By the time I’ve slaved over a pot of burnt rice and battled the side leg tackles of my toddler, I’m ready to chow down on the (unburned, new batch of) rice and curry stir fry cooked by loving Husband. Throw plates on the table, sweep dead flower petals to the side, plonk down a beer and call it a meal.

Fortunately we’ve already instilled in our daughter a deeply ingrained love of prayer, otherwise we’d be eating like heathens in front of an episode of Lost without any form of pomp or circumstance…which is exactly how we used to do things. What I thought would be a nice family routine of saying a quick prayer before dinner has turned into a breakfast-lunch-snack-and-dinner affair, complete with thanking God for the food and pretty much every single person we know on this earth. Oh, and the animals too. Our grace goes something like this:

Parent (either Husband or me): Dear God, thank you for this food.


Z: Pop Pop.

Parent: And Pop Pop.

Z: Meh-nie.

Parent: And Melanie.

Z: Hay-son.

Parent: And Harrison.

Z: Gamma.

Parent: And Grandma.

And so on, until we finish thanking God for the grandparents, the cat, the dogs next door, Mama, Daddy, and finally, Z herself. Then sometimes we loop back to the cat.

The same thing happens at nighttime prayers. Then yesterday as I put her down in her crib for naptime and her eyes were drooping, she popped her little head up and said, “Gace!” [translation: Grace].

This is hard to admit in front of the Public and God and Everyone Else (including my mother), but I pretended not to know what she was talking about.

It sounds bad, I know. But her little eyes were practically shut, and she would have been wide awake by the end of a recital of the contents of my address book (and don’t forget the animals). Plus I work so hard to get her to sleep sometimes; if she’s already there on her own, I don’t want to mess with that. Sometimes I’ll go to extreme and superstitious lengths to preserve what I have come to think of as our Routine.

So I said a quick prayer for her, because I believe you can just say, “Hey God, thanks for my beautiful kid,” whenever you feel like it.

It’s a Disease

A Friday Free-for-All Entry

One thing that I love about reading Janet Evanovich and Sarah Dessen is the food. All kinds of snack food–everything you can dream of. Donuts are practically their own character in Evanovich’s books, as well as fried chicken and pineapple upside-down cake. And the teens in Dessen’s novels are constantly guzzling giant sodas and buying snacks from the gas station mini-marts. Ah, what wouldn’t I give for that sort of fictional metabolism?

The other day (it doesn’t really matter which day, as in this respect most days are the same), I had to have chocolate. Any kind would do, and the chocolate chips were long gone from their hiding place on the top shelf in the spice cupboard. Taking a leaf out of one of Dessen’s books, I strapped Z into her stroller and headed to the nearest Quik-Zip (in real life known as the Tower Mart).

On the way there I consoled myself with thoughts of how I had been working out every day (until I came down with that blasted cold), and would soon resume the exercise habit. I reminded myself of my virtuous salads, made from the lettuce growing in my own back yard (which of course makes it even healthier). I thought, Why, I’m walking to the store! That should burn the equivalent of the calories in one almond in the candy bar I am about to purchase!

With thoughts of chocolate-coated almonds distracting me, I could totally ignore the part of me wondering what sort of example I was setting for my child. And when I could ignore it no longer, I berated it, because Z isn’t even two yet! She won’t remember one tiny trip to the Tower Mart taken on one March morning when she was nineteen months old. (Whether she will remember repeated trips taken frequently throughout the rest of her toddlerhood remains to be seen.)

As luck had it, chocolate bars were on sale. I bought two. Okay! Fine! I’ll be honest!

I bought four.

As I stood in line, clutching my chocolate, I looked at the woman in line to the front of me, buying a pack of cigarettes. Then I turned to the man behind me who held a case of Budweiser.

I’d like to say that I drew the appropriate conclusion, put the candy back on the display, and wheeled Z out of the store. What actually happened was I drew the appropriate conclusion, bought the chocolate anyway, and ate one of them as soon as Z went down for her nap that afternoon.

Okay! Fine! I’ll be honest!

I ate two.

Eh. Nothing much else to say about that.

Sequoia Weeds

As promised, a photo of my mini-garden. It is confined to planter boxes for the time being, but we have plans to expand into the back lawn.

Hello salad!

That’s the flattering angle of my “garden.” From the other direction, scary. The arugula is just screaming for attention–it’s in the far planter, crowded, insisting on space, and stealing it from the stunted beets and the three sickly soybean plants.

At dinner last night I asked Husband if he thought it was the coolest thing in the world that I can step into the back yard and “pick” our salad just before we eat it. For him, the novelty wore off after the first night. For me, it never gets old. I look at the bright green things in my salad bowl and just marvel at how these used to be tiny seeds. I have loved them. Like a proud parent, I even made phone calls to friends and family when they sprouted.

I’ve been spending so much of my attention on these two planter boxes (and the failed experiments of container lettuce) that I neglected the front and side yards. Now they are SCARY.

Monster Weed

I don’t think this photo can really get my point across. This is only a small cross-section of one-eighth of the tree-sized weed growing in the side yard. It’s–really–big. Well, it was. And it has friends–many friends. And it had these prickly leaves (hence the heavy work gloves…oh, who am I kidding–I’m freaked out about spiders and all kinds of bugs and always wear gloves when I work in the yard).

The gardening stuff gives me something else to think about. This week had a downer (the agent formerly interested in Savage Autumn sent an impersonal r e j e c t i o n letter), and an upper (SA made it into the second round of the ABNA contest). And I’m starting to really think about the next book, which is so much fun, but my brain needs a break sometimes, and it needs to get outside.

Well, the sequel to The Hunger Games awaits. So glad the weekend starts tomorrow!

Poo To Do

I really don’t see how this would be of interest to anyone except myself, but my to-do list (all forms of it updated, categorized, fretted over, and so on, since high school) is on my mind right now, so I think I’ll work with it.

Also, I’m sorry yesterday’s entry didn’t show up until late; I hit the “Save Draft” button instead of the “Schedule [to publish]” button. It’s better than today’s entry, so you could just read that instead. Really.

Poo To Do:

1) read and comment on Ana’s manuscript

2) read and comment on writing for the Sacramento Writers Group (it isn’t posted yet, but since I’m the person who posts them, I can get the head start I desperately need in order to procrastinate until the last minute)

3) rough character sketches for The Black City. Can I please, tonight, NOT get bogged down browsing through 100,001 Baby Names while selecting monikers for my invented people?

4) pick up library books on hold. They haven’t arrived yet, but they should soon. One book I’m especially excited about it Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games. No, I’m not obsessively checking and re-checking my library account. Nope, I haven’t memorized my 14-digit library account number because I’ve been typing it in so often. No, I didn’t actually pack Z up and take her to the library to investigate my holds status in person.

5) stop lying

6) turn Z’s car seat around so she isn’t scrunched up like a jack-in-the-box during our many trips to the library

7) pick some lettuce to make a salad for dinner tonight. LOVING my mini-garden. I’ll post a picture on Friday.

8 ) replace batteries in sound monitor for Z’s room

9) figure out what to write for blog post tomorrow–I need to compose these in my mind early (you think all this witticism shows up on the fly? Oh, no: “…and though I sometimes amuse myself with suggesting and arranging such little elegant compliments…I always wish to give them as unstudied an air as possible.” -Mr. Collins, Pride and Prejudice)

10) talk to Husband about painting bedroom walls

11) clip back the blackened, frost-killed bush in front of the bathroom window–there’s green in there somewhere–it’ll make it!

12) check, re-check, and check again the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards site to see if my novel made the first cut. For the first cut they just read the pitches. You can click here to read mine.

There’s more, of course. But I’ve gotta go, need to check that ABNA site again.

Slug Love

On Wednesday night I enjoyed my very first salad made with lettuce from my own garden. I felt so in touch with the earth, with nature, that I enjoyed it while watching an episode of “Bones” on hulu. In all seriousness, though, I enjoyed that salad. My hands (and my mother’s) put the seeds into tiny trays and delicately covered them with soil, then I watered them and obsessed over them like my daughter’s first breaths, counting each little seedling as it sprouted. I gloried in the leaves growing bright bright green, reaching for the sun.

I did not glory in the slugs.

Okay, so I’m the girl who cried when my brother salted snails or held a magnifying glass over ants. It just seemed cruel. I didn’t even want to hear him talking about such things. Now I find myself wondering how to take care of these garden pests. Geoff Hamilton, the author of Organic Gardening, recommends dropping these little guys into a bucket of kerosene. While probably an instant death, it also sounds A) cruel, and B) dangerous with a toddler wandering around the backyard, managing to get into everything. For awhile my compromise was to launch them over the back fence and into the yard of the empty, bank-owned house next door. Now that people actually live there, it seems wrong. Especially because those people are nice. If they were mean, I’d probably do it anyway. Okay, okay, I threw a couple of slugs over there yesterday, and I feel really bad about it, okay? I’m not going to do it anymore.

My new compromise is probably worse than the instant kerosene death or the slow torture of the salt, but I bet it makes the little suckers happy in the short run. I stick ’em in the yard waste bin. It’s full of damp, decaying vegetation. Slug’s paradise, right? Yeah, until summer when that thing heats up like a slow-cooker.

If my slug-compassion gets too intense, I can always just plant arugula next winter. Bleh. That stuff is so bitter, even the slugs don’t want to eat it.