I posted a possible first paragraph on Facebook yesterday.  Here is a possible first page. I broke all kinds of rules with the structure here and I’m not at all sure it’s going to fly but take a read anyway and tell me what you think.

I can take it.

Bree Four:

I was up to my neck in burdock and fast drying foam insulation, cursing myself for getting into this mess, when it occurred to me that I didn’t. It was Lock who’d put my butt in a sling this time around. Not for the first time either. Damn it. You’d think I’d learn. When I got out of this, if I got out of this, he and I were going to have a little discussion.

Like that would help.

My name is Bree MacGowan, I’m thirty-one years old, unattached and stunning in every way. Or not. It depends on who you ask. Mostly I’m average in a brown eyes and hair way.  My life of late has become mile long domino fall with a train wreck at the end. I pretty much tripped over three dead bodies in the last year, and the last one was credited to a very nasty female Mob boss named Margaret LeDonn. She wants me dead. Or at least I presume she wants me dead, I put her in prison and Richard Hambecker says she wants me dead. He’s usually right about these things, although you’ll never catch me telling him that.

Richard Hambecker alternates between being a gigantic pain in my brain and my buff and competent federal agent boyfriend/bodyguard. He once abducted me from my home and flew with me across the country, supposedly so he could keep me safe under his ‘watchful eye.’ He swears he would have defied orders and left me at home if he’d known how that was going to turn out. I’m not an easy keeper.

Burdocks. Burdocks are the ugliest prickly problem in my life. And a pain. Before my house burned down I’d have to mow them down on a regular basis otherwise my dogs would come back from a run in the fields covered with barbed seed balls that took hours to comb out of their coats. The seeds stick to everything, so if I wasn’t careful I’d brush them out of a dog only to find them stuck to my socks. And they grow everywhere, including between the bricks of the patio a former boyfriend built for me.

Burdocks got back on my radar after my younger brother, Lock – yes the brother who delights in getting me in trouble – called to tell me he and his longtime live-in girlfriend, Ella, were getting married.

“Congratulations,” I said. “Was Ella sober when she agreed?”

“Stop it, Bree,” Lock countered, “Or would you like to talk about your boyfriends?”

I wouldn’t.


It is a sorry tale. I thought I was so smart tearing down the old kitchen ceiling while my husband and kids were away on a college search mission. I hated that ceiling with a passion. But still, I have lived to regret my impulsiveness. Pictures at the end for those who like visuals.

The first three days went well. I spent a couple of hours each evening after work tearing out the old ceiling and cleaning up the GIGANTIC mess that resulted. I’d pry and pull and rip with glee until I’d almost reached the point where I might drop a hammer on my head and then I’d stop and make the place livable for getting ready for work the next day. My plan was to deconstruct Tuesday through Friday and replace the ceiling Saturday and Sunday. And other than the wood under the panels that now looked like slats but were probably once sheets of wood and were a PAIN to get down, things went okay.

On Friday I had two set backs.

1) It looked as though I was going to have to take down the kitchen cabinets (there are only 4) to get the rest of the ceiling down. I just couldn’t pry the remaining bits of slats and panel out.

2) My neighbor looked at the wiring and about had a hard attack. That was going to have to go. (I discovered later that the proper tripping mechanism for the fuse box would take care of that without having to replace the wiring. And now that I think of it, we may already have those doohickeys in the fuse box.) My neighbor cut the offending wire (after the appropriate fuse was turned off,) and capped it off.

On Saturday I had a larger set back:

The family decided it was going to come home a day early.

Panic ensued. Neighbors came to help. Thank Goodness for Steven, Ryan and Joe. They came to my aid. I would say they rescued me, but that’s not very PC these days, and also implies I couldn’t have gotten myself out of the hole I dug myself into. I could, just not as fast. However, even with the power trio in my court we could not get done.  For one thing – rewiring. For another it was just a much larger job than I imagined.  Also, they did it their way. Not that I’m complaining, but I would have done it differently. Will less conferring, less framing and less following of the codes! (Not that we have many codes here in Vermont.) If we’d done what I was going to do we may have even finished the job. But as I said, I’m not complaining.

So, due to the messing with wires, we have no light in our kitchen, pantry, downstairs bathroom, and up and down stairs hall lights. We also lost power to the outlets in one of my sons’ rooms. Way on the other side of the house on an upper floor. Why all those things were wired together?  I have no clue. I think a drunken farmer wired our house.  Hopefully, as I write, the electrician is at the house fixing the electricity problem. Then I’m getting two more lights in the kitchen where it’s so dark.  Yay!

Then I can finish the last bit of framing, put some insulation in the ceiling to reduce noise between the up and downstairs’ rooms. Then the new paneling. Not the recycled barn materials I had hoped for, but some nice bead board (or is that beaded board?). So I’m not getting exactly what I want, but it’s going to be higher and brighter and hopefully will add value.

And the beams! I uncovered the most beautiful dirty and soot stained beams. I’ll clean them. They are fab.

Did I mention that a bunch of the lathing or whatever it was under the ceiling was charred? I guess when they had that fire years and years ago they didn’t bother pulling out the burned wood. They just covered it over. I am so glad that stuff is gone from my ceiling. No wonder the house stinks when it’s damp. It’s probably full of burned wood that’s been covered over. Yikes.

Now for those of you that like visuals:  Pictures!


I’m misbehaving, but I can’t tell you about it until I’m done. Although, come to think of it I could tweet about it. No one adverse to what I’m doing would see it there.

I’ll post pictures when it’s fait accompli. Until then:


So my three youngest three kids were in a musical this weekend.  Working.  Which I had never heard of before.

I have to say they did a fabulous job.  Child number four was in the chorus so I don’t really have good clips of her, so you get Boy one and Boy two. You should thank me – I’m only putting up one song each.  Proud mom here.

In order of song:  Boy number two –

This is boy number one:

Feel free to tell me how fabulous they are! I never tire of hearing that.

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Is my brain on… on what?  I’m not sure exactly. I’ve been thinking a lot. A lot a lot. (You can credit Shrek for that one I think.) Firstly about Bree. Which is good in that it is making the book better, but also bad because it means more rewriting, which in turn means more time before that sucker comes out. And I’ve got to get Bree out before I can go back to Glimmer Girls which a number of you are clamoring for.  Not that I blame you. It’s a pretty good story.

I’ve also been thinking about climate change and owing the IRS a big chunk of money. What is it about money that lends itself to one crisis after another? Why is there no catching up? I’m not whinging, mind you. I just really want to know.

Here’s the thing about climate change: It’s horrible and beautiful. We have an exhibit up at the Museum at the moment: Water Ways: Tension and Flow.  The images – you know what? Instead of telling you I’ll show you a couple:




James Balog, American, born 1952

Birthday Canyon, Greenland Ice Sheet, from the series Extreme Ice Survey

June 28, 2009

Chromogenic print

Melting Glacier.  Need I say more?

step well




Edward Burtynsky, Canadian, born 1955

Stepwell #2, Panna Meena, Amber, Rajasthan, India,   2010

Digital chromogenic color print.

This is a step well in a community where people used to gather, collect water and swim. The water is being drawn off in other ways now, and it is no longer potable. Although people do still gather there. It’s a cool space. They just no longer collect water or swim.



Daniel Beltrá, Spanish, born 1964

Alter Do Chao, Para (Brasil), from the series Amazon Drought

October 2005
Epson Ultrachrome K3 pigment print on paper

This used to be a lush tropical paradise. Now it’s stranded boats and rotting fish.  I don’t find this image beautiful. But it is a terrible warning.

Now you may chat among yourselves.  Do you believe that the earth’s climate is changing? And if not, why not. And if not, what possible reason could anyone have for lying about it?

I’m opening a can of worms. It’s been that kind of day.