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June 9th, 2010

Busy, Busy

Over the past two days, there's been a great deal of talking and writing and reading going on in our little Devon retreat.  Ellen and Holly and Terri spent yesterday cloistered in the studio, reading Bordertown stories and figuring out all the geography and the Shared World details.  Every once in a while, someone (mostly Ellen) would come in to get another pot of tea or take out a tray of cheese and bread, but basically, they were there from 10:30 am to nearly 7:00 pm, with one big break for lamb and barley soup. 

While they were sequestered, I wrote a Bordertown poem, considerably to my surprise.  I do not consider myself a poet, and very seldom write poetry (for public consumption, anyway) unless I'm asked to.  And when I do, it's usually an exercise in tooth-pulling, interspersed with bouts of hair-tearing, grumbling, and cat-waxing.  This one, for which I had not a single conscious idea, Just Came. I fussed with it a bit, made a few small changes suggested by the divine shweta_narayan, and emailed it (as is proper) to Ellen and Holly and Terri. I still can't, of my own proper knowledge, tell if it's any good or not (I never can, with poetry), but they've accepted it.  Color me very pleased indeed.

I have also read Kate Wilhelm's Storyteller and a good portion of Stephen King's On Writing, both of which are extremely useful books for me to be reading just now, both as a writer and as a teacher of writing.  And I cooked the venison Theo bought into an extremely hearty stew, which we had for dinner last night.

Today was beautifully warm and sunny, but we were all very good about staying inside and working. Ellen and I did manage to do some of our working on a long walk through the fields and along the river, stopping from time to time in our discussion of the story she's working on to watch bunnies lolloping through the fields under the noses of large and unconcerned cows and take pictures of lupines and bracken hanging over the dark, swiftly-flowing river.

At 7, we all walked up to Terri and Howard's and consumed an absolutely astonishing meal of roasted pears with dolce de leche ice-cream and salad, wild-mushroom risotto, and profiterolles with chocolate sauce, cooked by Howard's daughter Victoria, who is (not remarkably) applying to cooking schools so she can be a professional chef.  I've had worse meals than she cooked without any training at all at restaurants with white tablecloths and waiters in bow-ties at $25 a plate, but I do know that professional cooking isn't the same thing as making dinner for 7 at home, however fussy the recipe and elegant the presentation.  But I'd say that this is a young woman who has found her true calling.

Last night and today, the cat next door, who has been sitting on the tin roof of the shed and caterwauling on and off ever since we got here, really got into it in a big way.  Since her people are out of town, we thought she might be locked out of her house, or out of food, or in some similar danger or distress.  Theo found a ladder, coaxed her close enough to catch, and brought her down, at which point it became clear that she was absolutely fine--except for being in heat.  He put her back on the roof (there's an open window she climbs in and out of) and we have resigned ourselves, perforce, to her serenades.  Thank heaven she's currently quiet, because I'm well-fed and tired and inclined to sleep.




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