A Day In My Life
…. begins with an exuberant yellow Lab leaping onto the bed between my husband and me to encourage whichever one of us appears least comatose. Most days, after I stagger to the kitchen and revive myself with coffee, Scout having plunked himself on top of me, I drag myself to the gym for a water aerobics class (sometimes the water is slightly above freezing, too). The instructors are great and indulge the class by playing music from the mid and late seventies so we can sing to distract ourselves from shivering while we jump around in wild cardiac exercises. Water aerobics are supposed to leave us beautifully toned, also. I’ve only been doing this for twenty-one years; I’m sure that effect will be apparent soon.
Once I’m home, I head to my writing room with another infusion of coffee. My computer desk is in front of a large window. I can see the six raised beds of our vegetable and weed garden out in the sunny part of the yard near the roses.
To my right through a door onto the deck are pots filled with red and pink impatiens, geraniums, big yellow begonias, sky-colored lobelia, tiny stars of alyssum and marigolds. A big, multi-armed bird feeding station and several birdhouses are farther out in the back yard, while hummingbird feeders and flowering pots hang in the lowest branches of the Chinese elm that towers over the house and deck; we brought that tree home, bare root, in the trunk of our car, close to thirty years ago. Now, like the family we raised here, it’s fully grown, and three beloved grandchildren have played under its shelter. Our son died in 2019 and we miss him daily, extra grateful now for the beloved family we still have.
I spend the day writing. I try not to be distracted by phone or email—or Scout, especially when I’m working on something new. When a book is coming out there’s a lot of work expected on publicity and marketing and sometimes it’s difficult to balance that with focus on the new project—what I most love to do—and often the new work ends up on the back burner for a while. What I didn’t do today—again–was work on my next novel. But I think that’s the life of the writer now, back and forth between working on something new and what we do to help bring our books into the world and find their readership.
At about 3:30, Scout starts to get impatient. I can hold him off until 4:00 if I’m being productive. By then he’ll be impatiently nosing my left arm, making it impossible to type. If I put him off much longer, he puts his front paw into my lap and jams his head between me and the keyboard. I’ll give up and load him into the back seat of the car, drive the two minutes it takes me to get to the nature preserve near my house where off-leash dogs are allowed to run if they’re under voice command, which Scout occasionally is. Unless there’s something stinky or dead to roll in or eat. Then all bets are off. I do this, unless, of course, my husband is home from his fine art photography studio, and I can get him to take Scout. Or, I give up on work and we all go.
Scout came to us from Lab Rescue—he’d been found tied up and abandoned. He’s a brilliant retriever and takes particular pride in his ability to play shortstop with the tennis balls my husband launches with a flinger. One of our great accomplishments was teaching him to swim. Labs, with their webbed feet, are naturally excellent water dogs, but he was afraid to get into the swimming holes that are perfect in the wide creek that runs through in “our” forest. We finally teased him in by throwing in treats and finally wading in ourselves, and he really couldn’t stand that. Soon enough, there was no ball he wouldn’t swim for.
Afterward a hike, a glass of wine, talk, and some music out on the deck with my husband. Then after debating whose turn it is to cook, somebody makes dinner while we catch the evening news. The other cleans up. Ideally, I mean, on that “clean up” part. My standards might be somewhat (exponentially) higher than his. Then maybe a book club or other meeting for one of us, or an episode of a something streaming on TV: The Crown, The Good Fight, and Yellowstone, are current favorites. Always, always, finally, an hour or more of reading—
for me, a literary novel. I count it an excellent day when it included contact with a family member like my daughter, one of the grandchildren, or my sister. The day circles its tails and settles to sleep for the night with Scout having done exactly that, first up on the bed with us for some final treats, and then down on his own, everything—at least for a few hours—in place.