Quick post

For the past three months, I’ve written some… but I’ve also worried that my plan to live in a camper and write a lot was maybe not really going to work out. Because living in a camper is great, I adore it, but the temptations are endless, far more so than living in a house (where I was also not getting enough writing done!)

There’s always some new place to see, some new adventure on the horizon. And I’m not talking about big adventures — whitewater rafting or mountain-climbing — but little adventures. Taking the dogs to a new dog park, spending an hour exploring a new grocery store, finding a way to get my laundry done. And also, of course, visiting people and spending time with them instead of staring at my computer.

However, my plan to sit still for ten days and bore myself into writing has been working incredibly well. I am really happy with what I’ve accomplished with Grace. Lesson learned: I’ve now scheduled the next several weeks and they’re not going to be adventurous. Until Grace is finished, I’m going to sit in Serenity. But I’ll be living in Tassamara, at least in my imagination, and really, it’s a pretty darn fun place to be.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be back at this campground: it’s basically a parking lot and there are a lot of parking lots in the world to explore. No need to stay at the same one twice. But apart from the wonderful dog park, which we have visited every single day, I’ve really loved walking in the dark here. It’s the time of year — it takes forever to get light in the morning, so I’ve been walking Z before sunrise and it’s getting dark early, so I’ve also been walking her in evening darkness. But it’s been incredibly beautiful. The moon was fantastic the past few days, so bright, and the sky was clear enough to see stars, not by the hundreds, alas, but at least by the dozens. In the early morning walks, I cast multiple shadows on the ground, moonlight shadows and streetlight shadows and shadows from lights showing up in trailer windows.

When I write my Massachusetts stories with magic (someday, someday!), there will be at least one character who can send her shadows off to do odd jobs for her. And in a desperate moment, she will search for lights to create many shadows, and in another desperate moment, she’ll be trapped in darkness, unable to find a shadow anywhere.

Someday on this trip — maybe even before I make it to the Grand Canyon — I’m going to visit a place where I can see thousands of stars in the night sky. I want to have that moment of amazement and wonder, that hold-your-breath awe at the beauty that lurks above us all the time that we hardly ever get to see.

But today, I’m going to write some more Grace.

Weather report

I parked in this parking-lot campground seven days ago and I haven’t left it since. I ought to be going totally stir-crazy — I haven’t even spoken to another person in the past week, apart from the occasional hello to a passing stranger — but I’m really not. Every day the weather report says that it’s going to be cloudy and rainy and every day it’s actually mostly sunny instead. That’s sort of representative of my mood, too. I feel like I should be bored, but I’m quite content.

I keep thinking that I’m going to need to go to the grocery store, because I’m going to run out of food, but then I keep making up something new from what I have. Yesterday, I had leftover pancake batter that was too liquid. It was the last remnants of the box of gluten-free pancake mix and not quite enough mix to balance out the single egg that needed to be added. Since it was going to be crepe-like, I made it savory — I added green onion and cilantro, then topped it with hot sauce and rolled it up. I tried to convince myself that it didn’t violate my “no complicated meals” rule and it really didn’t — it was leftovers! — but making something interesting and delicious out of remnants is so satisfying. Today, I still have two apples, some cheese, some salad greens, a cucumber, eggs… I even still have some of my precious gluten-free chocolate chip cookies left. Yeah, so today will still not be the day I go to the grocery store. Maybe tomorrow.

I’ve mostly stuck to my only knitting and writing principle. I did give myself a book on Saturday night, but I’d done great work during the day, so it felt justified. Yesterday was not so great — only 700 words — but I have high hopes for today. And since I have nothing interesting to blog about — really, I wrote about the weather? — I’m going to get back to the words that I’m really working on. Favorite lines from yesterday… dang, all the good ones are too spoiler-y. But good words were written!

Favorite non-spoiler-y lines from the weekend (brought back from a previous version, I think):

Grace crossed her fingers again. “I’ll do that.”

She shouldn’t lie to her brother. But it served him right. He shouldn’t be such a pain in the ass.



Vero Beach

I’m attempting to bore myself into writing. So far… eh, it might be working, but if so, it’s going slowly. Maybe by Monday I’ll have made some real progress.

I’m staying at the same campground for ten whole days. And not a beautiful or fun or inspiring campground — a parking lot campground. In fact, when I first got here, I thought it was creepy as hell. I wasn’t sure I was going to stay even for two days, much less ten. The next day (aka yesterday) I realized the creepiness — a general impression of a ramshackle, disheveled ghost town — was the result of the hurricane. It’s actually been sort of fun to watch them clean it up, one stretch after another going from debris-strewn to neat and tidy.

Plus there is a lovely huge fenced field labeled a dog park. I’ve been working steadily during the past eleven weeks on improving the dogs’ stays and recalls and a big space gives them a chance to really practice. Alas, status quo remains: Z is a rocket scientist and B has absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. I tell Zelda to stay and she sits and trembles and waits as I get farther and farther away, until finally I turn and point at the ground and she barrels toward me at joyous hyper speed, her ears trailing behind her, as if she actually thought I might leave her behind. B, on the other hand, bounces along two steps after me no matter what I say or do. But hey, eight more days in this park gives us a lot of time to practice.

Especially because I’m trying really hard to not let myself do anything but write or knit. No reading, no television, no internet browsing. Walking dogs and any form of exercise, okay. Eating, yes (obviously!); planning and cooking elaborate meals, no. I’ve given myself permission to write anything so I’ve written lots of personal babble, but I’ve also done plenty of staring at Grace. And enormous amounts of daydreaming. I wish more of it was daydreaming about Grace, but at least some of it will work its way into future stories. I love lines of thoughts like “People who feel rejected do stupid things: if Fen felt rejected, I wonder what she would do? If you had magic and felt rejected, hmm…” And off my brain goes. It’s so nice to feel like my daydreaming might be useful.

My sister tells me that I write about Z a lot and rarely about B. I’m not actually sure that’s true but just in case she’s not the only one who wants to know how they’re doing with the traveling lifestyle…

B loves it madly. He is more energetic, more rambunctious, happier and bouncier than he has ever been. He gets adored in campgrounds: all small children instinctively gravitate to him and he takes their attention and sticky hands as his due. He has entirely stopped hiding under furniture and in closets, perhaps partially because there aren’t a lot of places to hide in Serenity, but he doesn’t even try anymore. Instead, he cuddles up next to me and suggests I pet him. And he’s looking great, too. People have commented that he’s lost weight and he might have, but he also just seems sleeker and shinier and healthier. And happier. In Massachusetts, I very confidently said, “B doesn’t play,” just as he tore across the room and grabbed a tennis ball ahead of Z before returning it to my uncle, tail wagging.

Z, on the other hand… I think she likes parts of it. She likes our morning walks. She likes exploring new places, sniffing new smells. But it also seems to stress her out more than I expected it to. She’s gotten even pickier about her food, often rejecting her kibble entirely, and she’s seriously clingy. She’s always been a very attached dog — the feeling is mutual, I’m very attached to her, too — but her level of worry that I might disappear entirely seems to have increased. As long as she’s touching me, she’s calm, but she seems more high-strung and anxious than she used to be. Her separation anxiety isn’t manifesting as destructiveness, thankfully, but it’s hard to leave her. Although now that I’m analyzing this, she has adjusted to Serenity as home. She’s fine about being left in Serenity now. She’s just not fine about being left in other people’s houses, which I’ve had to do because it’s been too hot to leave her in the van when I can’t run the AC. Hmm, so I just need to go to colder climates to keep the dog happy. Works for me.🙂

But not until I finish writing Grace, so I had best get back to it!

A green ladybug and an ivy leaf in the shape of a semicolon


A week ago, my friend E and I impulsively decided to do the NYTimes 36 questions for intimacy together.


I don’t know whether knowing the questions and having already formulated my answers to some of the hard ones means that I’ve spoiled it for myself for future relationships, but it’s definitely an intense experience to think through your answers to those questions with someone you trust and are willing to be vulnerable with. I think I spent the next three days in an emotional hangover. Maybe I’m still in it. But I’d trust E with my life now and would probably jump off a bridge if she told me to, so yeah, those are some good questions. It was an amazing experience.

Somewhere along the way, I decided it was finally time to get my tattoo, so Erin took me to Stigma, and Mitchell took my inarticulate imagined ideas and turned them into a most perfect reality. He was absolutely wonderful to work with. If you’re in the Orlando area and want a tattoo, I can’t recommend him highly enough. If I ever get another one — and eight days ago, I would have said no way, I’ll only ever have one tattoo, but now… well, maybe! — I will definitely go back to him. I love the tiny details, the highlights, the use of color, the art in a very small space… and it was also really nice that it didn’t hurt, didn’t get red and oozy, didn’t scab, and didn’t ever really look any different than it did on that first day.

People ask what it means and I think I need to figure out how I want to answer that question when it comes from strangers. But it’s Fen’s green ladybug and ivy leaf in the shape of a semicolon: it reminds me that I’m safe, can take care of myself, and choose to keep my story going.

I love it.

website fail

I’m feeling very gloomy about the state of my website today. Dreamhost told me I needed to update PHP, but when I did, my sites wouldn’t come back. I tried to restore them and the restorations failed and they sent me the most obnoxious email in response. This line in particular…

“Howevvvvver… we actually make no
guarantees about availability of backups, and highly recommend you
always keep your own copies of all important data.  Please follow the
link below for instructions with this:”

The link below sends you to instructions for backing up your data which is kind of irrelevant if your data is already gone. Rude, don’t you think? I’m going to be leaving them as a provider just for that line. The last thing I need when my sites are failing to restore is my provider being an asshole.

Fortunately, I had backed up my data: complete XML files for both sites. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out at all how to turn those backups back into my sites. Their help system was useless, they don’t respond to emails, and their customer support system kept sending automated replies to my emails explaining why they weren’t able to help me. Goodbye, Dreamhost.

My friend Lynda told me to make a wordpress site, upload my data, and redirect the Dreamhost sites to the wordpress site until I can find a better long-term solution, so that is what I’ve done. But for whatever reason, WordPress is choking on my site. Trying to get the post window open took forever and every minute, I get an error message that “Saving the draft failed.” Such a pain!

Not to mention that the menus on the site are screwed up for some reason and I can’t figure out how to do a mailing list sign up without having it be a pop-up which I seriously, seriously don’t want. I loathe those pop-ups, I do NOT want one on my site. They’re so damn rude! And that purple color in the header? Um, no. Just no, no, no.

Fortunately, I am at my dad’s house in Mount Dora, so I have internet. Unfortunately (that’s seeming like the theme of this blog post — the fortunate, unfortunate thing), this isn’t remotely what I want to write about, think about, or do. *sigh* I have so many more interesting things to write about and so many better things to do! But for the moment, this is what we’ve got. I’m going to try to post, so that I can see whether it’s working at all,  and then I’m going to go back to messing around with the behind the scenes details. And I hope — fervently! — that my next post is going to be far more fun and back to focusing on travels and writing, not website design.

Unexpected destinations

I had plans for today.

In fact, most of my actions of the past two weeks have revolved around my plans for the next few days. Instead of drifting north in Maine, I rushed south, making only quick visits to relatives before hurrying back to Florida. I was scheduled to help my friend Lynda with her table at the Orlando Indie Bookfest. We should be getting pedicures together today and then dressing up for the author dinner. I was even going to wear the only pair of high heels I’ve ever loved, which are currently living in my storage unit. And she had fun stuff planned for the event — feather boas were involved.

Alas, it is not to be. Hurricane Matthew is going to bash the east coast of Florida in less than 24 hours, hopefully not as hard as they’re predicting at the moment, but definitely hard enough that people living in camper vans need to run for safer ground.

I had a brief conversation with my dad on Tuesday about possible places in central Florida that might be safe for the van and if it was just me and Serenity, I might have taken my chances. Maybe. If you can move your home out of the way of a hurricane, it really is probably a good idea to do so. But it’s not just me and Serenity — Z and B need safety, too. That made it an easy decision, so yesterday morning I headed north and west.

When I was pretty sure I was out of the cone of the hurricane’s potential path, I found myself a campground, the Suwannee River State Park. It’s typical northern Florida forest, lots of scrub pines and spiky palmettos, on sandy ground covered with pine needles and leaves. Z and I had a good hike this morning, passing by the old sawmill equipment, wandering along the river until we saw the springs gushing into the river. It was like a mini waterfall, it was so profuse, but you can only see the springs when the river is low. When it’s high, they turn into a bubble in the water and when it’s really high, the river water starts flowing into the spring instead. I think I’m mostly out of range of the hurricane, but it’s predicted to rain for the next couple days, so it’ll be interesting to see how the river changes, if it does.

I didn’t expect to be here, I didn’t plan to be here, but this is one of the most pleasant campgrounds I’ve visited. Lovely, restful, with spacious sites and a serene peacefulness.

R would tell me that it’s not irony that my unexpected destination is delightful, it’s just a nice coincidence, but I’m not so sure.

Ten weeks

In the past ten weeks, I have camped in twenty-two different places. (I think.)

    One state park.
    One Harvest Hosts farm.
    One parking lot.
    One KOA.
    Two independent campgrounds.
    Four Passport America parks.
    Five Thousand Trails.
    Seven driveways.

Those are definitely not in any meaningful order.

I loved the state park — if it had come later in my journey, I would have loved it even more because I would have realized how incredibly nice it was.

The Harvest Hosts farm was amazing, one of the best days, best experiences, of my first ten weeks.

The parking lot was interesting. As parking lots go, it was nice, but I suspect camping in parking lots is not going to be a huge factor in my life. I have never felt more “woman traveling alone” than when I was awake at 3AM with the street lights shining in my windows. I’m not sure I can relax enough to start enjoying your average Walmart parking lot anytime soon. Maybe, though.

The campgrounds — from KOA (pricey) to Thousand Trails (free – $3/night) — were an incredibly mixed bag. Some were lovely. The Onion River Campground in Vermont was so peaceful, such a pleasant place to stay. But the Thousand Trails in upstate NY — the one where I had the hostile neighbors — was the only place in my journey that I’ve been grateful and eager to leave behind.

The seven driveways have been by far my favorite places to stay. I didn’t expect that at all. I thought driveways would be sort of uncomfortable, occasional places to stay. But Serenity has enough solar power that unless I need air-conditioning to keep the dogs comfortable, it’s really easy to stay in a driveway. Also reasonably private, usually pretty quiet, and cozy. And sociable. In fact, I really didn’t expect how sociable moving into a camper would be. I figured I’d be very isolated — plenty of time to do lots of writing — but not so much.

Today I’m in C’s driveway. She gave me a key to her house and told me I should count her driveway as home base while I’m in central Florida — it made me seriously teary. I absolutely love what I’m doing, no question, no uncertainty. But I do have moments when I feel… well, homeless. Floating, untethered, Mary Poppins-like drifting where the wind blows. Sometimes I love that. Sometimes, not so much. I’m not going to move into C’s driveway for a long stay anytime soon — I’ve got lots of places to go — but it feels like safety to know that the option is there.