Thursday, April 29, 2010

Boston Mountains: Unending Beauty

       Last week I made a trip down through the edge of south-western Missouri, through the Boston Mountains to Ft. Smith, turned left and on to Little Rock. In May, the scenery is so beautiful it takes the breath away and it is difficult to keep one's mind on driving (especially when you're cruising along between 70 and 80 mph). While some might argue that adding the long high freeways have ruined the look of the Ozarks, I would say that it has enhanced it. It's rather like being in a low-flying plane and swooping over the thousands of acres. One gets the feeling of wilderness from looking down on the green sea below. The observer knows there are homesteads here and there (but really very very few, even now),still they are seldom there to view. The whole lovely experience leaves one breathless from beauty.
     My main objection to the super highway is that one must travel so fast you can't savor the experience enough.
     The observation I made to my husband on my return, though, was that I enjoyed covering large distances in a short period because it gave me a chance to see how the terrain connects and changes and I can make out how the valleys and hills (mountains) wave and roll. It's sensual in the feel.
     I first discovered the feeling on a long trip out west when I was younger. Sitting in the passenger seat at the time and watching the changing scenery, it struck me how the different areas fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. I loved the feeling at the time and now I watch for it.
     Finding that same feeling on my trip was so very satisfying.
     Things have been in a rush around here and it doesn't look as if it will end very soon. The yard has been mowed once and it screaming at us to mow again. My attitude is that we moved to the country and it should look wild anyway but Ben insists wild is wild and he refuses to have a hayfield for a front yard. Since it only takes about two days before the grass is ready to bale I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. I reckon I'll be mowing pretty soon, wouldn't you think?
     I've fought some kind of flu bug for two weeks and finally called the doctor and got some anti-biotics. Knee surgery is scheduled for the end of May and I can't afford to let myself get too run-down this month. I'm trying like mad to get caught up with things but sometimes I feel like Alice drowning in a sea of tears.
      (BTW, if you've not gone to see Alice, do so, right now. It is the only movie I've ever watched satisfactorily with 3-D glasses over my own spectacles and it was great, great, great! They integrated the original book with the Looking-Glass novel and it turned out beautifully, especially the Hatter and the Queen of Hearts. I couldn't believe what a good job was done! Highly recommended. Not just for kids.)
     Just returned from a weekend conference in Little Rock where I gave some effort to marketing two juvenile manuscripts, Junkyard Bones, a mystery concerning a boy who finds a dead body in his grandfather's junkyard, and For the Love of Pete, a humorous story of a kid who wants a dog but isn't responsible enough to have one . . . yet. Got an agent and an editor who will look at them but need to make a couple of changes to each one first, based on some suggestions made after discussion. This is where one really benefits from actually having one-on-one interviews with the person the author is interested in selling a manuscript to. You can get a feel of what they really want.
     In the meantime, I'm waiting for the galleys of the adult non-fiction book that is scheduled to come out sometime in the near future, From Trash to Treasure: The Evolution of an Ozarks Junkyard. Unless something goes wrong, it will be published by High Hills Press. The editor had expected it to be ready by now but so far I've not received the galleys. I did tell her I couldn't do anything for a couple of months after the surgery so if she doesn't have things for me to do before then it will have to wait.
      Yesterday I got so tired of lying around feeling bad (and I couldn't concentrate on anything creative) I decided to scrub the bathroom floor. It was needing it something awful so I poured Puerex and stuff into a bucket and went to work on my hands and (what was left of one and one (re-built and sort of hard-to-get-down-on) knees and scrubbed with a vengence. Well, the floor is certainly cleaner now. It smells to high heaven in the bathroom too. But we still could use a new floor. I may have to begin campaigning all over again.  There are some disadvantages to uncovering what is hidden by dirt, right?
      Aaron just left for school with his brand-new driver's license. He is so proud and I'm so proud of him. It is so much fun to watch a little boy turn into a responsible young man. Besides, he can go to the store for me. Whoopee!
     My coffee is getting cold and duty is calling. Spring is outdoors and so is my deck chair. Which one will win? Who knows?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Which Come First : the Chicken (housekeeping) or the Egg (writing)

     Spring is my favorite time of the year and now that the taxes are done and the sun is shining on a regular basis I can really take the time to enjoy it. I took all the stuff into the accountant this morning and spent a couple of hours with him, walking out with only one small item to look up after I got home. Then I called him with the answer and filed the papers, heaved a sigh of relief and walked outdoors to admire my miles of golden daffodils.
      For years I've allowed the jonquils to spread and the results are wonderful now. Of course there are the predators . . . first the husband and now the grandson. They despise anything that they aren't allowed to mow down and I have to watch Aaron like a hawk.
      I threaten to put large rocks all over my yard until the green blades turn to brown and lean into the dirt. In fact Aaron begins making noise when the tiny plants first begin to peak their spears above the ground. "Ohhh, look," he will say. "It's going to be time to MOW!"
     Someday I'm gonna kill that kid.
     But spring has finally come and Easter Sunday is this weekend. The college-age granddaughter will be home for a short-short visit, Ben is feeling a bit better and life is good for the time being.
      I registered today for the Arkansas SCBWI conference in Little Rock to be held the end of April. It didn't look as it I could take the time to go but turned out that I could and since I've got two juvenile books to pitch to agents and editors I'm really pleased to find I could make it after all. This has been such a lousy year in every other way and I've not had time or energy to market any of my writing (never mind that I've not even been able to produce anything new either) so I'm tickled to find something with this much promise.
     It looks as if the adult non-fiction is going to be published in the near future if everything goes right so everyone keep fingers (and toes) crossed, please, and I will update you as soon as I hear anything. Keep in mind that the publishing world moves sloooowwwwllllyyyyyyy though so don't look for it too quickly.              
     In a moment of madness, I tore 'my corner' completely apart yesterday afternoon. Sort of a celebration of sorts for finishing the income tax. My chair and table and lamp are surrounded by desk, computer, another lamp, a spare upright bass fiddle that has sort of been swallowed up, and piles and piles and piles and piles of books, magazines, manuscripts, papers, clippings, etc., etc., etc. Since I was basically crippled about June last year with this blasted knee thing, my housekeeping on the whole got completely out of hand and 'my corner' has been completely neglected. I kept saying to Ben that I was going to get to it and suddenly I did.
     I've burned a lot of stuff and now I have about 2/3 of the books stacked up neatly but I still have approximately 1/3 of the books left to make decisions about (do you know how hard it is for me to part with a book?) and about a half dozen shallow boxes filled with various and sundry papers, photos, clippings, etc.
     I sort of wish I'd never started it but it needed to be done.
     When I die they will just have to burn down the place and put me on the top. There isn't any other solution.