Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Having something to say is more important than being able to express it perfectly. An ad on craigslist the other day begged help for writer's block. I stared at the post and contemplated a reply but couldn't think of what to say.

My girls are home from school, the oldest frantically recreating her last two weeks' menus for a nutrition journal. I personally would go for creative writing on that one, but she is very literal. The teacher may not appreciate my menu planning, but he ought to give her an A for her memory. Each bowl of squash soup and each plate of butter noodles is carefully recorded, albeit with a procrastinatory streak she got from me.

An author's note at the beginning of a book I'm reading thanks her family for eating "pretty much whatever" when the writer is on deadline.

Tomorrow I leave for a three-day writing retreat and today I have no words.

Okay, so that's never literally true for me. I have no worthy words. We have spent all of my words these past weeks on lawyers and title officers and accountants and I am more likely to use my retreat in a monklike silence than in finishing a manuscript.

The leaves outside have begun to turn. We had our first frost and the garden withered into the black mushy stuff that is hard to believe ever was edible, even to our ravenous deer population. The chickens, so briefly laying after a fall molt, are now rebelling again. The horses are muddy and furry and my mother-in-law retrieved her clippers so their manes are looking decidedly mohawkish.

The grass hasn't yet begun to green, even though the rainstorms have filled all the leftover summer toys in the yard with rust-colored water. My pantlegs are soaked with dew after each morning's chores. I pulled six dried cornstalks and cut armloads of rosehips and decorated the front porch. I trimmed (almost all of) the lavender hedge and filled three grocery bags with the makings of sachets and eye pillows and Christmas bazaar sales. This all feels pretty rural-lite because nearly every day I have put on citified clothes, or my most citified maternity clothes, and visited a professional to help us wade through the IRS and business-buying and property-selling issues that populate my non-rural, non-mom world.

We did attend the Rural Art Center's movie premiere of the season. Each fall and winter, the RAC lures us from fireside evenings once a month to watch a movie and eat popcorn and socialize in the grange hall. We haven't attended before, but this offering was family-friendly. A screening of the 1927 silent film "The General," filmed in Cottage Grove, along with shorts by local teens and professional filmmakers about Oregon wildlife. I now know quite a bit about nutria. I wish I could say that's what drove me to spend so much time in the city of late.

More after my trip to the coast.