Thursday, August 28, 2008

2008 W.O.O.L. Wrap-Up

What a weekend!!! Amazing! Wonderful! Fabulous! All these words come to mind when I think of our retreat at Wiawaka, but none of them actually captures the essence of it. When I think about it, 22 women (+/-) got together and did nothing but spin, knit and talk. A few read, a couple played scrabble. One played scrabble while knitting (which was amazing since before she started this weekend she was an anxious knitter!)

My weekend actually began on Wednesday when I picked up my dear friend Rosemary and her sister Carrie, at the train station. You need a little background. Rosemary and I were very close friend for a bunch of years. We had met through a mutual friend, but had become close during the time he died and later sharing our grief, anger and other emotions. Then 9/11 happened, and neither of us could be there for the other, and we parted ways. A few months ago, while doing The Artist's Way, I wrote to Rosemary and we reconnected. That she, a veritable non-knitter, and her sister, an addicted knitter like the rest of us, should come to this retreat, was truly a gift from the Gods. Reconnecting with Roses was truly the highlight in a weekend full of light.

Thursday was arrival day, and I had the joy of seeing Wiawaka presented to two people who had never been there. We were a bit early, so we couldn't check in. Rosemary and Carrie went to wander the grounds and I went in search of Tina. It didn't take much time for me to find them, as they were walking up from the lake:

Yes, that's Tina with her wheel on her head. Millie, her mother, is behind her carrying the empty spinning wheel bag. Go figure.

We got to settle into our rooms. The accommodations at Lake House are....shall we say...rustic.

That is along one wall. You're looking at the desktop which has three dresser drawers beneath it.

Now you're looking at the wall at right angles to the wall with the desk. Notice how the room is only wide enough for the bed (twin) and the door, and the width of the desk (14 inches). Hmmmm.

Now you're looking at the other corner. Note. I have not moved. That is how small the room is. I'm estimating 5' x 9". Which always makes me feel like I'm in a rustic convent in the woods. In a good way.

That evening there was dinner, then much talking and get to know one another.

The next morning I decided to forego the 8:00am breakfast and get some alone time. I was prepared for this possibility and brought coffeemaker, coffee, cereal and yogurt. I spent a great hour alone writing in my journal and slowly waking up before the rest of the house returned. It was a good move for me.

I spent more of that morning, walking the Labrynth (a new addition) and sitting at "the point" which conveniently has 2 adirondack chairs. Of course, you'd think I could have pictures of this spot, but I didn't.

I spent some time with Katie, and read to her from an Anne Lamott book. Who, despite being Christian, is one of my favorite spiritual writers.

The rest of the weekend is a blur of knitting and spinning and laughing. Oh yes, much laughing. Actually, I didn't do nearly as much knitting as I'd expected, but I spent a lot of time on the wheel.

I finished the green merino just before going up, the grand total is 1200 yards. Sounds like enough for a nice shawl for myself. I'm currently in the process of spinning Carolyn's (Seekay Crafts) sherbety/firey merino, and then on much more that I can't even begin to describe. In the next couple of days I'll upload pictures of the crack roving that I purchased from Carolyn and Jessica.

If you want more accounts of the weekend (and much better pictures) go here, here, here, here and here. Really, do click on all those links because the pictures are great (and so are the blogs).

Until next time (when, I promise, there will be more pictures).

Oooh Those Dirty, Dirty, Dirty Sheep

AC/DC probably weren't thinking along these lines....but.....this is the funniest sheep thing I've ever seen.:

I promise a W.O.O.L. update tomorrow...but I couldn't wait to share this.

Friday, August 15, 2008


So far I haven't blogged about writing. On most days there's really nothing to write about. People ask me how the books going, and I say "okay." Most days that's how it goes. This week has been another story.

See, there's this book. A not ready for prime-time novel. I know it's not ready, because it's not finished. Oh, I finished a first draft. I have written 500+ pages of this book, but it needs a least one. But....last winter, when I was deluded enough to think it was going to be finished it looked likely that I was going to have it finished by April, I signed up for an appointment to pitch it to an agent. As it got closer, I realized I wasn't going to have the rewrite finished by then, but I allowed myself to be convinced to pitch it anyway. As practice. As those things go, I guess it went well. The agent requested the first 50 pages. I sent it. I haven't heard back from her yet, despite a follow-up but that's how things go in publishing.

That same weekend I "won" a critique by another major industry agent. It was a door prize. At the time I thought it was the best thing, since it would put my work in front another agent. Well, this past weekend I received the critique.

Before I go any further, I was told it was a critique of the first three chapters. Not the first fifty pages. Because I included a "prologue" which was a whopping page and a half, she chose not to read the third chapter. Of course she didn't understand what was going on, or how the prologue tied into the rest of the book. All that comes together in chapter three. Maybe my chapters are too long. Maybe the fact that the conversion from Wordperfect to Word changed the spacing and increased the page count by 30%. Maybe I should have taken the time to fix all that.

Maybe its me. Maybe I need to grow a thicker skin? However, in the past when I've found myself thinking I needed to grow a thicker skin, it turned out that the situation turned out to be abusive. I'm not saying this agent was abusive. In fact, she told me in a subsequent email that I had a lot of talent, which was why she took the time to give me such an indepth critique.

Wait, I thought that was the point of the prize? That it was an in depth critique. I'm confused. What I know is that, on the basis of the critique, I drastically changed the my plan for the book. In fact, I started from Chapter One, Page One. Again. I wrote a new first chapter. It sucked. My pre-publication reader told me she felt bereft because I'd dropped all the good stuff out.

Which is what brought me up short. The last time I'd gotten a harsh critique, I did the same thing. I stopped what I was doing, went back to the beginning, and rewrote the first chapter....AND IT SUCKED. When I get hurt and/or scared, I lose my voice. I start trying to write well - to write for the reader, instead of from my heart. I realized that what I'm trying to do is not feel the pain of getting a harsh critique. It hurts, damn it.

I re-read the critique today, for the first time since receiving it on Saturday. There was a lot I was able to tell about the reader from the comments. That was helpful too. It helps take the sting out of some it.

My job, is to take a step back and let it all settle for a bit. Let the comments settle. Let my emotions settle. So, I'm going to take a break. I'm going to a fiber retreat next week. In the meanwhile, I'm not going to work on the all. I'm going to take really good care of my inner artist.

Tonight is knit night at Beau Knits. I'm going. I will spend the weekend helping a friend move, maybe....if it's dry...helping Tina skirt fleece (if that's still the plan) I'm going to spin, I'm going to knit, I'm going to read. I'm going to recharge my soul.


Monday, August 4, 2008

No Pics Today

I can't believe how busy I've been. This is a good thing, I think. First of all, we're still in the process of "Mission Organization." If any of you are not familiar with the show on HGTV, a professional organizer comes in and "does" a particularly chaotic/messy/unusable room. Well, to be honest, if feels like my whole house is a collection of chaotic/messy/unusable rooms. Or should I put that in the past-tense.

Friday night, Tim and I spent 3 hours in the basement, moving things around, throwing stuff out and transferring things from cardboard boxes to clear, plastic storage bins. Now, I'm probably more green conscious than most folks, and hate using a lot of plastics, but sometimes...ya just have to bite the bullet. Or, at least I did. Sorting, organizing and labeling is going to make my life much easier down the road, and I'm all for that.

Riding on the wave of accomplishment from the basement work on Friday, we tackled the kitchen and hall closet on Saturday. This was really enlightening. We realized that when we moved into this place we never intended to stay this long. In fact, we only intended to stay one year, and it's already been two, and we've decided to stay for a third. But because of that intention, we never really unpacked. We, sort of, set up camp; unpacking only essentials, but leaving many things packed away.

This has been good and bad. There are things I've missed (like my mother's fruit bowl, which has been found and upacked) and things I haven't. A HUGE bag of stuff went to Goodwill. Another bag of stuff is in Tim's car, going to Goodwill.

I discovered many plastic containers that had no lids, as well as many lids that had no containers. They do not match. I do not know how this happened. It has been fixed.

The other issue was canning jars. We do a lot of canning, and use stuff up throughout the year. Unfortunately our current kitchen doesn't have a lot of storage, and clean canning jars tend not to have a place. We now have a "canning jar depot" (read plastic bin) in the hall closet that can hold clean canning jars before a load of them can get downstairs sorted and stored.

It's all been pretty amazing. I know all of this attention to home means something, but I'm not sure what.

The other big issue is the neighbor's dog. Don't get me wrong. I like a point. Really, I'm a cat person, but I'm okay with dogs. In fact, I'm pretty sure my problem is with the neighbor, not the dog...because these people insist on letting their dog pee in my garden. Fortunately not on the veggies, but in the front on the impatiens. Impatiens do not like dog urine. I have big holes of rotted impatien stems.

So, this morning, I went out and purchased replacement impatiens. I also purchased one of those hose attachments that you can use for plant food. I filled this with a small amount of peppermint soap, as the basic nature of soap should dilute some of the acid in the urine. Next, I'm going to sprinkle a mixture of cayenne pepper and flour. The next time someone comes sniffing around, he will get a snootful of cayenne. That should solve the problem without doing harm to the dog...annoying yes...harmful, no.

There are 8 lbs of cucumbers and 4 lbs of onions being salted in the kitchen in preparation for bread and butter pickles, which will get up up tonight. Canning season is definitely underway!!! Next come the peaches, then tomatoes. I adore this time of year. Unfortunately all this canning and organization doesn't leave that much time for fiber, but, well, such is life.

Well, I think that's all the news that's fit to print. Off to poke at the cucumbers.