It’s spring in Oregon! Spring means the garden is awakening. My lily of the valley patch has spread in the years since I transplanted a few stalks from my mother’s garden. Now I can pick masses of the scented blooms for my writing space, for the bathroom, for my day job office, for my neighbors (since I stole some of their snowball blossoms).
The peonies are just starting to open with their lovely bright color even more vibrant against the snowball whiteness. I expect this little bouquet to become a complete disaster because when the petals start to fall on these flowers, they exPLOde. The stink bug came along for the ride.
Spring veggies are some of the best after a long winter of cold-hardy produce. And notice how I color coordinate with my dinner! The arugula overwintered in my raised garden bed, but wow, the arugula flavor became very concentrated over the colder months. It definitely makes an ARUGULA salad even with just a few leaves. Contrast that with the delicate flavor of the first asparagus, grilled with just a little salt and pepper. Yum. Next spring, I’m* going to clear a whole loose, sandy bed for more asparagus.
I hope everybody is enjoying the change of seasons. I love to watch the shift in my gardens, but I have to admit, I’m impatient for strawberries!
* By “I”, I means the XY. Upper body strength is meant for digging in the garden. Also, for opening jars.
I’ve been out of town for awhile. My grandmother’s health was failing and I rushed home to Chicago in the hopes of seeing her one last time.
I missed her by twelve hours. Sigh.
She was 95. My perception was she had no undue regrets and nothing major — a few art projects aside — left undone. Her death was as kind, I think, as most of us could hope for, all things (and morphine) considered. She had a “strong voice” right to the end and lived a life that for me served as both inspiration and warning, which I think is a sign of a good and interesting life indeed.
I stayed in Chicago to help rehome/donate/toss the treasures and trash she left behind. I scored two huge cookie sheets, a really nice tack hammer, a lush red velvet dressing gown (missing the red tassels on one sleeve), and about fifteen pounds of silver hoop earrings and mismatched beads.
Based solely on the above list, as you might imagine, my grandmother and I are/were very much alike.
More alike than even I knew.
While going through her papers, my dad found a sealed manila envelope. Inside were yellowed, typed pages wrapped in a crisper white sheet. The newer paper was dated August 2007 and said, “I feel the need to explain this…”
The typed pages were a story my grandmother had written in the 1930s before she was married and had submitted to Cosmopolitan magazine. The story was a romance.
And not just any romance. It was a romance with a raven-haired beauty. And a highwayman. And swooning!
My grandmother was always proud of me, but she never really read any of my published stories. She didn’t “get” them and often told me she wished I would write something she would like. And yet now I discover SHE wrote romance!
The funny?/strange?/sad? part is the date on the explanation. In 2007, I won the Rose City Romance Writers’ Golden Rose contest with the story that would become my first published novel. I was immersed in my writing world at the same time she was adding her secret explanation to those yellowed, typed pages.
But she never told me about her story. I wonder why? I can imagine (she contributed some of her genetics to my imagination, after all) but I wish I could talk to her about that story. Especially because the last pages are missing! The highwayman (who has been shot) is expiring in the raven-haired beauty’s arms…
Maybe as he was bleeding out, that life blood was seeping across the years to embolden my heroes who will, trust me, live long and love AND enjoy a blatant sex scene or two even though I’ve been told by certain grandmothers that everyone knows how THAT is done so details aren’t necessary. Phshaw.
I know my grandmother’s blood is in me, and if she couldn’t share that story, well, maybe I’m doing it for her.
Love you, MomMom.
So I’ve been gone for awhile. Not gone, gone, just… gone. All the usual excuses apply: deadlines, day job stuff, family drama, life, tragic plot mistake (THIS is what I get for deviating from my outline!), crisis of confidence, blah blah blah bleh. Even listing them doesn’t make the excuses seem any more fascinating, and I love lists.
I wanted to wait until I had something clever or useful to share before I came back, but then I thought, if I wait for the deadlines, day job stuff, family drama, life, tragic plot mistake (NEVER again with the deviating!), crisis of confidence to resolve themselves so I can be clever or useful again, I’ll never come back. I’ll just stay gone forever.
Part of my overwhelm came in the shape of a few reminders that if I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. Sometimes it feels as if the world itself would stop spinning if I weren’t kicking it.
That might seem megalomaniacal, and it is. And ya know what else it is? It is TRUE. The world WILL stop spinning if I don’t kick it. Well, not the world, world. But my worlds. My worlds will never come into being if I don’t keep kicking.
So here’s me, kicking, kicking one foot in front of the other until I’m back in the light.