In Search of the Essential …

It started with Stella. Oddly enough, I had considered her one of our least serious characters, created mostly to give the mid-life crisis people a good look and a laugh at themselves. But I see, now, that she’s gone quite beyond that. Yes, Ann?

“If you don’t mind my saying so, what happened to her is what always happens when you try to keep things purely entertaining: you go off on some serious tangent. Is it a comedy or drama? That’s what sinks the ship before it even leaves the dock. Always the same old problem.”

“I disagree entirely. Is anyone just one thing? How can we keep the characters true to life if we can’t let them be true to life?”

“True to life, Lilly – if you want to be dogmatic about it – would be a hodge-podge of so many things thrown in together that nothing would make sense. At least not in the brief time-span of a novel. The literary world must be a disciplined world. Going off in some direction that takes you away from the ultimate goal only muddies up the waters. No matter how good or entertaining it is. It’s a lack of discipline, if you ask me. One must stick with the essential element.”

“Ah, yes, the essential element.”

“By the way, how are you and the Professor coming with that?”

“It started off well, but then you know how he is. The minute you spark his interest he starts experimenting. Now he’s setting up some contraption for distilling elements, and I’m to make his amends for not showing up this morning.”

“Oh, for heaven sake – I thought he was hard at work on the Tesla notes.”

“He says everything’s relative.”

“That was Einstein, not Tesla. At least you can give us your own conclusions. Especially if you think they might be beneficial to our work today.”

“Me? I didn’t come to any conclusions. You know how that lab of his gets to me. One has to have a steady nerve to stay in there for very long. What with all those strange –“

“But, Lilly – it was you who brought the concept up in the first place.”

“Yes, but I see now that it was premature. So, I propose that we postpone any further discussion on it until I can further collect my thoughts. And I also propose that we adjourn so that I can get to it. Will somebody second the motion?”

“It hardly seems necessary to use Robert’s Rules of Order, when we are the only ones here. Just turn off the blog, please.”

What’s happening on the farm today: A rare sighting! (for me, anyway) A two-foot roadrunner with that distinctive stride, just marched beneath the window and out through the field. I suppose the overgrown dandelions provide a bit more security for venturing onto the property with so many dogs. I am thrilled. Not only do I love those birds, but they also keep the snake population at bay… and we have had way too many copperheads this year.

Habit status: Day 6 (and still here)


Anything’s possible…

Another morning of which the rest of the world has had several, while all we have had is one. Be that as it may, let’s get on with things and not be bogged down on why such oddities happen to us, because they do. Simple as that. How’s the agenda coming, Ann?

“I believe we are still in the middle of discussing Lilly’s project.”

“Oh, yes. As I recall, I was about to share something wonderful that happened just as I was trying to get these two women out of the wine cellar.”

“So, you’ve managed to get them out, Lilly – that’s wonderful. At least we’re starting to make progress somewhere.”

“Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that. What I came up with was not how to get them out, but rather an entire philosophy on how they got in there in the first place.”

“I don’t have time for philosophical discussions on why women lock themselves into wine cellars! I am trying to wade through mountains of material, myself, just to figure out whether the FBI did – or didn’t – confiscate Tesla’s material on a nation-wide defense system. I don’t suppose any of you realize that half that man’s ideas were trash and the other half pure genius? Why, it’s almost impossible to –“

“Professor, would you kindly remember that even though we are alone here, it is still a public forum. With the new regulations in place, we simply cannot be throwing around phrases like FBI or defense systems.”

“Oh, I beg your pardon.”

“But – really, Professor -- I think you’d like this. What I was going to share is exactly the sort of thing you’re always explaining to us. It’s the fact that everything -- and I mean everything – can be broken down into one basic element. Not just physical things, but thoughts, feelings, and even our interactions with one another. An essential element, if you will.”

“My dear Lilly… just when I think you haven’t a reasoning fiber in your being, you astound me with something like this. An essential element – my own thoughts exactly! Can you explain how it is that you came to such a conclusion?”

“She certainly can’t explain it here, this is an agenda meeting, not a dissertation committee. Look at all the space we’ve taken up already, and not a thing to show for it, yet.”

“I’m sure I’m very sorry.”

“Well, at least we didn’t have any catastrophes, this time. Could it be we’re actually adjusting to this thing?”

“Still too early to tell, I should think.”

“We can pick it up again, tomorrow, and maybe we’ll find out then. In the meantime, you two see if you can agree on just exactly what that essential element is, and whether or not the rest of the world might give the slightest care about it.”

“Something universal, you mean?”

“It is, after all, what we writers strive for. Turn off the blog, somebody, and let’s get to work.”

What’s happening on the farm today: After raising two pigs this year, there is not a single sprig of anything growing in the garden area even after four months. The red, sandy soil seems to be terribly depleted of any nourishment whatsoever, even in the compost corner. I am now on a major campaign to enrich it. So far, I’ve managed to drag two wheelbarrows of horse manure over from the barn, but seeing as how I’m so terribly out of shape, it was all I could manage the first time out. Imagine my surprise this morning when it was all spread out evenly and beautifully, as if I had hired a team of professional gardeners. What a delight to find out chickens are good for more than just cholesterol-free eggs and keeping the bug population down!

Habit status: Day 5 (our days, that is)


Return of the Natives...

Well, we're back. Isn't it interesting how when one makes a commitment, all manner of opposition comes onto the scene to wrest it away from you? Even with the smallest things. First the long weekend. Then a family illness that involved an unexpected trip out of state. Then the magazine is uproariously behind schedule. I wouldn't be half surprised if I made a decision to drink two glasses of water every day at lunch; the well would blow up. Just the nature of things, I suppose. At any rate, where were we?

"We were trying to get more work accomplished by striving for a little more balance in our lives."

"Thank you, Ann, I believe you're right. Now that I recall, we were having some problems with the agenda. Deadlines, time of year, and all that."

"We were just about to put a priority on manuscripts before that little mishap occurred. I hope no one forgot the importance of first drafts, and the difficulties that can arise in continuity when you've left two characters locked in a wine cellar for two months, and you can't for the life of you recall why you put them there."

"Why, Lilly -- do you mean to say you haven't the slightest --"

"We can work that out by doing an edit of what we've got so far. That always stimulates the subconscious and gets the creative juices flowing again."

"It's scientifically impossible to stimulate something that isn't there."

"What is that supposed to mean, Professor? Of course there's something there. You know very well I've completed nearly a hundred and fifty pages of that manuscript already, and --"

"My dear, Lilly, must everything center around you? I'm referring to a person of my background and qualifications having to work with all these kids."

"Now, we're not going to start that again, are we. It's already been agreed that the cousins are very special kids. I'm sure they would never --"

"They're especially exasperating, that's what they are. While I was busy doing that bit of research on Tesla, they've gone and managed to misplace everything."

"Your notes on Tesla?"

"No, I'm talking about the blasted manuscript! They've lost it entirely."

"Oh, good lord! Have you --"

"I've looked everywhere."

"This is terrible -- somebody adjourn the meeting. We've got to take care of this."

"Turn off the blog, Ann."

What's happening on the farm today: We've finally fenced the horses out of the backyard. They are incredibly offended, since they can no longer get into things on the porch or stick their heads in through open windows. But it had to be done. With the new addition going up and so many other things for them to get into, it was just good insurance. And I rather like the fact that I can now grow something in a flower pot and it will not be eaten the instant it pops its head above ground.

Habit status: Day 4 (not really, but that's the nice thing about writing: you can turn back the time)

Who's on first...

So, here we are again. Considering the fact that we already --

"Yes, Ann, was there something you wanted to say?"

"I was just going to point out that adding this blog to our work schedule is creating time conflicts. Lord knows, we already have enough of those."

"Time is relative."

"I understand that, Professor. But the point is, a person would have to be a genius to manage all this. Which I am obviously not."

"Maybe we can come at it from a different angle. Would it help, Ann, if we brought the work schedule into this blog instead of the other way around?"


"Just forget we''re in a blog at the moment, and tell us what's on your mind the way you usually do."

"It's September 1, that's what's on my mind. It's the time of year books come to the forefront -- if you have any intentions of sticking to publishing schedules -- which leaves nobody to continue updating the web pages. Without updates, people lose interest and don't come back."

"True. We can't stop doing the updates. On the other hand, they shouldn't take half so long as they've been taking. Other people don't seem to have that trouble, they can handle their updates and two or three jobs besides. So what's the deal? Can anyone see any obvious places we could cut back?"

"I think the Professor should answer that, since he took up nearly an hour of everyone's time when he wasn't even on the agenda, yesterday. All that nonsense about atomic number 15, forbidden mechanisms and all that."

"Is that true, Professor?"

"I assure you there is no nonsense to the fact that we are going to run out of one of the most basic and essential elements necessary to all life by the year 2035. Maybe someone should put that on their agenda."

"Good God!"

"Now, you've gone and upset Lilly. Next thing you know, the cousins will be --"

"Somebody turn off this blog."

What's happening on the farm today: Pops just stepped on an egg one of the chickens laid in the middle of the driveway. There must be another varmint stalking around the chicken coop, again... which means there will be adventures afoot tonight...

Habit status: Day 3 (still too far off to make a judgment)