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Finding Home

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A sensible plan.

Good morning from sunny Vermont (yes, finally!). Everyone except the dog and I is still sleeping. Sunday mornings are catch up days–getting up at 5:30 AM every weekday is trying. I’ve been hunting around for a different WordPress theme to use, now that I know so much about screen reader accessibility through work. It turns out that my current blog has a few problems, like its text on blended colors, the font size, etc. I like this template best so far:

https://wordpress.org/themes/speculate

How to switch over from one theme to another remains in the sphere of magic. Perhaps my friend Katie Robinson will help me do the conversion. If I end up self publishing, I’ll hire Katie to get me through the process, step by step. But before I go that route, I’ve decided to leave Quill Point in the hands of Curiosity Quills for a while longer. I heard from Eugene, the co-owner, and he said, though there were no guarantees that the business would continue, if I stayed with him and CQ, he would make an exception and publish Quill Point in book form. Since my book wasn’t due out until July anyway, I’ve decided to give CQ until then to make it happen. Meanwhile, it will give me time to raise the money to hire Katie if CQ folds. It seems like a sensible plan.

Friday spring arrived, just for the day. With the warmer weather and the sun, I felt full of energy. I moved furniture around, sorted, and hoed out–I bagged up all of my worn out clothes and shoes and sent them off to Good Will. I was so happy! I’m a child of spring and summer, that’s for sure. Still, except for driving conditions, this winter hasn’t been so bad. Mrs. Potts, Soft Landing, my job, my family and friends and hobbies–all have combined to support me in this gray, often relentless winter. As my girls say, I’m good.

Next Saturday we’ll take a quick trip to the coast to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday. I can’t wait to see him and his wife in their new home. And I can’t wait to see the water. That’s all for now. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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The fancy seats.

Hello from gray Vermont. I’m writing from our bedroom nook, with a dog on my lap and my body turned at a crooked angle so I can type over his head. Lap dogs must be accommodated. I heard from my publisher. I’ll have to reread his email a few times, but I think he’ll make an acceptation to publish Quill Point as a book if I stick with Curiosity Quills. He’s also happy to reverse my rights. So now I need to think things through. What’s best? What’s the least risk and stress for the most benefit?

Meanwhile, this morning I brought Miri to a high school parking lot and she practiced driving, parking, backing in and out, yielding, and turning her blinkers on. She did great, especially since the roads around the school were snow covered and slick. Next week we return to the school for a refresher, and then we and Mrs. Potts will hit the road, as they say, and she’ll drive from the school to my mom’s house. Our hope is that she’ll have her license by summer. As parents, we have lagged in this regard.

Now that it’s February, I’m looking ahead to our trip to New York City. You’ll remember the night we arrive, we’ll be attending the symphony. Serena googled what to wear to a symphony, and it turns out that it depends on what seats you have. For the fancy seats, you wear fancy attire. For the regular seats, you wear regular clothes. I think we’ll be in the regular section, so I’ll wear a nice work outfit. That should do.

Now I must get ready for work and then head to my mom’s to visit before my shift starts. I wish you all a good week, especially on these crazy winter roads. I leave you with a photo that Miri took of her sister in the fall.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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Soft covers.

Good morning from sunny Vermont. What a treat to wake up to clear skies. It has been a stretch. So an update on Quill Point. I haven’t heard a response from the emails I sent to Curiosity Quills. I just posted a “what’s up?” note in our closed Facebook forum. I’ve also received my first round of estimates for self publishing from the woman who designed my website. This will be a huge financial and time commitment. I feel frozen. And since I still have to make the decision to and then ask for my rights reversed on Quill Point, I can’t start posting it for free. Frozen is the word of the day.

If I choose to self-publish, I’ll have new covers for each of my books. I really didn’t like the matching covers for Peace Cottage and Raising Evangeline, so I’m looking forward to changing them. I’ve asked for permission from CQ to use the first cover of Peace Cottage, but as I said, I’ve heard nothing back. I’ll make the cover of Vinehart Farm look more like a New England farm. And Quill Point will have a New England village scene on it. They will all be soft covers. Oh dear.

I’m making some small changes around the house to cheer us up and help us with the dreary days of winter. Some new art on the walls, indoor plants gathered to make a garden in front of my battered antique trunk. And I’m collecting things we don’t use and passing them on to Second Chance, our thrift shop of choice. Speaking of thrifting, it looks like Livia Miri and I are going to New York City in late February for four days with one of my dear friends, whose brother lives just outside of the city. Liv wants to visit NYU, thrift, and walk around, soaking in the atmosphere. We will go to the symphony as well. I’ll dress up in my thrifted best! Something to look forward to. And I might see the sea…

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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Just like oatmeal burning in the pot.

Good morning from full-blown snowstormy Vermont. We won’t be driving anywhere today, not even to visit my mother. Today I was supposed to return to my regular work hours at the college, noon to 8 PM, but because of the weather, the library is closed. I wonder if our electricity and internet will hold?

No word from Curiosity Quills, but I’m slowly moving to a decision. I’ve reached out to CQ asking for referrals regarding respectable agents, and have found a trustworthy person to walk me through the self-publishing process (including how to stay on Amazon) if that’s the road I choose. I think I’ll give it another week to see what pans out. I haven’t forgotten my promise to give you the story. At this point, it’s all about timing and my own reserves of energy.

I’ve been reading up on new teaching methods as I prep for information literacy lessons in several on-campus classes. Because it has been a dream of mine to learn all the romance languages, I was comforted to know that even though it’s harder to learn a new language as an adult, it is still quite possible, and so is learning more than one language at a time. Hearing the sound of a new word in a new language comforts me. Every now and then I pull a word from the atmosphere and I decline or conjugate it in Latin, Spanish, French, and Italian. I study the patterns and roll the sequences around my tongue. This is my idea of a good time. When I was at UVM, I took a linguistics course because I was interested in becoming one. But the instructor, I remember her well, gave us a horrid, dry textbook, and killed any interest I had in pursuing this subject further. Well, almost killed. I’m still hooked. I just wish I had more time.

I leave you with a fact. The pitter patter of snow against our windows sounds just like oatmeal burning in the pot on the stove. I forgot again.

Check in next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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Call it a gift.

Good morning from cold, sunny Vermont. I bold “sunny” because it has been so cloudy and gray this winter, sun really makes our days pop. About a month ago, I found out that my publisher Curiosity Quills may be closing its doors due to financial problems. As of now, I still have a contract, but I fear that Quill Point won’t be joining Peace Cottage, Raising Evangeline, and Vinehart Farm anytime soon. The next obvious move would be to find an agent and seek another publisher. Due to life constraints, I’m not sure that will happen this year or next or even beyond. I’m very grateful for my three books being published in the first place, so I’ll never say anything negative about Curiosity Quills. I was lucky that we found one another.

So now what? My current thought is to include a chapter a week in this blog–so you all get the end of the story, for free. Call it a gift for sticking with me these last four or five years. I also need to place a large order of copies of my books while I can still get them, if I can still get them. I’m not sure how long they’ll stay on Amazon–that’s unfortunate; as eBooks, they are selling well. It’s all rather a big challenge, and currently overwhelming. Rats.

One last thing. Thank you all for your comments on this blog. I still don’t know how to reply to them. Every time I try, I get this pop up box asking me to do something that I don’t think is safe, virus-wise. I’ll continue to study this problem.

Anybody know where this photo was taken? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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Passing the buck.

Good morning from snowy Vermont. I’m supposed to go to a friend’s open house today. I hope the weather and roads cooperate. This past week I had an interesting political discussion with Serena about the new congresswomen starting their terms. We also talked about potential candidates running for the 2020 presidential election. As I rolled out my thoughts about Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, names I knew, followed, and was comfortable with, she explained astutely why they still represented the status quo, and how, regarding our democracy, it was the younger generation we should be looking at and having faith in from this point on. I thought of all the harm we’ve done, all we’ve left for people like Serena to fix, and quickly! And at that moment, I knew she was right. It’s time to let go of our old, unwieldy and unhealthy models. If our democracy and our planet is to be saved, our young people need to take the lead, with their energy and creative applications and solutions.

Of course we should keep participating; at any age, we all have something special to offer, especially wisdom and experience. And I’m not “passing the buck.” (Remember: I’m still working toward zero waste.) But I think the current big voices need to be quiet for a while and let our younger ones speak. That’s as political as I’ll get here on this blog, and lest you think I’m straying off target in regard to my basic themes of home, family, writing, and curiosity, I’m really not. To me as a mother, my daughters’ voices count. And you know what? I learn something from them every day.

Quill Point continues to be in the queue for release in July. ¬†I’m back at work lining up information literacy sessions in spring classes, and prepping for the forty or so online classes I’ll be a librarian in. All is well so far in this new year, and I wish you the same.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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Her little pony Nellie

Good morning from cold and dullish Vermont. Lately I’ve become fascinated with the suffix “ish.” Recently, I read a book about how our goal as humans isn’t so much to be “good,” some fixed and finite state of being, but goodish, which allows for mistakes and growth and new learning. So now I don’t try so hard to be a good person, but a goodish one. That’s more my style anyway. Goodish. Try saying it a few times; it sounds like an oar cutting into the water and then sweeping back in ripples.

We have our last Christmas festivity today. We are meeting Tim’s brother and sister and spouses at the Mount Washington Hotel for brunch. There’s a scene in Quill Point which takes place at this resort. I’m looking forward to visiting again, not only because it’s fun to see my in-laws, but also to refresh my memory of the place and see if I got the description right.

The new year approaches. I have to say, I’ll be quite happy to see the old one out. Sure, there were many blessings in 2018, but the rough parts hurt a lot, and our family needs time to recover. I hope that 2019 isn’t so fraught with dis-ease.

And now, a quick story before I sign off. When my mom was five, she started school, half days. She’d ride her little pony Nellie to school, along with her brothers and sisters who walked beside her, and then leave Nellie outside for the morning until she was finished with her lessons. Then she’d ride her back home, alone. Mom guessed that the distance was about a mile. Her parents didn’t question that she was only five. Her teachers didn’t question that there was a pony outside. Mom said it was all acceptable and normal. Kids were “older” back then. I try to imagine sending Liv or Serena to school at five on a pony, but can’t get them past the driveway before my mind and heart start screaming “Unsafe! Stop!” It certainly was a different time back then.

Happy New Year everyone. May things turn around, shape up, or start dancing, depending on what you each need. Any traditions to report? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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In this smallish house.

Good morning from partly sunny and cold Vermont. We’ve lost much of our snow because of the heavy rains that came last week. Still, winter persists. Last Wednesday I joined a book group and their discussion of Vinehart Farm. The ladies were thoughtful and welcoming, and also astute. In fact, when I was discussing how for each book there was a word or phrase the editor insisted I used too much, the 98-year-old woman beside me agreed and said, “Too many logs in the stove. We get it!” She was right, of course, as was I. When you heat with wood, you musts be constant and vigilant. Anyway, that was a wonderful day.

I’m on vacation and all four of us are home for a stretch in this smallish house. We all discussed together how to take breaks so that we wouldn’t drive each other crazy. Right now I’m delighted that our family is together, and celebrating this special time of year. We have so many Christmas traditions here at home and at my mother’s. It’s still strange and sad that my dad has gone. I wonder how long it will take before that particular hole is filled?

A short post this week, as I’m heading out to visit my mom and my two sisters, who are popping in there today. I wish you a loving stretch of good days, that you don’t find yourself alone unless you want to be, and the delicious feeling that all will be well as we celebrate Christ’s birthday and enter a new year.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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All manner of cardboard boxes

Good morning from frosty, cloudy Vermont. Some days are just right. Yesterday I traveled to Montpelier to meet with two sets of friends. Remember Sarah McLachlin’s lyric, “Joy and happiness surround you?” That’s what it was like with them, with even a few tears sprinkled in.

Today is the start of a full and crazy week. I’m trying to hold this fact lightly, and also welcome the calm, mysterious wait of Advent to support my back. Yes our home looks as if some gusty gale swept through, dumping all manner of cardboard boxes and upturning every piece of household gadgetry. Yes the tree ornaments are still in storage tubs, taking massive amounts of floorspace. My music for our Christmas Day carol sing lies in messy sheets on our coffee table. All that is true. But there’s also that underlying deep breath kind of feeling that all is well, and all will be well.

I get to visit with my mom this morning before heading to the library for work. Most of the time, it’s just the two of us, and we talk about everything, from the antics of the turkeys who visit her feeder, to our deep, intricate questions about life and faith. And she tells me who has visited her lately, so I catch up on family news. Crazy as the week ahead might be, I’ve got my mother to help dispel my anxiety about it. She’s my lucky penny.

A note about my manuscript. My sister finished reading it. She loved it except for one specific word, and suggested strongly that I change it. I’m taking it under advisement.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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A personalized story to each bag.

Good morning from nippy Vermont. I’ve missed a few weeks blogging. I was out of town and didn’t have access to my laptop. But here I am, this second Sunday of Advent, ready to sit down with you for a good chinwag. First, great news! Many of you know I’ve been struggling for a few years with short-term memory loss. Friday morning, my doctor gave me a three page memory test, and though I was slow to answer each question, I aced it. She concluded that my brain was working well, but I was suffering the effects of a high level of stress. I was so excited–I mean, stress can be reduced right?

And there’s another piece of good news. Friday afternoon Serena had an X-ray of her neck. (Her neuro eye doc thought she might have damage there due to her vision problems.) And she does. Her top vertebrae is twisted one way, and the next in line is twisted another way, which explains her headaches and migraines and loss of vision and ¬†feeling in her extremities. The chiropractor who took the scan will start adjusting her on the 20th (a three-hour appointment). Finally we get an answer–one of her concussions is the culprit! It’s funny how things work. My high school classmate Pam sent us to a doctor in Portsmouth who sent Serena to the neuro eye doc, who sent her to this special chiropractor back in Vermont. Perhaps Serena will actually end this year feeling better–what a concept!

I sold 17 books in all from the Bishop Marshall Craft Fair. My goal was five. I also sold half of Serena’s tees, most of her stationary, and a few of her tote bags. As I unloaded the car, balancing two large boxes in my arms, I lost my grip on my tea mug, and some spilled on the bags. I couldn’t sell them, so I bought them, and I’ve had such fun giving them away. And the tea stains add a personalized story to each bag.

What else? I’m on my third draft of a Christmas letter. Perhaps if I end up sending it out, I’ll post it to you next week. Every word and nuance has to be right though. I’ll take another stab at it this morning before work. Today the Kent elves continue to work on homemade Christmas and Hanukkah presents. So far, everything looks lovely.

Are you making holiday gifts this year? Check back next week for another round of Finding Home.

Lisa

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