Showing posts from 2013

In this Season of Arrivals and Departures

Because yesterday we saw my mother off at Philly International:

and because the one thing harder than the give and take of family life is disconnection and separation:

I share the following poem, begun in the window seat of an airplane:


At cruising altitude the earth comes clean, the makeshift garbage heap of man-made things  and nature’s thousand tangled hues of green, made tidy by the miles.    Seen past our wings, roads run straight, and silos glint like dimes, each swimming pool slick as a polished gem. Even mountain ranges, wild sublimes of river, butte and canyon, figure trim and tailor cut, their splendid disarray mere patterns on a rug.  Obedient and orderly, the planet curls away,      its edges gently smudged, but on descent it tugs us back,  its noise and ample mess                                   as welcome as a lover’s sloppy kiss.

The Christmas Misadventures of Nico

I start this post with the wise and kindly face of Reuben, our resident senior dog, and the avatar of sanity and reason, especially compared with You Know Who:

A few nights before Christmas, little Nico saw his opening and took it.  My Mom had just arrived from Florida.

We were getting her settled in when we noticed that we hadn't seen Nico around for a minute or two.  Given his penchant for sneaking out the front door whenever it opens, we started running from room to room, calling his name with increasing hysteria until someone heard a vague rustling sound coming from under the bed.  

It was the paper wrappers from a box of twelve Godiva truffles: my Christmas present, which had been hidden deep in the bedroom closet.  By the time we detected Nico, he had snarfed down eleven of those yummy, decadent, dark chocolate nuggets of kryptonite.  And he was none too happy when we took the twelfth away.

One call to Poison Control later and we were rushing Nico to Old Marple Animal Hospital. …

Christmas Eve 2013

My Mom and sister are in the house!  We've been shopping, cooking and wrapping, listening to show tunes, eating soup, lavishing attention on the dogs.

And we're taking this moment to wish everyone happy holidays and a lovely new year.

Check it out! A New Video from Drull

A while ago, my son's band Drull launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a video for their song Persona.  Thanks to the generosity of friends and fans, a very professional video now exists for a beautiful (and, I think, catchy) song.  Please click on through, as every view helps...and hit the little YouTube thumbs up symbol if you're inclined.  

Thanks, friends!

Nico Checks In

I looked at my calendar this morning and realized, with surprise, that Nico has been with us for over a month.  How is that even possible?  The last month has flown, and though we've been busily teaching him not to steal food and bare his teeth at male houseguests, his social graces are still a work in progress.

On the other hand, he's gotten very good at learning to lie down on his mat on command, and on being housetrained--well, most of the time.  And he and Reuben are 99% friends now.

This afternoon my Mom arrives for the holidays, so Nico will meet another member of his extended human family.  And the Christmas season will kick into high gear!  

Happy holidays from our frenetic and fur-filled household to yours.

Regardez-moi!: A Villanelle by Michael Cantor

Michael Cantor is my poetry sibling, in that both our collections recently were published by Able Muse Press.  I've long been an admirer of Michael's sharp wit and his way with poetic form.  Today I thought I'd share a delightful poem of his about a pair of sneakers far more chic than anything I could scare up for a photo shoot.

Buying Sneakers The designer’s iconic plaid on this canvas high top lace-up sneaker ($275) is hand sprayed to give it a slight degradé effect.   (Advertisement in the New York Times)

The look I want is slightly dégradé;
aloof and elegant, yet with a flair
that hints of darkness in an offhand way; exquisite, yes, but not too recherché,
and at the same time, more than ordinaire.
That look!  I want it slightlydégradé, just right to make the scene in St. Tropez,
or stir up gossip of an old affaire
with hints of darkness and the offhand way that one once murmured, je suis désolée,
and left a lover twisting in the air.
The look is wan, and jeune, and dégradé. Now that m…

A New Review of CATHERINE

New York City plus a legendary nightclub.... a touch of this:


Which is all just my way of saying thanks to the lovely book blog I Swim For Oceans for this recent review of Catherine.

Santorini Dreaming

With my grades turned in at last, I have been able to take some time and revisit the novel I was working on this summer, about a high school study tour to Greece.  I've been tweaking the story's outline, trying to see it as a whole before I return to the point where I left off: about a third of the way through, on the island of Santorini, with its electric blue waters and its mule trains that carry tourists from the old port all the way up to the city of Thira, perched like white frosting on top of a dark many layered cake.

Sadly, the little memory card with my best pictures of Santorini disappeared before I could load it onto my computer.   I took about a thousand mule pictures too--so I'm sure a few would have turned out better than the one above.

But even without all my lovely lost photos, I'm hoping I've got enough sensory impressions to cover the blank spaces of my canvas.

And in the weeks between now and spring semester, I'm hoping to make a little progress,…

Excuses, Excuses....

I haven't been feeling very bloggy lately, what with a big stack of blue books to grade, a house to clean, and a puppy to keep out of trouble.  

But I hope to get back in the swing of things soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to alert my friends to an interview featured yesterday at the lovely book blog I Swim For Oceans.

Grading in the Snow with Dogs

If I have to grade forty freshman papers (and I do) it might as well be on a snowy day, with the Christmas tree lights on, and Nico nearby for moral support.  

Later, if I get enough grading done, I may allow myself a hike to Starbucks.  But that would mean changing out of my p.j.s, so then again, maybe not.

Surprised by snow

Today, eastern Pennsylvania was surprised by snow--much more of it than we'd been expecting.   I've been cleaning, cooking, and enjoying Nico's reaction to what might be his first deep snowfall.

There he is, the little black blob on the left.  He seems to find the world beyond the fence much more fascinating today.  As do I.

Because I wasn't expecting a mini-blizzard, I hadn't prepared a cache of snow poems, so I turned to my Facebook friends and I was not disappointed.   There were many suggestions, some of which I will need to keep in reserve for winter days to come.  

For today, though, thanks to David Sanders, for suggesting a poem by Donald Justice that hauntingly captures the hush of snowfall in an unexpected place:


It's snowing this afternoon and there are no flowers.
There is only this sound of falling, quiet and remote,
Like the memory of scales descending the white keys
Of a childhood piano--outside the window, palms!
And the heavy head of the cereus,…

December update (featuring a poem by Mark Jarman)

These are the gray days of early December, with stacks of papers and portfolios piling up to block the view.  I'm yearning to pick and trim a tree, to bake gingerbread cookies and read a book in front of the fireplace, but most of those things will have to wait until the last class is taught, until finals are given and grades are turned in. I know I'm not alone: this time of year it can feel like so much stands between us and celebration.  So today I want to share a poem I love by Mark Jarman, one that's all about celebrating--and finding the sacred--in the natural world.  Busy and distracted as we are, so much waits for us to notice it and give it a name, as Jarman does here:


Is this word truly fallen?  They say no.
For there's the new moon, there's the Milky Way.
There's the rattler with a wren's egg in its mouth,
And there's the panting rabbit they will eat.
They sing their wild hymn on the dark slope,
Reading the stars like notes of hilariou…

Revisiting Munich

Today, at 4 p.m., I reached the end of the Love, Lucy copy edits, and turned my revision back in to my editor, feeling relieved, and pleased, and nostalgic--for Lucy and for the world she wanders through.

So tonight I'm revisiting the photos I took at the start of this particular  journey, when I set out to research the novel by walking in my character's footsteps, from Terminal A at Philly International Airport to Munich, then overland to Florence and beyond.

By now the Munich section of the book has been edited down to a quick flashback, but I didn't know that would be the case when I started.  I took thousands of photos and copious notes, obsessively storing up sensory data without a clue about what sorts of details I might need.

A store full of dirndls?  Check.

A charming graffito?  Check.

A circle of bunkbeds at The Tent, the funky Munich hostel where I stayed once upon a time, and where Lucy and her friend Charlene have their first falling out?  Check.

And, because I knew …

Black Sunday

This Thanksgiving break, I've been steering blessedly clear of the malls, breaking (delicious) bread with good friends and with my sister who drove from West Virginia for the holiday. And today I've been plowing through the Love, Lucy copyedits, wrestling with a timeline that just doesn't fit.  

I've had plenty of lovely company, though.  Working is so much better when I can do it in bed, with Radio Mozart, surrounded by dogs.

I hoped to be all done by tonight, but, alas, that isn't going to happen now that it's 4:47 and my writing companions are telling me it's kibble time.  

In tribute to work that must be set aside, here's the wonderful Neil Patrick Harris singing Stephen Sondheim's "Finishing the Hat":   

LOVE, LUCY update

Here's where I am: holed up in an undisclosed location, responding to copyedits.  That's cold November rain on the other side of the plate glass window.  

And here's where Lucy is at this exact moment in my manuscript:

It's late July and she's zipping through the streets of Firenze on the back of a Vespa.  Lucky Lucy!  


Nico, our newly-rescued cockapoo, has been settling nicely into his new home.  One week and two days after we drove him away from the shelter, we can't imagine life without him.  He fills the house with his playful spirit, puppy kisses and gratitude--for human beds to sleep in and for the Magic Food Room where his favorite kinds of miracles happen three times a day.  He's learned his new name and already answers to a string of nicknames: Squeako, Sneako, and Neeks.

Even senior dog Reuben, who was somewhat skeptical at first, has come to appreciate the company.  He once again likes going out into the backyard now that he doesn't have to go there alone.  And he even puts up with Nico's attempts at play...the galloping full throttle and veering away at the last minute kind of hijinks.  Roo doesn't do any running of his own anymore, but his body language says, I understand this is a game, and I'm playing much as I can at age twelve and a half.

Meanwhile Nico…

The Cover Reveal: CATHERINE in Paperback!

Catherine, my second novel, is coming out in paperback next August.  And now I can finally reveal its spiffy new cover!

Actually, this new cover is better than merely spiffy.  It fits the story perfectly. The sweetness, the romance, the Lower East Side grittiness, the sense of two people hiding from the world to be alone with each other--they all match to a T the story in my mind.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I love the cover of the hardcover edition too.  It's so striking and dramatic, with the fabulous Flatiron Building off in the distance, the mist, those bold purple letters, and the cover model's gutsy stance.  It captures other aspects of the book--Catherine's confidence and beauty, and her fascination with a certain Manhattan neighborhood.  (She even goes on to name her daughter Chelsea.)

But the new cover does something an author dreams of, something I imagine is pretty rare--it matches the pictures I saw in my head while I was writing.  It captures the exact mood I w…

LUCY Flies Home

Love, Lucy, my novel-to-be, flew home this afternoon, freshly copyedited. I've saved a few hours this afternoon to dip back into the world of that novel--half Philadelphia, half Firenze--and to respond to the copyedits.  
I thought I'd celebrate the occasion with some of my favorite photos from last summer's trip to Florence.  What could be prettier than those dishes of candied flowerpetals, above?  Or more enticing than the pastries below?

Answer: marzipan fruit.  Nothing is simultaneously prettier or more enticing (or more European, festive, colorful) than a big old heap of marzipan fruit!

And now I disappear, for a little while at least, into the Florence in my mind.  Arrivederci!