Straddling Fences

This morning I moved the houseplants outside to start the hardening off process.

I noticed in my wisteria-love fest the other day that last year in Laramie I moved the plants out on May 28. (I explained hardening off there, too, if you’re wondering what it is.) So Santa Fe has only moved me up by 16 days. Of course, we’ve been gone and I didn’t want the house-sitter to have to nurse them. I might have done it sooner than this.

We’ll see what next year brings. By all accounts it’s been a cool Spring all up and down the Rocky Mountain states.

But it’s snowing in Denver and Laramie, so I have plenty of smug to fill my bowl of contentment.

I talked to Catherine Asaro yesterday on the phone, about Obsidian, which she graciously read for me. She’s really a wonderful gal and a terrific writer, so if you haven’t read her, you should seriously pick up a book or two of hers. And I’m not just saying that because she read my mss and said lovely things about it.

So, while it was great to hear her tell me what a wonderful writer I am and how good the book is, there’s no super-new news there. She thinks I’m not going to get an agent with it because it’s too outside the box. She says that’s what I get for forging a new path. Which sounds kind of cool and glamorous, except that it really means that it’s difficult to sell.

“It starts out as excellent, gritty urban fantasy,” she says, “then moves into also excellent fantasy. But from a feminine perspective, which is really different.”

One of the things I’ve learned? When all those publishing industry folks say they’re looking for something really fresh and original, they’re not, really. What they want is the same creature dressed up in a fresh, new outfit.

Not that I’m bitter.

Actually, I’m not feeling bitter at all. Catherine says pitch directly to editors because I’ll surely find one who wants this. So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll keep working on Sterling, too, which (as I think I’ve mentioned twenty times or so) should fit quite neatly into urban fantasy, with no genre-defying cross-overs.

That always seems to be my deal – I do stuff that nobody gets, then five years later it’s the thing. It would be nice to think I’m cutting-edge, but really that seems to be someone else most of the time. Suddenly my thing that no one got is all the rage or even old hat.

I could give you a bunch of examples, but they’re boring. I swear it’s true.

When Catherine said that forging a new path is difficult, I pictured myself in a blizzard, struggling through knee-deep snow. Too dramatic? That’s how it feels. Ice pellets of rejection stinging your face, energy seeping out of your muscles until you feel like you’re simply too tired to go on.

But what’s the alternative? The literary equivalent of lying down in the snow to die. It would feel nice, I hear, the cold changing to warmth as hypothermia sets in. Yielding to the overwhelming sleepiness as the falling snowflakes bury you. Erasing you.


Forging onward!

(Anyone got some Polar-tek?)

My Old Wyoming Home

I don’t think about the old house much.

Which is kind of odd, because it once meant so much to me. Last week, when David and I went to Ten Thousand Waves to celebrate our anniversary by soaking in a private tub, he asked me if I thought the new people were using the hot tub much.

I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.

“Our hot tub?” he says. “The people who bought our house — do you think they use the hot tub?”

Ohhhh. The hot tub we used to sit in pretty much every night for five years. In the house we bought for love. For jts beauty and the sunlight. I just hadn’t thought about it. “They’re from California and it’s been a cold winter — I hope they’re using it!”

And then I started thinking more about how they were doing. If they figured out how to set up the pond heater so the koi in the pond will overwinter. The upstairs gets cold when it’s really chilly — I should have left a note telling them of my trick of closing the downstairs heating vents and turning on the upstairs ceiling fan and heating from the top down on those super-frosty days.

Last night I dreamed that we snuck into the old house. The person we were with — maybe a real estate agent? — knew they were out of town. So we went in to look around and all the windows were shaded so no light came in! Enraged, I went around opening shades and doors. I heard voices behind one door and there was a woman inside, reading to a little girl who was sick.


So I fled. Fortunately she didn’t see me. (How she couldn’t when I opened the door to the bedroom is silly, but that’s the great thing about dreams.)

Anyway, I think I’m connecting with the timing. It was one year ago now that we put our house on the market. I started to say good-bye then. I wasn’t sure of the date until I checked this blog post. Amazing to me how our subconscious notes and commemorates anniversaries, even if we consciously don’t.

Coincidentally, I wrote about that house (okay, that part isn’t a coinicidence – I write about every damn thing, like cats and New Mexico weather) and the essay appeared in Going Green.
Recently the Wyoming Library Roundup published an article on the anthology and they used a picture of our old house. (Look at page 9 – I can’t seem to get it to bookmark.)

So now it’s immortalized the way I liked it, for all to see. Which is a lovely by-product of writing. It doesn’t really matter if they use the hot tub, if the fish survive the winter or if they close the shades.

It’s their house now. Mine is in the book.

My Old Wyoming Home

Assumptions are a funny thing.

Never mind the old saw about “assume” makes an ass of u and me. What assuming does is blind you to what’s really there. When a person assumes they know something, it stops them from considering any other options.

So, it was a funny thing: David’s previous boss asked him to spend a few days in Laramie over Christmas break to train a new guy in David’s old job. David and I cogitated on this — because of the holiday pattern this year, the first week of January would be best. But for David to fly up there — driving would really suck that time of year — stay in a hotel for a week, including meals out, would be pretty expensive. We wondered what she was thinking. And no, I didn’t want to go with him. A week in Laramie at the beginning of January? To bring out another old saw: been there, done that. Hope to never do it again.

Turns out, she was assuming we’d be driving up to David’s hometown of Buffalo for Christmas and could just stop in Laramie for a few days. Never mind that this would be an 11-12 hour drive for us now. On nasty winter roads. And that my family isn’t there. She thinks we’d do that because that’s what she would do. I think it’s hard for people back in Wyoming to understand that we don’t miss it at all.

I think sometimes that David’s family believes our move is my influence. That I’ve finally, after nearly 19 years together, wrested him away. I think they make an assumption about who I am and what I want. David’s family is large and very tight. In many ways, even after so many years, I remain an outsider. I don’t think they know that it’s been me who’s pushed him to maintain close contact with his family all this time.

And that, because I love him and want the very best for him, that I helped him find a way to get some distance.

I love this picture of David and me, because it captures so much of what we are together. David picked me because I would be this to him: someone who wanted to journey also. And we’re having a wonderful time on this new adventure of ours.

I’m sure we’ll touch base back in ol’Wyo sometime. Just not quite yet.


I’ve mentioned before, my life lately is all about the cutting away.

I spent the weekend getting rid of stuff. If you haven’t been following along, we have to clear out the house by August 13. Next Thursday, for the calendar-challenged among you. Yes, we have time. But I can tell you, this particular stone has accumulated a serious amount of moss over the past 21 years. In an arid climate, too.

My moves before this were either as a young woman who owned practically nothing (18-22) or within the same small town over a few blocks. I’ve lived a lot of places within Laramie, but only two in the last 16 years.

When David and I moved out of the (much smaller) house we’d shared for 11 years, it went okay until we hit the basement. Time slowed as we dug out the sedimentary layers of toys and obsolete computer parts. Things we’d moved into the house and never used were in the far back corners, whispering quietly to themselves in the dank dark.

In this house, it’s the attic.

My (wonderful) Aunt Karen drove up from Montrose, Colo. (read: a long way) to help for two days and drive home again. She felt like she didn’t make much of a dent, but she helped me clear the attic spaces. Even though she had to ask for a flashlight to get back into the dark, “scary parts.” Dark, scary parts filled with decades of obnoxious roofing dust from when they ripped off the roof last fall to replace it. Second only in sinus-yuck factor to coal dust from when David and I remodeled the old coal bin in the previous house. Blew black snot for days. Looking into the blackened tissues, I thought of my Kennedy grandfather who died of black lung.

The attic is now clear. I rid myself of a thirty-year collection of fabric. I know. It’s a disease. I even had fabric I took from my other aunt when she had to build a separate shed to house HER fabric collection. You’d think it would have been a cautionary tale. No no no.

But I’m free now.

Gone is the sewing machine and all the fabric. No more quilting until I’m making a living as a writer. Tobiah’s baby quilt was the last, which is somehow fitting.

Gone are the Breyer model horses I’ve saved from childhood. Into the arms of a little girl in a sparkly purple body suit, who spun around and carried the box back to her mother’s Suburban, where her brothers impatiently waited.

I’m good with that. Gone also are the old bean bag chairs, the boom box with tape-to-tape record, the four-drawer filing cabinet and the boxes of overhead transparencies. All via Freecycle. I love Freecycle. You send an email to the loop with an offer and people respond. They come and take it away with happy smiles.

One of my friends who left Laramie a year ago asked how I’m managing the good-byes, since we completely blew having a going-away party. She did it well, arranging carefully sequenced farewell drinks and meals.

No such grace from me.

I’m using the serendipity method. Which is a nice way of saying I’m not arranging it at all. People have stopped by, knowing we’re packing. With all the fraught-ness that word entails. Ann offered to bring us sandwiches, which was one of the nicest things anyone could offer.

And I’m meeting the new arrivals in Laramie. The ones who are moving in for the new semester and love to have our ratty old sunroom couch. The girls from Texas, filling up their five-room house in Tie Siding with Freecycle finds while their boyfriends go to school at Wyo Tech. After that, they’ll go back to Texas, they assure us. We don’t know what they’ll do with all the stuff. And the mother of the little girl in the sparkly purple top, who asked me where to buy plants that would thrive so well in Laramie.

Blessings and good fortune in this little town to them all.