Thursday, July 29, 2010

Clementine's First Trip to the Beach!

I haven't been in the circumstances to be a "beach person" in so long it's easy to forget how very very much I am one. Really. I just love the beach. I was blessed with a beach childhood. As a Navy brat, the beach was never far. I was shoveling Hawaiian sand into my mouth before I could walk, or so I'm told, and after that was the Atlantic in Virginia, which I remember as monotonously same and without landmarks (not that I cared as a kid), and really really crowded.

Then, score: four years of perfect childhood summers (and all seasons, really) in Southern Italy, living two blocks from Serapo Beach in Gaeta, about an hour north of Naples. Every day at the beach. Every every every day. And yes, these were the '80s and yes, there were whispers even then about the sun not being "healthy" but whatever -- who could believe it? I was a brown berry of a child. The sea was warm, the Italians were wonderful, some parent or other could usually be counted on to spring for a peddleboat and if not, heck, there were cliffs to climb, grottos to explore, islands to swim to, castles to build, gelato to eat. Idyllic and perfect. My next beach? Not so much. Oostend, on Belgium's North Sea coast. North Sea? Not the Mediterranean. Moving on. High school beach: Huntington and Newport in southern California. Not my favorite, but you know. It did the trick, and had cute life guards, which let's be honest is a large part of what high school girls look for in a beach.

In college and came the shift to cold oceans where the coastal landscapes (Northern California and now the Pacific Northwest) became very beautiful . . . and very cold and very windy. I stress the beautiful part, but you know, that's not all it's about. The endless lolling, the sand-encrustation of childhood, swimming for hours and hours, drying salty, all that stuff, it's of the distant past, and I miss it. And I want Clementine (and hopeful future sibling) to have it, though with much much more sunblock. And doofy wide-brimmed hats they will complain about.

I didn't mean to go on about that. It's funny though, how easy it is to mislay a part of yourself. My beach self has been in a little box for years, and she's yammering for release. Mexico? Italy? I don't know. When? Not this summer, I guess. Maybe next. At least we got to the coast on a beautiful weekend, though it was far too short!

Our favorite beach town is Manzanita, about an hour and a half from Portland. Just north of it, in Oswald West State Park, is this lovely little beach, I think it's called Short Sands:

Clementine's first encounter with sand was not love-at-first-sight! It clung to her toes and fingers and it distressed her, that she couldn't wipe it off. She was not a fan, and stayed firmly planted on the safety of the beach blanket!

The next day, however, we spent a long loll at Nehalem Bay State Park, on the bay side (it's a sandspit with ocean beach on one side and lovely lovely river mouth on the other) and she got over her aversion in a big way. This little beach (accessed off the boat ramp parking, if you're going there) is one of our favorite spots: it's an alien driftwood landscape with a gentle shore, dunes on the far end, kayakers gliding past, and the town of Wheeler far across the water. Once we got Clementine set up with buckets of water and toys and holes to dig, she was entranced. It was so incredibly adorable that I forgot to take photos. Here we are, though:

And here's what it looks like in Wheeler, on the other side of the bay:

(I did a more travelogue kind of post of this same stretch of coast a few years ago -- check it out, me pre-pink!)
All the playing really tired the little muppet out, and at 6:30 on Manzanita beach, before we could even have a bath, conk! Out like a light for 13 hours!

Funny how carrying a baby has cut back my non-baby photography. All my pictures of this trip were of my sweeties! Or taken by Jim of his sweeties. Anyway, it was a lovely little get-away, but I'm still totally jonesing for a REAL BEACH VACATION. Though I can tell you right now, Jim, my love, ideal partner in all other things, is not probably going to be the ideal partner in a lolly beach vacation. Six years post-melanoma, he is understandably a bit freaked by the sun. Creamy little Clementine Pie has a life of icky sticky ooey gooey sunblock ahead of her, as it must be. I just wish sunblock wasn't so . . . so . . . you know. So icky. (Speaking of which, recent reports on how sunscreen is, amazingly, not regulated! There is super crappy stuff in it, including estrogen, so consumer beware! Especially for your babies, try to seek out the natural stuff. It's $$, but hell. Who wants to slather their baby with hormones???)

Okay, that's all. Cheers!

Favorite beach getaways, anyone? Dream beach getaways?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Vampire Happiness

Okay, so tell me how weird this is. Jim and Clementine and I were away for the weekend at the Oregon coast, lovely lovely, more on that later, but anyway, we were in one of those crap beach shops that all sell the same schmaltz, and walked past a little shelf of tchotchkes, you know, little figurines with sayings on them, super tacky? And Jim pointed at one and said, "How funny. For some reason when I first glanced at that, I thought it said ..."

And as he began to speak, I glanced at the tchotchke in question, and I don't even remember what particular tackiness it was, a unicorn or a girl or whatever, but it had a little banner unfurled across the front (all ceramic) with a single word on it, and AS Jim was speaking, I glanced at it and thought for a split second that it said, "Vampire."

And then -- then -- Jim finished his thought, which was, " ... I thought it said 'vampire.'"

In fact, it said in plain block letters: HAPPINESS.

So I ask you, why -- why? -- did we BOTH, independently of one another, misread it to say "vampire"? Vampire looks nothing like happiness. Happiness looks nothing like vampire. I cannot explain it. Our brains are one.

Jim did say, and I have to agree, that if it had said "vampire" he would have bought it.

Ha ha!

Hope you had a lovely weekend too. I'll be back with Clementine beach pics! It was her FIRST TRIP TO THE BEACH and it was suitably adorable :-)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A guest post about cheese, with a little bit of France thrown in

As promised, here we have a guest post by my marvelous best friend, Alexandra, who went to France recently, and ate a lot of cheese! I think it might be my fault, as I texted her relentlessly with commands to "eat cheese for me today," which is what I say whenever anyone goes to France. Can we all just take a moment to sit dreamily in honor of cheese? (a favorite quote: "The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese." -GK Chesterton) And the last thing I'll say about cheese, before turning you over to Alexandra, is this: one of the highlights of being pregnant was a feeling of perfect entitlement to eat cheese! And now, without further ado ... Alexandra!

I read that Winston Churhcill said of France in 1940, “A country producing almost 360 different kinds of cheese cannot die!” Before my trip, such a statement would have meant 100% nothing to me. I even spent two years in Bulgaria, otherwise known as “the land of only two cheeses,” and my tongue never batted a flick. Yes, I've lived a nearly cheeseless existence for 38 years until last month when, while in my third day in Paris, walking along one of those narrow cobblestoned alleys strumming the Seine, I heard wheels of cheese sing out to ME. And just like that, wherever I went throughout France for the next thirteen days, all I had to do was open my mouth and wheels of cheese rolled themselves right in!

Munster, Roquefort, Tomme de Savoie, Explorateur, Gaperon, *sigh*.....I believe I was eventually welcomed by all eight of the cheese family dynasties, and each of their distinguished relatives seemed to take to me immediately. All I have to say is God bless every single morsel of cheese in France, and every last stinky fromagerie within its borders.

(My only cheese-related regret is that I didn’t have a spare pair of buttocks that could metabolize les fromages without any evidential trace of its consumption. Unfortunately, it looks like those will have to wait, along with my other dream of detachable limbs you can drop off at pilates on your way to work and pick them up at the end of the day.)

But of course thats not all there is to France! You already know that you can find the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, croissants, and pain du chocolat here too, but no one ever mentioned to me the wild boars everywhere muscling their tusks through the Saint Germaine quarter with all their overflowing shopping bags, midnight open air markets selling dried fruits and teas and lavendar alongside aerial gondola expeditions that will have you to Tanzania and back by sunrise, bath oils produced by local Mediterranean mermaids, and very lively crepe eating competitions for reptilain vultures of all sorts. Who knew that bats could devour so many Nutella smothered crepes so very quickly? Not to mention the hippie ostriches selling their beautiful oil paintings of French countryside life.

[ed note: I want to go to that France! Is there a special airline? A crack in a wall somewhere that takes you there?]

Since I’ve been back, I’ve been trying to replicate some of my finest cheese moments, and I leave you with my favorite, which can be made easy enough whether or not you like to cook. It comes very close to something I ate in Avignon. The only difference is that there it was served with literally a carpet of cheese about half an inch thick- and unless you have ample calories to spare or like to feel like you are eating a tundra of cheese, I prefer to spread the cheese only about three ants high instead -- and its still very tasty! The only other difference I notice is that the goat cheese in France smelled much more “goaty” than any I buy here. Its almost as if the goat cheese that you buy in the U.S. has been forced to shower!

Alexandra’s Very Easy & Tasty Sandwich Recipe
Serves 4 Adults with a Regular Appetite or Laini at dinnertime [ed. note. Hey!]

All you Need Are:

2 Baguettes
2 Red Peppers
2 Yellow Peppers
2 Sweet Onions
Goat Cheese - but preferably not the sort you squeeze out like toothpaste

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut each baguette in half, or in thirds. Then slice them in the middle using your knife- or you can do what I do which is just pry them gently apart with your fingers. I like the more ‘tousled’ bread look better myself!

Next, slice your peppers and onions in two and three inch long strips. Saute in olive oil.

Meanwhile, don’t forget about the bread! Place them in the center of your oven with or without a baking sheet for 5-7 minutes, or until toasty and a tiny bit crunchy. I like to turn the bread over for the last two minutes but sometimes I forget and its no biggie.

Now the bread, peppers, and onions should be all finished and temporarily placed aside because really they only play second fiddle roles as the headliner will always, always, and always be....the goat cheese, showered or not. Turn on the French national anthem as you take out your finest knife and proceed to spread a nice layer of cheese across each open faced slice, and only then, after each last teensy weensy part of the cheese has taken its place on stage, then you can bring out the supporting cast and arrange your sauteed veggies on top. Eat while warm with the anthem playing on loop.

Moving on, I come from a family in which I have been conditioned and am now unable to sleep past 7 am most mornings. My father revealed to me recently that on long road trips growing up, after we had all fallen asleep in our hotel beds, he would quietly set all the alarm clocks one to two hours ahead so that we could be up and out as early as possible. The upside of this years later is that one of my favorite things to do when traveling is to meet the city at the break of dawn when most of its inhabitants, and all of its tourists, are still snoozing. You see things you wouldn’t otherwise -- the way the sunlight skims and tickles the horizon and rooftops out of its slumber, the smell of baking croissants wafting out the backdoors of bakeries left open, and farmers pulling their vehicles into open market stalls as they unload cherries, melons, tomatoes, lettuce, among other edibles. I watched in Nice as two men, both with soccer ball bellies, tossed heads of lettuce to each other from the car to the stall’s tables, laughing and teasing as they did so. There is a crispness to early morning air that hasn’t yet been trampled by the breaths and banter of bankers and bakers on their way to work, mothers with crabby toddlers in tow, oblivious teens who bump into you as they text, not to mention an absence of honking cars, radios, sirens, and other miscellaneous human murmurs and yelps. The city seems to perch on your palm, and beckon to be explored alone.

One morning I was the first to arrive at a cafe in the Provencal town of Avignon. The waitor asked what I was reading and when I told him The Bread of Angels by Stephanie Saldana, he asked me what it was about. I explained that it is an autobiographical account of Saldana’s year living in Syria as a Fullbright scholar at the height of our war with Iraq. A Catholic from Texas, she was there to study the portrayal of Jesus in the Koran. It is also very much about the Syrians she comes to befriend and provides a very much-needed human face on the people of Syria as individuals at a time when our government was giving them the not-so-distinct honor as a member of the “Axis of Evil.” Because I was the only one there, he was able to sit down and tell me his own experience of being Muslim in France. “When I’m in France,” he explained to me, “I’m not really considered French though I was born here. But when I worked in England, I was. I’m French everywhere but in my own homeland. Because I’m a Muslim, because I’m an Arab.” This same sentiment was expressed to me by a college student, Naouel, whom I traveled with by train from Avignon to Nice. She wore a beautiful silk orange headwrap. I asked her what she thought about Chirac’s efforts to make wearing the headdress out in public illegal. Her eyes welled up and she shook her head. Then she said, “It will not change anything if it happens. What needs to change, to open, is the human heart.”

I met Mormon boys on two year missions in France, a Croatian couple who gave me the rundown on the last 25 years of their lives in broken English, an aspiring Mexican filmmaker, Rafael, who spent two great hours describing to me in amazing detail his month spent on El Camino De Santiago with his father, wonderful cousins I had never met before, and a once famous and now retired actor from Algeria while sipping tea in Le Mosque patissierie which is a part of the oldest mosque in Paris.

And of course thats the best part of traveling, that one meets so many people you would otherwise never cross paths with. We discover new parts of ourselves in places we have never been as we set eyes on new sights, taste new flavors, and are exposed to different ways of seeing and being in the world than our own narrow conditioning has often allowed.

More pictures at the Mosque de Paris:

If you’re planning to go to France, here is a wrap-up of things that I would highly recommend and that were the definite most favorite moments.


Annecy is a small town in the Alps that offers the best bike ride I have ever taken in my life. You can bike for miles and miles on a relatively flat path along the lake, surrounded entirely by the Alps, as you whiz by tiny villages and cathedrals. Bring a sandwich with you, and a huge bag of cherries naturally, and have a picnic after a few hours in any of the sweet tiny lakeside parks along the way. Annecy itself couldn’t be any more idyllic with its medieval center filled with flower-lined canals, cobblestoned streets, and the best apricot and coconut sorbet known to mankind. An old 12th-century prison jettisons out at one juncture right over one of the central townsquare canals. I would love to have spent a whole summer here eating ice-cream, going for local hikes, renting paddle boats and reading out in the middle of the lake, and strolling through the daily early morning open market that stretches right over one of the canal bridges.


Chagall is one of my all-time favorite painters and his prints, along with Laini’s, make up the bulk of art on my walls both at home and office. Nonetheless, I wasn’t initially super excited to see the Chagall museum down in Nice because I knew it was comprised primarily of his biblical scenes which have never interested me nearly as much as his paintings of Russian or Parisian life. All that changed the moment I entered the surprisingly small but beautiful museum. The works are huge and displayed in a white gallery that is flooded with just enough natural light to illuminate each painting’s vibrant details perfectly. Each one was filled with so many details I had never picked up seeing in a book or even a poster. There is also a great little garden cafe outside that was a great spot to read and journal in.


I came back a second day just to write and draw here. The Rothschild villa took five years to build, and is a flamingo pink extravaganza with an enormous garden in the shape of a ship’s bow. In addition to that garden, there are five others, with my favorite being the Spanish Garden. I really like the Baronness’s sense of practicality too. While she already had four villas in the rather near vicinities, one can never have enough villas. Isn’t it weird to think of having so much money that you could build a villa the way children build houses out of Legos? [ed. note: what's weird about that? Doesn't everyone do that?] I read that when she lived there until her death in the 1930s she made all the gardeners dress like sailors and liked to dress as Marie Antoinette when having guests over. The villa overlooks the Mediterranean Sea in the heart of the French Riviera, and is an easy 20-minute bus ride from Nice.


This isn’t a spot so much as a suggestion. I kept a gelato ratings page in my journal so I could be sure to track my favorite flavors. Plus time was short and I wanted to be sure to try as many kinds as possible, and avoid revisiting any of the more mediocre flavors accidentally. Focus and planning is very important with so many flavors to cover. The top three star ratings went to cocco, stracciatella, bacio, pistaccio integrale, amarena, and nocciola piemonte!

Maya Angelou said somewhere that “Every child should have traveling shoes.” I’d add to that “every adult too.” I came back from this trip reinspired to work on my second draft of my novel after feeling rather stagnant the last few months. I come back feeling grateful for my family of dear friends and of course, a new appreciation for cheese. I also came back with a reassembled list of priorities and goals. Great travel does that, and while its fun to have new adventures far from home, my favorite part I think may always be the new miles it allows us to travel inwardly, infusing the soul with courage and desire to have more adventures right here on our own home turf and in our very own sweet hearts. [ed. note: yeah yeah yeah. And the cheese!]

Monday, July 19, 2010

Japanese zombie baseball? Plus, some thoughts on writing productivity

Because why not?

Ha ha, here's the synopsis:

"Battlefield Baseball is a tough game--it doesn't end until all the members on the opposing team are dead. In this game the Gedo High team is composed of blue-faced zombies, and their opponents on the Seido High team know they don't have a chance at beating them unless they can bring back a star pitcher who has a lethal pitch called the Super Tornado, but who has hung up his cleats and has no desire to return to the game."

(I just spelled "small" "snakk." Kind of a cute word. I've always thought "Snack" would be an excellent name for a small dog, don't you agree? And maybe you could spell it Snakk and say it means something on the dog's planet, like Valiant Warrior or Pontius Pilate or something.)

Monday morning, just got to the cafe, and I am going to set Freedom* asap and get to it. (Right after this blogging interlude, snarf snarf.) I've had a string of awesome writing mornings, I'm really in a groove and it is a wonderful wonderful feeling. I am not even afraid of my deadline right now, not even a little. Just super excited! Of course, as we all know, these things turn on a dime. Fingers crossed for this stretch to continue. Two things:

-- Writing every day. Every day. Every every day. First time I've pulled off this stunt in a long while, and I owe it to my wonderful husband who gets up at 4 am every morning so he can get a little work done before taking Clementine from 8 to 1, so I can write. Also, he's been doing 90% of the stuff around the house lately (he might amend that to 99%). Mwah, sweetie. Thank you.

-- Before Clementine was born, I heard this rumor that when you have less time, you get more productive with it. I am at last learning how to make that true. See, it's not one of those things that is just instantly true. It doesn't happen that you magically wake up more productive.You have to work at it, but desperation can be the mother of productivity, ha ha. I have to say that my 4-5 hours now are more productive than many of my childless 12-hour work stretches used to be.

That is all. Beware zombie baseball players. Ouch.

* too lazy to link: Freedom is an application (for Macs) that disables your wireless for a specified period of time so you can't get online and distract yourself. Some days I really really need it. Thank you, Freedom!

Friday, July 16, 2010

*thrill thrill thrill thrill thrill thrill thrill thrill* (another book announcement!)

I hinted recently at more unfolding wonderfulness, and here it is! Daughter of Smoke and Bone has sold UK/Commonwealth rights to the AMAZING Kate Howard at the AMAZING Hodder & Stoughton, who have totally rocked my world. I'm such a goob about all things business, that it didn't totally register with me that my wonderful agent, Jane Putch, had held onto UK rights (psst, writers, in the "to agent or not to agent" question, I come down firmly on the "agent" side!), but man, I'm so glad she did. The experience so far with H&S has been Awesome Part II, following on the heels of the overflowing Awesome that is Little, Brown.

Today H&S's announcement came out at

H&S acquires hot trio by Laini Taylor
16.07.10 | Catherine Neilan

Hodder & Stoughton has bought a "hotly pursued crossover novel", tentatively entitled, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.

Encouraged by "extraordinary levels of excitement" from within Hodder, Kate Howard, senior editor, flew out to Los Angeles to meet agent Jane Putch, president of Eyebait Licensing, to win the book. Howard took a number of items relating to the story—a jar filled with paper wishes from Hodder staff, a wishbone necklace and a large sketch book detailing the publishing strategy—in support of her bid and secured British Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, to three novels altogether. She said she was "over the moon to be the UK editor for her books".

Howard added: "Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a magnificent book, which grabbed me from the opening page, and had everyone at Hodder completely enthralled. The book’s macabre fairytale feel is incredibly inventive and original, and the fantasy is wonderfully creative yet extremely accessible.

"I felt the same way about it as I felt when I read His Dark Materials and Twilight—that shiver of excitement knowing I was reading something outstanding. It’s a brilliant novel, with a feisty heroine who I know will resonate with readers young and old, male and female."

Putch said: "Hodder, Kate Howard and the entire acquisition team simply bowled us over. After the remarkable, savvy and thoughtful presentation, we knew we had found the right home."

Taylor has written three previous books, the most recent of which, Lips Touch: Three Times, was a silver medal finalist for the 2009 National Book Award.

Hodder will publish in hardcover next autumn and will support the launch with "a large-scale, sustained and innovative consumer campaign".

Little, Brown Young Readers US also fought off "stiff competition", winning the novel at auction. It will be published with a big launch next autumn.

* * *

There is so much to look forward to in the next couple of years, it's kind of overwhelming. I said before this is my writer's daydream, my fairy tale come true, only it's so much bigger than my daydream now, I have this sense of years ahead of filling the gratitude well and trying to deserve it. The best thing a verklempt writer can do NOW is sit at her little desk or cafe table and typety-type, clackety-clack, and keep the words unspooling from whatever mystical spool they are spun upon. So here I sit, at *my* cafe, with my 20 ounces of bean juice and the beginning of a new chapter. Whew.

Thank you so much, so much, so much to Kate Howard and Hodder & Stoughton, and of course, once again, to Jane Putch, who dreams big -- a good trait in an agent! (psst, another aside to [children's/YA] writers on the agent question, I met Jane in the course of ordinary schmoozing networking at the annual SCBWI conference in Los Angeles, which is the MOST AMAZING TIME and happens to be coming right up, July 30-August 2; if you can possibly go, GO. If you can't possibly go, GO.)

A few other little thingamies:

--A very cool graphic anthology that Jim and I contributed to is just about to hit the stands! It's Fractured Fables from Shadowline Comics, and it's kid-friendly. Our story, "Spanking Robots" is a very short robot-Pinocchio interpretion. This book is FULL of great art and fun stories. Check it out!

-- German Lips Touch!!! This is my first-ever new cover; that is, I've had a couple of foreign editions so far, but they used the same covers as US, so this is the first time I've seen a wholly new incarnation of one of my books. Pretty cool! Looks like the title is "The Forbidden Kiss."(thank you, Jim, for sending :-)

-- Because it is so important that you know this, my hair is newly empinked, and not only that, it is FLIPPY and SASSY.

-- I am listening to Niyaz right now, which is Iranian music trio including Azam Ali of Vas (who might be my perfect musical accompaniment for the current book); they describe themselves thus:

Niyaz's music, described as "mystical music with a modern edge"[3], is primarily a blend of Sufi mysticism and trance electronica.[1][2] Niyaz adapts Persian, Indian and Mediterranean folk sounds, poetry and songs including the poetry of Sufi mystic Rumi, with Western electronic instrumentation and programming.

-- Woke to a google-chat this morning to a dear friend who happens to be in a villa in Provence right now, ooh la la; the babies peered at each other across continents and oceans, and my bed head was captured in all its glory.

-- Maybe my favorite writer's advice list EVER, certainly the one that resonates the most with me, as "my kind of writing"; from Janet Fitch, via the L.A. Times. So good. Especially #1 and #9.

-- Lastly, a new favorite reader email, from 13-year-old JB:

How dare you write so well.
The following is all your fault:
Me scouring every bookstore within 30 miles for Silksinger. (i never found it and will never forgive the bookstores)
Me breaking my code of library conduct and asking for Silksinger from a different library.
Me forcing my unfortunate mom to drive me to the library every day until it arrived.
Me reading it thru the rode home and dinner, finishing it, eating two soybeans and one slice of watermelon, crying for four minutes, and picking it up and reading it all over again.
Me sleeping with it and my copy of blackbringer ( i woke up with square imprints on my neck).
How dare you help inspire me to be a writer instead of the excellent evil villain I would have made. My minions are now destined to be pencils instead of mutants.
And how dare you consider making me pause in the devilishly good middle of silksinger to email you.

Thank you, JB! The sitting-at-the-computer part of writing (that is, like 98% of it!) is all the more worth it when broken up by receiving emails like this (and, er, announcements like the H&S one above) :-)

Happy day, all!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Photo Catch-Up

I just downloaded the camera for the first time in a while; it was almost full! And in its belly I found these recent memories, and thought I'd do a little catch-up, since I haven't been posting much lately, and photos even less than that.

Miss Clementine Pie turned 11 months yesterday. Yow! How the time, she does fly.

Huh. I wonder where this kid gets her blue eyes from.
So, nose-biting (my mom, here). Some time last month, Clementine decided, all for herself, that biting noses is funny. Well, the first time she did it to me -- wholly unexpected -- I cracked up laughing, and so she's kept doing it. And now it's even funnier. I always make this mock-scared sound when she does it to me (and she's very gentle with those choppers, by the way), kind of like, "Eeeeeeeeeee!" And now, I have only to make that sound and it's her nose-bite cue. It's pretty hilarious.

This kid is the best. The best. Words cannot begin to convey the awesomeness of Clementine Pie.
(Dude. Pull my finger.)

Now, how about some food pictures.
Aebleskiver, a new Father's Day tradition. They're so fun to make! I love flipping them with a knitting needle in their darling little pan.
And they may even have been chocolate involved.
I'm calling this one "Fuel for hikers," because we stopped at Saint Cupcake on our way out of town to Silver Falls State Park last month on our anniversary.
nd this is what greeted us back in Portland, when we were starving in the aftermath of cupcakes.

(Oh man, I'm so tired. I'm going to fall asleep right HERE.)

Just a couple of quickie photos first. Today was another day of transforming the long-neglected patio into a pleasant space, which involved setting up a "pool pavilion" for Clementine. I'm loving it out there now. Thank you, Mom and Papa, for coming over to help with the planting!

Jeez, I really AM tired. I can barely keep my eyes open, so I'll just wrap it up. Coming up soon: A guest post involving France, cheese, and my goofiest friend, Alexandra. See you soon!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

And some days I want to kiss my brain

And often, the broken brain days (see last post) are followed by golden days where you kind of fall in love with your brain all over again, kiss it lots and promise it a second honeymoon (somewhere warm, but not too warm), and everything is peaches. (And not the stupid Whole Foods organic peaches that rotted in a day, either. One hopes.)

GREAT day today! Yay yay yay! Mental high fives, my characters making me laugh out loud, pages finding themselves --wham!-- written. Page, meet page. And oh wait, here's another page-friend for you to play with. Page page page. Do the page dance.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm such a dork. But I'm happy. More days like this please. On the menu of days, this will be my "usual." Hi Laini, what will you have today? Oh, the usual. Just a fabulous writing day, please. And a regular coffee. And an entire chocolate cake. And some mangoes. And beef jerky.

(What? Nothing.)

And the post-writing part of the day was lovely too. After lunch, Clementine practically swooned into a deep nap, and I swooned alongside her, exhausted from all my giddy writing joy, and then after that we got to work, along with Jim, at finally getting the patio summerified. Some of you in, ahem, summerier parts of the world, can laugh, but we've had a doozy of an Oregon spring, to the extent that the grass is still rain-green. No sprinklers have yet been needed! Can you believe? But this week the heat kicks in, summer starts, and so it was finally time to stop putting off clearing the old firewood off the patio, and the broken pots and brick-a-brack, setting up the patio table and new wading pool (oh cool delightful water!), etc. And then, of course, eating outside (pad Thai, plus the best plums and mangoes, yum). Eating outside with a baby = a good idea. They can fling pad Thai noodles to their heart's content. Oh man, Clementine got SO MESSY. The kind of messy that parents think is cute but is totally barf-gross to anyone else. She actually had a noodle plastered to her belly, inside her onesie. And mango in her hair. And yes, I took pictures.

Next patio phase will be fun, the cute-ifying part, like hanging some color, planting up some pots, which then someone will be expected to water. *looks away* Aw, sadness. That whole *looks away* thing? That's what my dearly departed Siberian husky Shiloh used to do, pretending to ignore us. The most obviously pointed look-away. It was so funny, and Jim and I used to do it to each other, when one would ask the other to do something, this sort of la-la-la, if I can't see you, I can't hear you pose. The things you start to forget. Time is the suck, isn't it?

But you know what doesn't suck (today at least)? My brain.

Smooch smooch.

Friday, July 02, 2010

How to mend a broken brain

Some days are like this:

I hate writing and my brain is broken. And I'm hungry. And also stupid.

(That's an email I sent to a friend earlier today.)

You just have to kick days like that in the snoot. This morning my brain might have broken for a little while, sure, okay, but it was nothing a shower and a nap couldn't fix. Or possibly this cure:
(Add "donut" to that sign and it's perfect :-)

The nap today was, in fact, more of a cuddling of sleeping Pie whilst my brain whirred loudly, like an old, old computer. I did not/could not fall asleep, which I attribute to the second cup of coffee I had at *my* cafe this morning in an effort to avoid eating a mid-morning pastry, or, as we hobbits like to call it, "second breakfast." Filled up stomach with coffee instead. Anyway, lying there not sleeping, my story issues were carouseling in my brain, you know, the same horses and gargoyles coming around again and again, and glory halleluja, new ideas started to stir themselves to life. Yay! Who knows if they will make it into the book, but they did perk me up with a sense of possibility and improve my mood. Plus Clementine's head was right under my nose and smelled really sweet, so that probably helped too.

The problem was then finding the time to jot down the ideas before they jumped out my ear and escaped -- I imagine them running serpentine, like in comedies when people are fleeing gunfire or alligators. Zig zag. I did jot down some notes, but I doubt I will be able to read them. A certain baby was trying to liberate my pen. But she is asleep again! And now is the time to capture those fugitive ideas! More coffee is right now being consumed by me, so I say fare thee well, have a lovely weekend. Eat fruit. Pet a ghost. Kiss someone on the ear. Snore. You know. Stuff.