driving into town today from our cattle range subdivision
along the ten-mile stretch I could drive in my sleep,
packed snow and ice rumbling beneath meaty tires,
sun slipping through a menagerie of receding clouds,
Bridger Mountains secreting out from beneath the remnant skirts
of yesterday’s snow storm,
light reflecting crystalline blue on the blanketed ground,
I tell myself yet again:
how lucky we are to have chosen this place to call home.
Category Archives: Writing and Publishing
driving into town today from our cattle range subdivision
Have you heard this story? Amazing and yet, not really:
Every Wednesday, our daughter has an early release day from school. Since moving to California, I have instituted “Wednesday Adventure Day” to take advantage of this free half day, mid-way through the week. Our adventures don’t take us as far as I described in yesterday’s post, but we do get out and about and find something new to explore.
Yesterday, we made our way to a little beach area in Foster City, which borders the San Francisco Bay. The cool thing about this beach? It’s made entirely of crushed sea shells.
The kids initially came along, moaning and groaning about wanting to stay home, about me not telling them where we were going, about being too cold in the 70 degree weather with a little wind kicking up off the Bay (come on–they’re still Montana kids…too cold? They’ve been outside in -20 degree weather before! Give me a break!). But once we got down onto the beach, their usual New Adventure Glee kicked in.
Seven-year-old Ellie has acquired the addictive habit of searching for sea glass. Yesterday, we found a monster piece of pale blue, ocean-tumbled glass for her collection. We discovered that when a handful of shattered shells are scooped up and then blow slowly out of one’s hand by the wind, the tinkling sound is like sea shell wind chimes found at an ocean side community gift shop.
Walking along, searching for shells, glass and whatever else might catch our collective eye, five-year-old Landon spotted a partially dried jelly fish the size of a salad plate.
Amidst the broken shells were also huge masses of dark gray, semi-dried mud…the sludge brought in by the bay and deposited along the shore lines and at the bottom of the fingerling lagoons that weave their way throughout Foster City and nearby Redwood Shores. Ellie slipped on the mud, revealing a black under-layer.
“Maybe it’s oil from the Gulf of Mexico,” I falsely surmised.
Up to that point, the kids had been calling the mud “dinosaur goop.” We launched into a discussion about the fact that crude oil is exactly that–thousands of years old decomposed materials of living things, including dinosaurs. (Actually, the crude was made from plankton that lived during the Jurrassic period…but that was more info than I could work into the discussion).
As things usually do with young children the conversation migrated.
“If oil is made from natural stuff, than why is it such a big deal for it to be leaking into the ocean?” astute Ellie asked.
“You know, I was just thinking the same thing earlier today,” I answered her.
The best explanation I could come up with, after hearing a story on NPR about a similar oil spill in the gulf that occurred in 1971, was this:
“Even though the oil is a natural substance, it doesn’t belong outside the rock underneath the ocean floor. It would be like taking an entire lake or ocean-worth of water and dumping it on a desert. Even though the water would be a natural substance, it would cause problems for the desert ecosystem, because the plants and animals that live there wouldn’t be used to having that much water there.”
Maybe a bad comparison, but a comparison all the same.
This whole oil spill thing has gotten me very frustrated. At what point will human beings learn that we can’t continue to use and abuse the earth without there being a high potential for irreparable results? And from a mother’s point of view, how much damage can we inflict on this planet until we are leaving behind nothing but a caustic environment for children and grandchildren to live in?
During a recent family visit, I was asked by my father-in-law what I like about living here in the San Francisco Bay area. While my list remains complicated (I am still in the flux of feeling excited over the trillions of things to do here, and missing the small town comforts of Bozeman) one item that remains atop my “likes” list is the literary scene. There is so much vibe here…an endless supply of writerly opportunities.
Last night, I attended a book reading at Palo Alto’s Books Inc. book store by Kate Moses. The reading was from her new tome, Cakewalk: A Memoir.
Moses made herself lyrically famous and prize-worthy with the publication of her previous novel, Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath along with her editorial work at Salon.com and upon compiling a couple anthologies of essays written about and for women and mothers.
From the jacket description of Cakewalk:
“…Filled with the abundance and joy that were so lacking in Kate’s youth, Cakewalk is a wise, loving tribute to life in all its sweetness as well as its bitterness and, ultimately, a recipe for forgiveness.”
Sprinkled throughout the book are family heirloom recipes, perfected by Moses herself, as they pertain to the adjacent familial anecdotes.
“…There is the mysteriously erotic German Chocolate Cake implicated in a birds-and-bees speech when Kate was seven, the gingerbread people her mother baked for Christmas the year Kate officially realized she was fat, the chocolate chip cookies Kate used to curry favor during a hilariously gruesome adolescence, and the brownies she baked for her idol, the legendary M.F.K. Fisher, who pronounced them “delicious.””
Moses delivered a humorous, lovely reading last night and–perhaps best of all–she brought with her the aforementioned chocolate chip cookies and brownies–the brownie recipe that was just printed in the New York Times–which are truly melt-in-your-mouth TO DIE FOR.
At the end of her reading and during a brief Q&A session, I asked Ms. Moses what her advice is to burgeoning writers like myself who struggle to break into the presently unwelcoming publishing industry.
“Keep writing,” was her summation. “Things will get better soon.”
Having shared a brief story of her first experience with publication–a short story in a local SF rag when she was twenty-four–she said she wasn’t ready to be published, that she didn’t know her own voice yet and wasn’t ready to put it out there into the world. But by forty, she was more than ready and her persistence at the keyboard paid off.
What better way to start a Sunday morning, than with a warm cup of coffee, peach pie left over from last night’s dinner party, and a return to a long-lost companion…this blog.
What has kept me at bay all these months, you ask? Life, I suppose.
As you may recall, my family and I underwent a HUGE transition a few months ago–we moved from small town Montana to the San Francisco Bay area on January first of this year. The ensuring four + months have been full of new school transitions for our three kids (now ages 3, 5 and 7), establishing new friendships, finding a new church to attend, frantically exploring the millions of things to do around here, hosting visitors, working at the co-op preschool our boys attend, getting our youngest started with a new speech therapist, researching grad school options for myself, getting a new puppy and, oh yes, finishing my latest manuscript.
In short, life in the Hull household is the same as always.
Now that spring has finally sprung around here (it was apparently a much rainier spring than normal in these parts) we are enjoying the warmth of the sun, the multi-color floral blooms in our rental house back yard, our frequent visits to the beach, and family life in a new setting.
And now, some photos for you to enjoy:
( I promise, I’ll be back soon…)