Monthly Archives: December 2007

Snow Upon Snow; Or, Look Mama, A Castle!

Yes, that’s our swingset half-buried in snow off to the right.

Did we mention it’s going to rain today?

ETA: The back door just opened, and HRH said, “Mama? Can we have some cheese? Someone would like some cheese.” I went into the kitchen and there was Liam in the doorway, all rosy-cheeked and snowy from an hour and a half of play. I got the cheese out and cut him a slice, and said, “Are you having fun?” “Yeah!” he said brightly. “There a castle, and snow, and a shovel!” He took his cheese in his wet mittened hand, said “Thanks,” and tromped out again. I think the next-door neighbours are trying to take pictures of him now.


Solstice was lovely, except for the nap-related hiccough in the middle of Saturday. Friday night we did a mini-ritual with Liam, talking about how it was the longest night of the year, so we would use the candle to help the sun find its way back through the dark. He tried to blow out the candle. Perhaps I reinforced the birthday candle-extinguishing a bit too much.

We also gave him his ornament to hang on the tree, which in retrospect was a mistake. I’d chosen a Lightning McQueen ornament, and he certainly loved it. He loved it so much that he cried to hold it and play with it once it was up, despite being reminded that he had other McQueen cars among his toys.

After he was in bed, HRH and I ordered sushi from a new place (and will do so again and again and again, it was excellent!) and decorated the tree. By the end of the evening we knew we’d created a new tradition: decorate the tree Solstice eve, with sushi afterwards. The moment we get the 2008 calendar, it will be written in.

The boy got up the next morning and gasped and clapped at the tree, saying “It so pretty!”. Then we went out and did a humongous grocery order. Usually HRH and I hate grocery shopping because of all the oblivious people, but this experience was calm, relaxed, and even fun. Everyone around us seemed to be in a good mood for once. Not counting the pennies as we filled the basket was certainly a factor as well.

Once home, we put everything away and made lunch for Liam… who caught sight of his ornament on the tree and had a fit when we told him yet again that he couldn’t play with it. We struggled with the crying and thrashing until he calmed enough to read pre-nap books, but then he cried again when I left the room. This left us an hour behind schedule, as I had a main dish to make for our co-coven Yule gathering that afternoon, and we realised that the boy’s monitor was unplugged in his room, so we needed to wait till he was asleep to slip in and switch it on. We ended up joining the others upstairs forty-five minutes late, which wasn’t as bad as we’d feared because someone else was later than we were due to work issues. (Doing the math, that means the boy’s nap happened two hours late.) (And yes, we took the ornament off the tree and put it away. Out of sight, out of mind. The poor kid’s two and a half; leaving it there was cruel.)

We had a nice, relaxed, and cosy Yule gathering. The cookie and gift exchange was fun, and the food was terrific. The boy joined us around four and had his own present to open, drank tea, played cars on the floor with a very willing victim, was gentle with the cats, and said thank you a lot. The Yule ritual was simple and warming, and I’m sharing the central quote that was used. It’s from the tenth and final section of T.S. Eliot’s Choruses from ‘The Rock’.

O Light Invisible we praise Thee!
Too bright for mortal vision.
O Greater Light, we praise Thee for the less;
The eastern light our spires touch at morning.
The light that slants upon our western doors at evening,
The twilight on silent pools at batflight,
Moonlight and starlight, owl and moth light;
O Light Invisible, we worship Thee!

We thank Thee for the lights that we have kindled,
The light of altar and sanctuary;
Small lights of those who meditate at night,
And lights directed through coloured panes of windows,
And light reflected from the polished stone,
The gilded carven wood, the coloured fresco.
Our gaze is submarine, our eyes look upward
And see the light that fractures through unquiet water.
We see the light but see not whence it comes.
O Light Invisible, we glorify Thee!

Later in the poem there’s another set of lines that I think are also important.

And when we have built an altar to the Invisible Light, we may set thereon the little lights for which our bodily vision is made.
And we thank Thee that darkness reminds us of light.

Eliot is one of my favourite poets. It’s always a treat to unexpectedly hear his words.

HRH and the boy are out back shifting snow in the backyard. The plan is for HRH to clear a place for Liam to play, which was impossible as there was a metre of snow from fence to fence. Liam, however, waved cheerily at me and said, “Bye, Mama! I going to build a castle!”

When they come in, there will be Solstice stockings to open with the upstairs neighbours, and brunch. Then I’m heading out to pick up two or three last-minute things (why can we not find Liam’s stocking anywhere?), and HRH is taking his turn out while the boy naps, to get a variety of frozen nibbly things at M&Ms and drinkables at the liquor store.

And then, I think we will be set, apart from a complete house-cleaning on Monday morning. Then my parents arrive in town, and the next stage of the seasonal festivities begin.

My Resident Fan Club

BLADE: I moved to play my DS into the room above you the other night when I realised you were playing your cello.

HRH: Yeah, it sounded pretty good, you know.

A: You heard me? Both on the floor above and below? I was playing with a heavy practice mute!

HRH: Your end pin is a sound conductor. I was sitting at the other end of the basement and I heard it just fine.

A: I can’t believe this. For some arcane reason I feel moved to play scales and then a nasty Dotzauer etude full of evil little shifts, and you guys think it sounds good and want to hear more?

BLADE: I wondered if it would be acceptable to bang on the floor and yell, “Play louder!”


We dropped the boy off at his grandma’s, picked up coffee, fueled up the car, and we were off.

Bank, to deposit cheques and other wondrous and unexpected amounts of money that showed up last night; post office, to mail off a parcel; a quick stop in to the pharmacy; and then we were off to the book store.

Piles of books, mostly for others, one or two tucked into the stack for ourselves. A train turntable for Liam. An unexpected and wonderful meeting with Jteethy, Pasley, and Tallis.

Home. HRH goes off to his work holiday party. I set out to wrap all the gifts.

Do we have paper? Check.

Do we have ribbon, and bows? Check.

Do we have tags?

Er, no.

We have blank white stickers, though. I could find a little stamp and stamp an image on them and write people’s names next to it. Or better still, I could find the linen paper I have somewhere and tear it artfully into rectangle-ish shapes and punch a hole in the corner and string then onto the gifts with ribbon!

I locate the little unused stamp set that’s been hiding in various stationary boxes for over ten years. I finally locate the linen paper… which has all of two sheets left. It’s enough.

No stamp pads.

That’s all right; I have a whole set of stamp ink felt pens, which are used to colour the stamps! I know exactly where they are; they are in my wooden art box!

… which is nowhere to be found.

I give up. After chasing various things around for an hour and a half, things are wrapped, and currently tagged with sticky notes. HRH is coming home around three, and we’re going back out to our second round of shopping before collecting the boy; I’ll pick tags up while we’re out.

Hope: ‘a desire with an expectation of accomplishment’

It may come as a surprise to learn that I have never submitted unsolicited writing before today. I’ve always sold partials for my non-fiction, the idea for a book based on a detailed outline, sell sheet, and writing samples.

I mailed off my first YA novel this morning. I wanted it out of my hands before Christmas, even though it will be stuck in the mail over next week and then will likely sit on an editor’s desk unopened until early January. I printed it out on Wednesday in twenty-page increments, watching it to make sure it didn’t go haywire somewhere along the way. The cover letter was finished and as good as I could get it. I checked and double-checked the submission guidelines and squared it all neatly, slipping an elastic band around the inch-high stack of paper.

This morning I bought a padded envelope, slipped it all in, addressed it, and mailed it off. Twelve dollars’ worth of postage. One customs form: just paper of no monetary value, only immense sentimental value. Also, lots of hope. It’s a good thing hope doesn’t weigh very much. Here is your tracking number, good only until the envelope itself is delivered, no further for the manuscript itself as it makes it way through various piles on various desks. The SASE must make do for the beginning of that journey, and beyond this, darkness and the unknown.

I’ve mailed proofs and manuscripts back and forth with my NF publisher before, so a lot of this was mechanical. Nonetheless, I was almost paralysed with anxiety as I wrote the sender’s and recipient’s addresses, despite knowing that the things I was worrying about — presentation, am I doing things the right way, can ‘send cover letter with plot synopsis’ be any more vague? — didn’t really matter as much as I felt they did. What matters is the writing. And still, as I was sealing the envelope I was thinking, It’s not too late to take it home and shred it because it is awkward and clumsy and dull in places and I think my message is too pedantic and did I mention clumsy?

But I didn’t. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I made a promise to myself this past January that I would get this novel out, come what may. And I did.

I like that the first day of its journey takes place on the day of the longest night. From here, it only gets brighter. A nice symbolism, I think, and completely unplanned. Consciously, at least.

And so it is gone. Have a safe journey, little YA novel. And a successful one.


That outstanding cheque?

It arrived in this morning’s mail.

It is astonishing, and also somewhat sad, that I feel so much less stressed about life in general now. Even after making a day-by-day schedule with HRH last night that shoves everything we need to do before our Yule observation and Christmas into Friday. (Perhaps the lack of associated schedule-stress is related to the fact that Blade brought down a bottle of Talisker to share not long after we made the schedule and began watching The Nightmare Before Christmas last night. It was a good night indeed.)

Five Things

1. The scent of fresh pine in the house.

2. Making homemade bread.

3. Surprise money in the mail. (The gods provide.)

4. The MS currently printing out, in prep for submission. I love you, little YA novel. (Also: no printing foul-ups so far!)

5. Waking up at oh-gods o’clock last night to pull the notebook into bed and write the final scene of the Pandora book. (Now I just need to write the missing climax of the novel. Details, details…)