Becca Wilhite Blog

August 29, 2011

School’s In

Filed under: school,writing — becca @ 10:07 am

Just wanted to remind all my Heber Valley friends that I’m teaching a Community Ed class or two. Because School is Cool. And Community Ed is even cooler, because… no grades.

HERE IS THE LINK to the UVU Wasatch ComEd page, where you can register for either my Teen class, or my Adult class (it’s like the 10:30 show, but without the language issues) [1]

The teen class is an extension of the totally fun library workshop we did this summer, and if you were there, you know that it was awesome. There was laughing. And there was learning. And there was more laughing. And if you weren’t there, no worries, because we’re starting from the beginning anyway.

The adult class (I just love calling it that, it feels so scandalous) is focused toward all of us who want to write, but somehow just don’t make it happen. Brain blockage? Time management issues? Too much pressure? Idea shortage? All this and more, we’ll smack down and get ourselves writing. No kidding.

So CLICK HERE to visit the site, where you can also find watercolor classes and guitar lessons and foodliness and all manner of goods. Try it. You’ll like it.

(ALSO… if you register before Wednesday, there’s a $5 off bonus! Which means you can afford to bring a big bag of peanut m&ms to class with you! I know, right? Who looks out for you? You’re welcome.)

[1] It’s actually nothing like the 10:30 show. That was a joke. And there are no language issues unless you don’t understand English. I don’t really teach well in Turkish or Afrikaans.

August 26, 2011

It’s Friday, and I like friends, too.

Filed under: interviews,silliness — becca @ 8:03 am

Hey, friends…

Today I’m appearing at Sarah M. Eden’s blog, where we discuss things like spelt, Parasitic Twin Syndrome, and Australia. Also, we exhaust my knowledge of the French language. (At least we did in the interview part. I haven’t read the finished product yet.) If you don’t know Sarah (for reasons of living under a rock or something), you’re going to want to. She’s lovely and hilarious and I am thrilled and delighted to be her Friday Friend.

CLICK ON THESE WORDS RIGHT HERE to go visit.

August 24, 2011

Wherein I uncover my *system*

Filed under: dumb things I do,priorities,school,word count,writing process — becca @ 8:11 am

Do you have a writing zone? An office? A cave? A favorite table in a favorite cafe?

Do you have a preferred writing time? Are you a morning person? A night owl? A moment-snatcher, during naps (someone else’s)?

Do you need music? Silence? Chaos? Strangers? Midday sunlight? Vivaldi in A Minor performed by the London Philharmonic and directed by a tiny Asian child-genius?

I do. I have a SYSTEM. A source for my brilliance. [1] I write on the computer, which lives in the kitchen. I sit on the wooden chair that I steal from the kitchen table. Sometimes I throw a pillow on it. I write in the dark of morning, sometimes into the light of morning, depending on the season and the mojo. During the summer, that season and mojo are a little short. Because, see, I also demand solitude. And silence (or the hum of the dryer, because then I feel like I’m all fantastic, accomplishing TWO THINGS AT ONCE — I know, nearing perfection). And silence and solitude don’t last past seven a.m.

I’ve been trying to convince Husband that I NEED a laptop. He smiles at me in that comforting way which causes me to stick my tongue out at him, since we all know very well that I need food, water, shelter, 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep… but not so much another computer. But I manage to convince myself that if I had a laptop, I could do all kinds of through-the-summer-day writing. I could still do my early-morning thousand words [2]. And then, when Kids 3 and 4 come into the kitchen, pull up stools, and read over my shoulders, I could hug them, smooch their faces, and sneak off to my room, or a closet, or the basement, and write in the comfort of my Very Own Company. Where, of course, I could bust out another thousand words. Brilliant words, don’t forget.

And then, in the warm afternoon, I could take the lappy outside to the chair in the shade and listen to the breeze sigh through the trees as I write another thousand perfect, uninterrupted words.

See? Clearly, the only thing standing in my way — in the way of fabulous, completed manuscripts — is my total lack of laptop.

And, cue The Grand Delusion.

I’m all for structure. I’m all for consistency. I’m all for routine. But I’m also realizing that all my NEEDS, writingwise, are not actually food for the Muse. They’re excuses not to get the job done.

I’m not Organizing my Writing Life. I’m putting off doing the work.

*sigh*

Today is the last day of summer vacation around here. And I woke early and got some writing and revising done. And now, with a kitchen full of kids, I’m struggling to remember that I don’t actually have to blog in complete silence and solitude. Tomorrow, the Kids will go away in the morning. And they will not come back for HOURS. And I will have no further excuses to justify my snail’s pace.

Shoot.

Darn it.

All of it.

I don’t want them to go. I don’t want to live on someone else’s schedule. I don’t want to drive from school to school to school dropping off the Left Behind. I don’t want to come last in the Kids’ busy, full lives. I don’t want to watch the mountains turn red and gold and then brown and then white. I’m not ready. I’m not ready for two kids in High School. I’m not ready for drama. I’m not ready for PTA. I’m not ready for undeniable accountability.

But. Here it is, anyway. Accountability, front and center. So, my friends, here is a reckoning. I love that word. I should write a book called The Reckoning. Or you should. Someone should.[3]

*Ahem* At the beginning of June, Fifth Gift was at 30,000 words. At the beginning of July, 39,500. At the beginning of August, 43,500. And today, 47,630.  I don’t know how long it should really be, because I have this feeling that it should end when it’s over, when the story’s told, but I think the story will be told around 55-65,000 words. I think. Maybe not. And hey, if not, then fine. But there is the idea. I am still drafting. But also, revising. I know. That’s against the rules. Well, toss the rules. I’m filling in holes, and how do I know where the holes are unless I read through? I have a beginning, a middle, and an end. So these days I’m thickening it all up. And maybe changing the middle. And the end. And surely the beginning.

And as I go through and string together all the shiny beads, I can add things here and there. And I can take some things out, but I know me well enough to bet that I probably won’t, not on this pass. And I can add a few more things. And I can thicken up floppy characters. And I can let my characters eat if they want to. I can always take out half the eating scenes later. And I can baby step to the first full draft.

And I can live without excuses.

[1] Oh, come on.

[2] This is what we call an “ideal” and thank you very much, but I don’t actually need to be reminded that I don’t, in fact, write 1000 words every day. I already know that. I also know exactly how many pounds I need to lose and all my major character flaws. Thank you for playing.

[3] Do you have that song from The Italian Job in your head now? I do.

August 20, 2011

Minion and Sushi

Filed under: animals,familyness — becca @ 2:26 pm

It’s not some existentialist post, really.

It’s about the fish.

I’m here to update the goldfish situation in the Wilhite home. And here’s the update: Minion, the free goldfish that Kid 4 won at the county fair, is the proud owner of a real fishbowl (as opposed to the cool round vase he lived in for his first week here), complete with aquarium rocks, a bamboo plant, and a buddy. Sushi. That’s the goldfish buddy’s name. He’s cute, even in goldfish standards. He has a flowy tail with 4 pieces, as opposed to Minion’s streamlined fins. He’s short and fat, and — you know — that means he’s jolly. Just ask anyone.

After a sketchy first week, Minion started to eat. So, that’s good news. Have I mentioned that goldfish are a little bit disgusting? In so far as it concerns swimming around in one’s waste? We’re learning to deal with that, too. I’ve put my foot down about purchasing any more fish equipment (sort of… but I’m a softie, really) so I don’t see a pump/tank situation arising any time soon. My skills in fishbowl cleaning are now going on my resume. I’m that good. The fish are totally relaxing to watch (I doubt they feel the same about the Wilhites), and we are all doing very well, thank you.

Carry on with your weekend.

August 16, 2011

Duck Tales

Filed under: animals,Dads,familyness,history — becca @ 8:25 am

I sort of promised you a story.

And here it is.

Once upon a time, we lived in Oklahoma. No, I am not making that up. We lived there for 51 weeks. And we loved everything, everything about it. Everything. (Except the job.) (And the weather.)

Oklahoma is a lovely, wonderful place. As long as you have air conditioning (check), a zoo pass (check) and a creek in your backyard (check). Oh, and friends with teenage kids so you can leave your small girls and go out to eat (check, again). Lots of eating in Oklahoma.

So this creek in our backyard was a source of constant adventure. It was a slow-moving, creeping sort of creek, just busy enough to make some noise, but not scary for the small children to explore. (I thought.) There was this huge, flat submerged stone that showed itself during a long, hot summer and became a perfect place to stand and discover wildlife. Which seemed like such a good idea.[1]

But guess what. Go ahead. Guess.

We didn’t have to stand in the creek to discover wildlife. Wildlife occasionally came to us. In the form of ducks. In the spring, when the redbud trees reminded us of all the reasons to live in Oklahoma (see above), ducks began hanging out on our back porch. Six or seven of them. And we’d feed them leftover pancakes. To the point of training them. No kidding. The ducks got so used to our leftover pancakes showing up on the back porch that they’d come knocking if the cakes weren’t there. Really. They’d come right up to the back kitchen door and peck on the glass with their duckish beaks.

“Hello?”

“Breakfast time, isn’t it?”

(Note: Ducks prefer pancakes to bagels. FYI.)

After breakfast, the ducks would get amorous. Oy. I know. Small children, welcome to the Circle of Life. [2]

Fast forward a few weeks, and only the green-headed boy ducks came for breakfast. What happened to the brown ones? the kids wanted to know. Oh, they’re nesting. Babies soon. Won’t that be fun?

Yes. Oh, yes.

Fast forward another couple of weeks. Babies. Oh, the cutest little yellow puffballs you’ve ever, ever seen. They breathed these little chirping sighs that would just make us insane with their cuteness. We’d sit beside the creek on our tri-leveled porch and watch them paddle by. The mamas and the daddies would take turns coming up to the door for breakfast. We delivered, these days. To all seven babies.

Wait. Six babies. And a few fewer adults.

No. Now five babies. And three adults.

Um, four?

Three babies? No adults? What’s going on here?

It really didn’t take that long for us to understand the Circle of Life playing out in our backyard. Some of those huge Oklahoma snakes were snacking on our babies. And possibly their parents. Vengeance was only a matter of time.

Husband, in a Herculean effort of Pet Rescue Bravery, borrowed a pool skimmer from the Gardening Neighbor. And we sat in wait for our remaining babies to float by.

Rather, make that Baby.

One lone baby.

Out came the skimmer. Into the creek went Husband. Into the skimmer went baby duckling[3]. Sort of screaming, I have to admit. It was one of those moments when we have to tell a smaller creature, “this is for your own good — trust me” but we feel bad anyway.

The internet (yes, it was around even then) had told us that baby ducks like cracked corn, wheat, and  oats. Um, okay. So I put some cornmeal, some oatmeal, and some whole wheat flour in a little pan. Then I put some creek water in another pan. Then I put both pans in a box. Then Husband put the baby duck inside, too. And we watched the baby duck whistle and peck and splash around in apparent relief. I can just see it from baby duck viewpoint: Two small human faces, peering over the edge of the box, two larger human faces, above the small ones. All smiling in a manic human manner. Stop looking at me, humans, and bring more cornmeal.

Everyone knows that a baby duck needs a name. So, Husband named our duck. Mabel Huntington. Do not ask me why. I cannot tell you. [4]

Everyone also knows that a baby duck needs a teddy bear. So, Husband bought Mabel a bear.

Wait. We didn’t know that? Well, the marketing department at PetCo saw Husband coming, then. There was a huge sign. Huge. It said, and I quote, “Birds Love To Snuggle!” Below which was a display of dozens of tiny teddy bears. Husband picked the cutest one, by far.

And brought it to Mabel.

Who adored that bear. And I am being so completely sincere. Even though I may have raised my eyebrows way up high in wonder that someone IN THE ADVERTISING PROFESSION could get snookered by an advertisement for something so unnecessary, he was right. Mabel snuggled up to the teddy and sacked out. With his/her fluffy little yellow head in the bear’s lap. Oh, heck. It was the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, duck-and-bearly speaking.

After a few days, we determined that, although we were pretty attached to the duck (and teddy bear) living in a box in our garage, there was probably a better way to raise this sweet thing. So we made some phone calls. To some of the nicest Oklahomans in the state. Finally, a wildlife rescue place agreed to meet Mabel. I drove her there, her box in the front seat of the Honda, kids safely belted into carseats in the back. The nice wildlife people told me that they’d be happy to do any kind of rehabilitation that Mabel might need and then help him/her to find his/her freedom. That many of the rehabbed ducks would choose to make a permanent home in the pond on the premises. I explained that she wasn’t hurt, exactly, just in mortal danger from the snakes and turtles that were making a habit of snacking on baby ducks in our backyard. Then I explained about the teddy bear.

Silence. Lots of it.

Then a slow nod. Riiiiight, lady. The duck loves the bear. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

I walked back to the car, watching over my shoulder as the brown-clad wildlife rescue worker hitched box over hip and walked away, toward Mabel’s future.

(Dramatic Pause Here)

After a few weeks, we took the Kids to the “museum” on the property of the wildlife rescue people. It smelled of taxidermy and dust. Many stuffed snakes. And live ones. But what I most remember was the possum. Oh, holy mercy. It was placed on top of a glass snake cage (which I’m sure has some manner of technical name ending in -arium, but I don’t care) so that it was, as I turned around, face to face with me. The possum reminded me of all the reasons I won’t ever have a possum for a pet. That, my friends, is a frightening creature. It was white with pink beady glass eyes, which, on its own is scary enough. Because it looked like a hugely overgrown lab rat. But the teeth. Oh, the teeth. There were a million of them. A million, at least.  Sharp ones. Its mouth was open, displaying all the fang-ed wonder. I suppressed both the cries and the gag reflex and shepherded my children out of the room.

We found a brown-clad rescue worker, who laughed when we mentioned Mabel the Duck.

“I remember you,” he said.

(Strangely for me, I couldn’t say the same.)

“Folks, when you brought the duck here that day, I wondered if you were crazy, what with you fixin’ to leave the duck with a toy.” (People in Oklahoma love the word “fixin'” — trust me on this one.) “But you were right. That duck still sleeps with the teddy bear snuggled up right next to her.” (She was a her. Apparently.)

Husbandly Vindication.

We asked to see Mabel. He brought her out. She was at least twice the size of the teddy bear now, and brown and awkward and lumpy.

Gorgeous, I mean.

The Kids couldn’t believe this was the same duck. Then the worker showed us the bed. With the teddy bear inside. The bear that Husband had known, KNOWN would make the duck safe and happy. This little bear was loved up. Nips out of his ears, covered in… something aromatic, matted and completely adored. For a guy who doesn’t like animals, my Husband sure knows how to take care of an accidental pet.

[1] Did you know that snakes live in Oklahoma? They do. And pretty much every single poisonous snake in the northern hemisphere wants to live in Oklahoma. They’ve never, ever read “Grapes of Wrath” apparently.

[2] I may have been heard to open the door and hiss at those amorous ducks, “Hey, there are little kids around here. Take it under the bleachers, why don’t you?”

[3] Telling it this way, it sounds a lot less… wet than I remember it.

[4] Just kidding. Of course I can tell you. Mabel Huntington lives upstairs from Mr. Kreuger and complains that her pipes don’t bring her heat, or water, or something. Mr. Kreuger is convinced that she’s lying for attention. We (heart) Jimmy Stewart.

August 15, 2011

mid-night thunderstorm

Filed under: Uncategorized — becca @ 7:17 am

in my deep sleep
through closed eyelids
the lightning exploded the room

wallshaking thunder
boomed
cracked
pounded

rain like the sound of
thousands of busy typewriters
telling the most important stories

i call it a good omen
i call it a great excuse to wake in the night
i call it the best start to my week

August 10, 2011

Pets. Who needs them?

Filed under: animals,anxiety,familyness — becca @ 8:56 am

If you’re new here, you might need to take a second to discover how I feel about animals.

Or just take my word for it: I don’t need anything else hairy, smelly, or germy inside my home.

But you know, sometimes things just happen.

The boy wanted a turtle, and his sister bought him one of those science-y things that you drop in a bucket of water and it grows to an unreasonable size. The boy wanted a dog and we bought a stuffed animal that he still sleeps with (shh – he’s seven and doesn’t read blogs, so there’s no reason to tell him that you know about Snuggle Puppy). The boy wanted a fish and he went to the county fair and won one.

Oh, dear.

He brought me the fish in a zipper snack-sized bag. A big fish for a small bag. I held on to it for an hour and a half, while it leaped around in its plastic vault. Before he ran off to test his stomach’s strength on the freaky carnival rides, I warned him that the little darling in the plastic bag might not last until we got home.

“No problem, Mom. It’s just going to be fun while it lasts.”

Well, okay.

Fast forward FIVE ENTIRE DAYS, and Minion is going strong. Well, except yesterday when he started … listing. To the side. Swimming backward and sort of … listing. Husband, ever the Animal Rescue Agent [1] pulled out the Big Guns: Goldfish Rescue 911. I wish I was making this up, but I’m clearly not that clever. It’s a real site, and he really read every word (I think).

Turns out that Minion was suffering from Lack Of Oxygen. So when I came into the kitchen, I found Husband pumping air through a basketball pump-drinking straw contraption. He had already done the salt-water dip and taken a cutting off a kitchen plant. Then I left for my meeting. When I came home, I found this:

Because, you know, plants give off oxygen until the sun goes down. Then, Carbon Dioxide, which we (fish and human) don’t particularly want to be breathing. So the fish got a “sunlamp” (which usually lives over the piano, so – wait for it – Kids can see their music when they practice). But not today. The lamp belongs to Minion, and with Minion it will stay.

Updates coming your way.

I know. Eyes Peeled. Me, too.

[1] Remind me to tell you about Mabel Huntington, the duck. It’s a good story.

August 6, 2011

It’s about Today, and 20 years ago…

Filed under: events,history — becca @ 8:53 am

Today, kids, is my 20th (twentieth) year high school reunion.

You know that feeling, the one that you catch a glimpse of yourself in a photo or the mirror or the car window and you gasp and go, “Holy stink, when did I get so old?” The answer is Today. (For me. Not for you. You are not old. Unless you want to be. Which is great with me. Getting older is Some Kind of Blessing, as it certainly beats the alternative.)

Do you want to know what I’ve done in preparation for today? Let’s check my list, shall we?

1. Lose 20 pounds (which would have put me below what I weighed in HS): Nope. Didn’t happen.

2. Get a tan: Nope. Didn’t happen. But I have a good excuse.

3. Buy a cute sundress: Sort of. I have a dress. I bought it months ago, and it’s my standard wear-it-when-I-need-color. But it’s not really new. Nor does it appear, when I wear it, that I managed to accomplish #1. Alas. But it is very bright and pretty. And comfy. Which matters most to me (and says plenty about my crimes of fashion over the length of my life.)

4. Buy great shoes: Nope. How about the comfy 3-year-old sandals? Check.

5. Shave legs: Does yesterday count?

6. Pedicure: I’m counting it. I did it myself, but really, will anyone get THAT close? Let’s hope not.

But despite my utter lack of apparent motivation, I have to say, I’m glad to be going. I loved so many people that I knew in High School. And yes. I know that I use the word “love” easily, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I only went to this high school for a year and a half. But I spread my little heart all over that place. And it came right back to me. As much as there have been days and days over the past few months that I thought “Why in the world would I want to go back to high school?” — this is it: The people I knew there were extremely generous spirits. Even at seventeen, these people cared deeply about things that still matter.

I’m not saying they didn’t also care deeply about that Kevin Bacon movie “Tremors,” I’m just saying they were also capable of sincere, deep love. For each other.

And for a small window of my life, I was one of them.

So off I go, to the Family Picnic part of the party, to smile a lot, to squint out of the corner of my eye at nametags, to solidify my sincere hope that these good kids turned into happy, fulfilled adults. To reconnect. To laugh at memories and to gasp at the wonder that is Right Now.

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