Spinning Yarns

My newest rule?

No knitting in the morning. If I do, this is what happens:

11 out of 13 projects, plus an old garden-rake head, an improvised knitting tool with a surprising number of functions

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Unraveling

Not exactly scarf weather

RIGHT: Hematoma Scarf (14 days)
LEFT: Anemia Scarf (4 days)

The day after MIM’s birthday, though I had yet to get him a present, I sent him to the craft store to buy me yarn. I was on my back in bed with my suddenly severely swollen leg elevated on a stack of pillows. “Just buy me something soft and puffy, like Kathryn’s sample yarn,” I instructed, handing him the small ball Kathryn had left the night before after she’d taught me how to knit.Read More »

The Lousy Cook Decorates a Cake–Redux!

Practicing rosettes
Practicing rosettes, stars, beads, and what my classmates called “poops”

Six months after my cake decorating fiasco and with cupcake-decorating and cookie-decorating classes under my belt, I was ready to try again: this time with adult supervision. I signed up for a two-part, six-hour cake decorating class. I’m not sure why I ever thought I could casually decorate a fabulous anniversary cake. Like brain surgeons who decide they’ll write a novel “when they retire,” my goal was a bit of an insult to pastry chefs.

There are only four great arts: music, painting, sculpture, and ornamental pastry. –Julia ChildRead More »

The Lousy Cook Decorates a Cupcake

POTENTIAL!
POTENTIAL! (The Blank Page)

There’s something to be said for starting small, so a noncredit (shocking, I know) cupcake decorating class at the local college caught my eye. Scaling down expectation while learning a new craft might be a good idea. Surely I could take the skills learned on a cupcake and inflate them for use—like, the next day—on a multi-tiered wedding anniversary cake with a bottom layer as big as a garbage-can lid?Read More »

What a Writer Does on a Peaceful Island Writing Retreat in a Cabin Nestled in the Woods Overlooking a Harbor

Surveillance team behind my cabin
Surveillance team behind my cabin
Focaccia
Focaccia on Facebook

She lies awake at 2:15 a.m. wondering about those gunshots in the distance. Large caliber gun. She’s no firearms expert, but this she knows. Eight gunshots, exactly. Not equally spaced out. She counts, because she is a writer, and details matter. Also so that she can inform the sheriff when he arrives to ask, “Did anybody hear anything suspicious?” and he will be impressed enough with her answer that he will suspect she writes mystery novels about an amateur sleuth. Perhaps, though, the gun is fired by a hunter? But who hunts in the dark? Is it an escaped felon who has fled to the island and is feeding off deer while living in a cabin whose inhabitants he has mutilated? Why don’t more convicts escape to this island? It would make a lot of sense to escape here. If the writer were a nasty criminal, she’d hop the first ferry to this island. Nobody locks their doors, she’s been told. She has left her ground-floor bedroom window open because it’s hot. She gets up and locks the window, trying to fumble at the unfamiliar latch in the dark so that the felon doesn’t see inside the cabin to detect a lone, short, Weeble-ish inhabitant, easily overcome by prison breath. The criminal has seen on Facebook posts that she makes excellent sourdough focaccia. He will not kill her. He will keep her alive and force her to keep the sourdough starter alive, but he will become irritated because she puts too many vegetables but no salami on the pizza.Read More »

Land: A Toy!

2013:

A gated community!
Gated community!

Ah! My first writing retreat since becoming a mother five years prior. Alone in a cabin in the woods for four days with nothing but my notebook and pens, laptop, and books. Creaking trees outside. No television, no internet, no cell phone service, no mail delivery. No neighbors in sight. I would use this quiet time to cogitate, meditate, create—no interruptions, no chaos, no needs other than those of my own stomach and an occasional wash under my arms. Just my own unfettered thoughts and ideas to run amok without time restrictions or crises.

I wasn’t going to blow it this time, as I had the year before when a friend had lent me her house for two nights near an out-of-town teaching gig, and I’d been so guilt-wracked that I gave myself the shingles. I’d learned my lesson. Why did I not think I deserved this and that the boys wouldn’t burn the house down without me around? Scratch that. If the house burned down, it wouldn’t help if I were there, although they’d probably forget about the safety ladders.Read More »

First Place!

certif 001nsnc desc

I wish I could have been there in Indianapolis to receive my award from Miss Manners herself (Judith Martin received a Lifetime Achievement Award, then handed out the other awards). I like to say that I am very well qualified for the under 100,000 monthly readers category. I am thrilled and honored with this recognition.Read More »