Learn how to crawl: the New York City Yarn CrawlΒ is on through Sunday, September 25.

We Now Return to Our Regular Programming

Dear Kay,
I know it may seem hard to believe, but I have been blogging IN MY HEAD constantly, daily, all the time. Every time I sit down to write something, I end up not writing it. I mean: I’ve never had such bloggy writer’s block, ever, as you well know by the last seven-plus years of nearly incessant blabbing. I finally managed to shut the pfaff up. For a minute.
I think the problem is that I’m writing a novel, which is the most fun I’ve had writing since, oh, Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines. (Quick! Go buy a copy before printed books disappear entirely.) I honestly think it is eating up all my bandwidth at the moment. I have taken Walter Mosley’s advice to heart. (To give you an idea about how long I’ve been marinating, I read his book This Year You Write Your Novel in 2006, which was a good four years ago, so I guess I made a liar of Walter Mosley. That was not the year I write my movel.) (I almost fixed that typo, but it makes it sound less pretentious to call this project a movel instead of a novel.) He says (and many other writers say it too) that to write, you have to let the paint peel and the grass grow tall, and you have to write every single day and that means even Monday. My official start date on this project was September 7, which if you’ll notice, seems to be exactly when I stopped writing here.
Not blogging makes me realize how much time I actually spend writing here. I know you can’t tell, but those blurry photographs of those half-finished socks shot at the rim of the Grand Canyon were curated like a show at the Met. That apparently incoherent description of the 2006 TNNA convention was practically based on a James Joyce story.
Anyway, it takes up all my time, this projeck, and it is HIGHLY distracting to the point that I am kind of schizophrenic sometimes, and I stare off into the middle distance worrying about some character who exists only in my mind. Which, come to think of it, is how I used to think about you, Kay, before we ever met in actual person. What a relief not to be worrying about you that way anymore. Now, I just worry about you in the normal human way.
The other massive time-suck is my continuing progress through episode upon episode of Lost. I won’t go into it, but if anyone out there has made it to the end of Season 5, you will know what I mean when I say: WHA? WHA THA HUNH? Things have become so odd that I wish for something simple like Fonzie jumping a shark.
That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been knitting, thinking about knitting, and bumming extremely hard that we’re not going to Rhinebeck this year.
Let’s ponder the horribleness of that: WE ARE NOT GOING TO RHINEBECK. HORRIBLE. Have fun, y’all, because WE WON’T.
In the interest of getting back up to blog speed, I’m going to do what Spinal Tap would call a Jazz Odyssey of the past six weeks. I’m just going to free-associate until I catch up to the present time, and then I swear, I miss blogging so much that I’ll be back at it in a more coherent way.

Jazz Odyssey. (Ann Wrote This.)
Trip to Aspen over Labor Day. Just Hubbo and me. Felt like we had run away from home, which we basically had. This was the trip that steeled my resolve to come home and start writing this damn movel. I think it was Day Five of oxygen deprivation that made me see a blurry image of Jane Austen on a passing ski gondola, holding up a Penguin edition of Northanger Abbey and mouthing “Get off your ass.” Aspen is spectacularly beautiful, even more so, apparently, if you aren’t getting enough oxygen. Hubbo and I took a ski gondola ride to the top of Aspen Mountain. (Pop quiz: How many weddings were held up there on Sunday, September 5, 2010: FOUR. FOUR weddings in a location where the bartenders arrive on a ski gondola.)
My dad had a birthday. I love that. My brothers both had birthdays. Also excellent. I ordered the first 31 of 52 books that my brother Clif has published in his incredible project, FiftyTwo. My brother is a brilliant artist and professor, no other way to describe him, and for his fifty-second year, he decided to create one book per week based on his everyday life, then make them available on Lulu.com. Seeing him create these books so fluidly, so fast, is probably the most inspiring act of artistic creation that I’ve ever seen. DANG.
Our book group has embarked on the “Water” theme for this year, and I just want to thank everyone who suggested books for this theme. We’re actually doing several that were suggested: Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (warning: Robert Pattinson movie version coming), Cadillac Desert by Marc Reiser I think, and The Sea by John Banville.
I met one of my literary heroes this past weekend, Ian Frazier, whose New Yorker writings have always been a favorite. His new book, Travels in Siberia, is a 500-page book about his travels in Siberia. Now THAT’s a book title. When I say I met him, I mean I handed him my book, said, “Glgl urb mrsshugrl slllb OK thanks really that’s just great it’s A-N-N OK then.” DORK!
Son David has started a band that practices directly below our bedroom in the basement. I can hardly express how loud it gets down there. The Hendrix flows, and the Zeppelin, and the Muse.
Son Clif has started to play lacrosse, which is slightly better than football but not really. I am relieved that the season is over so he can get back to bashing his brother’s head with a stick, not some litigation-crazed opponent’s.
We’re getting a new roof on the house. I bought giant mums for $7 at the vegetable stand, which sent me into a long spiral of despair over how easily somebody grew these giant flowery domes and how quickly I’m going to kill them off. We had one mouse in the basement, very confused to come across five boys with loud instruments. I am doing most of my shopping at Trader Joe’s these days, which is such a bargain that I can almost do without Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts.
Merle Hazard is back in the studio with new work coming at some point. This one is going to be a real departure from anything Merle has done before. He continues to get press coverage in foreign countries, making me wonder if his success is sort of like Jerry Lewis’s superstardom in France. Most recently, you can hear a fantastic, rare Jon Shayne/Merle Hazard simultaneous interview in a podcast over at The Guardian (UK). Merle turns up at about 15:00 into the show.
Oneonta pal Adrienne was in town for the Southern Festival of Books, and we had a fine time until we landed at a concert by the Punch Brothers which transformed our pleasant evening into a double rainbow of awesomeness. So intense! I’ve been talking to Hubbo a lot about constraints, how they can be liberating. The thing about the Punch Brothers is that they claim to operate as bluegrass players. But that holds up exactly as long as it takes Chris Thile to wail some tempo-shifting, instrument-bustin’ ballad about being stuck under the kitchen sink by the trash can. It’s not like anything else, even though it claims to be something very particular. Here’s one of their tamer efforts:

I have been working on the same damn sweater since the last time I blogged, the cursedly cabled Felted Tweed sweater that absolutely refuses to end. I can’t stand how long this thing is taking to finish. It doesn’t even deserve a picture at this point. I think the problem is that I don’t trust myself to do the twists at the right moment, even though at this point I have done hundreds of them. I’m all the time stopping to make sure I’m on the right row. Tiresome. But I am motivated because I think I could really use a dirt-colored tiny-cabled pullover. Really need one in my life because I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH DAMN SWEATERS YET.
Son David and I are going to be going to Washington for the Rally to Restore Sanity on 10/30/10. Colbert’s March to Keep Fear Alive has some excellent swag available–Merch to Keep Fear Alive, he calls it. Let me know if you’ll be there; we can knit in a calm, moderate way or something.
Finally, HOW ABOUT THOSE CHILEAN MINERS? I was RIVETED to that rescue. Absolutely brilliant. All those wives and families and children, seeing the thing happen that they thought would never happen.
Thank you all for your patience, and putting up with the lack of photos. I can’t find my cable at the moment, and that could potentially stall me another six weeks! I really miss hearing from everybody.
And so to bed! I still think Olive should dress up as Emily Dickinson. She totally has the look already.



  1. So many things I love in this post that I might explode with happiness. Lost! (Holy cow, woman, you just finished season 5 already? If you’re confused now, wait until the last season.) Kids in bands! The Punch Brothers! (I have a very small crush on their banjo player. Have you seen them play Bach?)
    But even better, you are writing a novel–er, movel. That is amazing. I am so excited for you and can’t wait to read it.

  2. I am going too! Both of my sons think we can actually get a ride on one of Arianna Huffington’s buses… which is great for me, I won’t have to knit while I drive down 95 from Princeton!

  3. Ok, still miffed that you won’t be doing Rhinebeck this year but realizing that I may see you in DC if we coordinate coordinates at the march.
    Dibs on shooting your author photo for the novel now.

  4. Hi Ann,
    So glad you’re still on the same sweater, because I can’t finish this baby sweater (from the summer) that interrupted a Citron (to be a 50th birthday gift), that’s keeping me from making a birthday scarf (November), and a Christmas stocking for a first (December 1) birthday, not to mention the prayer shawl that I wanted to have finished just before Thanksgiving.
    Well, if you guys won’t be at Rhinebeck, I guess I’m glad I’m missing it (again) this year (I’ll be at work–which really isn’t so bad, as I like what I do).
    Not writing The Great American Novel, but sure wish I would get more of my poerty published–you know, the stuff I wrote just before developing writer’s block…
    Take good care.

  5. Wow, you’ve been busy! Looking forward to the novel (movel – teehee!) and yes, the miners’ story is wonderful — but it’s wives and families and children and MISTRESSES!

  6. Oh! Wow! The Great American Movel AND you get to go to the Rally to Restore Sanity! Damn! I hope you don’t mind a little friendly envy. (= I read Walter Mosley’s “This Year…” in about ’06 too, but it hasn’t kicked in yet. Let’s just say I read it in 2007 — that means I have another year to marinate.
    We missed you, but I’m so excited about your book. See ya in the Trader Joe aisles! I’m there all the time too.

  7. Since I trudge into DC every weekday to work in the general location of Colbert’s March, there is nothing (well, very little) that could convince me to trudge in on a weekend. But I shall raise my needles to you from my cozy home across the Potomac!

  8. Welcome back!! I hope the movel writing is going well!!! Have a great time at the march – totally jealous but Wisconsin is a bit far to drive to DC. Totally love Olive as Jane Austen also – Happy day to all!

  9. Olive could rock an Empire waist, fo sho.
    But HEY, isn’t anybody going to comment on Chris Thile’s knit HAT? Do I have to do everything around here?
    Went looking for video of Chris T playing at a bluegrass festival when he was 12 or something, which I saw on some PBS festival documentary a while back. Amazing musician. Makes it look so fun. (I am concerned, though, that the bass player in your video is the Spirit of Jug Bands Past.)
    OF COURSE Cliffo is playing lacrosse.

  10. I live near DC and will be at the march – let me know if you need a cell phone number to call in case of a (moderate) emergency. Or we can go visit my husband, who works at the Federal Reserve Board. Maybe he’ll let us play with the monetary policy levers in the basement….

  11. A basement full of boys with loud instruments may be the best mouse repellant you could hope for. The poor little rodent probably packed up his entire extended family and scurried off to your neighbors’ house, where there are no amplifiers.

  12. Mind still blown. Total double rainbow.
    My question is, tho, how cold was it in the studio for Rye Whiskey? Bundled up like they’re about to take on the arctic, they are.

  13. Ann, I am glad to see you back and I did miss you. However, one of the things I like about your blog is that you and Kay live your lives and then mostly write about them. I visit a blog where the person posts every day and the words: “Less filling” come to mind. Never feel bad about taking a break, and good luck with the novel.

  14. Sweet Jeeezus, Ann, glad to have you back. I had just about convinced myself that Something That Could Not Be Discussed had befallen you.
    A novel is a good excuse. I’ve always wished I had one in me.

  15. I am now in love with the Punch Brothers-thank you.

  16. This may be short notice but you are more than welcome to come to SAFF [Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair] Oct 22-24. Not as big[yet]as Rhinebeck but much closer[Asheville,NC]and always a fun gathering of like minded crafters.

  17. Welcome back – I always look forward to your posts, and am relieved to hear that all is well.

  18. I volunteer usher at a local theatre and see lots and lots of shows. After you’ve done this for several years, it gets really interesting because you can see really popular bands and think “meh”, but then you see things you don’t expect to like and you come out of the show IN LOVE. Nickel Creek was one of the latter. I am in love with anything that Chris Thile, Sean or Sara Watkins are involved in. Thanks for posting this video!

  19. I live in the DC ‘burbs and will be at the march and hosting out of towners (knitters) who are coming to the march (y’know, assuming we can fit it in around the kids’ soccer games). I’ll be knitting, would love to share WIPs with you.
    Also, really glad you’re back on the blog! Can’t wait to hear more about the novel.

  20. Fantastic news, and good to hear from you. Thinking of NaNoWriMo? National Novel Writing Month. I’ve been thinking of it for years and now with two tiny children whose band practice consists more of the banging spoons (or anything they can find) on tables, pots…. And the full-time school crammed into three days a week. They’re my excuses this year – maybe I should pick up “This is the year you write your novel” and in 2014 I’ll do it, too!

  21. Your life sounds so… normal!
    1. Movel. Brilliant.
    2. Yes, Lost. Sorry. I followed it the whole way through. There’s just so much wordplay potential relating the series name to the hours spent watching it…
    3. Merle’s music is taking a new direction… just like Spinal Tap! Can’t wait!
    4. Trader Joe’s. My jealosy is mitigated only by my love for you. (Not in a creepy blogstalker way, but in a “Ian Frazier you are my favorite” way.)
    Glad you’re back on the blog, even if only as a temporary reprieve from the movel!

  22. So glad to see you back Ann! Wow- your fall sounds like it’s full of fun stuff. I envy you the trip to DC and hope you have a marvelous time. Can’t wait to see your movel in print!

  23. Ann, it’s so awesome that you are picking up your novel again. I’m an unpubbed “movelist” (romantic comedy) who put my ms. aside months ago (OK, a year ago) due to life ‘n’ stuff. I even let my Romance Writers of America (and Heart of Carolina Romance Writers) memberships lapse. I miss it, I love it, I need it, and even though I may never be published I have to believe that I have a better than average chance. Thanks for sharing (even though I always feel as if I’m lurking behind Kay’s shoulder saying things like, “Wow, can you believe our Ann is doing that?!”). ~~Eileen

  24. Great, fun post!
    In your honor, this afternoon I’ll head over to http://www.thenovellive.com to support the writing of a novel in one week.
    (I love it that the 36 participating writers in this fundraiser don’t claim to be writing a good nove. just a novel.)
    left the typo onaccounta it’s all the rage to do so.
    welcome back, but no pressure, Kay kept us happy, even before the great book giveaway.

  25. Glad you’re back and you wrote a lot in this post. Sort of a mini-movel of explanation.

  26. I agree with what Laura J. said: (great Lauras think alike?)
    “glad to see you back and I did miss you. However, one of the things I like about your blog is that you and Kay live your lives and then mostly write about them.”

  27. God, Olive DOES look like Emily Dickinson.

  28. Glad to hear about the movel. I was starting to worry.
    Your bookclub should consider Dark Water: Flood and Redemption in the City of Masterpieces about the flood in Florence in 1966. It might hit too close to home though in Nashville? It isn’t a novel though so maybe that discounts it?

  29. What a relief to see a post from you. i was worried.

  30. Welcome back. I don’t know whether it was intentional or accidental but my entire reading of the blog post was accompanied by music which made the reading of the post kind of perfect. Best wishes for the writing of the movel.

  31. The musical background while reading this blog was absolutely FANTASTIC! Enjoyed it a lot.

  32. Hey – welcome back Ann. I’m going to listen to the Shayne-Hazard podcast while I’m doing work from home!

  33. You are going to the “Rally to Restore Sanity” — I am jealous. My BF and I are looking for some sort of bus from the college campus we work on and live near.
    There is some “Sanity” swag as well —
    and if you haven’t, listen to Stewart talking to Terry Gross (Fresh Air) recorded at the 92nd Street Y. Very good and very interesting.
    (and next time you visit NYC – if you know in advance — try and get tickets to see the show. It is great!)

  34. Thanks for the musical links! I had heard the Punch Brothers on NPR quite a while back — wish I could see them in concert, too. That singer looks like a rougher Jude-Law-y type. Yum.

  35. So there were 4 weddings at Aspen that day, huh? Well, last week I saw a wedding at the Coliseum in Rome. So there! Good luck on the writing thing. Did you ever read Stephen King’s autobiography? Should really help to get in the mood.

  36. Ann, are you watching on Netflix? I’m up to season 3, episode 6, and it won’t let me watch. Keeps saying it’s unavailable (on the watch instantly). It’s making me NUTS.
    Good luck on the movel! There’s a bunch of envy over here!

  37. We’re supposed to finish the sweaters????

  38. danceing all the way
    skip writing the middle of the novel
    even king gets lost in the middle pages

  39. Congratulations, Ann – you’re writing a movel!
    I’m totally rooting for you.
    Don’t let Lost suck your brain out your ears….

  40. Can we have a meet and knit at the March for Sanity? We can be an island of calm knitterly behavior, modeling the behavior we’d like others to show!

  41. Yay! Good luck w/ your book.
    I love these guys — the Rye Whiskey song is excellent. I’ll have to look ’em up. I also think the weird blue hat is an absolute must.
    Good to hear from you again. πŸ™‚

  42. P.S. do you think the banjo player could look any less enthused??

  43. Good to “hear” you, Ann, and good to hear that you’re really enjoying your new project! It’s inspiring. So I, for one, will forgive you the occasional absence from the blog (and I’m sure others will, too). πŸ™‚ I am working on a new writing project that I’m excited about and so happy to be working on and yet… protecting the time I’ve set aside for it is so challenging! Funny how that goes.
    Thanks for sharing that Punch Brothers clip–they rock! I could swear that was Jake Gyllenhall’s cousin on the banjo… Those boys might need to smile a little, though–just a little, oncet in a while…

  44. So excited that I have finally made all the arrangements to go to the rally on the 30th! Of course I live in the DC area, but still, there were arrangements that had to happen, soccer, don’t you know…

  45. Just watched the Punch Brothers and recognized Chris Thile right away! I have two albums from his previous band Nickle Creek and saw them play live about 9 years ago. Incredible talent and I’m so glad to see him again. Also glad to hear from you again!


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