Homeward Bound…But First…

On Friday I’m flying back to England to spend 10 days visiting friends and family by myself. This is a landmark occasion, mainly because I don’t think I’ve visited my parents without a boyfriend/husband/children since I was in my (very) early 20s and still at university. But this year, the kids are involved in their High School pre-seasons (Dance for Becky, Field Hockey for Lorna) and were anyway reluctant to exchange the NJ weather for that of the UK (although seriously guys, it hasn’t been that great here this year!) Keba, also busy with Global Bridge, agreed to be point parent and so off I go.

Of course, nothing is that simple. Before I can plonk myself down at a bar in Philadelphia airport prior to my overnight flight in good conscience, I need to:

  • Complete all essential admin. This includes paying all bills that will fall due while I’m away, billing all clients likewise, and submitting Becky and Lorna’s RVRHS athletics physicals.
  • Make sure the menagerie can be left. This includes taking Sofia for her third kitten check (tomorrow), cleaning out the aquarium and visiting Pet Sink…sorry I mean Smart…to stock up on tinned food.
  • Finalize tasks whose deadlines occur while I am away. This includes submitting my application (Oh, the triumph of hope over experience!) for a NJ Poetry Fellowship, finishing my edit of a (very interesting) non-fiction book on concussion in the NFL, and writing a “How To” on the Haikoum for a text book.
  • Prepare for tasks that occur hot on the heels of my return. This includes ordering Becky’s birthday presents (July 28), my monthly stint at Care 1 (The assisted living residence for older adults with memory loss that is the inspiration behind “The Stolen From“), and my reading for the Powows in Newburyport on July 24th. I just worked out I need to order some more copies of TSF for that. It’s actually been quite successful (and I say that guardedly, as poetry books go, of course!)

Er…that might be it. Isn’t that enough? But seriously, I’m almost ready to look forward to my trip at this point, I think?


Milestones R Us

Once again you find me blogging from the front line of suburban motherhood, aka the orthodontist’s, where Lorna is currently in the process of having her braces removed.

Lorna, who graduates Hainesport Middle School 8th grade this year, was keen to have the metalware taken out before the Graduation dance this Friday.

For me, this is a different kind of milestone. Never having experienced orthodontic care in the UK (we don’t tend to do it except for extreme cases, and yeah, I have a crooked though not very obvious bottom tooth) I am now coming to the end of about 6 years of shepherding my American daughters through the minefield of expanders, braces, rubber bands and finally, retainers.

Bye Dr. Ellis! I’ll miss our political…ahem…chats. Thanks for my daughters’ beautiful teeth!


IMG_1741 I recently revisited Philadelphia’s excellent Rodin museum–well worth a trip, for those in the area. Simply aim your GPS at Art Museum Drive, find street parking or pay the (admittedly steep) $12 fee for museum parking, and then take a short, hopefully sunny, walk from the Art Museum steps (still patrolled by opportunistic photographers clutching Rocky tee shirts) to the beautiful jewel of French architecture that is the museum and its gardens.

If you don’t wish to stump up the $8 “voluntary” contribution to enter the galleries of the museum proper, the exterior can still give you a taste of this brilliant sculptor’s work–(Keba Evans: “He’s not bad, is he?”)–including “The Thinker,” (pictured left) and of course, “The Gates of Hell.”

IMG_1743“The Gates of Hell” (detail pictured right) is possibly Rodin’s most famous work, and is of course a tribute to Dante’s Inferno. I’m guessing, because the fountain from the Rodin Museum’s gardens appears on the cover of my 2006 chapbook, Swimming, that viewing this intense frieze of tortured souls for the first time back then is one of the reasons I chose to focus on Dante’s Inferno for my final MFA lecture, delivered in 2008 and later published by the late Paul Stevens in The Chimaera.

I’ll be forty-five in July, which puts me “nel mezzo del cammin di [mia] vita” if not beyond, and so I guess Dante is on my mind for several reasons, including for his merciless definitions of sin and for his uncompromising dedication to the perfect rhyme terza rima he invented.

Dante…Rodin…Philadelphia…I love all these things, and consider myself blessed, even if I was not remotely tempted to buy a photograph of myself wearing a Rocky tee shirt and running the art museum steps.


Cat People!

That’s Sofia. She is 8 weeks old, weighs about 2 pounds, is completely fearless, and has won the heart of every member of the Evans family, with the exception of grumpy old Tasha and possibly the fish.
Furthermore, taking a leaf out of her book I have just done a little intrepid exploring of my own, and have now fixed things so I can post blog entries from my iPhone and my iPad!
Look out (potentially?) for more frequent blog posts!

Today Feels Like the First Proper Day of Fall

It’s Monday, and both my daughters are back in school for full days—Becky is a sophomore at RVRHS and Lorna will graduate from 8th grade at Hainesport Middle School next June. It’s sunny, but I turned the air con off last night and this afternoon a cool breeze is wafting through my open windows. Peace at last!

I think back to all the blog postings I mentally composed on the run over the summer, fully intending to type them up the first opportunity that arose. There was the rapturous account of my two-week residency at VCCA, where I wrote fifteen or so new poems around the topic of Alzheimer’s and memory loss, and began translating selected poems by Marceline Desbordes-Valmore. There was the wryly funny “Ten Things I Learned at the Jersey Shore this Summer,” which would have been a bullet-pointed list including such gems as “Do not enter a contest to see how long you can submerge your hand in a jug of ice, especially while inebriated.” (The twinges have only just now worn off!) Finally, there was the exhausted few paragraphs I might have managed after teaching two weeks creative writing in the K-5 Multi-arts Summer Camp at the West Windsor Art Center. [Read more…]

All Kindled Up & Ready to Go

I love books, not just the smell of older volumes or the feel of the crisp pages of newer ones in my hands, but the accumulation of them. I look at a full bookshelf and feel greedily rich. So, it won’t surprise you that when Amazon’s electronic reader, the kindle, first came out, and my husband diffidently asked if I might like one, my answer was a resolute No!

Still, things change. Kindle 2 is now available, and apparently it addresses some of the glaring faults in the first version. Plus, we are going to the UK for ten days at Easter, and on any such trip I normally require 4 or 5 paperbacks secreted about our luggage, simply to provide me with in-flight reading material. The lightweight kindle could replace that excess poundage. So, I said, OK! And on our 13th wedding anniversary this past weekend (lucky for some!) my kindle duly arrived.

I love it! Let me give you some reasons why.

  1. Believe it or not, I think I actually read faster on the kindle. This is no mean feat, because I wasn’t exactly a slouch in the reading department before. I’m not exactly sure why it is. Perhaps because there are fewer words per page, and my highly-programmed reader’s brain almost internalizes them all in one look? Or maybe because I can press the “next page” button while I am still absorbing the last sentence, and begin the next one without that annoying (seriously!) page turning delay.
  2. The kindle is way better for stop/start/on the go reading. I really can hold and operate it in one hand (It’s about the size and weight of a first poetry collection), which leaves the other one free to eat/stir dinner/let dogs out/drive (Just kidding on the last one!) Plus, if I’m reading and the phone rings/ a child calls for help with a fractions worksheet/ the oven timer goes, then I can simply put it down. No hunting for bookmarks or mashing the spine with the book face down on the table. The kindle remembers where I am, even if it goes to sleep (after a ten minute delay).
  3. I can email my own manuscripts to the kindle. Perhaps this wouldn’t matter to everyone, but for a small fee I can send My Body, Torn from Me to Amazon, and they will format it into a kindle file and download that to my kindle. Imagine how useful that would be at Poetry Readings, or just for working on the m/s (using the kindle’s annotations function) on the plane.
  4. Classic literature is like, really cheap. So, I was browsing the “literary fiction” category (Bit of confusion going on there, Amazon. Maeve Binchy? Really?) and I found British Classics: The Bronte Family, which contains all 7 of the sisters’ novels, the poetry m/s they brought out initially, their father’s poetry AND the first two biographies (Gaskell and Shorter.) Guess how much this bounty cost? $0.99! Really!

Now of course this wouldn’t float everyone’s boat either. But I am in the process of writing an essay about Emily Bronte for the Mezzo Cammin timeline project/ West Chester seminar, so the prospect of having this material available in England (where I will be visiting Haworth Parsonage) is ideal.

I’m guessing that rather like Project Gutenberg, this is possible because copyright on the original editions of these works (It’s the third edition of Jane Eyre, for example) has expired. Might not suit everyone but perfect for me!

In fact, my husband has started to call me “Kindle Girl!”

Birthdays and Other Good Things

I turned 40 on July 23rd. Ho hum. Actually it really wasn’t that bad. The previous Saturday we had a party that I had designed to my own precise specifications–even down to the dual guitar Guitar Hero available in the family room. Lots of friends, lots of presents, lots of wine.

On the day itself we had a quieter celebration, especially since my husband was, of course, traveling. Still, two lots of flowers arrived and there was pizza, cheesecake and champagne.

Then the next morning I received the best present of all–a phone call from the Editor of ABZ Press to say that my thesis manuscript, My Body, Torn From Me, had been chosen as one of the ten finalists for their first book contest.

Of course, it probably won’t win, but at least it means that someone thinks the manuscript has potential.