My favorite coffee mug in my current office. So unpredictable, the things we love.

My favorite coffee mug in my current office. So unpredictable, the things we love.

Astute readers of this blog will already guess (by the title of this post) that yes, Lesley is still out of town and Laura is at it again. Hence, no blog posting last week (I was very, very busy) and this week’s obscurely poetic title. You do not suffer alone, we all miss Lesley when she goes off meditating and yoga-ing and such. Argh. In warm and sunny places no less. Leaving us here with dirty, melting mountains of snow and ice. On May 1st. I am not bitter. Cranky, but not bitter.

Then, as I was making my coffee I became aware (this is where my teenager usually says something piercing like “deep, mamma, deep”) that I wasn’t exactly cranky. It was something less concrete…restless (OK, it is sort of spring)…eager (yes, I’m getting a new office for my design studio next week and can barely sit still in my current, cluttered space)…but that doesn’t quite hit the mark…ah, ha (that’s my inspired voice inside my head at which point my teenager usually just leaves the room) I’m anticipating my nostalgia for my present office!

Leave it to a writer to over-analyse a simple hunger pang in the morning.


"Willow Wisp Cottage" aka the old post office in Copper Harbor.

“Willow Wisp Cottage” aka the old post office in Copper Harbor.

Mudminnow’s often”silent” partner–by which I mean she steadfastly refuses to blog (howdy Lloyd)–occasionally lends me the use of this adorable little yellow house in Copper Harbor so that I can clear my head of the usual pressures of book design, small press publishing, teaching, and parenting long enough to remember that I set out in life to write poetry.

I spent a weekend reading and writing without interruption here in March when the snow was so deep I couldn’t find trails without snow shoes. And just last weekend spent another two days when the only change in the landscape was that I could sometimes find bare pavement to walk on. All the more reason to stay inside and write.

So today is just a small thank you for all those unsung patrons out there who help artists be artists in whatever ways they can, large or small.

Here is my suggested list, just in case you want to enter the ranks of patron but don’t have an entire cottage to lend someone:

1. Do not mock (this includes that slightly surprised look when you hear for the first time that your sibling, child, spouse, friend, etc. is writing).

2. Do not interrupt. Yes I know it was just to pop your head in and say good morning or how’s it going but that’s how the train of thought gets derailed.

3. Do not insist on reading something before it is ready to be read (only the writer will decide this).

4. When in doubt about how to characterize what your particular artist is up to don’t try. This is the “silence is golden” rule of art patronage.

5. And when your artist does attempt to share something of what they’ve been pouring their poor heart and soul into (not always successfully) listen closely enough to make an intelligent comment. And false praise is never good, but encouragement is always welcome.

There, pretty simple really. Off you go…


My writing nook on vacation in Copper Harbor, MI.

My daughter is convinced that I was a cat in a previous life. She has observed that, just like our cat, I am “touchy” and do not like to be disturbed when my attention is fixed on a new project (for the cat that usually means a dust bunny, for me a poem, but the analogy holds); I have a tendency to give anyone who opens my office door unexpectedly the “death stare” (ditto Eloise the cat, but Eloise will do this at any time and for apparently no reason while I always have a good reason…)

I sometimes give in to the self-pitying idea that being a mother, self-employed person, spouse and writer is just asking too much of one human being, at which point I usually slap myself (metaphorically, of course) and give myself a version of the count-your-blessings speech we all heard from our mothers and carry on with my day.

But once in a while it is important to find a retreat from the everyday and get some solid, sustained creative time all to yourself if you possibly can and that’s what I managed to accomplish this August. For two blessed weeks I went to Copper Harbor, Michigan all by myself just to write, read, and hike. In that relatively short span of time I wrote a children’s chapter book that I hadn’t even thought of until I arrived at the cottage and started channeling my inner-7-year-old, started six new poems at least one of which is far enough along to make me think it will really be a fully-grown poem one of these days, made progress on my notes on a novel idea and even drafted a new scene, did some journaling, hiked what seemed like a billion miles, and read one novel and started another.

I’ve been home for just over a week now, and have started back with a vengeance to all the work and routines I had left behind. We’ll see how long I can keep channeling that inner-7-year-old before I regress back into my bad cat habits. I’m sure my family will let me know when it’s time for my next retreat.

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