we won’t have to carry the upfront costs we had this year. And we’ll be much more experienced. We sold over 100 tees and over 60 books. Cool beans! Tim gets three gold stars for all his efforts.

Okay, I’m signing off. I’ve a chapter to finish. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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Lichen and Barnacles.

Good morning from snowy, blustery Vermont. This Christmas I received a gift I’ve been hoping for since I discovered the pleasant weight and shine of silver utensils. A set of Morning Star (circa 1940s) silver forks, spoons, and knives. Last night, as part of my kitchen work, I sorted through all of our current utensils, and discovered eighteen unmatched stray cutlery. Some of them had an elaborate “M” on their handles. Those go right to my mom. But what of the others? My plan is to place them on Mom’s spare bed and hope that my sisters claim them. Apparently I’ve been disturbing quite a few people’s sets. As I look around our home, I wonder what else isn’t mine?

We humans are like that, aren’t we? Bits of who we are don’t even belong to us, but we keep them attached until we forget where and when we acquired them. For example, that small barnacle of learned helplessness I took on as a part of being the youngest–what’s that hanging on me for? The real me is quite competent. Or that patch of lichen that says I shouldn’t sing anymore because my voice isn’t as beautiful as it was when I directed choirs, and God help me if someone who heard me then would hear me now. And there’s the heavy guilt that tells me I had a gift and I blew it. So I sing in this small, careful voice, hoarding it so it won’t embarrass me. The real me just wants to sing for the joy of it.

Letting go of something that isn’t a part of us takes a careful carving; we want to remove only what doesn’t belong. For me, the first step is awareness, and the second is naming the thing that needs to go. Last, there’s the process of removing it. This can take a lifetime or a split second. Returning utensils is quick. Removing self-judgment? I’m in it for the long haul.

If you have some spare time this week, check your utensil drawer. What stories does it tell? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

1948 MORNING STAR Service for 4 Five piece place settings image 0

 

 

 

 

A few boxes of books and a dozen tees.

Good morning from grey and snowy, icy Vermont. Is it possible to be sated with goodness? Sated seems to have some negative connotations, so maybe complete would be better–complete with goodness. That’s how I feel during this Christmas season. Between the extra hugs and gifts and expressions of love, I am full up with satisfaction. What better way to start the new year? I hope you find yourselves in the same frame of mind.

I wonder if in 2020 we’ll all have hindsight? To know better before we act or speak or do something that’s irreparable. Will we all be blessed with more wisdom? I remember other big years–the Orwellian 1984 and Y2K’s 2000. They both started with fear. I insist that 2020 start with hope, #hopein2020! (That’s the very first time I’ve used a hashtag.)

The Vermont Craft Store at the mall is empty now. Tim packed up our little space and brought back a few small boxes of books and a dozen tees. We still have to figure out if our venture was profitable, but it was certainly successful in getting our wares out into a larger market. Sales were great. I think our booth did well enough to earn a place next year, and I’m grateful to my friend Amy for nominating us in the first place.

Now I turn my attention to increasing my marketing efforts online, finding a local store to sell my books (and Serena’s work), and writing my fifth book. On the latter, my storyline is unfolding, and I can’t wait for some time to get it down on paper (or in this case, Microsoft Word). I won’t have to do as much research for With Regards, Stella Ramone, and that frees up my imagination. Oh, Stella. She’ll have some quirks about her. Her ex’s name is Ray.

So here’s to a new year, with all its highlights and complications. Uncertain as we are about our families, country, and world, we must hold on, be brave, and stand up for justice. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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A cautionary tale.

Good morning from partly sunny and cold Vermont. Last Monday night Scout had emergency surgery to remove an obstruction in his little stomach. He’d been sick for about a week before that, and at first the vet thought he had pancreatitis. But a turn for the worst found me at the animal hospital with Scout in my lap and another round of tests. I got there at 11 AM, he had surgery at 5 PM, and he was home by 10 PM. That’s what I call a long 12 hours. The cautionary tale? We need to do a better job swiffing the floors.

Almost a week later, he is on the mend. His stitches are healing nicely, he has more zip in his legs, and he’s got his woof back. We have to keep him quiet and partly sedated for another few days, and he has to wear his cone a few days beyond that. Every morning the first thing he wants is a good scratch on his face, since he can’t do it himself.

So we’ve had a tough week. I was alone when I had to make the decision about whether or not to go ahead with surgery. I committed us to a large amount of money, with an uncertain outcome. We were scared silly about losing this dog who is not just a dog, but an angel sent to us to soothe and heal our family fissures and cracks. Everything else in our lives fell away. There was only Scout and his well-being.

Christmas is just a few days away. Today we’ll play catch up with preparations, and I plan to attend an Advent service this evening to ready my heart for the holiday. Please celebrate with us, knowing that our little dog will be okay. And check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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A good chocolate cake.

Good evening from cold and blustery Vermont. The roads are treacherous, especially at the rotaries. I made it home from work, but Mrs. Potts didn’t like the ice and spun around a few times. I fear for anyone out tonight.

Are you all making your lists and checking them twice? We have several projects in the works right here in our living room. There’s a pile of Christmas letters to mail out to those people who don’t have email (I have to get stamps). Packages are arriving, and so far no one is peeking. I kind of miss that, actually, the kids peeking. I seem to be the only one left in the house who would consider such a thing. I used to do it all the time growing up. And I had this innate sense of knowing what a package was before I opened it. This turned out to be a bane to me and the gift givers, so at some time in high school, I turned that gene off and haven’t used it since.

I’ve been trying to get the girls to forgo our traditional hors d’oeuvres meal on Christmas Eve and instead try a full dinner–something new, like braised celery tips and carmelized chocolate gravy (I just made that up). They aren’t buying it. So I’ll write up the same menu–shrimp cocktail, brie and baguette, veggies and dip, sliced ham, crackers, guacamole, salami, smoked salmon, crackers…the usual. Perhaps they’ll budge a little on dessert, though I do love a good chocolate cake.

You know how much I was looking forward to meeting my two Montpelier friends for Advent? Well, Scout got pancreatitis and couldn’t be left alone, so I had to cancel. I did drive into town with Scout riding shotgun to deliver their gifts, but I only stayed to chat for a few minutes on their respective porches. Still, their hugs were pretty special.

Tim is making vegetarian lasagna from scratch, and Brussels sprouts marinated with balsamic vinegar; everything smells so good. I’m about to lose myself in a book until dinner, so I’ll say my good night and wish you the very best of weeks.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Christmas, Gift, New Year, Holidays

Lisa

 

 

Just a few Evangelines.

Good evening from cold and snowy Vermont. Today I trotted out my extraverted self and almost sold out of all of my books at the Bishop Marshall School Craft Fair. When I packed up to go home, all I had were just a few Evangelines. I got lucky today, sharing the same room with Orah Moore and several other talented crafters. Every time I’ve been a part of this fair, it’s been a success–not only in sales, but in the wonderful conversations I’ve had with readers. I also sold at least 25 of Serena’s tees. I am humbled by how much you appreciate and support our family creations. Thank you. I’m supposed to do a book signing at the University Mall next Saturday from 10 to 1 PM, but I’m not sure I can order books in time to restock. Isn’t that a nice problem to have?

They say it takes 21 days to either make or break a habit. Well, I’m on my third week of living in the present, and I think it took. I find myself less of everything–less stressed, less worried, and less judgmental of other people’s actions. And I actually think I like myself more. Right now, for example, I’m appreciating the smells coming out of our kitchen. Tim is making puttanesca from scratch–garlic and tomato, lovely!

Finally, there’s been a change in our family traditions. This year we won’t be attending the revellion, a French Canadian celebration (lots of food and double kisses) usually occurring after midnight mass. I suspect I attended even as an infant, as did my mom, and her mom. But that’s okay. We’ll change our Kent routine to have a relaxing dinner and an early bedtime at home. Life gives, life takes, and we adjust. And how fortunate we’ve been to be a part of it all for so long.

Now I smell acorn squash baking in the oven, perhaps with a touch of maple syrup. This has been a really good day.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

Coffee, Food, Drink, Hottest, Leaves

 

 

 

 

 

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A lady slipper moon…

Good evening from cold, snowy Vermont. There’s a lady slipper moon in the sky; I noticed it as I walked home from church, so glad to reach the warmth and the glow of Christmas lights at Soft Landing. This week is the first week of Advent. The wait begins.

Today I had my book signing at the Mall. I saw good friends, a few family members, and met many kindred readers. Despite how nervous I was, the event was a success–ten books into the hands of potential and established fans. And the sweetest thing? Out of all the beautiful crafts in the store, two youngsters chose one of my books as gifts for their mothers. One of them wanted to be a writer one day. “Yes!” I said. “That’s the best thing ever!” Now it’s time to prepare for next Saturday’s Bishop Marshall School Craft Fair here in Morrisville. I have a whole week to psych myself up. Thankfully Tim will be there to help, as he was today. He makes the difference.

After work tomorrow, I start practicing for the concert of French and English Christmas carols we sing at my Mom’s on Christmas Day. It takes me exactly 24 days to warm up my wobbly voice and sensitive finger pads. The concert is both joyful and sad. Joyful because everyone sings or hums and it’s a lovely sound, and sad because my dad and I used to play our instruments together for this concert, and I miss him. I felt especially close to him during this time; sitting with our chairs touching, we took our turns finger picking for added flair or bungling chords that we knew in our sleep. Dad’s voice fell right between tenor and bass. He could add a harmony part to every song, and could whistle in three different keys at the same time. My talent in music is a mere shadow of his former self. But the concert must go on, and he handed the baton to me.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

Candles, Advent Wreath, Advent

 

 

 

 

There are people just like you…

Good morning from cool and gloomy Vermont. Yesterday I wrote out a draft of my blog entry for the week, but this morning’s disturbing dream changed my direction. In the dream, a co-worker said she hated my books–they were floral. (Apparently, this was the worst insult I could get.) I’m interpreting that as anxiety because I’ve received little feedback on Quill Point since my book came out in late October. I just checked Amazon for reviews, and did find two new excellent five-star comments from total strangers regarding Peace Cottage. So they didn’t think that book was floral.

Anyway, I got up after my dream woke me, and everyone is still asleep here, except Scout, who is in my lap and dreaming of frozen peas. Since the students are on Thanksgiving break at school, I have another Sunday off, and the nice thing is I don’t have any great plans or projects that have to be done. So I’m knitting today and listening to the Christmas Carol on YouTube. Tim is heading to our craft booth at the mall; he’s got another order of long and short sleeve tees to stock, and even a new pattern to introduce–Serena’s Stay Wild design. We’ll know in a week how November sales were.

My first book signing at the Mall is at 10 AM on Saturday. Most of you know that I’m not conducive to mall environments–the noise, the crowds, the artificial lights, the smells. But this is what I figure: Chances are, amidst the cacophony, there are people just like you who are kind, supportive, and like how I write. Those people are who I want to attract and establish a relationship with. My goal is to sell eight books in three hours. I can do that. And before you know it, I’ll be home in time to attend the church service for the first week of Advent.

I hope to see some of you on Saturday. Thanks in advance for being my security blanket. And have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

Pumpkin, Autumn, Autumn Decoration

 

 

 

A little green shoot of mint.

Good afternoon from sunny, cold Vermont. Today I’m writing around the shape of my dog’s ear. He’s planted squarely onto my keyboard. As  I type around him, his little pointed nose is sniffing and sniffing at the bacon cooking in the fryer. He remains ever hopeful. I reach over and nuzzle the crown of his head. He smells like cookies.

It’s  strange thing to have a book out since late October and not have feedback. This is the part where I have to be brave, patient, and stay in the present moment, not thinking the worst. Staying in the present moment in my daily life is quite a challenge. Usually my mind focuses on creating possible endings, imagining different worlds, and developing scenarios to help me prepare for EVERYTHING. Reality is not my default. So this last week, I gave it a try, staying alert to the present, and it was–nice. Every time my mind would send out a little green shoot of mint that wasn’t real or current, I’d ask it, “Is that today?” And it would answer abashedly, “Well, no…” And then I’d answer back, “Let’s try just today, shall we?”

As I enter another week, I’m continuing the experiment. Today I’m thinking today things, like blogging, playing my dad’s guitar, visiting my sister, and a friend’s visit to me. I’m thinking about the new prayer shawl I’m knitting up on the sofa, and reading Pilcher’s Winter Solstice for the umpteenth time. Later this afternoon I’ll have a cup of my new beverage of choice, strawberry kefir. And all of today, I’m grateful that I have taken this day off as a personal day, that this tiny fraction of life we call Sunday is mine to enjoy in comfort and without fear.

If you have completed Quill Point and care to comment, I’m at lisamoniquekent@gmail.com or right here blogging. Otherwise, check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

Peppermint, Garden, Green, Leaves

 

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If you want to pick up a book…

Good afternoon from sunny Vermont. Though we still have some black ice on our driveway, the roads are clear, and after this past week’s early snow, that’s a blessing. In a week, Mrs. Potts will sport winter tires, and we’ll both sigh in relief. I waited too long.

My book order arrived yesterday, so I now have Quill Point in hand. I delivered a stack to my mother’s last night; all my family orders have been satisfied. I’ll bring a few to work this week, and the rest will go to the mall or in storage for the Bishop Marshall craft fair. Meanwhile, Tim is placing an order for more tees so that we will be well stocked for the holidays. We have a ways to go before we turn a profit on our business venture, but most of the pleasure I get is to know that people are happy with our products. I haven’t heard any comments about Quill Point, so I don’t yet know if people like it. Maybe I’ll hear by year end. We do know that customers have been wowed and pleased with Serena’s art work. In any case, if you want to pick up a book, just email me at lisamoniquekent@gmail.com

Do you remember the red corduroy pants I blogged about several years ago? How wearing them cheered me? Well, because I was paring down, I passed them on, and now I have severe regrets. The sun pouring into the windows here at Soft Landing, the dog on my lap, all these sweet life touches need red corduroy pants. I blew it. I’m looking again though. Perhaps the thrifting universe will give me a second chance.

Here’s what is rattling around in my brain this week: What if regenerative agriculture took over the planet and saved it? Is living on an island off the coast of Maine a possibility–or would I feel too isolated? Does the word “context” come from early French or English? (There’s some disagreement.)

With that, I bid you a good week. Check in next Saturday for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

Fabric, Pattern, Desktop, Textile

 

 

 

 

 

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