First, the writing progress: On April 29th, I started on one more revision of Bless the Birds, my memoir-in-progress, giving it what my writer/editor/fiber-maven friend Deb Robson calls a “French polish.” I’ve been reading it aloud, listening to the story, and doing the kind of detail work that I hope makes the story leap off the page and into a publisher’s line-up.
The revision has been… interesting. Each time I look at the story, I can see layers and levels of meaning, threads in the overall story if you were, that I didn’t notice before. And each time I read it aloud and listen to it, I relive it yet again. The emotional intensity of that part of my life makes it exhausting to be immersed in this particular story, but also exhilarating. And each time, I dive back in, I’m surprised at how much I like the story–it’s lyrical, compelling, authentic, and even has touches of humor.
The subtitle gives an idea of why re-immersing myself in this story is intense, exacting, draining and also very, very rewarding: Embracing Life, Loss and Love.
The story’s about the last few years of this guy’s life: Richard Cabe, the love of my life and my late husband
Now, after a solid four weeks of work, five days a week—I usually give myself a breather on weekends so that I can recover from the intensity and have enough distance to approach it afresh the next week—I’m closing in on the end. As you can see from the photo of the manuscript on my desk at the top of this post. The pile on the left is the chapters I’ve worked through. The pile on the right is what I have left to revise.
Once I work my way through to the end of the story, I’ll give it a quick read from the beginning again, just to check for anything I missed, and then off it goes to my agent.
And off I will go, first hitting the road to Denver for a Habitat Hero program at Denver Botanic Gardens, and then to Tucson, where I’ve been invited to participate in Canyon Ranch Institute’s scholarship program for community wellness.
I’ll be working with community organizers involved in gardening and open-space projects from around the country. My workshop, “Planting a Neighborhood,” is about the re-birth of my formerly junky industrial block and the adjacent restored urban creek. It’s about gardens, ecological restoration, and how seemingly small projects can have a positive impact on community health and culture. The story I’ll tell is part of the larger story in the book that’s tugging at me next….
Since we’re on the cusp of summer (here in the Upper Arkansas River Valley, we went from a month of rain and snow to today’s 80 degreesF), I want to share the fruit salad recipe I invented when my neighbors gave me a half a cantaloupe the other night.
That melon inspired me to take a look at my garden and my fridge, and concoct a savory fruit salad–perfect for a warm day!
Savory End-of-Spring Fruit Salad
1/2 ripe cantaloupe
10 oz box strawberries
8 oz feta cheese
4-5 T lemon-infused olive oil
4 t balsamic vinegar (white if you can find it, as it’s a lighter flavor)
sprinkle of salt
16 or so large basil leaves (I’m growing Italian Genovese basil from Renee’s Garden–the leaves are large and the flavor is rich but smooth.)
Slice cantaloupe into rounds, remove seeds and rind and chop into bite-sized pieces. Hull and quarter strawberries (if they are really large, chop smaller). Mix fruit in serving bowl. Crumble feta cheese over the fruit, sprinkle with salt, and pour olive oil and vinegar over the top and mix thoroughly. With clean scissors, snip basil leaves into thin strips atop salad. Serve in small bowls. (Makes eight small servings or four large ones.)