Saturday, January 3, 2009


Hello friends and writers,
I always plan far too much when I'm dreaming about my eleven glorious days of Christmas vacation before it actually takes place. I envisioned finishing up the edits on Healey's Cave (I had 150 pages to go), writing a few chapters in my new book while sitting with my dog by the fire, playing with my grandsons in the snow, bringing up a month's worth of firewood to the porch, cleaning the house, cross country skiing, reading at least two books and writing reviews, rushing three chair seats, cooking wonderful meals, and maybe playing a little piano, which I hadn't done much for the past five years when my daughter lived downstairs with her little ones. I also planned a night of board games on New Year's Eve, which we usually do with several bottles of wine and the roaring fire in the background.

Balto, my trusty companion, who loves to sleep beside me while I write.

My prayers for snow were answered, but the birds weren't too happy with the two big storms we had.

The snow was so invasive, it even came INSIDE our mudroom walls through cracks in the door.

I guess I should have put that grill away last fall. Oops.

We finally managed to get outside and ski. Today we went to the Genesee Valley Greenway. Allison and six year old grandson Julian jogged/walked, and Melanie and I skied. The trail was packed down from snow mobiles, so it worked for both. Alli carried the camera, but at one point, Melanie borrowed it and took this wonderful shot of Alli's eyes:

You can even see the gold flecks in her pretty blue eyes. It reminds me of the photos we used to see on National Geographic.
I finished my manuscript (TA DA!), but found two glaring errors in it - I referred to Sam's little brother's eyes as BLUE in one spot, and they were distinctly hazel throughout the book. Plus I found a line where I reverted to my usual FIRST person POV instead of third person. How embarrassing! Thank God I decided to go over it one more time.
I ended up spending much more time with my grandkids than expected - my daughter and her fiance found out they both were working opposite shifts throughout New Year's eve week and day, so we had a house full of little ones for many days in a row, which is probably why I didn't exactly weave any rush seats this week. LOL! But I did manage to clean the house so that it looked nice for few folks who came by to visit.

Bella's six months old now and getting so big! She's maturing every day, and keeps us laughing.
Melanie provided lots of entertainment for the boys all week, home from Boston with her little dog, Toby. She brought her guitar, and for Christmas we fulfilled her dream of owning an African djembe drum - it's wonderful and provided hours of entertainment for the boys and us. We also got a collection of natural "shaker" type instruments to go with it and had our own little drum circle going on for hours at a time. With the drums and guitar, we sang songs like, "You've gotta sing when the Spirit says sing," "I've been working on the railroad," "Down by the Bay," "Amazing Grace," "Wade in the Water," "Shake Your Sillies Out," and many more. What fun!

Julian and Melanie

Melanie and Toby

Melanie and Bella

Toby in a regal pose
Melanie also provided amazing entertainment for us on New Year's Eve, with her guitar and djembe. We had such fun singing, dancing, and eating all kinds of yummy food. Alli documented almost all of our festivities with most of these photos, which is why you don't see her much. The boys played along on their guitars and some shaker instruments.

Allison, joining in with the music

Jules on djembe

Gordie really gets into the guitar. (Both boys insisted on shedding most of their clothes to dance and sing. It was hilarious.)

We had some wonderful food, most of which I cooked.
Of course it wasn't all hearts and flowers - it never is. My wife's illness abated for a few lovely days, but it's back in full force now. She's suffering, as usual. And I'm trying so hard to find ways to comfort her, God willing.
And when I tried to dust off my old Chopin Mazurkas, I found two of the keys on the piano were "dead." Oh, boy, I'm sure my grandfather is rolling his eyes in Heaven. That was his special "artist's" piano, and my little grandsons did a number on it when they moved in. But I'll get it fixed up after I save some money, and I'll start playing again soon. I have to, or Gus will be cross with me.
I do have one day left - and hope to get some writing done. We shall see.
My goal for next year is to SIMPLIFY where possible. If I want to stay in my pjs all day on a weekend, I will. If paper plates make life easier, so be it. If we buy Chinese or pizza once in a while instead of making a home cooked meal... I'm going to let it go. I need to simplify so I can squeeze more of the things I love into my life.
Think it's a good idea? ;o) Let me know, below.
Remember to take pleasure in the little things, friends. It's what helps me keep going sometimes. When you pass by a particularly gorgeous scene - whether it's snow flying off the roof of a venerable old barn, or footprints in the snow on an iced-over river, or a cluster of birds fluffing up their feathers to keep warm... keep those memories close so you can polish them up again, use them in your writing, or simply retrieve them from to provide comfort in times of need. It works, trust me.
Last of all, remember to write like the wind! And let me know how you're all doing with your writing, below.

Happy New Year,

- Aaron


s.w. vaughn said...

Oh, Aaron, these are some amazing pictures - and what a story about your vacation! I can't believe Bella is getting so BIG already! What a charmer she is.

I think your idea to simplify your life is excellent. I'll bet you're going to find a lot more time to enjoy life. In fact, I may join you there. :-)

Happy New Year!

Marta Stephens said...

Simple is good, Aaron, because in the long run, no one is going to remember that you mopped that floor or that you picked up some carry out 2-3 times a week. But they will remember the time you had to spend with them. And you'll be much more balanced for it.

I love your pictures, Allison and Mel are so pretty (yes, love the eyes pictures too!) and Bella and the boys are just adorable!!

Take it easy this year, will ya?

Kim Smith said...

Great post as usual, Aaron. Love the pictures. Always makes me wanna go out and take some :) -- unfortunately, I am suffering with the worst cold I hae had in years. This time off has been really good for me. I needed it. Hope you succeed in simplifying your life. We all need to get back to the basics I think. Too much hurry and worry affects our health, hence why I am sick :(

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Thank you so much, my friends, my kindred spirits! We will find a way to simplify and ENRICH, at the same time. What do you think?

Asylumgirl said...

What lovely pictures! I feel like I was there. Thanks for sharing.