May 29th, 2008


Two Rivers Anthology

So here we are, in Two River, WI, writing, talking, eating, writing, and eating.

It's lovely here. I don't know what this house would be like to live in. The kitchen's not brilliant (although some awesome meals have come out of it over the past 3 days), the walls are thinnish (although we've slept late every day, without being wakened by those who were Up and About), and there's not a lot of private space (although we've all colonized different corners of the livingroom (or dining room) for our writing). There's also no insulation in the walls and it's kind of chilly, but we took care of that with a roaring fire in the open fireplace. So, really, it's perfect, especially now since it's a little warmer and sitting outside with the birdsong and and soft air is possible.

The house itself is a study in horizontals and rectangles. From where I sit in the dining alcove, I see the brick blocks of the fireplace hood, the piers that frame the alcove and define the stairs, the narrow horizontal windows decorated with wooden cut-outs interrupted by the rectangular openings of the windows and doors. I forgot my camera, so I can't show you what I mean, but the effect is really very soothing. Everything's shades of rust: the brick walls, the polished concrete floor, the soft wood walls, the sofa upholstery. And they've bought a lot of Arts & Crafts pottery, in soft teal and smoke and putty and cobalt. The dinner dishes are Fiesta ware.

In short, it's an aesthetic treat and a great inspiration. Everybody's been writing their socks off. I'll talk about it when it's over, but in the meantime, I want to tell about Ellen and Jannine and Delia's adventures in the town of Two Rivers.

It started when Ellen found out there was a Farmers Market on Wednesdays. Ellen feels about Farmers Markets the way cats feel about cream, so we went.

The market takes place in Central Park (hey, it's in the middle of town; what else are they going to call it?). I don't know what it's like on Saturdays, but on Wednesdays, it's four booths selling quilted placemats and tye-dyed t-shirts and underwear and pastel candles and hand-crocheted hats with moose and ducks and choo-choo trains on them, plus a woman with a cooler full of just-picked asparagus and jars full of unfiltered, unheated honey. We bought the asparagus and a quilted microwave potato cooker, with instructions. And then we found a lovely little cafe, where Jannine and I sat and drank hot chocolate and talked while Ellen explored.

Some little time later, my phone rang. Ellen was at the local department store, buying gym shoes on sale and getting the low-down on town attractions from the sales lady. When we joined her, the department store turned out to be one of those places that sells a little of everything, much of it geared towards late-middle-aged sportsmen and their wives. Pendleton blankets with moose. Sensible walking shoes. Pastel flowered blouses with coordinating pastel pants. Birdseed. Socks. Camping stoves. There's also an espresso bar--which actually had people in it, unlike the charming cafe across the street.

The saleslady was both voluable and dry. "We fished out the lake and everything we used to manufacture comes from China now, so we're stuck with tourism, until we find a way to screw that up, too." And "My Hot Flash club went and rented the Frank Lloyd Wright House for a weekend. Pretty, but I wouldn't buy it for any money. You can hear everything." She also told us about the town's museums.

Ever game, we headed towards the Museum of Wooden Type, but only got as far as the Home of the Ice Cream Sundae. I suspect it had another name, but that's what's on the door. There may be actual ice cream sundaes there--I didn't inquire. But mostly what there is is the contents of people's attics and basements, beautifully preserved, arranged, and labeled in black Sharpie. There's a kitchen full of equipment our grandmothers (and many of our mothers,too) would have recognized. There's a "Lady's Room" with a 1910's wedding gown on a dummy, and an assortment of bonnets and hats and blouses and gloves and day dresses spanning the late 1800's to the 1950's. There are dioramas of a dentist's office, with equipment dating from about 1930-1960, a doctor's office and barber shop ditto, and a ball room with a vaulted ceiling painted with scenes of Lake Michigan and twin busts of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as Roman senators, draped in what looked like stony bedsheets. Washington looked stolid. Lincoln looked like a baby bird who'd just eaten something doubtful.

It was an American that really only exists in museums and antique shops any more. It was touching. It was enthralling. It was certainly as much and more than we could take in on one trip. So we called Doselle and got him to pick us up at Central Park and came home and hit the computers again.

And now I have to do that thing, too. We go home tomorrow, and I really have to take this book apart and put it back together (with lacunae for where new scenes will go) before I leave. I'm about half-way through the moving-around process, so it should be doable. Wish me luck.

(no subject)

Home tomorrow. Don't want to go. There's a Wooden Type Museum to see, and more food in the fridge to cook, and more lovely conversations about writing and books and fandoms I know not of to listen to and participate in.

On the other hand, I've finished the homework I'd set for these four days. I took apart the middle of Magic Mirror, shaking up the pieces, and put them back again in a different order. Could be good, could suck--I won't really know until I've got it printed out. I also learned how to use "edit Scrivenings," which helped immensely, and the split screen function, and all kinds of fun bells and whistles Scrivener has that I hadn't used before. Never before have I been so enthusiastic about a piece of software, most of which seems to exist just to drive me mad, mad, mad.

So it's been a very successful retreat. And tomorrow we get to pack up and clean out the fridge and bundle ourselves into the Doemobile for the drive to Milwaukee, from whence we will take a plane for New York, where we will go through the laundry and the mail, have dinner with the beautiful and charming Ron Serdiuk, attend my goddaughter's graduation from the school her mother and I graduated back in the day, and leave for Rome, Italy, the latter two events both occurring next Wednesday. After which I hope I'll be back with Grand Tour reports on our trip from time to time.

I do love our life.