December 29th, 2009

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

From Twitter 12-28-2009

  • 08:44:44: M- is hauling away the ligustrum cut down yesterday; R- is feeding horses, and I'm sitting here re-organizing chapters.
  • 10:27:21: The family men were supposed to leave early this morning to scout bus routes into city for M-. Finally left at 10 am. Grr.
  • 10:27:55: Why grr? Because they kept coming in and out, in and out, while I was trying to get going on chapter reorganization. Needed quiet.
  • 11:33:30: Chili's on. Ground venison, pork sausage, onions, garlic, my favorite chili spice mix, Ro-tel and plain diced tomatoes both.
  • 23:53:14: This stage of revision is making me cranky. Or the oncoming weather system is.
  • 23:54:13: Farrier's coming Wednesday; must not forget.

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woods, Elizabeth, camera, April


Monday was spent, largely, in wrestling with the revisions.   Side issues were the chili (turned out good), laundry (getting flannel sheets to line dry in winter--even on a sunny day--requires intense optimism and a final run through the dryer--but without a dryer sheet), a minimal flurry of actual cleaning, and the replenishing of the house bird feeder. 

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woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Louisa May Alcott

Watched a PBS "American Masters" show on Louisa May Alcott last night.   Humbling, to the 20th and 21st century writer.   The poverty, the kinds of work available to women of that era...laundry, sewing, heavy housework in someone else's house, being a "companion" (if you were lucky.)   The total inability of her father to do anything useful...while still of course eating (and having to be cooked for, clothed, and cleaned up after.)   It's likely she was not getting adequate food for much of her young life, unlike her mother who had been brought up in a stable and well-to-do family.  Her stint as a nurse in a Civil War hospital, and the typhoid fever...a major killer until people finally figured out how to provide safe water supplies. 

She wrote everything by hand, of course.  Not even a typewriter.  All longhand, all in ink.  
Incredible amount of work...true of all writers in that era, of course.   She wrote enough, fast enough, to support her family and even, later, provide them a degree of opulence.  No wonder she had periodic breakdowns and finally died at 56--early for a woman who was never pregnant.  (Pregnancy and childbirth were the main cause of early death in women; childbed fever killed one of her sisters.)   Her mother lived to age 77; her  father lived to be almost 90 (dying just a few days before Louisa did.)   

I remember getting Little Women as a birthday present one year...though at the time I wasn't planning to be a writer, I certainly admired Jo more than the others.   I was already trying to write stories (but didn't think it could ever make a living for me.)    Irony strikes...yes, it can, if you go at it the way Louisa did (and I finally did) with complete concentration and determination.   I spent too much time in those books being furious with the Aunt March sorts of characters and not enough noticing Jo's work habits.  
woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Writer's Block: Reflections

Best:  HS friend's visit in spring, return of rain in September, fall trip--train travel, visiting friends in St. Louis, Chicago, Oswego, NYC, Tosca at the Met, singing.

Worst: extreme drought through mid-September, the death of trees on the place, another HS classmate's cancer recurrence, various losses