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What is it people say about summertime being easier than the school year, because there’s less to do? Uh…no. I cleared out my big nonfiction deadlines and told myself that this was the summer to finish my novel. But I’ll be darned if I can get two hours together to work on the thing. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m wrestling with the climax and denouement. You know, the part where all the themes and subplots you’ve painstakingly prepared over a hundred thousand words has to come together just so, tying up every loose end in a satisfying and believable way. In its last version, my novel strung out all those ends for forty pages. Figuring out how to compress it all into a couple of scenes has been kicking my behind. I spent the whole trip to Colorado thinking about it behind the scenes, and ever since I’ve been locked in mortal combat with it. I’m almost there.


pirates 012But you don’t really want to hear about that, do you? You’d rather I talk about Michael Mayhem. He’s hit the toddler stage running. And kicking, and rolling around on the floor, and hurling himself into any dramatic position he can find, frequently with head smacking into hard objects. I’m telling you, if the kid wasn’t so un-stinking-believably cute, he’d be a menace.

People have always remarked on how he looks like a) me, b) my dad, or c) my mother’s family. I had seen c, but not a and b, until one night this week I as leaving for a meeting, he ran into the living room and planted his feet and stared at me. It was surreal, like I was looking at a 3-D snapshot of my dad when he was a tot. A fleeting moment, but now that I’m sensitized to the image, I see it all the time.


In recent weeks, as his hair has gotten way too long (we do haircuts on the deck, assembly-line style), he’s begun to be a mophead. And he’s decided his hair is best used as a napkin. Napkin, you say? You don’t mean…? Why yes, I do mean using it to clean his hands between the avocado and saucy chicken courses, and between the saucy chicken and ice cream courses, and after the ice cream course.


Speaking of haircuts…I’ve been giving Christian haircuts for over a decade now, and tonight I did something I’ve never done before. I completely, totally screwed up. As in, the guard fell off and I didn’t notice until I’d shaved a strip of the back of his head:

Can you see it, along the right side? Going shorter disguised it, sort of…

“You didn’t just do what I think you did, did you?” he asked…and then cracked up. See, he’s been wanting to go shorter for years, but I’ve been resisting. So we tried to contain the damage by going one setting shorter. Might as well have just shaved him, with his hair this short!


I haven’t been writing music recently, and it’s really bugging me. I know it’s tied to playing flute. When the music muscle is exercised, it produces. When it isn’t, it doesn’t. (Funny how that works.) I tried earlier this year to start practicing regularly again, but after our studio recital in May I quit. I decided this week that the only way to get myself to practice is to give myself a deadline. So I am officially committing to giving a flute recital sometime in 2014. As of this writing (Thurs. night) I’ve practiced around two hours this week, which is impressive considering I was out of town all day on Tuesday with the kids.

Speaking of which…


Real Pirates: the Story of the Whydah

pirates 018 squarish

My review: interesting for adults. Way, way, way overpriced if you’re taking kids under 8, and even 8-year-olds aren’t getting that much out of it.


I wrote a post about family this week that seemed to really strike a chord with people. Writing it in the hospital room by my grandmother’s bedside was a deeply moving experience. I was moved again by how many people commented via Facebook, blog comment and in person for days afterward. So I thought I’d share it with you, too.

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 224)