Tag Archives: general

Where is our Virginia spring?

Yikes. In Virginia, spring is supposed to be in full swing by now! And yet the temperature fell to the high 20s overnight for the second night in a row. Which means I went out this morning all bundled up in my winter coat and scarf and insulated gloves instead of wearing, oh, say just a light fleece jacket.

But this is potentially bad news for our Virginia vineyards which are now checking to see just how much damage their vines have suffered. (You can read about one vineyard in the Monticello AVA here:  King Family is in the village of Crozet, just west of Charlottesville.) Breaux Vineyards, up in Loudoun County, did a controlled burn this weekend at the base of the slopes where their Nebbiolo and Viognier vines are planted in the hopes that the warmth would help prevent cold damage. (You can see photos here on their Facebook page.)

I’m hoping for the best, but the reality is this could translate to a reduced harvest and the need to replace vines later this year, particularly for the less cold-hardy varieties. (One vineyard we know, Ox-Eye in the Shenandoah, last year pulled up its Gewürztraminer and replaced it with the hardier Traminette for this reason.)

In the meantime, here are a few spring photos from northern Virginia, if only to prove to myself and other Virginians that yes, indeed, spring has officially begun, even if it doesn’t quite feel like it at the moment.

Forsythia bushes are everywhere and are the first to bloom, along with our famous flowering cherry trees.

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This is what our area looked like Continue reading

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I am still learning

Last month, I attended a fabulous seminar at the National Gallery of Art on how to truly open our eyes so that we see and absorb more. Afterwards, I found in the museum gift shop this terrific magnet that now adorns my fridge and that I read every single day:

"I am still learning." Michelangelo

“I am still learning.” Michelangelo

When the September Sisters in Crime newsletter came out, asking us to blog about (among other things) what the best part of the writing process is for each of us, that is exactly what I thought of.

The best part of writing is that I am still learning.

I’m learning patience, because even though my professional career has centered around writing and editing for more years than I care to admit, I am still learning the craft of writing because now I’m writing fiction and not non-fiction. Don’t misunderstand me: the skills I’ve built on the job are a definite plus and help enormously. But writing fiction is different—oh, so very different! And it isn’t something that’s mastered in a day or a week or a month or a year. I’ve learned to extend the timeline of my expectations.

I’m learning openness, because being a writer also means understanding social media and how to reach out, Continue reading

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Structure and creativity

Today marks the fifth work day in a row when I’ve been unable to work, not because I am ill or taking vacation but because the government is shut down and I’m classified as a “non-emergency” employee, as is my spouse.

Now, first off, I haven’t exactly been sitting at home twiddling my thumbs all day, bored senseless. We’ve gotten out a bit, including spending an afternoon with my stepdaughter, her husband, and their adorable 7-month-old, which was a great zen moment. (He can now stand up by himself, although he’s still not entirely sure what to do next.) And we’ve started making real progress in going through closets, desks, and bookcases (all 17 of them!!) to cull our holdings as part of our preparations for moving to another house sometime next year (if all goes as planned, knock on wood).

But what’s been most interesting about this interval of unemployment is how much clarity it’s given me into my strengths and foibles, particularly as they relate to writing. In Meyers-Briggs terminology, I’m an INFP, which sometimes astonishes co-workers who point to all the spreadsheets and charts and checklists that I make for myself and my teams to help keep our work on track and moving forward. (Some of them are pretty impressive to look at, I must admit.)

The reality, though, is that I make and use spreadsheets and charts and checklists precisely because I need to compensate for a natural tendency to drift and go with the flow and just let things happen. And I didn’t fully appreciate until this past week how much I’ve used my full-time day job as a kind of super-checklist, an external structure that helps me impose a certain amount of self-discipline on my writing schedule at home.

Now that the day job is no longer there, I have a lot more writing time. Oddly enough, though, I’m not necessarily a lot more creative. Continue reading

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