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March 15, 2009

Creative Commons Photo by Bairo

My Newfangled Twitter Machine

August 8, 2009

My quest for an old typewriter is over.

I had combed flea markets, yard sales and antique stores, where I saw typewriter remnants, Selectrics, boxes of typewriter ribbons, rusted typing tables, etc. Last weekend, the owner of a flea market barn told me he sold old typewriters to scrap metal yards and had just unloaded several two weeks ago. My heart fell. I nearly cried. On Sunday, my husband and I went to a flea market, where he spied this Royal manual typewriter on a table filled with odds and ends–a toy stuffed animal that looked so worn I mistook it for roadkill, cassette tape recorders, a variety of self-help books, rusted tools. The typewriter had dried specks of Wite-Out all over it, plus dust and cobwebs.

First thing Monday, I took it to a typewriter shop. The owner treated my typewriter like a precious object. Tom replaced the dried out rubber rollers, fixed the margins, cleaned it, changed the ribbon and showed it a lot of love. He called my Royal typewriter “the tank of typewriters,” saying this popular 1940’s model was  known for its indestructibility. Today, I tested it at the store before I left. I can’t remember the last time I used a typewriter. When I got to the end of the first line, I kept typing, letter on letter. Tom reminded me that I needed to use the manual return. Woops!

Here’s my new pride and joy:

1940's Royal typewriter, model KMM

1940's Royal typewriter, model KMM (copyright 2009 Delia K. Cabe)

I suspect that my hunt is only beginning. I could get hooked into searching for another. So many typewriters are beauties. One of the places I checked out on the Interwebs is the Virtual Typewriter Museum, just to drool.

Purple Haze

May 30, 2009

Clematis in bloomAfter a gloomy and chilly rainy week, today is sun-filled and warm. I love how the sun highlights my clematis. I planted four kinds of tomatoes–Cherokee purple, grape, green zebra and a yellow one.

Between the vast stretches of weeds in my yard where most people have a grassy lawn, I have added many plants with blue to purple flowers–irises, hostas, columbine, lavendar, many others and this one clematis. Ornamental grasses serve as a backdrop with bursts of orange/yellow flowers here and there for accents.

When I see one of my plants blooming like this, I beam. I’m no gardening genius. I play it by ear and learn as I go along. I grew up on the fourteenth floor of an apartment building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, overlooking the East River. I’m a city kid.  Now that I have a house with a large yard (with nothing but thick clay soil and poor drainage), I have lots of room to experiment. I’ve always wanted a garden and enjoy working in my yard. I spend winters pining away for the summer days when I can dig in the dirt. Eventually, as the perennials mature and my gardening knowledge expands, I hope my flower beds look like the ones I drool over in gardening books.

One plant I’d been coveting was clematis. I had been intrigued with clematis for a long while and finally planted this specimen next to a crabapple tree nearly three years ago. The first year, it was a small vine with few flowers. Then I feared it had died. Last summer, I was pleased at its growth. This year, the blooms exploded, much to my delight. The flowers are as big as a a dessert dish. I see them first thing when I enter the backyard. I thought it would be hard to grow, having read all about cutting it down at the right time and so forth. But this one seems pretty laid back for a plant. (I wish I could find the little tag that had the name of this specimen on it.)  I cut this purple beauty back twice a year–at the end of its first bloom and then in the fall. This clematis is generous and will flower a second time for you later in the summer.

I’d like to get another variety, but I have to figure out a home for it. Meanwhile, I need to read up more on clematis, varieties and care so that I feel more confident about what I’m doing with it! To start, I’m checking out the American Clematis Society. David Epstein, the former weatherman on the local news who used to do a weekend gardening segment gave up his TV gig to dedicate more of his time to gardening. I really missed his segments, but was thrilled to read about his new enterprise in a magazine. He has a site called Growing Wisdom, along with a video channel on YouTube.

What’s your favorite online gardening resource?

Rainy Day Tea

May 27, 2009

My dearest friend from college, Karen, knows me so well. She gave me the perfect gift this Saturday. I’m all for things that keep me warm. In the winter I buy HeatMax Hand and Toe Warmers by the gross and wear enough layers to look like the Michelin Woman. Karen is the same way. We once ordered hot chocolate on a steamy summer day because the air conditioning made this restaurant so cold. Sure enough, today was the right day to try my new mug: chilly, damp, rainy, gray. A writer can’t type well with cold fingers.

This Handwarmer© mug is made by Clay in Motion, a family-owned business in Oregon. It comes in right and left handed versions. (Clay in Motion makes other nifty items.) Here’s mine, the rightie version.

tea mug

tea mug with hand

After I left the mug of tea to steep in my kitchen, I returned to my desk, but hit an obstacle. Or should I say, the obstacle hit me. My cat Sadie climbed into my lap and went unconscious. I fell victim to this warm ball of fur on my lap. I didn’t want to disturb her. She was doing her version of the Kathy Bates character in the movie “Misery.” Sadie was keeping this writer hostage. I had no choice but to keep writing — and take a photo of her with my laptop camera:

Sleeping Sadie

Sleeping Sadie

After 10 minutes, the tea in the warm mug beckoned. That’s when I pulled the old dirty trick: Turned on my desk lamp. She couldn’t resist. Her little blue eyes squinting, she immediately hopped onto the desk and parked her groggy self under the light beam. Without missing a beat, I retrieved my tea, which by then needed a quick zap in the microwave.

Looking for an excuse to buy some books?

May 1, 2009

logoHere’s yours:

Today is Buy Indie Day, the brainchild of New York Times Bestselling author Joe Finder. Visit your local independent bookseller and buy a book–or two or more. To find an independent bookstore in your area, visit IndieBound. And if you do not have one near you, many independent bookstores sell their books online.

Buying a book, audiobook or anything else from an indie bookstore supports local merchants. You’ll also give the book industry–and authors–a much needed financial boost.

What books did you buy today? Be sure to leave a list of your haul. I’ll be telling you about mine tomorrow.

Exposed: My Life on Twitter

April 10, 2009

My husband outed my Twitter habit in today’s Boston Globe op-ed page. Titled I am Married to a Crowd, my husband writes of my adventures in the Twitter-verse and in social media in general. In the words of one Twitter friend, my huzz is a Twitter widower. OK, it’s not that bad at all, and I’m not that addicted. (I am writing this post without checking my tweets.)

His piece is a must-read because of his wit and insight into social media. He calls me a Twitter Queen and coins the phrase “digital Botox.” I laughed when I read his first draft and found it charming, too. Others have enjoyed the piece, too. (Some comments are, of course, mean-spirited and shortsighted, and show a lack of humor and understanding. It’s always puzzled me why people do that. Researchers explain that the anonymity of the Internet allows people to say such things. But such rudeness is not limited to the web. Just listen to even one minute of talk radio. I’m all for free speech, but … anyway, I digress.)

kitties-on-twitter1

Forget any preconceived notions about Twitter. Twitter is so misunderstood, and until you reach a critical mass of about 20 followers and 20 people you follow, you won’t get it. You have to dive in. It’s about conversing. It’s not about posting self-absorbed updates like “I’m eating a donut,” “I can’t believe I said that last night. LOL” and “Why can’t I seem to make him notice me?!!!” It’s not like Facebook, as much as Facebook attempts to emulate Twitter.

On Twitter, you exchange ideas with like-minded people who share your interests, passions or career choice. Every day, I fire up Tweetdeck and join a conversation with authors, journalists, bibliophiles and others in publishing and news media. we exchange URLs for interesting articles and conferences and discuss anything related to our work. I follow the 80-20 rule: 80 percent of my tweets are about writing, news, media and related topics, 20 percent personal. Think of it as a virtual water cooler. Because many of us work at home, Twitter is kind of like leaning over the cubicle wall and chatting with a coworker. The great thing is that you can easily find people in your field or who are passionate about gardening, food, social media, blogging–you name it–on Twitter.

My husband’s op-ed speaks to another point about us. My husband and I live in a two-writer household. We get each other and help each other in our work. And of course, we mine each other’s foibles for literary fodder. We have a lot of fun, often laughing until our sides hurt and we’re gasping for breath.

Someone on Twitter tweeted this link today about life as a two-writer couple. The post is sweet and fun–and on the mark. Have a look: “I Married a Novelist.”

Cats on Twitter

March 22, 2009

My writing days, which is every day, are spent at my desk, sharing the real estate with my two cats, Clara and Sadie, who turn 3 in October. Either they’ve become especially interested in my writing, blogging or tweeting, or they like the warmth of my desk lamp. I do know they like to follow the screen cursor around, their heads mirroring its movement as I click here and there, tapping the screen every so often with a paw.

They are an important part of my writing life. They sit/sleep on my lap on cold days and keep me warm. They rest their paws on my laptop’s trackpad or the keyboard. One even printed a document by mistake once. Their typing skills are atrocious. I could never let them write on my blogs. Being part Siamese, they talk to me a lot while I write. My lynxpoints are a source of inspiration and humor. Here are Clara and Sadie figuring out what to say in 140 characters on my Twitter account:

kitties-on-twitter1

Little do they know how many cats have Twitter accounts. Check out the fun site World Wide Whiskers, for news on cats around the world. You can follow the blogger’s cat on Twitter, too.