Friday, June 25, 2010

New column, new publication

I blogged a few hours ago that things were picking up, writing-wise. I wasn't expecting them to actually do so until tomorrow, but the first of my columns for Milton Patch was published tonight, so here I am again.

Patch is an AOL-owned company that focuses on local news and events in towns and smaller cities. I'll be writing bi-weekly for Milton Patch, under the title, "Milton Musings." It's a hyperlocal slice-of-life column; something different from "Just a Minute," my family humor column for the Patriot Ledger that I've been privileged to write since 2008.

I'm thrilled to pick up this new opportunity for a few reasons:
  1. I'm really excited to double my frequency. Just a Minute is bi-weekly, as well, and the editor of Patch and I worked it out so that Milton Musings will run on the Just a Minute off-weeks. So I'll have a column every week. Hooray!
  2. It's a different type of writing, part one: It's slice-of-life, not family humor. I am sure my family will make an appearance now and again, since every slice of my life has them in it, but they're not the main focus.
  3. It's a different type of writing, part two: it's my first foray into hyperlocal writing. Just a Minute is picked up by other GateHouse papers across the country, and I write it with that in mind, generalizing settings so they will work from California to the Carolinas. Milton Musings, on the other hand, is for readers who live in or have another connection with this very specific town in Massachusetts. The settings and events in the column are inexorably tied to Milton.
  4. It's hyperlocal but available worldwide through the magic of the Internet. So even if a reader -- and I'm really thinking potential editor, here -- doesn't know Milton per se, it's an opportunity to read my work in a different style.

I'm pleased with the opportunity and hope readers enjoy both columns.

Read my first Milton Musings column, Lessons Learned While Biking Around Town, and watch for my next Just a Minute column next weekend.


Just zooming by with a few items:
  • Great visit with Mom and Dad this week. It's always wonderful to see them, and even better when they come to us.
  • Kids have been out of school since Monday. It seems like months ago. It's been a good week, but very busy. We're all looking forward to the start of camp on Monday.
  • Besides labor and delivery and dental work, the two things I hate doing the most are having my photo taken and having to speak for an audience. I did both of those (latter) things today and lived to tell the tale.
  • Writing is picking up. More on that soon.
  • A couple of musical opportunities may also be in the works. More on those soon, too, depending on how they work out.
  • Camp starts Monday! I think I may have mentioned that.

Off to the weekend. Enjoy yours.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fathers' Day column

I don't often pay attention to the calendar when writing my column. I thought I would be remiss, however, in a column about my family, if I didn't acknowledge Fathers' Day. Hope it's a good one for all the fathers, daddies, dads and stepdads out there. Here it is.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Smiling at summer

Summer is coming. It's almost here.

For the first time in many, many years, I am not dreading the end of the school year, and am looking forward to a more relaxed schedule for a couple of months. The kids will be busy for about 6 weeks with various camps and activities, and they start soon, so that's probably why I'm feeling so calm. There won't be the usual 3-week hiatus between the end of school and the start of camp.

I'm also looking forward to teaching on my summer schedule (although I wouldn't mind if a few more people signed up for summer lessons!) Teaching one day a week will be a nice break, after the 4-day schedule I keep during the school year. Aaaahhh.

I have some projects to do, chief among them, to open up the porch. This is the latest in the year we've ever gone without having our screen porch open, and I miss it. The family schedule has been packed with non-stop end-of-the-year activities, and when I have found myself with time to work on the porch, the weather has been bad. I'll do it this weekend, for sure, if not before. I need my morning coffee with the birds.

Abby is having her usual end-of-the-school-year anxiety (EOTSYA), which is making things hard for her, and, consequently, for us. Her teachers are on top of it at school, and we're managing at home, for the most part. She is very much looking forward to picking out a new fish with Earl later this week, to replace the beloved Blueberry, who swam into the great beyond a few weeks ago.

Brian is all about moving up to first grade, and is also enjoying the fun and festive end-of-year events for kindergarten. Timmy will be out of school on Thursday, and for the first time in five years, we won't have any children enrolling in preschool for the fall. He's wearing his yellow "I'm going to kindergarten" shirt every chance he gets.

I'm enjoying my last couple of quiet mornings for a few weeks, but am not panicking. As many people have told me, but I didn't believe it until I started to see it: things really do get easier as the kids get older.

Until they get too old and end up being teenagers, people also tell me. But enough of that. I'll just take it one step, one year, one summer at a time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Full Iris Gomez feature

Here is the full feature article on Iris Gomez, now running on the Ledger's Wicked Local Milton site.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Iris Gomez article

Here is my article on author Iris Gomez, whose debut novel, "Try to Remember," was released last month. Unfortunately, it's only the first few paragraphs. Apparently the Patriot Ledger isn't giving away all its content online any more. Good for them, less so for me.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

This week's column

Here's my latest column. Little did I know when I wrote it that it was only the preview for our Memorial Day weekend (which you can read about here.) Here's hoping that everyone stays healthy for a while.

Abby's recital performance

Click here to see a video of Abby's performance of Minuet 1 on my studio recital. She played beautifully, too!

Brian's recital performance

Click here to see Brian's performance of Au Clair de la Lune. It was his recital debut, and he played beautifully!

Recital photo

Here is a shot of the kids with Earl, before my studio recital a couple of weeks ago. From left: Abby, who played Minuet 1 on violin; Brian, who played Au Clair de la Lune on piano; Earl and Timmy. Fab photo credit to my sister!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pennies from Canada

About a year and a half ago, I signed up with a website called to be one of their writers. is, essentially, the Canadian version of I ended up writing two articles and then cancelling my contract because of other writing commitments. (You can read the articles if you like: one about Suzuki piano, and the other about techniques to strengthen your marriage.)

I thought that was the end of it.

Imagine my surprise when I got a notification from Paypal yesterday that had deposited $10.27 in my account.

Apparently, enough people have been reading those two articles that the penny-per-click rate, or whatever it was, has added up to enough money to buy, say, two packages of Silly Bandz.

A Canadian windfall. Who'd-a thunk it?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Just call me Patsy

Crazy, I'm crazy from deadlines a-looming...
I'm crazy...crazy from kids through with school...(almost....)
I know I usually like to be busy,
But lately, I'm runnin' around like a fool.

Worry, why do I let myself worry?
Wondrin' how I got so much to do?
Crazy...with writing and teaching and children,
And then there's the diet; oh why did I try it
When I'm crazy with so much to do?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ups and downs

We went to our petite maison in Quebec for the long weekend. In many ways, it was a great time. Long walks, campfires and roasting marshmallows, an awesome solo bike ride -- my first of any length in years -- and lots of fun family time.

Casting a pall over our time away, however -- besides the smoke from the Quebec forest fires -- was the fact that poor Abby was very sick. She had a stomach bug, and wasn't able to keep anything down from Friday afternoon through Monday evening. She had a slight fever, took three-hour naps both Saturday and Sunday, and suffered the effects of topsy-turvy digestion, dehydration and general malaise.

Earl and I were getting quite concerned on Sunday, so we called her pediatrician's office. We were given a strategy of offering her a sip of water every 1o minutes, and if that stayed down, to try a little bit of a popsicle. If they made her sick, we'd have to take her to the ER to get her some IV fluids.

Luckily, the sips and popsicle helped a lot. She still wasn't perky, but she slowly improved. Upon returning home last night, she was able to eat plain pasta and even a little bit of a meatball, against my better judgment. She went to school today and ate pizza, of all things, so she indeed is on the mend.

I do think that Abby had a true stomach illness, but I also believe that her anxiety about going to Canada, about being pulled out of school on Friday and about all the changes coming up with the close of the school year definitely made things worse. My thoughts aren't fully formulated on this, but I think if she had been home, her recovery would have been quicker.

As if being sick weren't enough for Abby, tragedy struck when we were in Canada. Blueberry, the betta fish, Abby's loyal companion since last July, didn't survive the weekend. Abby was sad, but has recovered, and is looking forward to getting another betta, probably once school is out.

I'm just looking forward to having my sweet daughter healthy for a while.