Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Getting ready to move

Time is hurrying along, and we're eight days from moving out of our house, nine days from heading to New Mexico for a radical shift in climate. No more sharp, cold March winds blowing in our faces; no more ice storms coating trees and windshields; no more blizzard warnings as Dick Albert on Channel 5 tells us to bundle up against the co-o-o-o-ld. But also we'll have no more gentle snows with heavy, wet flakes falling as we sing Christmas carols with our neighbors in our community clubhouse; no more red and gold autumn leaves; no more tulips and daffodils heralding spring.

The movers arrive next Wednesday, and we ready as much as we can to minimize expenses. In the basement today, I pitched printouts of old manuscripts I had written with so much enthusiasm and hope. Merciless, I let go of those old dreams. The stories are all safely stored on my computer and backed up on my hard drive in case some day I choose to cannibalize my old work. But now, on paper inside old three-ring binders, those old dreams would cost me seventy cents per pound to transport in the eighteen-wheeler that will pull up in front of my house.

The last time we moved, we did so quickly, with little time to weed through the thousands of reminders of our past. This time the real estate market had turned to favor buyers, and we were slow to sell our house, leaving us with plenty of time to sell, donate, or discard our used-up belongings and ill-considered purchases of the past. The house is emptying, but there is still plenty to do.

Next Thursday, we will drive with our two cats from Massachusetts to New Mexico. Our route will take us through western Virginia and Skyline Drive in the Appalachians. I wish we could stop at a few of the many Civil War battle sites such as Gettysburg and Antietam, but our cats George and Gracie will be restless, asking if we're there yet.

So I am looking forward to the trip, but much more so to the destination, and most of all to settling down again, making new friends, and writing.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

So long to a great writer's group

Last night Nancy and I said goodbye to the excellent friends in my writer’s group after close to 16 years of twice-monthly meetings. Patty and her husband Craig hosted the evening of dinner and conversation, and this time there were none of the usual critiques. If Patty isn’t the best cook in New England, and she might be, she must be the best who also writes horror fiction and works as a bank VP. Dave and his wife Stephanie were there—Dave’s a fine mystery writer and teacher who can quote Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman as though it were the most natural thing in the world. Bev and I have carpooled to writer’s group meetings dozens of times. Her Peace Corps background has given her grist for some of the marvelous essays she’s written. Marj hasn’t made it to many meetings lately, because life can be a handful, but she showed up last night with a plateful of chocolate, the elixir of the gods and panacea for whatever ails you. Kathy and Lee, spouses who sit next to each other and finish each other’s sentences at writer’s group meetings, presented me with a delightful poem they’d written and framed. It will hang in my new office.

And there were other great friends who couldn’t make it: another Kathy, a couple more Daves—our group is replete with Kathies and Daves—and Judy and Kristi, who have already moved away.

Love of writing is what brought us all together. Some of us have substantial publishing credits, some are still working toward publication, and some, like Kristi, have decided to pursue other interests. Every one is a good to excellent writer and critic, and I’ve learned from them all. Thank goodness for e-mail, which will keep us all in frequent touch.