Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Monday, December 30, 2013
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Friday, December 27, 2013
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Friday, December 6, 2013
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Monday, December 2, 2013
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Ann Hood & Elissa Schappell
On November 20 we're presenting Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting. The event celebrates a new essay collection edited by Hood, with contributions from 27 great writers, including Schappell. Want to know why they're great? Hood and Schappell have both published original short stories in our magazine, The Literarian. Check out "Hum" by Ann Hood (think houseguests from hell) and "Elephant" by Elissa Schappell. Both deliver an emotional wallop, in the best way. Now do you want to hear what Hood and Schappell have to say about the intersection of literature and knitting? Of course you do! So RSVP.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Monday, November 11, 2013
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Monday, November 4, 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013
Hopefully there will be some time at the end of the day for a nap...
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Friday, October 18, 2013
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Monday, October 14, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Yesterday was at the Dennis Library was made even more special when I got a true surprise from an old buddy showing up. I almost had a heart attack when I saw him standing there! We even got to have a quick glass of chardonnay before I had to get back to Providence. So often here, and in our daily lives, we are caught off guard by something sad, or hurtful. But yesterday as I drove home I was all warm and fuzzy with this kind of surprise, one that you really never thought would happen and that opens up all kinds of possibility.
Another big surprise there was that they are making a brick walkway with the names of all the writers who have appeared in their Author's Series and it was really special to see my brick! What a great idea! And a great series!
On Thursday I spoke at an Author's Tea, which is a wonderful library fundraiser. i was delighted to take Gogo with me, and share cucumber sandwiches and macarons as well as lots of good cheer.
On this beautiful day, one of my favorite Libras (see last post) and I are shopping for her birthday dinner and then spending the afternoon making our famous bolognese ragu. Much food, wine, and friendship is on the schedule for this evening when we share that bolognese with a dozen other people!
I am treating myself to the gorgeous yarns from Purl Soho to knit up their Whitecaps cowl, my next knitting project now that the second Mara shawl is almost done! I think the story that goes with the pattern won me over as much as the beautiful cowl:
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Friday, August 9, 2013
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Friday, July 26, 2013
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Friday, July 19, 2013
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
FYI, my summer classes in Port Townsend, Sicily, and Tuscany are full.
But there's lots coming up. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information on any of these!
The Provincetown Fine Arts Workshop, online:
WRITING THE PERSONAL ESSAY
September 30-October 25
MA residents are eligible for a scholarship if they apply before September 6!
WRITING THROUGH GRIEF
Whispering Pines Conference Center
PLEASE NOTE: THIS ONE IS ALMOST FULL
Eckerd College Writers Conference
St. petersburg, FL
THE FIRST 10 PAGES: workshopping your beginning pages of fiction and/or memoir
January 31- February 2
Whispering Pines Conference Center
The Aspen Writers Conference, June
Tin House, July
Tuscany Writers Conference 2014
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Amazon picked THE OBITUARY WRITER as one of the top ten books this year so far!!!!!!!!!
Okay. Now that I got that out of my system...
Sitting up in bed on a sultry summer morning, the fan whirring and Annabelle sleeping beside me. Outside: gray sky, air heavy with rain. A strange few days, filled with so many different emotions. I spent the weekend in Ithaca to see Sam in HAIR! What an amazing show! Such talented performers, and such brilliant directing (ok, full disclosure...his girlfriend directed it). They performed it outside, which after seeing it in Central Park a few years ago I think is the best way to see that play. A rainy weekend, but the sun did shine in enough for the show to be outside. Only complaint about the weekend is not enough Sam time. But there never is, alas. Still, got to enjoy a picnic with all people associated with the play, and to have a souvlaki pita at the Farmer's Market.
(Coming soon to More Magazine, FYI, my essay on my smoker, a few years ago Christmas present that Sam mastered and I had to learn on my own last summer. Made some amazing smoked salmon...well, when the essay runs I'll put the link here and you can read all about it...)
Funny thing: at the hotel we were watching a show about a guy who builds tree houses and one was in Ithaca! So as we left town (we being Cousin GJ, Annabelle and me) we went to see it. Crazy! Also saw baby peacocks (peachicks?) there and snapping turtle feeding time and a butterfly garden before getting into the car for the long trek home. But those treks are numbered now that Sam has decided to transfer to NYU! He'll be studying at the Experimental Theater Workshop at Tisch starting in the fall! That means Monday night dinners with him...yay!
(Total digression here: if anyone knows of any sublets in Manhattan, preferable East Village or Lower East Side let me know? Sam is apartment hunting big time. And I can vouch for what a nice, reliable person he is!)
Anyway, we hit major traffic coming home, so that the 6 hour ride became an 8 hour ride. Cousin GJ spent too much time reading the NYT and doing the Sunday crossword puzzle. Passengers need to keep driver entertained, right??? The soundtrack to Matilda played about a zillion times. And so my mind wandered all around, until it landed on remembering that it was the anniversary of my brother Skip's death. With all my traveling this summer, I'm never sure what the actual date is. But I was calculating that when it hit me. 31 years. Yikes. And driving down the Mass Pike through torrential rain, I remembered that awful day. I was on a layover in LA (flight attendant days) and coming back from eating Mexican food I heard the phone ringing in my hotel room as I walked down the hall. Since no one ever knew where I was in those days, I knew immediately something was wrong. Picked it up and an old BF was on the other end, telling me he had very bad news, that someone had died. And I hung up on him. Twice. Before he could tell me it was Skip and that I had to make the red eye home.
I started to tremble remembering it, remembering that flight and entering the house and my father in his blue flannel shirt despite the heat, a bottle of Jack Daniels on the table. So many things I try not to remember came flooding into me. Does that ever happen to you? 31 years. But all of a sudden like yesterday. My handsome funny charismatic brother.
But then it passes. Not the grief, but the ache that makes your chest hurt. And next thing you know you're home eating pizza and drinking a really good chardonnay, then laughing in bed with your 9 year old and reading a good book and the fan is whirring and it starts to rain...
What makes this even stranger is that also this week--the 4th of July--is my father's birthday, and anyone who knows me at all knows how much I loved that man. I still go to sleep asking him for strength or advice when something really gets me down, or mad, or hurt. And I swear he comes through, even now. How he loved his birthday! I woke up every 4th of July to the sound of John Philips Sousa marches playing, loud. He'd already be drinking cold beer (and when I was old enough I'd join him, beer with breakfast) and getting food ready to grill and smoke (he built his own smoker way back). People would start arriving by 10 or 11 AM and stayed until way past midnight, for years in our backyard, but later at the beach where we'd rent a house every July. My friends. Skip's friends. Aunts and uncles and cousins and the card club ladies. Just everybody having fun. When the fireworks began, my dad always said they were for him.
And this year, sandwiched between these two dates, my niece Melissa (Skip's daughter) is having a baby boy. Today. In a couple of hours she's off to get induced, and I suspect there will be a baby born by tonight. I'll make corn chowder and vichyssoise and gazpacho to bring her so that the family can have soup any time they want it (I'm a firm believer in soup) and still get in quality baby time. How fitting that little guy is coming July 2. I think my father is working his magic again.
I'd like to end there, but in the heading I promised a wedding too. That's Saturday. In NH. My good friend Joyce Maynard is getting married and I am just so happy for her. Proof that we can find our soul mates after 50, and start new lives, and be happy. Annabelle is the flower girl. We're sharing a carriage house with my good pal Laura Lippman and her little girl. Arriving on Friday for rehearsal and pizza party. Wedding on Saturday. Lots of friends will be there, and I'm packing a case of wine and a couple newly knit wedding dishrags, plus my dear friend Francesco, and the flower girl, and heading to New Hampshire with bells on!
Let the celebrating begin!
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
The first day we opted to skip the hike (read aforementioned description of the mosquitoes) and took a private plane around Mt. Denali instead. That was pretty cool! The afternoon was spent watching Annabelle and her new buddy frolic in the little pond while we lounged, read, and eventually cracked open a bottle of chardonnay. That was the first day in a very long time that I did not work at all. I just relaxed. No internet, no phone, and I just loved every minute. At 6 there was a little reception with yummy cheeses and then a delicious dinner. We met such great people and just enjoyed talking to everyone.
The next morning we signed on for the foray (read: easiest hike). And it is a happy blur of wildflowers and ground squirrels, and Annabelle working on her Junior Ranger activity book in time to get sworn in before we returned to camp. That's when we found out that the group ten minutes behind us encountered a grizzly bear during lunch!!!!
I will long remember the kale salad from that night's dinner, and the ribs and rice that followed, and then the rhubarb crisp. Sigh. The food.
It was a long way out the next day, but we were rewarded with several grizzly bear sightings (nice when you're on a bus!) and then once on the train a moose with two calves! It doesn't get better than that. And here's a big shout out to the Alaska Railroad and their Gold Star Service. We drank Alaskan beer and ate yummy food and Annabelle played tag with all the staff. A real delight that ride was.
And as these things go, before I knew it I was on a plane home...
Happy to be back, to eat Gogo's spaghetti and meatballs last night and then flop into bed with Annabelle reading (her: Betsy Tacy; me: the new Curtis Sittenfeld)
Hit the ground running today and am already in NYC to be on a panel at the Center for Fiction tonight.
But home tomorrow, where we are waiting for my niece Melissa to have her baby! I want her to hold off until I get back from Ithaca on Sunday, but not sure she can.
So I will be watching Sam let the sun shine in during Hair. If you are in or near that part of NY, go see it. It's free!!!!
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
The scenery: like a postcard. Mountains. Ocean.
The wildlife: bald eagles--babies and big guys with salmon in their talons. Puffins. Otters. One stunning sandpiper crane. More birds than I can name.
Flying in a Cessna over surreal blue glaciers and craggy mountains.
Eating: salmon. halibut. rockfish. oysters. repeat.
Local beer. Local wine. Local coffee.
My room with that view.
The writers I met! New friends!
Inspiration around every corner.
I hated to leave this place.
But I am now in Anchorage and loving a whole new kind of experience.
Today the zoo, full of rescued native animals, plus one tiger and the grave of an elephant won in a contest years ago.
Moose Tooth pizza and local beer.
Off to a salmon and steak barbecue now with new friends.
Friday, June 14, 2013
Thursday, June 13, 2013
I'm about to plug in my earphones and listen to the end of The Wasp Season by Denise Mina. The reader's Scottish accent has me so charmed, and Mina's writing is so good that this has become one of my great pleasures. I'm bummed that there's only one book left in the Alex Morrow series. But maybe she is working on another one (I hope!)
A cup of Pike's Place coffee and huge windows looking out on craggy snow capped mountains. Big happy sigh.
My flight to Homer leaves at 6:30. Everyone who hears that's where I'm heading gets all dreamy and gushes about how beautiful that little town is. Cannot wait to get there, though I admit my bed has the most appeal short term...
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Still. When you get invited to teach in GORGEOUS Homer, Alaska on Kechemak Bay, you say YES! The town looks so beautiful. A spit of land sticking out into the ocean. Sea lions and otters. Very cool, and I am psyched. The question is why I decided to go deep into Danali National Park, stay in a cabin with an outhouse, and hike for three days? There are bears in those woods. And moose. And wolverines. I know it will be fun! I know it will be memorable! I know I will cry. Frequently. Still, Annabelle and Cousin Gina and I are heading west on Thursday. I will get my fill of salty air in Homer. Then I will don my ugly clothes and hike. No internet there, so if I come out alive I will post pictures on FB then. For now, I will pack up. And since Homer is first on the trip, many beautiful ocean-y type pictures to come. And as Cousin Gina reminded me, we slid down Incan ruins on our butts (fear of heights) in Peru. I was hidden in a tree in the Ugandan jungle to protect me from my hairy lover the gorilla. We are about to have another adventure! And despite my bellyaching, I am excited!
Monday, June 3, 2013
But that happy jaunt made me miss our old boat and all the summers spent on it sailing around Newport Harbor, and off to Block Island, and floating to the sounds of the Newport Folk Festival. Big sigh. It's been eleven years since we sold it, and there are many times every summer when I miss those long ago days. Driving back from Ithaca last night with Gogo and she was commenting on the changes in our lives. Every Friday night for decades she and her friends met and played poker, staying up smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee until the wee hours of Saturday morning. (I wrote about "The Girls" for Parade Magazine in March: http://www.parade.com/news/views/guest/130303-ann-hood-remember-the-girls.html) "Those days are gone," she said last night. She sounded bittersweet rather than sad. I guess at 81 you get used to these huge changes that make the landscape of your days so different. But still, we long for them, don't we? One more Friday night, one more sail around the harbor...
Of course my memories of those days sailing are populated with memories of Grace, a surefooted sailor by the time she could walk. We sold the boat the year she died, and even now when I set foot on a boat her smile floats across my mind, her intelligent blue eyes peer out at me from behind her wire rimmed glasses, and I can almost smell her full of salty air, heavy on my lap in her life jacket, almost hear her giggling as she follows Sam below deck to play.
A great weekend in Ithaca though. I got to see the cast of Hair sing at Stewart Park before heading home, and their voices were amazing! If you are anywhere near Ithaca the weekend of June 28, go see them. It's free!
On the way home we got caught in a downpour on Route 88. The sun peeked out to the west, and just as I said, "This is rainbow weather," we turned the corner and were met by the biggest brightest rainbow I've ever seen! So bright I had to pull over and take a picture of it. I pulled back into traffic and Annabelle shouted, "A double!" Sure enough, a second rainbow appeared right beside the first! More pictures. And then Gogo said, "Look at THAT!" The clouds had lifted and revealed Rainbow Number 1's full arc, stretching across us and the trees, every color visible. Wow! Let the sun shine in, indeed!
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
I had a lovely book club visit last night, and another tomorrow night. But otherwise I am blissfully free to think about stories and such. I will be at the Barnes and Noble in Warwick on Saturday at 2 to sign THE TREASURE CHEST. From there I am off to Ithaca to hang out with Sam for the weekend, since I spent most of his vacation in the stans.
Annabelle and I have been getting ready for our trip to Alaska, hitting the REI sale and stocking up on all things hiking. We leave on June 13 and spend our first days in Homer, where I'm teaching at the Kachemak Bay Writers Conference. Then we head to Anchorage and on to Denali National Park and our little cabin deep in the park.
We get home in time to head to Ithaca to see Sam in HAIR! before Annabelle and I go off again, this time to Port Townsend, WA for the Writers Conference there. And home in time to see Sam in OTHELLO at Ithaca Shakespeare Company.
I have to share two book recommendations, by the way: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon by Anthony Marra. Both brilliant! My own summer reading is devoted to reading at least two of Robert Caro's books on LBJ, as well as Tara Conklin's House Girl, Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings, and Elizabeth Strout's The Burgess Boys.
And I hope to knit two of the Mara shawls. I'm 1/3 finished with the first one, and I have enough flying time to knit two...hopefully...
But for today, I am just enjoying the rain, eating artichokes, and finishing with a cocktail party this evening. Good to be home!
Sunday, May 26, 2013
You might have noticed that I haven't updated you on my travels lately. Well, in Ashgabat, all of our blogs were blocked, and Facebook got blocked intermittently.
What an interesting country Turkmenistan is! All white marble and gold or blue domes. Snapdragons and roses blooming in kaleidescopic proportions. Fountains everywhere, often changing colors Las Vegas style at night. Although I think I will not eat a shish kebab of awhile, we enjoyed the hospitality of the US Ambassador in his beautiful home (filled with the carpets Turkmenistan is famous for) and a party at the home of the Deputy Chief (WINE! Finally!) We met poets, students, librarians, teachers, and had special sessions with people with disabilities. All fascinating encounters.
Perhaps my favorite excursion was to the city of Mary where, in Merv, there is an archeological dig that began just two weeks ago. Watching the painstaking work of sifting through dirt for shards of colorful pottery, I remembered my parents' story of watching Pompeii getting excavated when they lived in Naples in the early 1950s. They would take picnic lunches there, and watch as columns and murals got revealed.
We also got to visit The mausoleum of Seljuk ruler Ahmad Sanjar (1118 - 57), considered a jewel of Islam architecture for good reason. It was absolutely beautiful--and you can see pictures of it and other sites in Turkmenistan on my FB page.
I have a long trek home, but am happily upgraded so that the eleven+ hour flight will be less painful. Lots of time to dream of pasta and bacon and eggs and Gogo's meatballs. And the smiling faces waiting for me at the other end...