Wednesday, November 28, 2012

They're here!

Yes! This afternoon I turned the corner and that beautiful smell of Christmas trees greeted me! It was raining here in NYC today, a cold snowy rain. But I paused and watched the guy unbundle some trees and shake off the rain and let their branches open. I love Christmas in New York!

Monday, November 26, 2012


I always feel so corny when I say how much I love Thanksgiving, how grateful I am for so much, how wonderful it was to fill our house with 25 people and have our tables groan with food and laughter. But there you have it. A lovely lovely day.

Of course I think Sam's time at home was too short, even though it was a week! And I didn't get a day to just stay in my pjs and work on my Last Supper jigsaw puzzle the way I imagined. But, I did have a long cold walk on my favorite beach. Turkey pot pie. Sam and Annabelle time aplenty. Top Chef. Knitting. Lots of turkey sandwiches. Lots of love all around.

Now I'm in a frenzy of making up class time lost due to Hurricane Sandy. So I feel like I will never catch up, though of course I will, I always do, we all always do. Still. I'm making myself notes, losing the notes, making more notes, trying to stay on top of all these papers...!!!

But. My birthday is coming, and I do love my birthday. I love this time of year. Every time I emerge from Penn Station and begin my walk down Eighth Avenue, i hope this is the day the Christmas tree guy will be set up and that the smell of Christmas trees and cold air will greet me. Not yet. But I bet next time. My study is already bursting with presents for my loved ones. And we are all getting excited for our trip to Norway. We leave December 27, and Santa is bringing lots of long underwear, hand warmers, and mittens!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, that you found gratitude and felt loved. I hope you ate too much, and smiled too much, and got PJ time. Sometimes it is so hard to feel these things. Sometimes it is impossible. But I hope you got a reprieve from heartache, if just for a little while.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cold, redux

Just when I thought my cold was really really gone, it came back! Ugh. Sam had me use a netty pot and boy, was that weird. I'm not sure it helped, or maybe my cold just is getting worse...

But I had a nice relaxing afternoon on my little NYC bed, a dog on my feet and a cup of tea by my side. It's pretty chilly here, so I was glad to kind of hunker down and do basic tasks like bill paying and record keeping. Ah! the exciting life of a writer!

For writers who might be reading here, I'm happy to announce that my Writing in Tuscany workshop will be held August 23-30, 2013. For details, email me at The wonderful writer Jane Hamilton will be on the faculty, along with return teacher Anne LeClaire. It's a memorable experience. You can check out the farm where it is held at

Off for Chinese food now, which always makes me feel better!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Hudson

What a breathtaking train ride I just took from Albany to Manhattan! We hugged the glorious Hudson the entire way, and I had to stop what I was doing just to gaze out the window. Rain has made the river quite high, and the sunlight today made it shimmer, silvery and fast moving. Sometimes a bridge loomed above. Sometimes trees bent toward it. The time went so quickly that I arrived in NYC surprised to be there.

In another whirlwind of travel, but cannot complain about the weekend spent in Ithaca. The six hour drive with Annabelle early Saturday morning was more fun than I can describe. Fueled by Dunkin' Donuts glazed doughnuts and a big to go coffee for me, we chatted about prehistoric times, cave paintings, and the planets before settling in to listening to the first Boxcar Children Mystery. I bought four on CD, and their old fashioned charm won us both over. When we pulled into Ithaca at lunch time, after listening to the Chocolate Sundae Mystery, I drove directly to Purity Ice Cream where we had ice cream cones for lunch. Got to the college just in time for the matinee of LEGALLY BLOND and a glimpse of Sam who was subterranean while he rehearsed for his opening the next day. The play was fantastic, once again leaving me so impressed by the talent there. After we dropped off a cooler full of meatballs and sauce (from GoGo) and enchiladas (from me), Annabelle and I drove to meet Cousin Gina. The three of us went to the Fine Line Bistro (thank you, Stewart!) for a really yummy dinner.

Next morning I snuck out to Starbucks for lots of coffee and the Sunday Times until Sam woke up and we could go and get him for breakfast at Hal's, the Ithaca diner of legend. Lorne flew in from Portland, OR and landed just as we finished breakfast, so we got him at the airport and then went to hang out at Sam's apartment with his roommates and their parents. We went back to our room for wine and cheese--decided to eat it outside because it was so warm--before hitting the 5:00 DREAM OF THE BURNING BOY. What can I say about watching your child, your son, now a man, performing such an emotional play with such integrity? I was speechless when it ended, and teary eyed.

From there we went to the Commons and met Sam's roomie's parents for happy hour before we all went to the 8:00 show. Then dinner at Maxie's, the boys all aglow from their performances, the parents all aglow from pride. Shrimp and grits and andouille sausage...maybe that's why I didn't sleep very well? But up and out, coffee at Gimme and then the three hour ride to Albany and the train ride above.

I am now off to Uniqlo (quite a walk, which I need after riding all day) to buy a coat I almost bought in London last year and have regretted passing up ever since. Dinner at Otto with my darling friend, teaching at the New School until 10:30, then back here where this time I have a roomie, my good pal who I share this NYC pied a terre with. We are hardly ever here at the same time, so are excited that tonight we are! Slumber party!

Off tomorrow to Charlotte for a talk (and dinner with so many NC friends, cannot wait), then home on Wednesday. But immediately onward to Boston and Grub Streets's gala.

No wonder I am kind of tired today, though feeling very warm and fuzzy, basking in Sam's performance and in this warm weather and the promised of so much good girl friend time over the next few days.

My goal: finish Sam's blanket by end of the week.

Oh! You must read the Patrick Melrose novels. The first four come in one volume, and I cannot stop reading them. Droopy eyed and head bobbing, I have to keep reading every night!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I actually had to go and but a sweater yesterday when I got to NYC! It's in the low 30s, and gray as winter out there. (Actually, I am not complaining about a new sweater, especially a long ribbed purple one...) And I am going to wear that sweater again today when I venture outside. But meanwhile it is nice to stay under the covers and watch them unloading a truck in front of D'Agostino's across the street. I'm sipping my coffee and actually getting writing done, trying to motivate myself to walk to the corner for breakfast...

Thank you to everyone who emailed me asking if we were hit hard by hurricane Sandy. Last year, Irene knocked our power out for days and days. But we were luckier this time and just had the rain and winds. Not so the beautiful Rhode Island beaches, which have suffered damage and erosion. And NYC's damage just breaks my heart. Rockaway and Breezy Point and Staten Island, as well as Long island and Jersey shore...they are still suffering out there, and I am--like all of us--sending my prayers and hopes their way. I was in the East Village yesterday (read: aforementioned new sweater and a new pair of glasses after I sat on mine) and didn't see any damage, though I know they lost power for a long time and had flooding. As I took my usual walk from Penn Station, through Chelsea to the West Village, I thought the streets seemed quieter, emptier. Maybe that's due to the power and heat problems? Or maybe just due to the cold weather...

Thank you too to everyone who sent me kind thoughts yesterday commemorating my brother's birthday. Hard to believe he would have been 61, had he not died in a stupid accident thirty years ago. To read about him, go to this link to a piece I wrote in the NYT:

For those who have asked about my February workshop, JUMPSTART YOUR NOVEL: yes, if you are writing a full length memoir, this workshop would work for you too. I'm really excited to teach this, and excited that it is almost full! I can fit 2-4 more people, so if you are interested, please let me know ASAP. Details are on my last blog. And once we are full I will send further details to everyone.

Don't forget to vote! On election day, I always get very emotional. How lucky I am to be an American, to have this privilege...

Just a quick note about what I am reading and what I am knitting.

Started the first book of the Patrick Melrose novels last night and immediately fell in love. Lucky for me, I bought all four in one volume! I didn't even realize that. But boy am I glad that when I finish one I can go right to the next one!

Also read THE VANISHING ACT, and if you want to be completely charmed, read this book. Loved it!

Happily, I returned to my Friday noon knitting circle and resumed work on my socks. Have no idea what I am doing, but having fun doing it! And one and a half skeins from finishing Sam's blanket, which gives me no time to knit the next two before Christmas. Still, I will keep at it! If you want to see a great collection of knitting pictures, LIKE the Facebook page: il club dei ricordi. My Italian publisher set it up and it rocks!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Any writers out there who are interested in attending my weekend workshop, JUMPSTART YOUR NOVEL, should email me here.

The workshop will be held at the end of February here in Rhode Island. It will get you ready to write by helping you answer the questions that you need to ask before you begin writing your novel. You will leave on Sunday with a concrete plan and inspiration to begin.

Arrival is on Friday, February 22, in time for dinner. That night we will talk about your idea for the novel you want to write. Saturday morning I will teach you how I begin my novels, taking you through the steps I put myself through before I begin. After lunch, you will go off and prepare those steps for your novel. Sunday morning we'll share what we've done and I'll give the comments you need to have your plan ready to put into action. When you leave after lunch on the 24th, you will be ready to write your novel!

There will be s'mores, opportunities to hike, reflect, meet other writers.

Space is limited!