Monthly Archives: January 2011

Looking Ahead: AWP in DC

So Wordamour and husband are headed to DC this week for the Associated Writing Programs Conference with lots to look forward to.  So much, in fact, that we are going to have to pace ourselves.  And we’re at a hotel that’s a whole metro ride away from the conference so there will be very little going back to the room between events to de-stress by lying on a hotel bed staring at mindless tv (my de-stressing MO, if you haven’t guessed).

I’m on two panels which I’m very much looking forward to.  Fiction Writer’s Review gave me a shout out as a contributor when they listed contributor’s panels here.  I love Fiction Writer’s Review–if you’re at the Book Fair, check them out.  Better yet, subscribe to their blog.

Besides the panels:  Focus group on creative writing books for Bedford St. Martin’s with a free lunch and a stipend, dinner at Meskerem (a fondly remembered Ethiopian restaurant from my salad days in DC) with Anna Leahy and Cathy Day and friends, dinner with grad school pals Kelly Stern and Deb Moore, dinner with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law in from Maryland one night as well.

A publication party for Erika Dreifus’ Quiet Americans, which my husband reviewed here.

A whole group of students is going from UCA this year (and I know they will behave themselves so others can follow in future years.  Right? Right.).  Colleagues Mark Spitzer and Garry Powell. Former student, current Roosevelt MFA Heather Cox.

The Toad Suck Review will make its debut!

Glimpses of my British friends, Graeme Harper and Paul Munden among them (and the annual payment of my NAWE dues).

And the bookfair.  And more panels.  And somewhere in there, my birthday!

Good Lord!

I’ll be blogging about it all!

Bye y’all!

SV

PS A shout out to my mother, who is making all this possible by staying with my kiddos!  Thanks, Mom!

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Local readers only: The secret ingredient:

for the Second Annual Heart of Winter Iron Chef Challenge is. . .
Cinnamon.

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Are MFA Programs overly focused on shorter works?

Today’s post, discussing author Cathy Day’s provocative essay on this subject is over at The MFA Blog.

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The new atelier

Besides spending a lot of time in her pajamas being lazy (btw. if you get the whole family on board with this; it really cuts down on laundry), Wordamour completely overhauled her atelier a.k.a. workspace over the holidays. It was much more work than she expected, about five days worth, so of course, it required a post.

Wordamour’s old atelier (see October 2009) was kind of crowded and dark. This was mostly because she had a guest bed in there, a bed which seemed like a good idea at the time but didn’t live up to expectations.  As Wordamour’s younger son pointed out, “no one ever sleeps there” so over the years it just started to attract various teetering piles of stuff.

So, out went the bed (in the event of the rare guest, the boy’s lair has a guest bed anyway) and the teetering piles. In came air and light and space. Ahh. Voila!

A tour:

The aerial view. Lucky, the blurry cat in the corner of the photo will reappear later. The television, purchased for $15 at Goodwill, only plays DVD’s and came in handy during the hours of work it took to transform the space.

Look at that writing desk, so clean and spare. But where did the countless cups of pens, markers and pencils that Wordamour collects go?

Never fear, they’re right here:

Along with the other office supplies that Wordamour covets and that her wonderful friends give her:

On the right, the books and notes required for current writing projects.

My new favorite place. It got worse before it got better and like I said, it took much longer than I thought it would but it was worth it. So worth it.

Finally, Wordamour read recently that it’s a good idea to make one’s workspace hospitable to one’s pets.

I think mine have expressed their approval, although Lucky is going to have to move over:

Bye y’all,
SV

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And the snow was general over Arkansas. . .





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The Angel and the X-Wing Fighter


Appropos of nothing, Wordamour has decided to post some holiday photos. Maybe with the semester starting this week and some big responsibilities looming (like shepherding the Great Bear Writing Project as it sponsors the national Rural Sites Network Conference in March!) she’s feeling nostalgic for the end of 2010. But if you want to read about writing or reading, you might want to skip this post.

So. We made our traditional Gingerbread cookies and decorated them, along with my favorite sprite L. who would have won the prize for loading up a cookie with the most frosting and sprinkles, if we had one. I guess feasting on a sugary treat like that is prize enough in itself when you’re five.
(That’s my grandmother’s rolling pin in the first picture. I just inherited it and I’m pretty psyched. That rolling pin rolled out a LOT of apple pies over the years.)

This is a tradition in my husband’s family begun by my mother-in-law and practiced by most of the cousins (Wordamour’s husband has seven siblings). We love it. I don’t use her recipe any more though, which was delicious and healthy but I found the dough tear-inducingly hard to work with (and mothers have enough tear inducing stress around in the run up to Christmas without bringing on more). So I switched to Tasha Tudor’s recipe from the book Take Joy, which my mother would get out every Christmas. I am a big Tasha fan. Anyway, the recipe is much easier to work with and still very tasty.


Our decorations were relatively low key this year as we have a nearly year old puppy set on chewing to bits everything in his path. We adore this puppy but I didn’t need the further tear inducment of finding an heirloom ornament one of my kids made in pieces on the floor every morning. So we only put out about 1/3 of our ornaments and decorations and only decorated the tree starting about four feet up this year. Let’s hope next year the chewing obsession calms down, though I have to admit it was kind of a relief to simplify a bit.

Below, the Angel and the X-Wing Fighter. That about characterizes the schizophrenic Christmas decor around here. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Someone asked me once why I didn’t collect those china Christmas Villages, that I seemed like the type. I’m not sure what that means, but while I think they’re perfectly nice, I don’t collect them for a few reasons.
1. No one in either of our families collected them and I kind of tend to lean on family traditions when it comes to the holidays.
2. I really like vintage stuff and if I collect anything for Christmas, its old Golden books (which I collect year round anyway) and shabby vintage paper houses.
3. Those china Christmas villages are really expensive. Old shabby paper houses are cheap.
4. I really don’t have a lot of surface area for a big village display.
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However, I do have one china decoration that means a lot. It’s a replica of the Silent Night chapel in Oberndorf, Austria, outside Salzburg, where Silent Night was composed for guitar on Christmas Eve 1818 (when the organ went out). My great great great great grandfather was Franz Gruber, the humble music teacher who composed the music of that song. I’m kind of proud of that and it’s my dream one day to be in that chapel with my family during the Christmas Eve service.

May your dreams come true in 2011.
Bye y’all,
SV

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2010 in review and a rant

Don’t miss this wonderful post/rant about Southern Literary Good Ol boys here. Thanks for Sandy Longhorn for bringing it to my attention.

WordPress’ annual review of this blog (below) demonstrates that. . .blogging about food is a great way to get hits.
Happy New Year, Y’all,
SV

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2010. That’s about 10 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 42 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 194 posts. There were 12 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 10mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was November 28th with 186 views. The most popular post that day was The One with the French Bread Recipe.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were ask.metafilter.com, facebook.com, en.wordpress.com, twitter.com, and practicing-writing.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for german rituals, curves writing, dance card, christmas present survey, and wordamour.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

The One with the French Bread Recipe April 2009
4 comments

2

German Rituals: Schultuete August 2008
2 comments

3

Big learning curves: with writing and blogging (and a tidbit about Natalie Wood) November 2007
2 comments

4

Bud the Teacher vs. Arne Duncan’s Press Sec. March 2010
1 comment

5

About Wordamour. . . October 2007

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