Friday, July 31, 2020

The fierce heat is moderating, but everything is still so dry. Despite all, the garden thrives. Every morning I walk out to see my zinnias, bursting with color over the sidewalk, and check the progress of the okra. I planted both green and red varieties, but the green (which is white-flowered) is well ahead of the red, so I have yet to experience the red's crimson, hibiscus-like bloom. Soon, though: buds are forming, and a warm rainstorm would do wonders.

Today: I'd planned on a day alone, but P's work schedule got changed, so that won't be happening. Instead, I'll try to finish an editing project, then maybe go for a bike ride and discuss some sort of dinner-making extravaganza with him. I've got enough kale to freeze, enough peppers too. I could clean and store the shallots and garlic that have been curing in the shed. I could empty compost bins and pitchfork the half-rotted compost into its next resting place. I could order firewood.

Yesterday I picked out new glasses frames and ordered new stronger lenses, which I sorely need. I visited with a sick friend. I read Blake's poems and Nabokov's memoir, and thought about childhood--how we remember and forget it, idolize and dismiss it. I spent an evening alone with Tom, and we ate our dinner (blue Chinese bowls filled with chicken curry) outside in the gloaming, as the sound of a baseball game filtered through the windows.

Little kindnesses: the soft air, a friendly touch. Cat at our feet.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

A month or so ago I told you I'd just learned I was a finalist for a major poetry prize, to be announced early this fall. No news, as far as that goes: I still don't know the results of the competition. What has struck me as odd, however, is that for most of this summer I have forgotten to think about this contest. Till the other day, I more or less forgot I was in the running.

Given that this is the biggest competition I've ever placed in, such a lapse in awareness puzzles but also intrigues me. I could chalk it up to the increasing craziness of our daily lives, the ceaseless bombardment of insanity and fear. I could link it to the struggles in my creative life, a life that seems to be too busy floundering in its private time-space quagmire to acknowledge any success beyond grabbing the occasional vine or root. I suppose the trigger for forgetting doesn't much matter, but in some way the very fact of inadvertent indifference makes me wonder, again, about the purpose of art to the artist--not my present-tense need to communicate but the purpose of my art over the long haul . . . the past-to-future road.

It's not a road that's easy to see.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

In the book beside me, Nabokov tells of his mother, veiled, wrapped in furs, seated in a sleigh on a snowy Saint Petersburg street, coachman hunched before her, footman perched behind. In the ash tree outside my window, a squirrel twitters and complains. In the local papers, headlines scream, "Killed by a great white shark!" My attention toggles and blinks, like bad wiring. Upstairs, Tom yanks open a sticky dresser drawer--thud; shoves a sticky closet door closed--thunk. The box fan whirs. This morning's air feels a touch cooler than yesterday's, my skin a trace less clammy. It is the last Wednesday of July.

Today will be another day of having no time or space to myself. But I will sit on this couch and copy out Blake poems, no matter what else is happening around me. Twenty-six years ago I had a brand-new baby. That was harder than this.

Here are two lines from a draft I worked on yesterday. I share them not because I love them but because they are. A small comfort: I wrote ten new words.

his half-life a cough a swallow
an unpainted stair 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

It's 6:15 a.m. in Maine, and it's 79 degrees. Sleep has taken on a new meaning: a half-weave of stasis and breath; not true unconsciousness; more like relief from movement. Having no air conditioning is interesting, if exhausting. Mid-afternoon I feel my body at work, doing what it needs to do to stay alive . . . shutting down, idling in place. For the moment, in the "cool" of this morning, I'm back to some semblance of normal movement: making our daily batch of ice tea, collecting yesterday's sweat-soaked laundry. When I finish writing to you, I'll pick beans.

I was alone in the house all day yesterday, and despite the heat I accomplished a lot: finished editing someone else's poetry manuscript, worked on my own revision, copied out Blake poems, read Nabokov's Speak, Memory; and also set up a bunch of necessary appointments: vet, dentist, optician. In the interstices I mowed grass and ran the trimmer (ugh), made peach ice cream, baked bread (ugh); put together lamb kebabs and a fresh corn salad, watered the garden, and picked a bushel of kale. Despite the heat, it was the sort of day I love: a balance of physical and mental accomplishment, with space for private creation. P's work schedule will be uneven--a mix of days and nights and off-days and weekends--so I won't have any regularity in mine. But now and again, I'll be getting these chances. They'll be something to look forward to.

And in good news: it's my older son James's birthday . . . he's 26 years old today: and, as always, a delight and a joy . . . funny, sweet, hard-working, resourceful, sensitive, smart. How did we get so lucky?

Monday, July 27, 2020

It's been a while since I've shared any construction photos with you because there hasn't been any construction. The half-done kitchen has remained half-done, for reasons of time and money. As far as countertop goes, I've gotten used to working on a semi-passable substitute comprised of slabs of stone, a pastry board, and raw plywood.

But earlier in the pandemic season, Tom decided that he really needed to install the actual countertop. The triggering factor was the plywood rot beginning around the sink; our temporary surface clearly didn't have much time left. Tom had never worked with the composite material Corian before, but it seemed to be something he could learn to finish himself, unlike, say, granite, which is prohibitively expensive and requires a dedicated stone shop. So he ordered the materials and slowly, weekend after weekend, has been cutting, gluing, and polishing the three sections for the kitchen.

Yesterday he finished and installed the piece-de-resistance: the long stretch that surrounds the sink . . . in the process also replacing the rotted underlay, detaching and reattaching plumbing, and otherwise heroically managing to complete the job in time for me to start dinner.

I am a great admirer of his work, and a big fan of clean counter space, so you can imagine how pleased I am at the result.

Cabinet doors are still to come, as is a tile backsplash. But this is giant progress!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Sunflowers and zinnias blooming along the sidewalk: I'm really pleased with my high-summer flowers this year. And the vegetables are coming along too. Yesterday afternoon I picked a bushel of chard and another of collards, cooked them down, and froze them. Today I may freeze some peppers. But then again I may not, because Tom is planning to install the countertop grand finale--the long piece surrounding the sink--and that will involve detaching the kitchen faucet and otherwise disrupting all food activity. It's an exciting moment, after three years of plywood.

The weather continues its torrid ways. I've got to clean bathrooms today, and grocery-shop, and listen to a baseball game, and hang towels on the line, and water the garden; and I ought to mow grass, if I can bear the heat. I'm rereading A. S. Byatt's "The Story of the Eldest Princess," and I'm thinking about Blake's innocence poems, and the strange urge to create fairy tales, and the dangers of storytelling--for teller and listener. As Byatt wrote, "I have always been worried about being the eldest of three sisters."

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The heat will be kicking up again this weekend, not that it's ever been cool since we got back from Baxter. Last night Paul and Tom grilled steak tips, freshly harvested peppers, and fat onions. I made a green bean and new potato salad . . . but not my own potatoes, sadly; next year I hope to find space to plant a few. And with a strange self-conscious mixture of pleasure and worry, we listened to baseball: it was opening night at Fenway Park, and the Sox trounced the Orioles, just like old times.

Today I should mow grass, before the heat gets bad. I should harvest greens for freezing, and acquire some groceries. On Monday Paul starts his job and will be out of the house for an entire day. So I'm beginning to imagine the possibility of writing again, or at least of sitting in silence.

Friday, July 24, 2020

All my hopes for garden rain came to naught: we barely got a drop, which means I'll have to restart my tedious watering regimen. Oh well.

Peppers are ripening now, and a few cucumbers and tomatoes and okra; I could harvest baskets of kale and chard, mint and basil. Green beans are thick. A hedge of sunflowers and zinnias blooms along the sidewalk.

[Pause: I'm taking a quick before-work bike ride with Tom. Fresh breezes, quiet streets, new sun. Why don't we do this every day?]

[Okay, now I'm back, a little sweatier than I was when I left. Coffee is still hot.]

My little house and garden are a solace to me. Still, anxiety is thick, both personal and communal.  My son has a new kitten in Chicago. The thug's stormtroopers are lying in wait in Chicago. Every teacher I know is terrified, furious, sleepless. Every teacher I know is brave and resourceful. I could babble on and on amid such schizophrenic statements, but I won't.

Instead, I will encourage the mysterious insults of 1647 to cheer us up:
Women's clothing aroused . . . [stromg] feelings. One of the first attacks on female fashions in New England was written by . . . Nathaniel Ward, whose Simple Cobler of Aggawam insisted that Zion's daughters had already been disfigured by French fashion, which "trans-clouts them into gantbargeese, ill-shapen-shotten shell fish, Egyptian Hyrogliphicks, or at the best into French flurts of the pastery." 
[from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Northern New England Women, 1650-1750]
I admit that it is difficult to stomach yet another ad hominem attack on women, but surely TRANS-CLOUTS THEM INTO GANTBARGEESE is some recompense for your righteous bile.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

We got a bit of rain, but not nearly enough. Here's hoping our humid morning produces a few more cloudbursts . . . and, by the way, isn't the word cloudburst wonderful? It looks good; it sounds good; it's a precise metaphorical representation of a specific event. Now I want to say it all day long.

This afternoon I'm getting a haircut; this morning I have a yoga class to attend and a novel to finish editing. In my own reading: I'm nearly finished with Good Wives, and will probably move on to Mrs. Dalloway when I'm done. And it looks like P will be starting his new job on Monday.

I'm hoping a regular work schedule will be salutary for all of us. I'm still struggling to find my way back to steady creative production, in this house that's always occupied, where I don't have a private space. And P certainly needs to move toward something resembling a next step. And yet, of course, I'm worried. Should he be taking a job at all? The situation seems pretty safe, but not perfectly safe. Virus-wise, Maine is in reasonably good shape, but not in perfect shape. In this reality, why should I care so much about my creative life? about Paul's longing for independence?

Don't bother trying to answer these questions. There are no right answers.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The heat seems to have broken, finally. As illustration of the change: Last night I made cold soba noodles with dipping sauce. Tonight I'll serve cannellini beans and garlic soup. Now, if we can only get some rain--the cucumber is loaded with blossoms; okra are beginning to flower; tomatoes and peppers are swelling. A warm wet night would work magic.

In the meantime, I am harvesting kale and chard. Bouquets of lavender and mint are drying in the back room. Sunflowers and zinnias are blooming wildly. I'm copyediting a novel and reading about the daily lives of seventeenth-century New England women and thinking about the poems of William Blake. I wish I were writing.

Slowly, slowly, the days fly by so quickly. I feel as if I can barely keep up with nothing. How much time am I wasting on not being thin or beautiful? on watching the mountain? on rereading the signs? What is the destiny of plainsong? of a cough in the night? Who is more ambitious than silence?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Thanks, everyone, for your cheerful wishes yesterday. The day was miserably hot, but pretty good nonetheless. I made shrimp salad and potato salad and nectarine ice cream for dinner; we played cards outside; James texted to say he'd gotten back to Chicago safely.

Today will be slightly cooler, but not much. I'm trying to decide if I have the heat-stamina for a yoga class this morning. And Paul has a job interview, an exciting new development. He's been in kind of a frozen funk since his classes ended, but now that the city is slowly reopening, he's beginning to sort out next steps: a basic job, thoughts of an apartment. Small steps toward a semblance of normality.

Yesterday my friend Teresa and I talked about Blake over the phone. I've been reading Ulrich's Good Wives and thinking a lot about the pressures and disconnects between communal and individual values, a situation that Ulrich plumbs in her study of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century New England women, and that also, I think, comes up in Blake's poems.

Certainly we continue to struggle with that pressure now: what is best for me? what is best for us?

Monday, July 20, 2020

James left for Chicago yesterday morning, and since then the rest of us have been slowly slipping back into our customary routes. But the heat has been brutal: just vacuuming the park dirt out of my car almost gave me sunstroke. Working in the cooler basement, Tom finished two sections of kitchen countertop, but the living room is still littered with camping supplies that have yet to be organized and stored. In this un-air-conditioned house, it's just not possible to work at my usual pace.

Today Tom goes back to work, I go back to editing, Paul keeps applying for jobs, and James drives across Ohio and Indiana. We miss him so much.

And today is my twenty-ninth wedding anniversary. Twenty-ninth-plus, really because we have known each other since we were nineteen . . . since we were younger than our sons are.

Life is so strange and beautiful and surprising and painful.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

We're reacquainting ourselves with running water and electricity and comfortable beds. Tom spent yesterday working on his countertop project. I weeded and mowed and pruned. The boys did laundry and tinkered with Paul's computer and visited with a Harmony friend.

Today is James's last day in Maine: tomorrow he heads back to Chicago, and our sweet two-week visit will be over. So I think I'll make him an early birthday cake and we'll have a little party. It will be a hot day, not an excellent choice for icing a cake, but that's what refrigerators are for.

I'm sad he's leaving, of course, but we're all adults now, and this is the longest time he's spent with us since he graduated from college. Everything feels poignant: the visit, the vacation, the going.

Now I'm preparing to return to my editing stack. James is leaving. Tom will go back to his construction job. Paul will keep trying to figure out what the hell he can do with his life.

But at Baxter I had one full day to myself, and I did not write any new drafts. What I did was read, and take notes, and look at an older draft, and then read some more. I brought Trollope's Barchester Towers; Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway; Ulrich's history Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750; the poems of Muso Soseki, translated by Merwin; the poems of Blake; and Peterson's bird guide. I copied out a number of the Soseki poems. I lay in a hammock and looked at the sky. I sat in a stream. I walked on a trail. I think this was all good work.

Friday, July 17, 2020

We got home late yesterday afternoon, tired and filthy from the five days we spent camping at Baxter State Park. Non-Mainers may not be familiar with this remarkable place: more than 200,000 acres of pristine wilderness in northern Piscataquis County, with relatively primitive access and facilities: no concessions, no running water, no trash cans, and a single narrow gravel road winding into the forest. Mount Katahdin is the park's most famous feature. It's the end point of the Appalachian Trail--a massive granite presence looming over woods that bear considerable resemblance to my Harmony land. For all of us, that eerie familiarity was one of the hallmarks of this vacation. We could have been camping beside our own stream . . . except for the mountains surrounding us.

It's usually very difficult to get campsites at Baxter. There aren't many, and most are reserved in January. But Covid cancelations worked in our favor, and Tom was able to snag a huge tent site in a camping area that's usually saved for large groups. So for five days we lounged in hammocks and hiked on trails and splashed on stream ledges and cooked elaborate camp meals and played Yahtzee and read books and whittled sticks and killed many, many mosquitoes. We had no cell access, no news, no electricity. It was wonderful.

Here are a few photos. The first are from a hike I took alone to Cranberry Pond while the boys climbed Katahdin. The pond is surrounded by a cranberry bog, and among the cranberries are thousands of tiny sundews: carnivorous plants that attract insects into their pitcher-shaped throats. I saw no one else on this trail; not another human or human-made structure anywhere near it.

If you click on this photo to enlarge it, you'll get a better view of the sundews: the little red plants among the cranberries.

We did not see any large wildlife, though we did see bear scat and moose droppings. But I saw much interesting small wildlife, including this handsome snail.

A view of the understory, a mixture of ferns, bunchberries, wild oats, violets, winterberries, and many more whose names I don't know.

Photo of our kitchen shelter, taken from the comfort of  a hammock--

Art Deco beetle

Doubletop Mountain (I think), as seems from a bridge over Nesowadnehunk Stream. Later that day I sat in the water under that bridge. The next day we watched a mother merganser herd her ducklings downstream.

West Mountain (I think), looming over a tributary of the Nesowadnehunk--


James and Paul kayaking up a little outlet on Kidney Pond. Tom and I were behind them in a canoe.  Eventually we encountered a beaver dam and had to turn around.

Cute red salamander on the road, just after eating an enormous mosquito--

Paul playing Bob Dylan songs on his mandolin--

Tom whittling a piece of cedar firewood into a funny-looking garden ornament--

James making one in a series of over-elaborate marshmallow toasters--

Saturday, July 11, 2020

This will be my last post for a while: tomorrow morning we are driving north for a few days of off-the-grid camping. So I thought I'd share the current state of the rain-soaked garden in its high-summer prime.

Here is Lantern Waste: a hedge of pink dahlias beginning to open, scarlet runners climbing the post.

Along the front of the Breadbasket: rows of sunflowers, zinnias, and dianthus.

Eastern Terrace: Strawberries in front, chard and peppers behind them, tomatoes in the rear.

 Another view of the Breadbasket: collards and kale in the box, arugula and green beans behind them, sedum and dianthus in bloom.

The Lower Terrace: lavender and nasturtiums.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

A massive thunderstorm roared through here last evening. One moment we were sitting outside visiting with our friend Lucy; the next, the sky was black; the wind was sharp; Lucy was flying back to her car; and we were running up and down the street calling the cat, an exact reprise of Auntie Em screeching for Dorothy.

As it turned out, all we got was a downpour, not the car-damaging hail that was forecast. So this morning the garden looks pleased with itself. The new blossoms on the sunflowers loom handsomely in the post-storm fog, and the tomato plants are sprouting with tropical fervor. I'll try to remember to take some photos for you when the mist clears out.

Today one boy is going on a bike ride, the other on a socially distanced date. I have to go shopping (ugh), and do some desk work. Yesterday I managed to finish two small editing jobs; maybe today I'll get another one done.

I'm still reading Barchester Towers; it's about all I can focus on right now in the House of Uproar. All spare minutes involve chatter, game playing, food prep, dishwashing . . .

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

A quieter morning today. Everyone but Tom is still asleep, and I am sitting in my accustomed couch corner with my white coffee cup and a small bubble of peace. The air feels thick, as if storms are on the way. Yesterday afternoon I mowed grass and netted the blueberry bushes and harvested our first handful of green beans. The garden is stepping into high-summer gear. Tomatoes and peppers are swelling; blueberries are beginning to redden.

Yesterday the boys rode their bikes to the fish market and came home with two mackerel and two trout. Tom grilled them over the wood fire, and we ate them with freshly made carrot-top pesto (a new venture for me) and a salad of roasted fingerlings, chickpeas, green beans, arugula, and herbs. Dessert was mango and pineapple ice cream.

Today the boys have a long trail-bike adventure planned, and meanwhile I will edit, and Tom will go to work, and we'll meet again for take-out barbecue in the evening.

I have a poem draft, carved out of a prompt I gave Frost Place participants last Thursday, that I'd like to look at. That might not happen, but maybe it will. I feel as if poet-life has leaked away from me quickly since the conference. I've had no break at all, just a breathless leap into the the next demand. Next week's trip to the woods is wavering before me like a daydream.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

This morning, my house is overflowing with boys: frying eggs, splashing water, clomping in and out through the doors, laughing and chattering. As a result, I am writing to you from my bed, hours later than you might have expected, because I literally have no quiet place to go to. This is the best I can do, and I can still hear every word they say. I'm so happy to have them here, and I am so worried about how I'm going to get any work done.

In a half hour I'll shut the bedroom door and try to concentrate on a yoga class. And then I'll move on to editing; maybe by then they'll have rushed off on their bikes, and I'll snatch an hour to work. It's toddler schedule all over again, only with giant 20-somethings. 

In other words: you'll hear from me when you hear from me. I have no idea when I'll find a minute to write.

Monday, July 6, 2020

James will arrive this evening. In the meantime, I have two meetings today, plus stacks of new editing to address before I vanish into the woods on Sunday. Apparently I have jumped straight from the rock to the hard place, job-wise. Ah, well. Not complaining, not complaining. Yesterday I scoured the bathroom floor; Paul washed windows; Tom worked on the countertop. Today, amid job stuff, I'll prep the welcome-home dinner (fire-grilled shrimp and steak tips, stir-fried bok choi, farro, pineapple ice cream) and try to calm myself down with occasional doses of Barchester Towers. Working with both boys home seems nigh on impossible, and yet I've got to do it. Somehow I managed when they were little.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

This morning, well before dawn, James drove out of Chicago. He'll stop overnight in Pennsylvania, and arrive here tomorrow evening. We are all excited. So many months apart and worried, and finally we'll be together.

In honor of his arrival, I'm reaming out the Zoom room today, aka the pandemic classroom: our tiny back room, home of the TV, and my conference webcam, and Tom's record collection, and the foldout futon, a room with which some of you became very familiar over the course of the conference. Now, for a few weeks, it will be James's bedroom, and little Alcott House will burst happily at the seams.

Paul is going to wash windows; I'm going to scrub the bathroom floor: that's the kind of day this will be.

Yesterday, I spent much of the day in the garden. I harvested garlic and shallots, and hung them up to cure in the shed. In their place I sowed late-season greens: lettuce, arugula, chard. I thinned the overcrowded kale bed, and moved kale transplants into flowerbeds and among the okra. We may end up with too much kale to eat, but the plants will be pretty well into November. I am a proponent of edible landscaping: not only because I love a kitchen garden but also because it removes the stress of "have to eat it all" when I end up with a bumper crop. No, I don't have to eat everything. I can just look at it, like I'd look at a flower. So now I've got curly, red-veined kale dotted among okra and sunflowers and zinnias and cosmos.

As a restful break, I've been reading Trollope's Barchester Towers, but I've also been reading Stephen Graham Jones's Mongrels, a creepy book about werewolves and transients--not at all what I would usually turn to, but Paul was assigned it in a class focusing on Native writers, and he told me I should. I am always very interested in books by Native writers, and always very repelled by horror novels about werewolves, so all I will say is that this is not one of the books I'll be reading when I'm alone all day in the Katahdin woods. It is a book to be read safely at home.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

I had such a delightful not-doing-much day yesterday. Paul and I spent a large portion of it watching Hamilton, which we have been longing to see since he was in high school. Then I went outside and tore out bolted lettuce and fading peavines, pruned tomatoes and transplanted okra. Today I'll plant new crops of lettuce and arugula, maybe some more fall staples like kale or collards. Meanwhile, Tom is beginning to cut up Corian for kitchen countertops--a slow but thrilling process. To think: in a few weeks I might be cooking on an easily washable surface. It's an exciting prospect.

In other news: while I was immersed in the conference, the boys were confabulating. And when I emerged, I discovered we had vacation plans. Tom had snagged a campsite at Baxter State Park, home of Mount Katahdin. So in a week we will be heading north into the woods. Even better, my older son will be here to join us. He has been getting regular Covid tests and things look good, so he's planning to drive east this weekend and join our family circle.

The four of us, in the woods. The boys, of course, are dying to climb Katahdin, and I am dying not to climb Katahdin. This creates a perfect scenario. The three of them will spend a day climbing, and I will spend a day reading and writing and playing music by myself in the woods. I cannot wait. No Zoom meetings, no phone messages. A stack of reading: difficult books, comfortable books; poems, prose. My son's mandolin. A notebook and some sharp pencils. Naps and walks. And then, at the end of the day, my beloveds by a campfire. It sounds like heaven.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Last night I posted the following on my Facebook page, and I want to reprise here, for those of you who may not have seen it in that forum.
Today marks the final day of the 2020 Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching/Writing Intensive for Teachers: Online Edition. This year's conference stands up there as one of the most challenging teaching gigs I've ever undertaken: five long days immersed in unfamiliar technology; working to support participants who, like me, were filled with dread about the world and their vocations; who were exhausted and angry and frustrated; who were struggling to find space for their inner lives, their creative spark. But we did it: we figured out how to be human, to share our love and our wonder, to write and cry and revise and ponder and laugh. We may be separated, but our community holds fast. I am so incredibly grateful to the participants who brought such magic to the conference. I am forever indebted to the faculty who shared their brilliant questing minds with us. Thank you, Didi Jackson, Angela Narciso Torres, and Cleopatra Mathis, for your devotion to your art, for your camaraderie and your friendship. Thank you, Jaime Allesandrine, teaching fellow extraordinaire, who brought us laughter and courage every day. Thank you to my partners in this endeavor--staff members Kerrin McCadden, Maudelle Driskell, and Jake Rivers--who believed in this program, and in our teachers and poets; who made this event so rich, who made me feel so secure. I value you beyond measure.
The conference was exhausting and at times scary; almost always awkward; filled with conversational  blips and chokes due to video and audio lag. Nonetheless, it still worked . . . and worked well, in its own crazy needful way.

Today, I hope to sit with the poem draft I wrote during yesterday morning's session. I hope to hang on to the sensation of kindness and goodwill that blossomed through my screen all week long. There was magic, despite everything.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

It's Thursday, and today is my last Frost Place day for the year. A poignant moment, always, but timely as well. We are all tired, a little weepy and elegiac, ready to sit quietly in our corners with the camera turned off, to wander our own roads and sidewalks and fields and parks and attics.

No readings tonight. Tom and Paul are going to the drive-in to watch Mad Max and I am staying home with a bottle of beer and a book.

Tomorrow I'll slowly step back into my daily pattern. But the household has run so well without me. The boys have shopped, cooked, cleaned. Every evening meal has been a delight. I feel so much gratitude for their cheerful support and their quiet, active aid.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Good morning! More rain last night, and more showers forecast for today. Everything is sticky and clammy and humid, and my hair looks like a bush, but I couldn't be happier. The garden was desperately dry, but now it's full of enthusiasm again. I will have a lot of weeding to do this weekend.

This morning is our conference's last session. (In the afternoon we shift over to the Writing Intensive, which not every participant will be staying for.) My focus today will be on using group work as a strategy for revision practice: a practice I was beginning to develop in person with my Monson Arts kids but am now, on the fly, going to transfer into a distance experiment with participants. I'm little jangled, but I think I can do it. My students always loved it when I thought up things for them to do off the top of my head, so I'm going to run with that here.

If you happened to miss last night's reading, it's archived here. You will get a good look at the couch I've been sitting on for five days straight.