It Happens

 

 

Video | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mask America

A couple of days ago I shopped the web for masks, something I swore I wouldn’t do way back in March, right after my son’s school switched to online education, after I’d purchased non-medical grade masks for my family, and before ads for decorative masks dominated my social media feeds, ads I knew were coming, but hoped wouldn’t, was deeply in denial about, but deep down knew were on their way like John Snow’s WINTER and here we (still) are: masks, masks, masks.

I dread a masked person stopping me in my local Albertsons, commenting: OMG I luuuuv your mask! Where did you get it?

IMG_1951

Foyer masks

I don’t want wearing/buying masks to become a norm.

I want this pandemic to be beaten down, like it’s been beaten down in other countries I’m banned from visiting.

Context: The family member who had the most power and influence over me my whole life until last summer, died, in part, from a lifelong addiction to denial, due, I’m convinced, to NPD–Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Blood relative.

Big, huge I KNOW WINTER AND WINTER IS BEAUTIFUL IT’S A VERY VERY BEAUTIFUL WINTER AND IT IS NEVER COMING NEVER type of influence.

My whole life.

I purchased bandanna patterned masks on Zulily, had them sent to my little sister, an aesthetician in Iowa. I ordered extra masks for my tween and spouse. I ordered a mask patterned in a dragonfly for me, and have bookmarked a mask featuring Biden’s sunglasses and the American flag. This December, masks will be included with Christmas presents mailed to family.

Yours in fu****g safety,

PB

 

Posted in Avoiding My Writing, Me and Us, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

100% True Horror (Bad Dolls Edition)

Last night it was my turn to choose a movie. As my husband practiced the guitar (his Covid-19 learn-something-new goal) on our front porch, delighting dog-walking neighbors, the last of the day’s sun blessing his face, I spent 45 minutes surfing for a movie I haven’t seen before and my heart crisped because now that I’ve basically watched everything since #stayhome began, all that’s left is the 1 genre I just can’t: horror.

Specifically: horror based on real events.

For me, based on is code for: 100% true.

100% true horror, for me, triggers: the ‘Ringu’-scream-face.

And expletives.

My jambalaya of movie horror don’ts: Amityville. Exorcist/Omen (they might as well be 100% true). Paranormal(s). An American Haunting. Bigfoot, serial killers, schizophrenic roommates. Clowns w/no morals. Piranha (lakes to bathtubs). Creepy groundcover. And Spielberg—can: Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Can’t: Poltergeist. Can: ET. Can’t: Jaws and Jaws sequels (the horror here being the horrifyingly awful quality of Jaws 2, etc.—hence: the ‘Ringu’-scream-face).

As my husband strummed the guitar and I surfed 100% true horror, I happened across a particularly vicious short horror film. Despite my jaw twitching with warning (the Ringu-scream-face!), I pressed select and watched.

My perversity will be the end of me.

A doll lives in a display case in the basement of a Victorian-ish house in Key West, FL and if you visit the doll, which has already killed multiple people, and don’t ask the doll if you can take its picture, but just take the picture and then fly home, vacation over, you will have such horrendous bad luck you will write to the doll (I guess someone reads letters addressed to the doll to the doll) and apologize for not asking the doll’s permission to take its picture and you promise in your letter never to photograph it again without asking permission and you might even have to praise the doll for best results, that part isn’t so clear, but if your letter of apology to the doll is worded in some right way, the doll will decide your run of bad luck is at an end and you may carry on living your life free of sadistic influence.

The ‘Ringu’-scream-face activated, I sprawled on the couch agonizing over who or what gave the Key West doll such power. So unfair! Why not give the power to Gloria Steinem or George Clooney or RBG? At least they’d turn the bad luck on Trump or Putin or Bolsonaro, perhaps transport them to Papillon’s island without a shade umbrella, or a Key West basement. With that doll. Forever.

I’ve been to Key West. Toured Hemingway’s house and the dark watering hole that is Capt Tony’s, lunched at Louie’s Backyard, enjoyed the breeze from Cuba while sitting on that low white wall, snorkeled? I was so impressed by Key West I tucked it away in my ‘possible other life’ file.

But after seeing a 100% true horror film on a toddler-sized doll with the power to not like you so much you become desperate, I don’t want to return to Key West. Never again will I see those cats perform tricks at sunset on Mallory Square. The entire time I’m applauding the cats I’ll be thinking about the doll. Terrible! Also, did the doll give its permission for the movie to be made? It’s the f**king star of the f**king film, so did it approve the f**king release? I guess the f**king  filmmakers f**king survived. Or did they? Never mind. I don’t want to f**king know.

I called my husband to the couch and surrendered the remote. He chose ‘The Lighthouse’ and within minutes lighthouses were ruined for us forever as the lead actors grappled with imagery you simply can’t unsee–yet I was already so traumatized by the Key West doll I hardly noticed the constant muck and murdered seabirds and rubbery mermaid and leaky tentacles. Instead, I worried the Key West doll would know I was thinking about it without its permission and come after me with its evil airwaves and I thought how unfortunate that would be as we’ve only recently moved into our un-haunted dreamhouse and I’m a busy #stayhome #staysafe mom tending a small zoo of rescued animals + 1 hormones-wracked tween forced into distance learning and I just don’t have time for bad luck and 100% true horror, not really, and I was going to ask my husband to pause ‘The (f***ing) Lighthouse’ and tell him I was pretty sure I was experiencing an anxiety attack, but I clammed up until our walk the next morning.

We studied crows guarding a nest built on the bars of a pylon dominating a grassy hill. The view from the nest would take a human’s breath away–green valley, mauve smudge of a distant mountain range, unarguably beautiful world. Vertigo dipped my brain as I imagined being in the nest, looking out.

I plopped in the dirt and shared my anxiety with my husband.

“Why am I so freaked about a doll?” I moaned, transferring earthworms from the trail to chaparral-cover.

“Unprecedented uncertain times,” my husband began.

“Yeah, yeah…”

“Tween would love the Mallory Square cats.”

What else is he COVID-19 learning, I wondered, remembering that in over a week I have not: played the piano, read a novel in the bath, sent telepathic love notes to the quail family visiting our patio each morning, forced the tween to play chess with me, napped with our cats, Zoomed a soul sister, downed vitamin D, or revised my writing.

100% true.

A couple approached with several leashed, vocal dachsunds.

“No lizards!” owners commanded their dogs. “Stay away from the lizards!”

My husband hauled me up. We slipped our masks into place, powered on.

Yours in positive metaphors,

PB

Posted in Me and Us, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Black Lives Matter

6/5/2020

Last Wednesday rumors circulated via my Next Door app and local FB community pages that Valencia was going to be overrun by thugs from nearby Palmdale intent on looting our stores, destroying our mall, and terrorizing neighborhoods. No one posting had a legitimate source of information, but everyone posting seemed to know a local police official confirming the thugs thing. The rumors insisted thugs had organized buses for transport from Palmdale to Santa Clarita/Valencia. The rumors insisted our hotels were filling up as the thugs made reservations to I guess retire to the local Hilton after trashing our city and order room service. When a lone Next Door subscriber posted he had called the hotels and was told they were not, in fact, remotely near capacity, he was shouted down by other Next Door users with fun bits like, for example: I have a gun!

Finally, on Wednesday, the City of Santa Clarita announced a peaceful protest would be taking place at noon Thursday and a citywide curfew was set for Thursday evening. The announcement inflamed Next Door-ers etc. to again post about their gun ownership, their pity for our poor beleaguered local police forced to deal with out of town thugs, their insistence that ALL LIVES MATTER and mostly their posts were on repeat regarding preparing for riots and fires and destruction and suddenly I felt like I had moved into a paranoid, racist community.

Thursday’s peaceful protest: peaceful.

Except that someone left a ‘suspicious device’ near the protestors. I still don’t know who left the device or what the device was, but Next Door and FB users have the answer: Antifa.

Thursday’s peaceful protest: peaceful.

Thursday’s peaceful protest was SO peaceful that late Thursday afternoon Santa Clarita/Valencia residents were informed our curfew would be lifted COMPLETELY. 

tdogsLast night, my little family and I stayed outside until 9pm social distancing with neighbors, all of us agreeing under a gorgeous full moon that all lives matter when BLACK LIVES MATTER, that peaceful protests are effective, all of us grateful change is here thanks to peaceful protestors in our community, our country and around the world, all of us grateful more change is coming.

Peace.

PB

Posted in Me and Us, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Morning Essentials

6:28a.m. 2 minutes until I need to fill the dogs’ bowls with food, walk them, walk myself for 2.43 miles, feed the tween (I like doing this), review his academic schedule from Google Classroom (Just make a list! But Mom. MAKE A LIST!!!), feed

IMG_1280

I leave the laundry folding to the cat.

the cats, feed my husband (I like doing this), shower, spend 10 mins choosing a virtual background for a Zoom meeting, attend meeting, feed humans elevenses (meh), take vitamins, have them count as breakfast, sit, write.

don’tturnonthenews don’tturnonthenews don’tturnonthenews

Time’s up!

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mother’s Day 2020

I’ve been having too much fun creating Instagram stories (@pbrippey1), hence the little video below, but then again it is the time of quarantine, so why not? Also, hunting for butterfly gifs is so much better for my blood pressure than watching the news. 2 mile walk with my husband this morning, gifts of Almond Joy candy bars, a set of uber wind chimes, and my son gave me a list: Top 10 Favorite Moments With Mom. I was thrilled taking him to our science museum for the first time made the cut (although he was only 2 and I doubt remembers that excursion–plenty of visits since then, though). Greeting him every morning with a hug and a kiss won a ranking, too–so basically my work is done.
Yours in bliss-gifs and a happy day,
PB

 

Posted in Me and Us, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring Heralds

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
― Anne Bradstreet

Poppy

 

Pot of Poetry

 

 

Posted in Poetry, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poem for the Last Day of April

And just like that, poetry month is at an end, but Tracy K. Smith will still send us a poem each weekday via The Slowdown, or we can visit the site and listen to her read and perhaps we’ll springboard into: self-discovery/creative ideas/positive ways of coping during quarantine.

I aIMG_1033m working on my French pronunciation thanks to Babbel-in-the-time-of-COVID19, so: Au revoir, April! I’ve enjoyed your showers and blooms and watching wild birds go spring-crazy and get very, very loud on our back patio–especially Quail Family Robinson.

Au revoir! Next year I hope to be outdoors with you instead of gazing at you through my windows with a stressful smile. But I won’t slam the door behind you, April, because hopefully I’ve outgrown door-slamming and have excelled at, hopefully, patience, humility, parenting, partnering, poetry and love, a quarantine-inspired-acceleration of excelling, I guess, from experiencing your rains and sunbursts from inside my house. And from a lot of Netflix.

April? Merci! My sunglasses are standing by for May–um, or July.

Yours in blooms and fresh moons,

PB.

Star Talk

red planet why
do i give
so much
gamma gamma gamma
throb
in this town’s
gritty smolder, eyes
(crude) smithied rings
pupils (holes)
orbit
O fire-
whelk,
doomed speck—
when you wink
surely i

disappear

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring Clean (April Edition)

Despite being homebound for over a month, a month’s worth of house cleaning occurred on 1 sunny April day, a spontaneous, madly executed group effort by myself, my husband and our tween, as though houseguests were arriving, when really we only expected UPS with our cases of Cool Blue Gatorade, sparkling water, and a bag of assorted cat toys. We dusted books and desks, even tops of cabinets, refreshed litter boxes. I vacuumed the couch, hauling the machine’s noisy, square base onto the fabric, then the ottoman, offending the mixed-poodle, then the cushions of the skyblue chairs in the sitting room, offending all cats. We wiped down bathrooms and the kitchen (ignoring, though, what lies beneath the stove’s burner gridwork—another day, another day, we promised), folded laundry piled on the guestroom bed, watered plants, froze to exclaim over several quail swiftly crossing the patio, passed around bottles of Gatorade when delivered, and right before finishing, remembered to turn on cleaning music (“Alexa, play Yo-Yo Ma!”). And when the house gleamed, we rewarded ourselves with our favorite meals, ordered from 2 different restaurants–and a movie, Independence Day, a flick we thought our tween would enjoy because of action and aliens. Wrong. After devouring his dinner, our son dubbed the movie so trash and fled upstairs to his video games while my husband and I delved deep into Ozark. Near midnight, I reached down to pick up the poodle-mix. In the process of swinging him from floor to bed, I felt my back stretch as though being pulled apart like a hair tie by a thumb and forefinger.

My husband helped me into bed, fed me Advil, even though they say NO ADVIL in the time of COVID-19 (“That’s only if you have the virus,” my husband corrected me. “No,” he said when I started to protest. “No.”). He dabbed my tears with the freshly laundered duvet before turning off the light.

I couldn’t walk the next morning. Plus, my lower right molar throbbed and an ache hung behind my eyes, competing with my back’s complaints. I was fast falling apart. Once again, I brought up the virus. “The headache, my toothache, and now I’ve taken Advil,” I wIMG_1115ailed as my husband slid open the windows and a warm spring breeze entered the room, bringing birdsong from goldfinches and mourning doves and that hawk’s authoritative cry as it circled the park behind our house. My husband locked his fingers on my chin, turned my head to the windows. I saw the lush park, the small hill the coyotes howl from at night, the greeny mountains of the Angeles National Forest in the distance, the hawk’s tireless loops.

I shut up and visited with the view while my spouse made breakfast. The tween appeared, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket, blinking sleepily. He lay down next to me and we visited with the view together until my husband announced via the bedroom’s Echo Dot that breakfast was served.

“I’ll bring it to you,” the tween said, not a trace of the usual tweeny-moodiness in his voice. He patted my arm. “It’s probably because you vacuumed the furniture,” he said as he lope-walked from the room, the fuzzy blanket a train one of the cats chased.

I pulled a thermometer from the bedside table’s drawer and took my temperature, then my blood pressure with one of those nifty wrist binding machines, marveling over my son’s sweet pats on my arm—precious, priceless, forever.

All was f***ing well.

Posted in Avoiding My Writing, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Did I Or Didn’t I

2966047A-71AD-446C-B369-08A1AD705EBA

Bosch

UPDATE: Coupled with new findings this week in Santa Clara County, where the medical examiner confirmed that California had the earliest deaths from COVID-19 — on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17 — the new information suggests a national epidemic was underway far earlier than stay-at-home orders were put in place and testing was available.
LA Times–4/23/20

From rain last week to 93 degrees this week, projected into next week so that I think we’ll be igniting the A/C today if the ceiling fans don’t cut it and this feels weird in April but then again we usually ignite the A/C for the annual February heatwave which never happened this year, the virus happened instead and I’m pretty sure I had COVID19, or some variation if that’s possible, 2nd weekend of Feb, flat on my back in bed, felt like constantly pending cold combined with full on fever, aches, world-at-an-end feelings, couldn’t read books or focus on anything but Kindle screen and Bosch, Bosch, Bosch, so many effing seasons–and after fever left, like at least 2 nights after fever, just starting to feel better when hit at 3am with stabbing stomach pains lasting several hours and weird coming-and-going pain in lungs so that I asked husband if I was dying and then all of it gone, in time for lockdown/smackdown. This before COVID19 permeating news. So if I had COVID19, which I’ll never know because: testing, it seems you can get it in stages? PS. Everything I experienced a fellow PTA Mom I worked at the school with on Wednesdays experienced at exact same time–exact same dire stuff. We are grateful whatever it was didn’t manifest into something we needed to be hospitalized for. So very sorry for any families/people suffering.

Stay well.
PB

Posted in Avoiding My Writing, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

April Poem

I post this poem every spring. From my chapbook Nightmares With Moons (Pudding House Press). Happy Stay-At-Home-Wednesday.

Full Flower Moon

May (mostly), the petticoat swirl of rising
pink meadow, petite showers, buds. I say:
rose, peony, phlox. And I say: petal-
shorn, plucked, blown until only the head
remains, 1 pale sticky oval crushed by u-
niverse so formidable it upgrades the dead
into blossoming. Old flower-face–you! Cruel
palette-eye! Where, where is your color?
I say: dearest, warmest, sugar-phlox fairy.
Dare I say: more. It’s May (mostly). I am
showered and sweet beneath puckered
moonlight, stem right behind an ear. Thigh-
deep in meadow, I must know: are you dressed?
Staunch, seasonal gloom cut? Dancy, gleamy
bluefires broken through? Show me. The moon
requires it. I confess: May. More. I confess
this kiss: a peony, phlox, a peony, phlox,
a peony, phlox, the rose.

PB Rippey

Posted in Poetry, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easter Sunday

Wishing you a poetic day.

IMG_0985

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Never Forget (Fav Coffee Mug Edition)

FE23D3B5-2609-4CBF-92AB-B57687F954D7

Yours in coping,
PB

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning in the Time of Covid

Like you, I knew on Friday March whatever it was that on the following Monday schools would close. Closure wasn’t formally announced yet, but schools had already shut down in other states and I could tell our district was eager to cancel as well–they didn’t come out and say it, but I could tell: much beating parents over the head with ‘contagious’ warnings (I appreciated them) and simply watching the news–China, France, Italy,
Spain–duh, duh, duh. And as every parent knows, schools are ripe for contagion. Duh. So over whatever that weekend was before schools closed, I prepared for homeschooling. I was THAT mom, gathering a myriad of websites, making a weekday Covid schedule, transitioning piano lessons to FaceTime piano lessons, ordering a young person’s introduction to art set, ordering crafts and models and books and 6th grade math workbooks and, sure enough, on Monday, March whatever it was, schools closed.

IMG_0600But then I startled myself. Our first day of quarantine, I told my Tween it was a holiday. We lounged in pj’s, drank hot chocolate, walked the dogs leisurely, and then my son played online games while FaceTiming his buddies: a lot. When my husband returned home (still at work for another week), I ordered him into the shower for office decontamination purposes, and then the 3 of us had the first of what have become regular family dinners, previously tricky things to coordinate due to my son’s piles of nightly homework and my husband’s unpredictable work schedule.

Bottom line: I did not become crack-the-whip Quarantine Mom. I became: this is a super weird time so let’s not make it weirder by pretending it’s not weird by forcing my kid toIMG_0596 follow a schedule that makes no sense because there’s a virus out there that’s killing people and my kid is aware, aware, aware that people are dying, that his cousin is an ER Dr. on the front lines, that his auntie is at risk, that this is a weird and dangerous time.

Now that it’s April whatever it is and my husband is working from home and our school district has come up with an actual academic plan that involves my kid’s 6th grade teachers, we follow a strict(er) schedule. The academic work is completed. Chores. Exercise.

But then my son is free until family dinner. This free time makes him happy, pulls him out of adolescent lows. Mornings, he rises, showers, and gets to work without complaint. And then whoops and laughs and shouts gleefully with the gang.

We are mostly calm in this new weird way of living. We are communicating better than before quarantining because we have time to really hear each other. We are holding hands at the dining table and announcing what we’re grateful for before we eat. Every single dinner is family dinner.

IMG_0849And when Mom is on the couch cocooning in her king size white fuzzy blanket, sipping hot chocolate from her favorite mug emblazoned in: LIFE IS TOUGH, MY DARLING, BUT SO ARE YOU, she is waved at, not judged, as she binges on Star Trek or West World or MSNBC or that really bad Finnish crime drama with the bandy legged detective and sloppy dubbing.

Pardon my grammar, but: we’re good.

I hope you are, too.

Yours in practicing fresh, calm ways of living during these scary-screams times,
PB

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The New Living

I didn’t blog at all in March. Instead, I read blogs:
Claire, Word By Word
The Bloggess

Poetry:
The Slowdown with Tracy K. Smith (as you already know, you can subscribe to receive a poem a day)

Books:
Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle (I’m always late to the party)
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, Ann Patchett
The Wonder of Boys, Michael Gurian (aways late to the…)
The Good Son, Michael Gurian

I’ve posted on Instagram, especially since figuring out the Story feature:
@pbrippey1

SCBWI is airing author or agent or editor sessions:
SCBWI.org

I help my son with his new distance learning schedule–I help him by staying downstairs with him as he works on his computer at the dining room table, just present in case he needs help, or just to let him know he’s quarantining, but not alone. I play the piano maybe, cook, read (I like it when he sees Mom reading–hope my enjoyment of books rubs off on him more than it has to date). His dad and I try not to check our phones when around our son. We try to present other options to social media, like: having a conversation about how not to freak out about  the virus, or the pros and cons of adopting a great dane, for instance. Family dinner is every night now. We walk the dogs, fortunate to live in an area conducive to social distancing when out of the house and on foot. We see very few people, but when spying approaching figures, either we cross the street, or they do, with a friendly wave, freeing up the sidewalk.

I’ve driven my car once in 3 weeks, to Whole Foods. I wore a mask and rubber gloves. I stripped off the gloves after loading groceries into the car, tossed them in the recycling bin inside WF. IMG_0704

Well, we do what we can.

Most of all, we are getting to know each other again on a level deeper than DO THIS DO THAT WE’RE LATE EAT EAT EAT EAT TIME FOR BED

I am grateful for this reconnection and I am so, so open to it, excited, even, for the delving chats and laughs and listening to our son speak his mind and eventually, especially during our dinners, his Tween feelings.

Precious stuff.

Yours in health,
PB

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

SCBWI WRITERS DAY 2020

UPDATE: EVENT CANCELED (but you probably already know this)
Stay safe, self-quarantine as much as you can, take deep breaths, don’t watch too much news, CALM is a great meditation app, hydrate, catch up on reading the tower of books on your nightstand, enjoy your homebound kids, work out (kitchen counter pushups, etc.), have chess matches and play other games (although I put my foot down at Monopoly), eat well (even if it’s astronaut food), check on your neighbors, stay well. Cheers to the world.
PB

Los Angeles SCBWI 2020 Writers Day.  My favorite local SCBWI event.

Skirball: home of the Noah’s Ark exhibit I took my son to when he was a toddler to probably 6 years old. The Skirball is a Los Angeles gem. Just ask my son.

IMG_0276

“STOP, MOM! YOU CAN’T PUT THIS ON FACEBOOK!”

Or not.

He’s 12 now, vexed by baby pictures and my tales of his baby excursions. I’m not allowed to show him baby pictures, wave goodbye to him (much less shout: GO FUTURE OF AMERICA!) when I drop him off at school, am allowed to barely kiss him goodnight. However, for the past 3 days I’ve been sick and received many hugs and consoling pats on the arm from: my baby. Maybe all the more reason to return, with him, in a lovely reminiscing sort of way, to the Noah’s Ark exhibition–which is still going strong as of this writing.

So: I’m going to this SCBWI event. Are you? Last year? Cornelia Funke (my son’s favorite author)! This year? Speakers and agents and workshops I’m totally down with as I follow 2020 resolutions towards getting what I want.

My son would be mortified if he knew his mom wrote down with. Think I’ll say down with tonight, though, when I serve him Taco Tuesday fare. “Dude, I am down with that tac!”, for instance.

Or not.

Yours in good writing, positive parenting, and hoping to see deer grazing the foothills surrounding the Skirball in March,

PB

Posted in Avoiding My Writing, books, Children's Books, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

AUSTRALIA BURNS

Please: Pay. Attention.

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Winter Busy

IMG_0036

My son and a friend discuss their creation.

As the countdown to 2020 begins, I wonder how it is I forgot how busy the holiday season is. VERY busy. We’ve: been to Santa Barbara and back, hosted relatives and their little dogs, hosted a Christmas party, followed a vital cooking schedule, joined neighbors in Hanukkah celebrations, fought off sickness, played in the snow, just finished cleaning the guest room in preparation for more guests. The best part, besides being with family, has been Christmas in our new home. It’s the first year my son has had a stocking actually hung on a fireplace with care—-pee-in-your-pants excitement for this family–in addition to snow so close to home, closer than driving to any museum in Los Angeles. Who knew? Not us! We’ll take it.

Wishing you and the world a positive 2020 and extra, extra joy.

IMG_0029

Elizabeth Lake, CA 2/28/20

 

Posted in books, Children's Books, Me and Us, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

STARTING NOW

I mean, why wait?

W.R.I.T.I.N.G.

IMG_9736

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Rainsgiving

‘Tis the season to remember how to get cozy and not because the A/C is running. At least–I hope ’tis…

IMG_9592

Happy Thanksgiving Holiday

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poem

Flawbag

There is the girl, woman
this 3:02p.m., midway
on twinkling crosswalk.
Her voice thumps her hip,
tucked in a dropped-
bottom bag working
on its 5th shoulder
strap. Walk-lope:
she doesn’t like
you, though it is doubtful
she could translate mild
complaint. Heel-to-curb,
she continues. Sorry: worn
heel. Same curb.
(wornheelsamecurb)

Posted in books, Fiction, Poetry, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

O First Pages (Retreat Edition)

IMG_8997The last event of the SCBWI Working Writer’s retreat consisted of 3 minutes allotted to each attendee to read aloud their first page of a manuscript. Professional critique was squeezed into that 3 minutes from a panel comprised of 4 agents/editors. All conference-goers were in attendance. We all heard what we all wrote. Y’all.

I. Heard. A lot. Of first pages. Bless all writers, O Muse(s)–bless their creativity, whim, persistence, inventive ideas, bravery: standing before a roomful of writers and critiquers, NOT fleeing when some in the ‘audience’ shout (so loudly that I put my hands over my ears): I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What I noticed about the panel’s critiques:

First pages that were concise, action-packed and character driven were the most well received, i.e. (literally): “Yes, I would continue reading if this came across my desk”.

Also noticed: I disagreed almost every time the panel’s conclusion was a unanimous: “No, I would not continue reading if this came across my desk”.

Whoever made Gripping First Pages the new criteria for getting a manuscript read by industry professionals must be the same person who pushed HDTV into the norm: Laser beam vs. magic (lack thereof). 

I don’t believe love of story has been flattened by Mario Kart et al. And my son loves Mario Kart. He also loves Cornelia Funke.IMG_9149

Listen: You know in the movie Always when Holly Hunter sleep-talks her shopping list? That’s what I sound like whenever I leave this particular retreat–or, honestly, any SCBWI event. JK Rowling. Rebecca Stead. Gary Schmidt. Joan Aiken. E. Nesbit...

My comfort loop. Carrying on even when I stop for a comforting Chipotle chicken burrito. Sour cream, guacamole, Cornelia Funke, E. Nesbit, extra chips, Philip Pullman…

It’s about story. It will ALWAYS be about story.

Yours in enlightening retreats,

PB

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

O JOKE! (Popsicle Stick Edition)

And here is a popsicle stick I recently uncovered. In all my many now-I’m-older-than-absolutely-everyone-even-Paul-Rudd years, I had no idea such joke sticks existed. Very nice! As long as it’s just a joke and not a fortune. 🙂

IMG_9184

Posted in Avoiding My Writing, Children's Books, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Retreat!

Retreat1Heading to the SCBWI Working Writers Retreat tomorrow. This will be my second time attending this annual event. The workshops are small and focused. I learn tons about my work (my middle grade novels) and it’s a joy to read what others are writing. Plus, there’s a pond–although it was dry the last time I was there. And there are plenty of tranquil paths to meander and benches to sit on, although if it’s anything like the last retreat I’ll be revising feverishly in my room between workshops. The retreat comes with a printer, but the printer can get quite popular, so I’ve found a Kinko’s less than a mile away. Must remember to pack my memory stick. On the way to Kinko’s is a Starbucks. And a Gelson’s. Yes, I mapped out the wilds of Tarzana, just in case…

Yours in helpful retreats (and two nights without 3 cats and a small dog at my feet as I sleep),

PB

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Now Reading

Her latest Gamache installment has come along at the perfect time. Because after a death in the family, what better reading than a crime thriller as I deal with a myriad of petty family crimes in the wake of tragedy? Thank you for this (ironic?) escape, Ms. Penny.

IMG_8740

Posted in Fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments