Saturday, August 30, 2008

You Can't Get There from Here

At risk of sounding like a Tim Sample joke...

Rob went to the general store to get his midmorning cup of coffee, and while he was there some poor tourist poured himself a cup and sat down at the lunch counter next to a regular, Eliot (not his real name).

Poor Tourist: You've got a nice little town here.

Eliot: Used to.

PT: What do you mean?

Eliot: Too many damn people.

*General store erupts in snickers, Rob's included. PT gets up and leaves.*

Oh dear. If you're reading this, sir, please try us again in January.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Contest! And Denver!

You can win a signed copy of Laurel Snyder's middle grade debut novel, Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, by entering the contest she's running at the Class of 2k8 blog.

The following is an unpaid political announcement, with Astaire allusion:

While I'm linking to things...Michele and Hillary and Bill and Joe may have wowed the crowd in prime time, but look what ol' Dennis can do to a bunch of empty seats at three in the afternoon. Kind of like doing it backwards in high heels. (A gratuitous Ginger Rogers reference to match yesterday's Prufrock joke.)

End of political announcement. Astaire allusion may crop up again at any time.

Wanna hear about my day? No? I don't blame you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stuff and Nonsense

I'm taking a break from doing something I didn't expect to enjoy: writing a "movie treatment" of The Unnameables.

My agent, the shoe-obsessed and professionally optimistic Kate Schafer Testerman, asked me to write this treatment so that she and others can dangle it enticingly in front of people who work in LA. Being professionally skeptical, I'm not holding my breath.

But it turns out that writing a film-oriented version of your book is an excellent exercise in "show, don't tell." All the worries and fears my protagonist keeps in his head now have to be out where the camera can see them. I'm considering doing a film treatment of The Filioli before I've even finished it, just to see what it does to my brain.

In other news, The Unnameables has officially been released from the warehouse. I am going to my first event as An Author in a mere two weeks. It's a "Focus on New England" author showcase at Barnes & Noble, 9 Marketplace Drive, Augusta, Maine. Wednesday, September 10, 6 p.m.

Last night I went to supper at my friend Kim's house, joined by her husband, Tom, and Michele Corbeil, pictured in the last post with brownies and knitting. She brought brownies. I ate one. The ecstacy has lasted 18 hours, so far, although I did boost it at noon with a piece of Lindt dark chocolate with mint. (Michele warned that these brownies trigger the binge reflex. I will eat a peach--trousers unrolled--and see if that stops it.)

The trouser bit is a stupid T.S. Elliott joke. Told you I was a nerd. J. Alfred Prufrock, I think, although who the hell knows and I'm not looking it up.

Hot water update: We now find we can get along turning on the furnace for two or three hours every other day. There's enough hot water on the in-between day to do the dishes, although not to shower or do laundry. A cold sponge-bath can be very refreshing, at least in August.

Trouble is: I'm going to have the torn meniscus in my knee repaired just when winter is coming on (November, I hope). I'll have to avoid stairs for six weeks, which means I have to move into the guest room on the first floor, for which the furnace is the only heat source. I plan to make use of space heaters, but still it's a blow to the checkbook.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Our little town held an early harvest festival yesterday, complete with balloons, t-shirts, and a food fairy who made us all eat celery. The festival, called Brooklin Eats, was the work of a "friends and neighbors" group whose other projects include affordable housing and public walking trails. Most of the vendors were farmers from Brooklin and neighboring towns, most of the produce organic.

The town band, a collection of khaki-clad music enthusiasts who chiefly play on the Fourth of July, must have been spending the rainy days practicing like mad--it sounded great, lots of oompa-laden town-band-type tunes.

Here's what it all looked like:

At right is the food fairy (aka Beth Gorski) rocking out to an oompa tune played by the town band. The little bunny bag she's holding had celery and carrot sticks in it. She was forceful about offering them to us all.

This is Tim Seabrook of Five Star Nursery and Orchard, selling organic peaches, pears and golden Japanese plums. He and his wife, Leslie (background, back to camera), sell raspberries earlier in the season and apples later on, as well as making cider. They're also artists, but manage to paint and make prints only in the winter because the rest of the year they're going nuts.

Tim and Leslie and Rob and I buy joint subscriptions to Penobscot Theatre Company in Bangor every year. Otherwise we'd never see each other. Also we'd become axe murderers in February without knowing we had a theater jaunt to look forward to.

This is Michele Corbeil, who works at WoodenBoat Magazine but also is a world-class knitter and baker (notice the brownies, which could kill you but you'd die happy), as well as a pastel artist.

Last September, Michele and I and four other women spent a blissful week in the middle of Penobscot Bay on Bear Island (owned by Buckminster Fuller's family, which rents out selected houses) . I worked on The Filioli out there, writing by hand in a notebook as I haven't done for some 25 years. No electricity or running water, yet we lived like queens in an old farmhouse right on the water.

This year I can't go because everything book-related is at the wrong stage to go off the electric grid. Plus I'd have to leave mid-week to go to New England Booksellers in Boston. (Not complaining, mind you. ) Plus I've got a torn meniscus in my knee and can't walk. (I am complaining about that.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008


The sun is shining and I have a star.

A Kirkus star, that is. Harcourt got an advance copy of the Unnameables review that will be in the September 1 issue, and to my utter amazement it's a starred one. It concludes:

Booraem’s debut is an ever-surprising, genre-defying page-turner. Realistic
characters deal with philosophical problems in vivid, flowing prose that is
evocative and often funny. A sort of combination of witch-trial-era Salem
The Giver, this book offers a treat with nearly every page turn.
I am pumped.

In other news, our friends Linda and Michael just left, heading home for Rhode Island. Being the perfect visitors, they left their weather karma behind. It's supposed to be sunny today and tomorrow, take a brief cloud break Monday, and be sunny again Tuesday.

In their honor, here's a peek into the Further Adventures of Dudley, Bon Vivant:

This (left) is Dudley trying to get to know the cat. All he knows of her is the fur she's left on her little cat door, which leads to the cellar and her litter box. Callie barks her fool head off when Dudley gets out of the car and heads for the house, tipping off McGonagall that it's time to head for shelter. Sometimes she plagues Dudley by huddling just on the other side of the cat door, so he knows she's there but can't see her. Sometimes she sticks her head out for a split second. Anytime a waft of air moves the flap, Dudley freezes in position for a good ten minutes. And still nothing happens.

Here's the cat's-eye view

and the dog's-eye view...

and the recovery (below) on the chair in my office.

Linda and I did some kayaking the past couple of days but (perhaps mercifully) I kept forgetting my camera. Take my word for skies, spruce-covered islands (which someone compared to Don King's hair), tropical-looking (and arctic-feeling) water. You can't beat it.

And I have a star.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Blue Skies and Cheese

Our friends Linda and Michael are visiting from Rhode Island, and once again their weather karma holds. They rent a camp up here for a week every summer--no matter when they come up and no matter how dreadful life is before they come and after they leave, they always, always, always have great weather. This time, our last bits of rain came on Saturday, when they were driving and didn't need it to be nice. The sun came out yesterday, and is predicted to stay out all week.

Last night we ate dinner at their camp, which is on Eggemoggin Reach. At left is one last stubborn cloud rushing off after the rest of the flock.

Linda and Michael's young dog, Dudley, (below) spent the cocktail hour eying the cheese from increasingly close range. Minutes after these photos were taken, when no one was paying attention, Dudley grabbed the cheese and pranced off with it. Being dog-lovers all, we got it back, rinsed it off, and kept eating it.

Today, I feel a strange urge to scratch my ear with my foot.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rain! Rain! Rain!

Is there anything more depressing than clothing left outside in the rain?

Well, yes. Standing at the screen door, wearing four layers of clothing topped by a layer of fleece, staring out at the rain. With houseguests.

Shelly, my dearest friend since high school, came to visit this past weekend with her husband and son. They drove for seven hours up from Connecticut on Thursday, and Friday it rained all day. Then, oh joy, the skies cleared Saturday in time to take them kayaking on spectacular Eggemoggin Reach.

Then they left Sunday and it's been raining ever since.

Those are Rob's kayaking shoes above left, put out on the deck railing to dry, heh-heh. That's a soggy, moldy flower garden in the background. (I don't even dare sneak down to the veggie garden to see what's happened to the beans and zinnias. I think all we have left down there that's edible is zucchini. Somebody tried to unload a bag of zucchini on me yesterday, so I guess the annual Hot Zucchini Hand-off has begun.) That's my hat at right, put out on the adirondack chair for no reason whatever.

But you didn't come here for a big gripe-fest, now did you?

So I'll tell you about stripping at Wheaton College in 1969. (This popped into my mind after a reunion with Dane and Laura, two of my college roommates.)

There were two oddities about the first week of freshman year back then. One was "posture pictures." We lined up in a featureless cinderblock hallway, went into a featureless room, took off all our clothes, and had our pictures taken. The idea was that someone would examine them and determine what we needed to do to improve our posture, presumably so that we would look nice in a strapless evening gown when we inevitably became Corporate Wives.

Every year, a rumor flew around campus that a Brown University fraternity had stolen the negatives and made placemats out of the photos.

Fortunately, it was the late Sixties and the cusp of the Seventies. Over the previous summer, Wheaton had decided to drop a requirement that students wear skirts to dinner. Wheaton did this because students had begun to quibble about the definition of "skirt" and had started wearing bathrobes. The posture-picture tradition bit the dust soon after my freshman year--in fact, my class may have been the last year to be photographed. Apparently, you didn't need good posture to wear a tie-dyed tunic and ragged bell-bottoms. And fewer and fewer of us were Corporate Wife material.

The other highlight of freshman induction that year was a bizarre test that required you to jump into the pool fully clothed over your bathing suit, take off your shirt and pants while treading water, and knot them and blow into them underwater so they turned into handy life preservers. Apparently Corporate Wives tended to go sailing without the proper safety gear.

I got out of this test because I had a cold, but the phys. ed. teachers still made me sit there and watch. One of my classmates, half drowned, swam over to the side of the pool and slapped her sodden clothes down at the phys. ed. chairman's feet. "Come on, you can do it," the chairman said (or words to that effect). My classmate gave her a withering look, heaved herself out of the pool, and walked away with as much dignity as you can muster when you've failed to blow up your jeans.

I wonder if she ever regretted her failure. I wonder if I'm on a placemat somewhere.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Rain and Stuff

It's been a semi-yucky ten days or so since that last post. We are having One of Those Summers--it's been raining pretty much nonstop since mid-July. Right now it's not even 60 degrees. I'm wearing fleece and wool socks. I have a sinus headache from the mold that has vanquished the world. I am not a happy puppy.

In nicer news, Carrie Jones has another book out! Although, on the other hand, she has no right to be so prolific, no right at all. This one is Girl, Hero, following on the heels of Love and Other Uses for Duct Tape and Tips on Having a Gay (ex)Boyfriend. She also has a picture book coming out this fall, and Need, a story about a pixie/stalker, is coming out in January with Bloomsbury.

The picture is of Carrie signing books last Sunday in Ellsworth, when she launched Girl, Hero. Congratulations, Carrie!

Surprisingly, the effort to cut down on hot water use has not contributed to my bad mood. It seems to be working quite well, although right now we're forgetting the whole effort while we have house guests. We have the furnace on for maybe three or four hours a day, and some days we don't turn it on at all, but manage to do the dishes with lukewarm tap water boosted by a kettle of boiling water. We'll see whether any of this actually saves money.

I plan to cheer myself up by blogging more. Heh. See you in a day or two!