What does one get for the guy who has everything? How about a dying star?
That’s not technically what this blog is about. It’s about box cake versus homemade and the existential thoughts on the state of things around here that question raises for me. All which were brought about by my getting it into my head that box cake wouldn’t be enough for Jack’s birthday. Just like it wasn’t for Mike’s birthday, when we grated carrots and whipped up cream cheese with butter and powdered sugar for frosting.
That was the day Colin said he was excited about having helped with the cake, and it made me so happy knowing he could be excited about anything, I dug out the bone China cake plate we’ve used maybe three times in the eons since it was a wedding gift.
When it comes to today’s cake, I again ask if Colin wants to help, and he again says yes. I buy new cake pans and decide on red velvet. Not only will this not be a box cake, it also won’t be just a regular cake with red dye. It will be traditional red velvet with ermine frosting.
Expect big things from me in 2023 you guys, I just bought … a bullet journal.
I’m not sure how I landed on bullet journaling as the Solution to All Things including my current writing slump and the pandemic pounds I’ve gained. Were I to give up social media, I might find the time to address these issues, but if not for TikTok, how would I have discovered the inherent whimsy of hand lettered and color-coded to-do lists?
(Photo courtesy of The University Inn and Resort “A Fun Place to Stay”)
When the organizers of the conference I attended earlier this month included a link to our meeting location, I took one look at the place and then closed the tab on my browser, resolving not to do any more than look up the address until I was home again.
What I mean to say is I wish I’d closed the tab. I didn’t. When I saw we’d be staying at a 100-year-old college-turned TB hospital-turned hotel-conference center, part of my brain was screaming “close the browser! Close it! You’ll never sleep!” and the other part was all “Ooh! Scooby Doo vibes! Yay!”
I would be staying in the Gooding Inn for two nights.
Assuming I could make it that long.
Mike was on the fence about getting back into beekeeping this spring. I was hoping we would, but after last year, I didn’t want to press it. Bees are fun to watch and to talk about and I love it when he picks up hobbies where I reap rewards and am required to do almost no work. But after the Great Bee Debacle of 2021 I was leaving the decision up to him.
For those who don’t want to go back and read through part one of this bee story, here’s a recap: Inspired by Colin’s foray into beekeeping the year before, Mike built a backyard bee Taj Mahal and brought home a package of bees for it. Our queen decided the digs weren’t for her and took off, flying in big, lazy spirals into the clear, spring sky while we watched her go.
You don’t have to tell me that’s too long for a title. My blog platform has this built-in tool that tells me that, and also whether any one piece I write has the appropriate number of subheads and the right sentence structure and whether it has active versus passive language and the appropriate key words. It looks the whole blog over and grades me with a red, yellow, or green light for readability. I’m thinking it also wishes it had another light for “what the hell even is this and how do I grade it?”
(Which is how I’ve come to realize that, if machines do ever take over, we’re going to need someone to be our designated free association speaker to be in charge of confounding the AI while we break in and take all the canned chili and Ho-Hos and other nonperishable foodstuffs and make our escape while the machines are trying to decipher whatever it is the free association person is saying because machines don’t have a “what the hell even is this you’re telling me” response).
It feels like a breakup, and I’ll admit I’ve been a little mopey about it for a couple of days. But my mind is made up.
After nearly six years together, my first all-but-complete novel and I are taking a break.
The project began as nugget of a thought which turned into a daydream which I then outlined and then fleshed out a little bit more. It stalled out once, but then I picked it back up as a NaNoWriMo 2015 project and raced to the end of my first first-draft, pretty darn proud of myself.
Of course, it needed some polishing and I knew there was hard work left to be done. I was also pretty sure I could be ready to start querying agents that spring, followed shortly thereafter by a Twitter announcement about securing one such agent. Then there’d be a fun cover reveal, a launch party, the announcement of book tour dates, etc.
I wouldn’t quit my day job, though. That’d come after the sequel.
Last week there was a grey-haired guy at the climbing gym.
Most of the time, there aren’t a ton of people at there at all, which is how we like it. Thing is, I happen to be the self-appointed official climbing gym over-thirty spokesperson, thank you very much. It’s an official position I just made up and also one for which I’m looking for sponsors, in case you’re wondering.
The climbing thing feels good. Like accomplishing something. Anything. Even if all that means is new callouses and ruining my manicure on purpose. I know we’re supposed to be leaning into this pandemic with all kinds of commitment to wellness and self-care and whatever else, but this has been a weird year for maintaining any kind of fitness. Besides this, the only other thing I’ve accomplished in 2020 is gaining about fifteen pounds without trying.
I started out with good intentions, diligently plotting a twelve-month half marathon calendar in January. Now, at regular intervals I get Google reminders for events that would have happened if 2020 hadn’t imploded. Goody.
As it is, I can’t muster the enthusiasm to run more than two miles at a stretch these days anyway, and I haven’t replaced road running with anything else. I haven’t been to my regular gym since March, of course, which is about the time being indoors with other people lost appeal.
But the climbing gym has a people-counter on their website, which is handy. We’ve learned the times it’s likely to be just us there, along with the guy at the counter, and maybe one other dude who looks like the Hercules cartoon character from the eighties (I’m not exaggerating either, who knew you could recreate that haircut in real life?)
Hey, guys, guess who has two thumbs and lives with an art critic?
His credentials rivaled only by his timing; it took a scant seventeen years in our last house before Mike offered up this pithy appraisal of our modest collection:
“I don’t know how we ended up with so many girls on our walls.”
Man, I don’t know how it happened either, okay? But, over the years, we had somehow amassed a fair number of framed images of girls. Girls on a Victorian porch, a girl and her horse, a girl lolling around on the side of a pond. Nothing creepy, just … consistent in a kind of weird way.
Our kid had to self-quarantine last week after being exposed to the Scourge. We weren’t surprised. He’d gone a month employing the kind of measures one does against such an eventuality when one exists in the era of a global pandemic but also just turned 21 and by rights should be living his best life.
In other words, he was kind of taking care, but in that way of adolescent males who are pretty sure they’re immortal or invincible or at least endowed with mad ninja skills.
“I’m going to send you a link to a listing,” Mike said. “Don’t
freak out, just look.”
This is what we do these days: Look at house listings and
daydream. At first glance, the one Mike sent struck me as a big tangle of weird.
It was all angles, different siding on every wall, settled low on its
foundation … or was there even a foundation? Maybe not. And purple trim.
All in a big, overgrown yard.
“I don’t want a big yard,” I told him.
“I’ve been thinking about reprioritizing,” he said.