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Finding Home

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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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Humidity.

Good morning from rainy Vermont. That cold rain is washing the outside of Mrs. Potts, and since she dislikes mud, she’s happy to get a bath. Unfortunately, driving to and from work today might be dicey. The pros and cons of rain…My editor says I have the bad habit of listing things. She calls me a lister. So instead of telling you all the things I did or did not accomplish over break, I’ll practice a better way.

I changed my dad’s guitar strings on his Taylor. After watching a few YouTube videos on how to change strings, I realized I had been doing this for years and there wasn’t any new method out there for me to adopt. It took me about 15 minutes, and I didn’t break the E string. His guitar is tuned and ready to play. Unfortunately, those few videos I watched said I shouldn’t leave my guitar out on its stand because it might dry out in winter’s low humidity. I love having it on a stand. I reach for it easily, and it’s beautiful to look at. If Serena can tolerate it, I’ll try using a humidifier downstairs. That leaves my Martin. I hope I can change its strings this week. And it’s funny–before I learned about how you’re supposed to keep your guitar in its case, I purchased another stand so the girls and I could reach for the guitars and play together. I know my Martin doesn’t have an expanding bridge, so I’ll definitely have to get some humidity in the living room. This guitar also is beautiful to look at, and its original case is falling apart. Humidity. We’ll give it a try.

Black Friday entered into our home. I did much of my Christmas shopping online, and of course I experienced a moral dilemma doing so. I wanted to buy local, but the few things that were on the girls’ lists weren’t available here. At least the packages will arrive in cardboard, something I can break down and add to our recycling. It’s really hard to do it all right. If I had started earlier in the year, like June, I could have figured out how to Christmas shop with my ethics intact. At least we are making all our presents for family and friends, with two weekend days in December dedicated for production, assembly, and shipping. And all four of us have a role, so that balances out the Black Friday debacle, doesn’t it?

I’ve been listening to Christmas music at every opportunity. On the very old Bing Crosby album, he talks about everybody joining in with him for Away in the Manger, for some “gang singing.” Because I’m me, I get an instant visual of the drug cartels running through the streets of Philadelphia singing Deck the Halls with Bells of Holly. Or think West Side Story: “When you’re an elf your an elf all the way.” I just read this paragraph to Tim and Serena and they didn’t get it. Serena said, “Maybe it will work for the older crowd.” Oh well.

I’m back on my Sunday morning posting schedule. This Saturday I’m selling my books and Serena’s newly designed tees and totes. Come visit me at the Bishop Marshall craft fair in Morrisville. It runs all day.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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I reach for her hand.

Good morning from cloudy Vermont. A clerk I talked to earlier said we are in for a cold snap. That’s just what it is, too. A snap of electric lines. A snap when houses shift. A snap of breath when it’s taken away. Here, inside, it’s warm and peaceful. I have the day off from college, and only the dog is awake beside me. Time I treasure…

Some of you might recall that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It helps us Americans all focus on what is working and good and plentiful in our lives. I’ve got a list going, and it’s so long it would take three blogs just to get the words down. Just so you know, I’m grateful for you.

We celebrate the holiday with my husband’s brother, sister, and their families. For so many years we gave my mother-in-law a ride down to Hanover, and I sat in the back between my two girls, singing every Christmas carol I remembered. They’d lay their heads against each side of me, and I enjoyed the scent of freshly washed hair.  Every now and again, my husband would reach back and squeeze my hand. Now, I’m in the front passenger seat, and sometimes there’s only Liv in the back. I reach for her hand…

A word on my book. In the last two weeks, I finished my edits in Quill Point and now it’s off into the production queue. My mom read my manuscript and loved it. Now one of my sisters is reading it. I gave my siblings the chance to opt in early. It’s a gift to them. They’ve given so much to me.

I turn now to the business of marketing my four books. I’ll make lists and charts and use all my color pencils, and then ultimately, I’ll slog through it. But that’s later. Right now, it’s about Thanksgiving, and wishing you a day of thankfulness, a lovely meal, and sweet memories. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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How many ways can you say hug?

Good morning from raw and cloudy Vermont. My latest news? I’m all done my last round of edits as of five minutes ago. My plan is to drop off my hard copy manuscript to my mom this morning before work so she doesn’t have to wait until next year to read the book, and sometime this week I’ll make the time to read the book online one more time before I send it off to the editor for production.

If you notice any typos, please don’t tell me about it. The editor and I have proofed Quill Point until at least I can’t stand it anymore. The time for enough already is now, except, of course, for that one last read…

How many ways can you say hug? Not enough, according to my editor. And does the word “So” have a comma after it or not? It doesn’t, though Word’s spell check says it does.  I’m tired and bleary eyed, and I have a cold. Thank goodness we got to turn the clock back an hour.

You know, for the past two years, I haven’t mentioned our current strained democracy once. Nor have I written about the enormous disasters that are occurring. I just wanted you to know that even though I don’t blog about such things, it doesn’t mean I’m blind to them. When I started this blog, I knew early on what I’d have words for. So I centered my  themes around raising daughters and learning and writing and home. Occasionally, even those themes challenge me–as you all know.  I guess I just needed to get that off my chest.

I leave you with a photo Serena took while I was at the table making corrections. It takes some balance to type with a dog in your lap. He’s worth the effort. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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Then zip! It’s off to production.

Good morning from dreary Vermont. Since we now have snow in the air and even some on the ground, I’ve started to listen to Christmas music at work and in my car. Instrumental, classics, new versions, the whole nine yards. If it adds a spring in my step, why not?

I didn’t blog last week because I used the time to work on my second round edits. As of this morning, I’m half way through. I’ve got two weeks left to make my deadline–then zip! It’s off to production.

This evening at the library, I host a one-time reader’s group discussion on this year’s Vermont Read’s selection–Bread and Roses, Too. The Vermont Humanities Council selects one book a year for the entire community to read and talk about, in small towns and big cities all over the state. This particular book is about the labor strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, seen through the eyes of two older children. I have a few videos for my small group to watch, and there are pizza, cider, and cookies. Perhaps next year I’ll draw a larger crowd.

Friday, when I was out and about, a reader fan asked where in town she could buy my new book. I didn’t know, as my friend Orah Moore no longer has her store in the village. The woman reminded me that some people didn’t use Amazon. That’s a good point. I’ll have to think on it.

Okay, time to get ready for work, and pack my basket with goodies for the afternoon and evening. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

LisaLRM_EXPORT_49364204411193_20181004_130837936

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