It’s Thankful Thursday and I just want to give a shout-out to all of you have been reading along with my daily poems and who have left supportive comments for me. Also to everyone who read the poem I wrote for Jama’s Poetry Potluck over on her blog yesterday and responded there.
So often many of us (myself included) read a post and think we don’t need to comment, or someone else already said it, or we just don’t know what to say. And sometimes we just don’t have the time. I know. Been there, done that.
But for those of you have commented this month, thank you. What you have helped me remember is something reminded me of recently when she said that I was at my best when I was open, honest and vulnerable. The comments you’ve left me have helped me remember that truth.
Not everything I write is happy, pretty writing and my kind of writing isn’t everyone’s kind of writing and that’s okay. I write to make sense of my world.
Thank you for reading along.
I’ve decided to add the poem here in case Jama closes off her old blog.
DINNER WITH PAPA
by Susan Taylor Brown
I follow Papa everywhere,
copying his walking, stomping across the wooden porch,
sliding behind him into the space beneath the house,
pushing away cobwebs and nosy spiders to hand him a monkey wrench,
standing beside him at the kitchen sink while we wash
(up to our elbows) for dinner.
Papa eats what Papa wants.
Meat and potatoes (every meal)
with one slice of white bread, lathered thick with butter.
Vegetables (sometimes but not always)
and something sweet to finish every meal.
My mother (and Nana too)
eat like they are never hungry.
Grapefruit for breakfast, cottage cheese for lunch,
small helpings at dinner, and sometimes, no dessert at all.
Most of the time,
our meat comes from Mayfair Market down on Salvio Street.
Chicken. Pork Chops. A pot roast for Sundays.
But the best meat comes from Papa himself, after a day of fishing or hunting.
Catfish. Pheasant. Sometimes deer.
And my very favorite, duck, baked in the oven until the skin is cracker crisp.
My mother (and Nana too) peel off the skin, cut the duck into tiny pieces
then say they are full after just a few bites.
I mimic Papa and pick the duck up in my hands,
gnawing it like the wild thing he claims I am
until the juice from the greasy skin dribbles down my chin.
Papa says it’s good luck to get the piece with the BBs left inside the meat
but every time, luck favors my mother most of all.
After dinner, Nana and my mother pile dishes in the sink
then wash them all by hand, chattering like the best friends they are.
Papa grabs the evening paper and sets himself in the easy chair.
I listen to them but watch him,
waiting, waiting, waiting,
until he looks up and pats the space left on his lap,
the space that is just the right size,
for lucky me.
© 2011 Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.
As many of you around the kidlitosphere already,
But people, people rock. Lisa has touched so many people in her life and a lot of them are saying thank you today. Especially nice to see since Lisa was the one who started Thankful Thursday almost four years ago.
l met Lisa a few years ago when her agent (before she was an agent)
And here’s what I remember most, even after so much time has past. Lisa was right there in the moment, 100% present. She does the same thing on her blog and Facebook. She is always right there, in the moment, and she helps us remember to try and do the same. She is kind and reminds others to be kind and she takes time to slow down and see the beauty in the simple things of every day.
I’m pretty darn thankful for the path she has laid out for so many of us to follow.
I thankful for my CAPS (Creative Action Planning & Support) group. This is a group my artist friend Lori and I decided to start because we wanted some help meeting goals (accountability and all that) and we wanted some camaraderie with like-minded creative individuals. We started last July and have met once a week, every week, since then. There are nine of us though not everyone makes it every week. Between us we have painters, collage artists, quilters, photographers, sculpters, cartoonist and yes, a writer or two. At first I wasn’t sure how useful it would be for me because they are all artists and I am all writer but the blending of spirits is wonderful. You can’t meet once a week with folks and not be changed by the experience.
I am still looking for an in-person writing group (though I love my one-on-one connections with other writers) but this group fills a very special need for me. It’s helpful for me to announce to the group what I plan to get done in the coming week and then, if it isn’t done, to hear myself explain why I missed the mark. While it’s easy to lie to myself with a lot of excuses, it’s much harder to do so to a group of supportive friends. As a result I am more focused and able to finish more work.
I am also thankful that I finally got everything (and boy, what a lot of everything that was) over to the fine folks at Winding Oak for my new website. I can’t wait to see what they come up with! It’s been quite an ordeal but through the process I have become reacquainted with my writer self and it was a very nice meeting.
So hey, CAPS girls, I can finally cross all that website stuff off my list!
Edited to add:
I just remembered one more thing I’m grateful for this week. For much of the week every time I got a negative thought or a thought that threatened to pull me into the past, I’ve been able to note it and then let it go.
Today I’m thank for my wonderful husband.
Not only does he do all the cooking around the house, which means he also does all the grocery shopping, but he drives me all over the place (not just the South Bay) looking at things on craigslist. When we buy something, no matter how big, he always manages to fit it into our four-runner. He does all the moving and lifting and carrying and lets me supervise. He never complains, even when we drive a couple of hours for something we don’t buy.
Thank you, my dear.
I am thankful for a great many things today – family, friends, health, ability to be home writing – but I wanted to speak specifically to a single recent experience.
Earlier this week I went on a retreat with a few writer friends and a few writer/artists strangers who are now friends. We gathered at the beach mostly with solitary intentions and yet, it seemed, the magic of where we were and the creative energy of those gathered had other ideas.
We came with no agenda, no speakers, nothing that absolutely had to be done.
Groups of two and three started to form. Individual work turned into freeform group writing fun. Books and art were shared. Gifts were acknowledged, praised. We were validated as professional creatives. Meals stretched for several hours as we lingered over coffee and tea. We sat by the fire and talked long into the night. We laughed (and some of us cried) and took a great many pictures.
Our backgrounds, our journeys to be writers, were of course very different.
Our passion however, was very much the same.
I am so grateful for the time spent with these fabulous and talented women. You have to understand that it isn’t because someone took me aside and said a particular thing to me. It isn’t because of anything we saw or ate or did. I think it might be because of what they didn’t do.
They didn’t say "do this." They didn’t say "don’t do that." They just listened. And accepted.
It rocked my world from the inside out.
Happy Thanksgiving to each of you. Thank you for all the times you read my blog. May your bellies and hearts be full of everything you need.
Well I got up this morning thinking it was Wednesday, all set to post my Of Dogs and Writing Post, and then I realized it was Thursday. I lost a day this week.
But I have much to be thankful for:
- A strong and loving marriage
- Good friends
- Relatively good heath
- A home of my own
- A job I love
For you writers and illustrators and musicans out there, all you creative types, I’d love for you to go check out
‘s post today on how we stay connected to the true purpose of what we do. Warning, it will make you think.
There has been a recurring chorus from a few special friends in my life of late. They tell me things and I refuse to believe them and then they tell them to me again and I push them away and they keep telling me these things until I’m ready to cry because I don’t see the person they see and eventually I start to feel like maybe they might be telling me the truth which just blasts all my old preconceptions about myself right out of the water.
I am so grateful to have friends like these in my life.
I’m thankful for little things today. After last week’s Coke spilled on the keyboard fiasco I had to go back to using the old HP laptop with the fan that never shuts up. I’m very thankful I had it to fall back on while I wait for my new computer to arrive. (Yes, they can clean and probably keep the old laptop running but I will not trust that it won’t burn something out after the episode so hubby is taking my old one and I’m getting a new one.)
But laptops are still heavy to haul around, especially when traveling, and I get nervous taking all my data away from home so I also bought a littlle netbook. I’m thankful for it today and I know I will grow more thankful for it over time.
It’s a Samsung NC10-14GB 10.2 inch and weighs in at mere 2.8 pounds with a 6 cell battery. The goal is to leave the main laptop in the office at the end of the workday and use the netbook at night on the couch when I’m blogging and emailing and stuff.
And speaking of offices, now that I am spending more time in mine there was some tweaking to be done there. I am thankful for my new shelves that are finally up. (I bought the materials 9 months ago. Sigh.)
The top shelf is just what I wanted for plants and bits of inspiration and some of my writing and reading figurines. The shelf below hides a room air conditioner and is long enough for four big baskets. And if you’re nosy like me and you want to look closer at what’s on the shelf, you can see a bigger pic here.
And most of all today I am thankful for people like Bobbi Miller who help me recognize that I am on the right path with my blog and let me know. Bobbi made a comment in this post of mine that took me to her website where I found this page with some words about me.
"Reading her LiveJournal is like taking a class in inspiration, persistence, and motivation, even as we follow the adventures of a dog named Cassie."
I read that yesterday, just when I really needed to hear it. I’ve been going through some thoughts about blogs, well about my blog in specific, still trying to figure out where I fit into the kidlitosphere. The balancing act is hard for all of us. Not enough time to read, respond or even post as much as we might like. At my level (as in "not famous") one never really knows if blogging is reaching people so I am really thankful to hear when it does.
I thought I would try a themed Thankful Thursday today….one around my office. (Been in here for over 3 hours so far today.)
I am thankful for this wonderful job I have, playing and working with words, a job that allows me to work from home in a beautiful office filled with books and paper and all the touchy feely things I love best.
I am thankful for the new roof we put on. A stone coated steel roof. My office has a high beam ceiling and the old shingles were just piled on top of that. No insulation. In the summer the room was an oven and in the winter you could feel the columns of cold air drifting down. But since they put the new roof on it is pleasant. The AC is running on the house but even then I used to sweat in the office. Not now.
I am thankful for all the fun pieces of old office furniture and accessories I have been able to gather here to give it warmth…the old oak teacher’s desk, the antique library table, the ancient file cabinet that matches the desk. The old botanical prints that are waiting for me to hang them on the wall. The old oak recipe box that holds my plotting index cards and all the little knick knack dust catchers that make me smile.
I am thankful for the ergonomic setup that helps me hurt less – (though today something is funky and my neck hurts) the chair that adjusts a gazillion different ways. The roller mouse keyboard that is no strain on my arm and should. The keyboard tray that lets me use a negative tile which reduces the strain on my wrists.
But I think today I am most thankful for the view outside my window. From the computer desk I can’t quite see the bird bath or the bubbling rock (which means there is another water feature in our future) but I can see the birds swooping down as they race the length of the yard and come in for a landing. I can see them up in the Japanese Maple tree flitting from branch to branch, looking for bugs. I see the mourning doves, three of them, who have decided under the young Ironwoods is a nice place to take a nap and a fourth one wandering the path like an old man in search of his lost glasses. There’s a cabbage white butterfly that’s hovering over the monkey flower just at the edge of my view and an orange skipper resting on the coffee berry. The carpenter bees are working the tall yarrow at the back fence and the hummingbird is darting from the fuchsias to the twinberry and back again.
Life is good.
Though I am thankful for many things today I thought I would pick just a few of the practical ones.
I’m thankful for my air conditioning. I’m a total hot weather wimp (opposite from when I was a kid) and need to keep the house at a cool temp for me to even be able to function.
I am thankful for mosquito fish who have gone to work on all the bugs in the pot ponds.
I am thankful that my husband, who works as a contractor, is still gainfully employed in this time of great financial unease.
I am thankful that I am able to be home writing, after my own layoff, supplementing my oft-sparse writing income with speaking and teaching and my work with Children’s Literature Network. I don’t think I ever formally announced this but I am now working part time for Children’s Literature Network and Winding Oak as a web editor. I love that it is connected to children’s literature and that it allows me to keep up with some web work which was the best part of my old day job.
I am thankful tolaurasalas for the intro to the job at Children’s Literature Network and Winding Oak.
I am thankful for all the people who read my blog, whether they comment or not, I appreciate you spending a little time with me.
I am thankful for people who take the time from tto interview me and help spread the word about me and my books. This week I was interviewed by Carma Dutra, of Carma’s Window. Thanks, Carma!
I am thankful for the many people who have come together at Shelter Covenant Church in Concord to support my son Ryan. Ryan was baptized on Easter Sunday. He shared a little bit of his story, of his depression and fight with Muscular Dystrophy, in a video on his blog. Ryan doesn’t realize how strong he is or how many people love and support him, but I think that day he got a bit of an idea. To the folks at Shelter, I haven’t met any of you but I love you all for loving my son as much as you do.
Today I am thankful for Nicole Geiger, my editor for Hugging the Rock.
I recently shared some of MTLB (MG verse novel) with her and then sat by the computer waiting impatiently for her response.
When it came, I couldn’t have been more pleased. No, she didn’t offer a contract on the spot or even imply such a thing. What she did is what made working with her on Hugging the Rock so wonderful. She pointed to the holes in the story in such a way that I can now view them as a challenge rather than a failing on my part. She said good stuff too, like her heart was already breaking, but I am so grateful for an editor who can show me the weak spots and yet not make me feel weak in the process.
I hope every writer gets the chance to work with an editor like that at least once in their career.
Today I am very thankful for friendship.
Some friends are old friends that are growing even more dear to me in time. Some friends are long known but I am now getting the chance to get to know better. Some are friends that I kept too long in the category of acquaintance, only recently coming to realize how very treasured they are.
Some years back when I was struggled with those darn moody days I would have told you that I didn’t have many friends.
How wrong I was. How blessed I am.
Thank you, my friends.
Today I am thankful for peanut butter.
Now this might seem like a silly thing to be thankful for but if you knew my dog Cassie better, you would understand.
Cassie is still a puppy which means she’s like having a 70pound toddler running around the house. When she’s awake, it’s all about play, all the time. She doesn’t play fetch so I can’t tire her out that way. Sometimes I have to find a way to get her to give me a little quiet time so I can work. If she was a baby, I’d put her in a playpen. If she was a toddler I’d open the Tupperware drawer and the pots and pans cabinet and let her have a field day.
But she’s a dog. A very smart dog who needs to be constantly challenged.
She is also a very spoiled dog. She has a lot of bones. As in, oh, 20 or so. She gets a new one once a week and the old ones stick around until they crack from playing bone hockey (she bats them around to slide on the tile floor.) Every so often I gather them up and boil them in hot water to make sure nothing icky is growing in them.
When I need to get some work done I gather up all her bones and put a dab of peanut butter inside each one. Then I take her into the hall bathroom and put her into a stay while I run all over the house and hide the bones. I release her and she spends the next hour looking for bones and licking out the peanut butter.
Yes, peanut butter is my friend.
Today I am thankful for my garden.
I am thankful that I have some dirt to call my own, a place to dig, to water, to watch life renew itself. It doesn’t take much time, 5 minutes of pulling weeds, gathering seeds, and I am more at peace with my place in the giant world.
Things that make me smile in my garden:
- Flowers still in bloom – Flax, Yarrow, Chinese Houses, Lupines and Monkey Flower.
- The wildflower seeds are popping up all over the place even though they were just sown in the mulch and not dirt.
- It looks like the Carex Pansa lawn is starting to take.
- The ribes are full of buds waiting to burst into bloom.
- The Sambucus Mexicana that had broken broken branches might have new life. I stuck the branches in a pot and forgot about them. No special treatment. Now they are all rooting.
- Last night I heard a frog next door.
Life is good.
It’s Thursday so don’t forget to go try your hand at poems of 15 Words or Less with Laura Salas. It’s quick. It’s fun. It wakes up your brain. Laura also has an upcoming online class on Writing Children’s Nonfiction Books for the Educational Market.
1. Excedrin Migraine. It works on my sinus headaches enough to dull it painful but almost bearable.
2. I hit the deadline to get my critique in for our conference submission. Considering how long I have not been writing regularly this was huge.
3. I turned in several work-for-hire assignments and picked up two more.
4. Being laid off. I know I have said it before but I am really, really, really thankful to be home. It is going to take months still for my body to absorb all these changes but it is the right thing for me. I know it.
5. Friends who don’t give up on me even when I am a major flake about things.
6. A husband who does it all – cooks, shops, cleans – and lets me work toward creating the literary life I crave.
I’m a lucky woman.
Okay, almost always willing to follow the crowd, here’s my version of 20 Things That Make Me Happy Today in no particular order except for the way I think of them.
1. Chai. Specifically chai from Sun Chai in Santa Cruz that you can only get on that side of the hill.
2. Wonderful husband who indulges and spoils me.
3. Cassie, my beautiful, exuberant dog.
4. Growing friendships with Eileen, Becky and Debbi.
5. The fact that we can afford to keep the house as warm or as cool as we like.
6. Doves coming back to the yard now that there are plants.
7. Things blooming the yard today – lupines and chinese houses.
8. Seeing all the cool rocks we got yesterday just waiting for me to move them around the yard.
9. Digital cameras.
10. Shopping online.
11. Writing friends who are willing to brainstorm and/or read for me.
13. The new tree bench my husband is putting together.
14. The wine barrels I scored on craigslist for dirt cheap so I can do pot ponds.
15. The new bright red computer that is sitting over there waiting for me to install my programs and transfer things.
16. Memory foam mattress pads.
17. Opportunities that have come my way allowing me to make money by writing more than just my own novels.
18. The dog crate
19. Being laid off.
20. All the seeds for native wildflowers waiting to be planted.