“When I write stories I am like someone who is in her own country, walking along streets that she has known since she was a child, between walls and trees that are hers.”
Natalie Goldberg

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

The Avon Lady. (I don't know who she's supposed to be. Sacajawea, maybe? She has a baby on her back.)
Dinner: The Cast of Characters
Looks good, don't it?
Leftovers packaged for single microwave-ready serving.
Writing! In Avon! With the Avon Lady!
Sat 2010-12-04 23:23:18 (in context)
  • 631 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 2,986 words (if poetry, lines) long

So I'm celebrating NaNoWriMo being over by getting the heck out of town. Whee! Bridget and I didn't exactly intend the timing to work out this way -- it just happened to be the first weekend available at the Sheraton Mountain Villa from when I called back in early October to make the reservation. I made the call sort of late; Bridget had to kick me electronically about it. "Avon lady wants to go to Avon!" I emailed back, "Good idea!"

Somewhere along the way we started a tradition of treating ourselves to a writing retreat once a year or so. There are worse ways to make sure an annual time share week gets used.

The first time we did it, during one of our daily pedestrian pilgrimages from the Sheraton to Loaded Joe's, Bridget noticed the statue standing at the traffic circle where Avon Road and West Benchmark meet. "Is that the Avon Lady?" she said? Then, maybe five years later, she became an Avon Lady herself. The connection wasn't causal, though it may have been gestaltic. That first trip is also the origin date for our tendency to refer to our favorite bar/cafe/wi-fi hotspot as "Exploded Joe's." It only takes one slip of the short-term memory to start a tradition. (Ask me sometime about "fermentas" in musical notation.)

So. On a writing retreat. But am I writing? Well... two Demand Studios articles in two days is more than I managed all November. And I've kept up with my Examiner pages, which I did manage to maintain more or less throughout NaNoWriMo. Thus and thus for the daily professional hackery. But what about fiction?

Goal the First: Daily free-writing, also known as "Story Idea Du Jour." I did it Wednesday, the day I finally threw up my hands and said, "You know what? Today's my day off." And I did it Friday morning here in Avon. I'm getting something really juicy about a book that's like the Winchester House, in that its creator believes that something awful will happen the moment that it is no longer actively under construction. Possibly a demon will escape.

Goal the Second: Grab a story from the pile of stories waiting to be made ready for submission, and work the hell out of it. I've decided on "Unfinished Letter" but I haven't done any work on it yet. I think I may be in that stage of composting that resembles procrastination. I have my hard copies with peer critique notes on them; I think I shall read them before I sleep tonight. Also, I'd like to get my hands on some epistolary literature from the U.S. Pioneer West at the turn of the twentieth century, in hopes of shifting the voice away from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and more towards something like, I dunno, that's the point, I don't know. More like the U.S. Pioneer West at the turn of the century, that's all.

But of course we are in Avon. We are not holing up in a hotel room and writing nonstop. We're on vacation. That means Karaoke with Sandman at Loaded Joe's (I don't care how many photos Sandman puts up on Facebook; I only got up on the stage once! This year!). That means walking our feet flat up at Beaver Creek Village and nearly getting flattened by skiers. That means paying homage to the Avon Lady statue, eating at Fiesta Jalisco, drinking our share of Loaded Joe's "Irish Americano", toasting marshmellows for s'mores at the fire pit by the pool.

Also, that means feeding ourselves lovely meals prepared in our minimal villa kitchenette. We're very proud of this. The Sheraton Mountain Vista has rooms of two basic floor plans, one small and one large, paired off into two-bedroom lockoffs. John and I actually own a week in the 2-bedroom unit, but what we had left to use during this season (there's an exchange rate involving StarOptions[TM] and three basic seasons) got us the smaller floor plan. And the smaller unit has, as far as cooking goes, pretty much a sink and a coffeepot and a combination microwave/convection-oven. Also a certain amount of flatware and cookery aids.

Using just these resources, here's how dinner went tonight:

  1. In the large, shallow, uncovered dish: 1 Field Roast brand "Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute". These are fantastic and only produced during the holiday season.
  2. In the smaller, covered casserole: 2 apples, sliced but not peeled, mixed with 1 packet syrup from Denny's and about a tablespoon cinnamon from Loaded Joe's coffee condiment bar.
  3. Place roast atop rack in oven. Place casserole, its lid on but upside-down so as to take up less vertical space, below rack in oven.
  4. Oven buttons: "Roast", "425", "45:00".
  5. With about 15 minutes remaining, remove apples from casserole and pile around uncovered roast. Drizzle juices over roast. Return roast to rack in oven; finish baking. Wash out covered casserole meanwhile.
  6. Pull roast from oven and set to cool. Meanwhile, follow the microwave directions for a packet of Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice, Sun-Dried Tomato Florentine. Nuke it in the covered casserole, mixing in a bag of Eating Right brand Broccoli Stir Fry mix.
  7. Eat. Make happy noises if so inclined.
Bridget gets all credit for the maple cinnamon apples and for deciding we needed a wild rice side. Tossing the veggies in, and whim-purchasing the roast Thursday morning, were my ideas. I also take credit for the upside-down lid strategy that allowed us to fit both cooking vessels in the oven at once.

Clearly we are mad geniuses. But then, what else do you expect from two authors?