Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Enjoying NYC

Even though it was tough waking up for that early train after driving back from Ithaca Sunday night (traffic jam on the Mass Pike kindly added an hour or two to the ride!), as soon as my feet hit NYC asphalt I was happy. Annabelle and I met up with fabulous Erica, who whisked AB off to play in water and ride the carousel at Chelsea Piers. I went midtown for lunch and meeting with my editor, then walked back with a stop at Calypso (time to start thinking about fall, and to that end got a yummy brown skirt and some cream and brown tops). AB spent the evening with her buddy Ella while Ella's parents and I hopped over to the Wyeth Hotel in Williamsburg to catch the sun setting from the roof top bar. Two Hemingway's daiquiris later we made our way to dinner at Diner. Hipster waitpeople actually write the menu on your butcher paper table top. Food was good! Hipness forgiven, even bemused. 

Now AB continues to sleep. Coffee is brewing. She is off to more playgrounds and I am off to more meetings. Rumor has it I might be meeting Giada DeLaurentis this afternoon. Stay tuned. 

Haircut. Chinese take out dinner. A perfect NYC visit. Big sigh. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Rainy ride to Ithaca

Lying here in bed listening to the rain, reading the NYT, drinking a very good cup of coffee, and willing myself to get up and make the tarragon chicken salad to complete the picnic I'm bringing up to Ithaca. Already packed the fixings for spaghetti carbonara, baked a strawberry rhubarb pie, bought a coffee cake, and packed up tomato mozzarella salad, cucumber dill salad, and toasted orzo salad, plus double chocolate cookies. All of this food equals one dinner tonight, breakfast, and aforementioned picnic. I got a condo on Groupon with a kitchen and 6 tix to a waterpark, so not only do we get to see Sam in Othello (picnic!) with Ithaca Shakespeare, but we also get to splash around and eat. Lots. 

Also need to pack a weekend bag. 

But oh this rain sounds so nice on my roof...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Home Sweet Home continued

Well, I posted the picture of Gogo and Gus and couldn't continue typing. Sigh. 

Anyway, I love newborn babies. Love them! And so had a happy afternoon cuddling Gus. And then came home and made a yummy dinner of salmon (smear with mayo, Dijon, lime juice, and fresh tarragon), my kale Caesar salad, and snap peas followed by berries a la Annabelle. Then watched first two episodes of House of Cards. Officially hooked!

Off to the Cape for two days. This afternoon a lobster and champagne lunch with the fabulous Anne LeClaire and the lucky raffle winners who won us (and the lunch!). Tomorrow an authors' luncheon hosted by Where the Sidewalk Ends. 

And on Friday it's off to Ithaca to see Sam in Othello. Might even finish my second Mara shawl on that long round trip journey!

Home Sweet Home

IIJet lag is working its bad juju on me--I'm either up until 3AM and sleeping till 10 or falling asleep in my dinner and up at 4. Guess which one it is this morning???

But the birds are chirping and the sun is shining so I decided to use the quiet time to catch up on all the things that need catching up on when you've been without wifi for two weeks. 

I had a great event Monday night at the Holy Trinity Church in Tiverton. And then yesterday took Gogo to visit Gus:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Gazing at the moon

...which is perfectly framed in my window. Almost full. And beautiful. 

Are you homesick? Annabelle asked me as we lay side by side tonight. No, I admitted. Our little cabin here in beautiful Port Townsend, doing puzzles and reading and running by the water. It reminds me of how the simple things make me so happy. I always get these same feelings when I spend time by the water. I have written one good essay and one good short story here these two weeks, taught classes and read and talked and thought my thoughts. It has been lovely. 

Sunday home, where hopefully the heat will have broken. And hopefully I can bring some of this simple pleasure back with me. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Port Townsend, Week 2

I am just pinching myself that I am here in WA with my jeans jacket on and missing the heat wave back home for another week! New workshop group started yesterday and it's always fun to face a new bunch if writers, observe group dynamics, read new stories, tackle writing problems. 

Annabelle is having a ball, exploring beaches and bunkers and coffee houses. We've discovered a new game called Quattro that one of us (ok, me) is addicted to. And we've managed to finish one jigsaw puzzle and start a new one with the help of a closer poet and our fearless babysitter. 

Cafeteria food growing old week 2, so tonight: pizza from town and some Pinot noir. Tomorrow is the whiskey and pie party, another fabulous combo!

Our whale watch on Sunday had us find seven orcas!

Here's the male. 

I've even managed to finish a short story here, which right now I'm liking a lot. And I've started an essay. So nice to write with a view of the water...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What's not to love

When I wake up here in Port Townsend and look out the window, I see a strip of fog over the water. So beautiful. Some afternoons that fog lifts to reveal tall snow capped mountains. Add a family of deer frolicking in front of my cabin. A high blue sky. And my happy sigh. 

Last night we ventured into town for dinner, after shopping. Of course there is an amazing yarn shop on Water Street where I had to be dragged out. An entire room just of knitting needles! At another store I picked up some Jane Austen band aids. Need I say more?

Here is my neighbor:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Greetings from beautiful chilly foggy Port Townsend, WA

I had forgotten just how gorgeous it is here. Well, it's been about 30 years since I traveled around these parts, out in the San Juan Islands and here in Port Townsend. I was smitten then and am again now. So far I've been here in the state park where the writers conference is held and haven't had a chance to get into town yet ( tomorrow I will!). But the deer everywhere, the morning fog, the bay and mountains and evergreens...all enough to keep this girl happy. Oh. And it's chilly here! That heat and humidity in New England is no friend of mine. So I am loving the air. Loving everything. I have a terrific workshop. Good friends teaching too. And Annabelle with me thanks to the tireless Erica. Big happy sigh. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


I've been getting lots of emails asking for my upcoming teaching schedule. Thanks for your interest!

FYI, my summer classes in Port Townsend, Sicily, and Tuscany are full.

But there's lots coming up. Please email me at amhood@gmail.com if you would like more information on any of these!

The Provincetown Fine Arts Workshop, online:
September 30-October 25

MA residents are eligible for a scholarship if they apply before September 6!


December 6-8

Whispering Pines Conference Center
Exeter, RI


Eckerd College Writers Conference
January 18-25
St. petersburg, FL

THE FIRST 10 PAGES: workshopping your beginning pages of fiction and/or memoir
January 31- February 2

Whispering Pines Conference Center
Exeter, RI

Summer 2014:

The Aspen Writers Conference, June
Tin House, July

Tuscany Writers Conference 2014
Date TBA

It's a boy!

August Lloyd (middle name after my brother and my dad) Goldberg. We waited all day, but the little guy took his time. Gogo and I are heading to Boston this afternoon to meet him. 

Spent yesterday afternoon making soup. I believe in soup. For this hot weather I made a gallon of gazpacho, a gallon of vichyssoise, and a gallon of corn chowder. Enough to feed the Goldberg's for a little while, especially in combination with all the food Gogo made! (Last night she told me we had to take her car to Boston because her cooler of food was so big)

I am also bringing cute gifts for the baby. My favorite: a pacifier with a moustache over it. Very debonair. 

Annabelle sewed a rabbit family. They are super cute. 

Welcome to the world, August!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I just got the Blogger app and am really excited!

Weddings and babies

First: News Flash:
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!