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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
06/14

Spring Squam 2017

It’d been awhile since my last Squam Art Workshops retreat: I taught a writing class there in September 2014 and daydreamed about returning as a student again for printmaking and other yummy classes, but life conspired against it. And like everyone else, I was sad when I heard 2017 would be Elizabeth’s last year running the retreats—though I know very well the desire to move on from what you’ve already proven you’re good at.

 

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Photo by London Kaye.

 

A few weeks ago Elizabeth seemed anxious to connect, and when we got on Skype she told me her writing teacher had pulled out and could I fill in. COULD I?

So I got to go to Elizabeth’s last June Squam after all. My iPhone is busted and I decided not to pack Aunt Kathy’s Nikon, so this post is going to be 100% other people’s photographs. It was lovely not to spend the energy documenting everything. I texted a few pictures of the cabin to Matt from my dumbphone and got on with the nature worship.

 

I drove up with Elizabeth on Sunday and helped decorate and organize registration stuff—the most relaxing and enjoyable “work” you can imagine. Check out Elizabeth’s blog recap for a nice photo of Meg and Coop, a.k.a. Team Squam Mice (Meg arranged the table above)—and here’s a photo of Terri and me taken by her partner Tom at the end of my last class on Saturday morning:     

 

(You may recall I took Terri’s woodworking class in June 2014. Elizabeth likes to say she is an angel passing for human and I wholeheartedly agree.)

 

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With Laura-Lynn and Rosemary (two of my Nirvana cabinmates in 2011) on Wednesday afternoon.

 

   

 

I hadn’t seen my dear friend Anne in three years, so we really reveled in getting to be roomies again—talking about our families and creative aspirations on the sun-baked dock and late into the night.   

 

  Writing on this porch, enfolded in the magic of the trees..💖 #squamlove   A post shared by Jane (@sepiaandglitter) on

 

Both my classes were full of smart, enthusiastic, open-hearted women of all ages, teens to seventies. In theory we were writing personal essays (for a clear definition of what constitutes a personal essay as opposed to memoir, read this), but in practice each student shaped those six hours to her own ends. The mind mapping was a big hit.

 

    I connected with mind-blowingly talented teachers (see if you can spot me above having our last breakfast with my cabin-mates Mary Jane Mucklestone and Karen Templer), caught up with friends I made way back at my first Squam in 2011, and got ideas for future projects that absolutely light me up. More on that…eventually.  

Evening lights at my cabin Cragsmere. We are all cozy. #squamartworkshops #squamlove #squamlove2017 #rdcsquam A post shared by Cordula (@handherzseele) on

Knitting from this porch for the next few days, byyyeeeeee everyday life #squamartworkshops #squamlove #squamlove2017

A post shared by Claire Allen-Platt (@claireallenplatt) on

I know I keep saying I’m going to get back into blogging more frequently and consistently, but after teaching this time around I do feel more motivated—I had several conversations with similarly ambivalent bloggers (“I feel silly writing and putting it out there when it feels like nobody’s reading it”), and I figured we could just make a point of reading and responding to each other’s work. Community is what we come for, after all!

 

See plenty more pics where these came from using the Instagram hashtag #squamlove2017.

 

05/13

In Memoriam

Today would have been my Grandmom Kass’s 89th birthday. She passed in her sleep one week after Kate and Elliot’s wedding in February.

I wrote in my journal:

I thought I had done my grieving in advance, bit by bit over the past four years. Turns out that’s not how grief works, at least not for me.

It took me awhile to post about her death (for reasons I won’t get into), but here’s what I eventually put up on Facebook:

 

Today we’re back in New Jersey, gathering with relatives for a Mass said in her name (in lieu of a funeral, which she definitely did not want) and takeout from our favorite Italian restaurant afterward.

 

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I miss her, he says when we call, and we can hear the tears in his voice.

You had a good long life together, we tell him. I can’t begin to imagine what it feels like to lose the person you chose to share your life with, especially when you’ve been inseparable for seventy years. Even if she was leaving you little by little.

But I do know one thing: it is not possible to say “I love you” too many times.

 

03/02

Sugaring Season

There is something inexpressibly sad in the thought of the children who crossed the ocean with the Pilgrims and the fathers of Jamestown, New Amsterdam, and Boston, and the infancy of those born in the first years of colonial life in this strange new world. It was hard for grown folk to live; conditions and surroundings offered even to strong men constant and many obstacles to the continuance of existence; how difficult was it then to rear children!

 

A few years back I read Alice Morse Earle’s Child Life in Colonial Days as research for a project currently on the back burner. Here’s my favorite passage, which I kept forgetting to post at the appropriate time of year (until now!):

The first thought of spring brought to the men of the New England household a hard work—maple-sugar making—which meant vast labor in preparation and in execution—all of which was cheerfully hailed, for it gave men and boys a chance to be as Charles Kingsley said, “a savage for a while.” It meant several nights spent in the sugar-camp in the woods, a-gypsying. Think of the delight of that scene: the air clear but mild enough to make the sap run; patches of snow still shining pure in the moonlight and starlight; all the mystery of the voices of the night, when a startled rabbit or squirrel made a crackling sound in its stealthy retreat; the distant hoot of a wakeful owl; the snapping of pendent icicles and crackling of blazing brush, yet over all a great stillness, “all silence and all glisten.” An exaltation of the spirit and senses came to the country boy which was transformed at midnight into keen thrills of imaginative fright at recollection of the stories told by his elders with rude acting and vivid wording during the early evening round the fire; of hunting and trapping, of Indians and bears, and those delights of country story-tellers in New England, catamounts, wolverines, and cats—this latter ever meaning in hunter’s phrasing wild-cats. Think of “a wolverine with eyes like blazing coals, and every hair whistling like a bell,” as he sprung with outspread claws from a high tree on the passing hunter—do you think the boy sat by the fire throughout the night without looking a score of times for the blazing eyeballs, and listening for the whistling fur, and hearing steps like that of the lion in Pilgrim’s Progress, “a great soft padding paw.”

What forest lore the boys learned, too: that more and sweeter sap came from a maple which stood alone than from any in a grove; that the shallow gouge flowed more freely, but the deep gouge was richest in sweet; and that many other forest trees besides the maple ran a sweet sap.

01/30

Marvelous News

For the past two and a half months, whenever anybody asks me how I’m doing I say “I’m great, apart from this insane political situation!” I am angry and depressed. It feels weird and wrong to promote my work at a time like this. But then, as Mexican refugee poet (and 2016 Writers’ Room of Boston fellow) Ari Belathar remarked last week at Together We Rise, the purpose of an artist in times of oppression is to make art.

 

That said, my marvelous news has to do with art I made five years ago. Remember my children’s novel? Well, my indefatigable agent finally found a home for it. I’m speaking with my new editor at Amberjack Publishing a little less than an hour after I hit “publish” on this post.

Here’s the announcement in Publisher’s Lunch today:

Alex Award winner Camille DeAngelis’s THE BOY FROM TOMORROW, about two twelve-year-olds living in the same house one hundred years apart who form a deep and life-changing friendship using a spirit board, to Kayla Church at Amberjack, by Kate Garrick at The Karpfinger Agency (NA).

You can read more about The Boy from Tomorrow on Nova’s blog, the Main Street Vegan blog, and on its own shiny new book page. (Still trying to figure out how to make the title appear in the drop-down menu up top.) Coming to a bookstore near you on May 8, 2018!

A couple quick clarifications:

  • This book is for middle-grade readers (ages 9-12, approximately), but it is intended for children of all ages, which means you and everyone you know.
  • It is very much in keeping with my earlier novels—a pocket of magic inside the ordinary world, emotionally resonant (I hope!), bittersweet.

Four-plus years on submission, and now I’m hooked up with an indie press who have asked for my birthday so they can mail me a treat. Feeling very, very grateful!

 

01/26

Starry Sorbetto and Retro Apples

Another sewing post!

For Christmas, I sewed my roommate a Sorbetto blouse using the yard-plus I had left over from my starry Darling Ranges dress. She’d oohed over the fabric, and she does seem to like (usually understated) metallics.

 

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This was my second time using this pattern—Sorbetto #1 was a Christmas present for my sister (in 2013, I think? or 2014?) using a fuchsia rayon from Mood. I never did get a picture of her wearing it, but that’s okay—it came out too short so I’m not sure how much she’s actually been able to wear it. I learned my lesson, and added length this time. Other than that, this pattern is great (especially since it’s free!)

 

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P1130119I moved into this lovely old attic apartment at the beginning of summer 2014, and spent the first couple weeks shopping for furniture at Goodwill and Boomerangs. I fell in love with this 1930s-(ish?) folding chair—it was only five bucks!!—so home it came with me. All along the plan was to remove the old vinyl seat covering and recover it with something awesome, but as you can tell by the date stamp on this blog post, it’s taken an inexplicably long time to complete the easiest DIY project ever.

The fabric is an utterly delightful linen upholstery weight from Cotton + Steel, which waited patiently in the drawer while I got myself organized enough to pick up a foam chair pad from Jo-Ann. I cut the pad to size with a box cutter, pulled all the rusty old staples out, and put on the new upholstery using a staple gun left over from my canvas-stretching days.

 

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Believe it or not, it is possible to fall head-over-heels in love with a folding chair. This print puts a big smile on my face every time I look at it.

 

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I’m working on my dress for Kate’s wedding at the moment, so that’ll probably be the next project I blog!

 

12/31

Foxes and Rabbits

‘And carrots, Dad!’ said the smallest of the three small foxes. ‘We must take some of those carrots!’

‘Don’t be a twerp,’ said Mr. Fox. ‘You know we never eat things like that.’

‘It’s not for us, Dad. It’s for the Rabbits. They only eat vegetables.’

‘My goodness me, you’re right!’ cried Mr. Fox. ‘What a thoughtful little fellow you are! Take ten bunches of carrots.’

—Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox

* * *

Just when you thought my home-sewn wardrobe couldn’t get any more twee

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Best of all, they are vegetarian foxes, frolicking most innocently with their bosom bunnies. I saw this fabric at Grey’s last summer (a few months before Sarah decided to pack it in) and could not resist it.

 

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At the Gardner Museum, October 2015. Photo by Elliot.

 

From this unabashedly twee cotton I made my second Hawthorn, this time with short sleeves. I was hurrying to finish this dress in time to wear to Kendall’s Drift & Dagger launch party in September 2015 (I told you I had a backlog of sewing posts!), and in my haste I did not ease the sleeve cap in as smoothly as I could have. But as I have already confessed, if you aren’t going to notice my shortcuts then I am probably not going to get around to fixing them anytime soon!

Matt and I [‘who is Matt?’ Read this] went to the MFA the other day and he (very patiently) took more photos so I could finally publish this post.

 

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VERY earnestly contemplating the symbolism of Barbara Gallucci’s Topia Chairs.

 

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Go see the Terry Winters exhibit!

 

Can you tell this is my favorite dress pattern? It is so flattering and so fun (though I did no twirlies at the museum. I should have.) I finished a third Hawthorn back in September for the Life Without Envy launch, but I still have to get good photos.

 

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I played with some of the Flickr filters on these last two.

 

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Happy New Year, everybody! (God help us all…………)

 

12/27

Christmas Dahlia dress

I may just find my way back into blogging through a backlog of sewing posts.

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Here’s my sister’s Christmas present from last year—her first in her (their) new home in Washington, D.C. It’s a Dahlia from Colette Patterns, suitable for work (even if the cotton is prone to wrinkling). Fitting color choice for an environmental policy analyst, don’t you think?

 

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The fabric is a cotton lawn from Robert Kaufman, which I purchased soon before Grey’s Fabric moved house and turned into Mercer’s. (It’s been almost a year and I still haven’t been to the new store, partly because I don’t want to be tempted when I still have so much of a stash to sew through—I bought more during the moving sale!)

 

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Dahlia is not my favorite Colette pattern, to be honest; this was the first time I’ve had to second-guess anything. I suppose I’m skilled enough now that I can anticipate when and why alterations will be necessary, and in this case I do believe it’s a matter of a less-than-flawless design rather than making alterations to suit one’s own form.

 

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If you sew this pattern, you will most likely want to make the following modifications:

Untitled1. Add shoulder darts at the top of the raglan sleeves so the yoke conforms to the shape of the neck and shoulders. (I followed Lime Scented’s notes and made mine 3″ wide and 3.5″ long. If you need assistance, here’s a tutorial.) If you don’t add shoulder darts—which ought to have been written into the pattern to begin with—you’re going to have a gappy-backed potato sack effect going on up top despite the bodice gather. In the course of my Google research I found someone explaining that it’s just very difficult to tailor raglan styles using woven fabric, so that’s why you don’t see them too often in sewing patterns.

2. Take in the sleeves by at least one inch. As designed they’re fairly baggy-looking, which detracts from the lovely feminine silhouette.

I’m very pleased with how this dress turned out. I was nervous about the fit—I tried it on as I was sewing (since I don’t yet own a dress form) and couldn’t get the zipper up, but my sister’s waist is much narrower than mine is, so it fit her perfectly. Whew!

 

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Kate and Elliot are getting married in February. I’m sewing my dress, which will give me another fun project to blog about.

 

U Street Christmas 2015

Needlepoint by our Aunt Kathy.

 

11/25

Vegan Onion Pie

File0252After I went vegan I looked back through all the recipes I’d posted on the blog, either making a note on vegan substitutions or removing the post until I could veganize it to my satisfaction. My grandmother’s onion pie recipe is one of these. For Thanksgiving I thought I’d try to veganize this simple quiche using VeganEgg from Follow Your Heart.

I was feeling even more sentimental than usual when baking this onion pie; my grandmother is not herself anymore, she hasn’t been for a good few years now. I want to get back into making (vegan versions of) her recipes to remember all the good times, back when she was still cooking and baking and decking the whole house with hundreds of snowmen decorations at Christmas. She doesn’t remember any of that now, so our family will have to remember it for her.

Here’s my vegan update. For the pie filling:

4 cups sliced cubed onions (I used red and white)
1/4 cup Earth Balance butter
2 VeganEggs (4 tbsp. powder whisked with 1 cup cold water)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk + 1 tsp. arrowroot [see note]
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 pastry shell

[NOTE: to make a liquid as thick as the evaporated milk the original recipe calls for, I took Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s suggestion in The Joy of Vegan Baking, whisking 1 tsp. arrowroot into half a cup of homemade cashew milk. Cornstarch is another thickener option.]

I haven’t made the pastry recipe from A Platter of Figs since I went vegan, but it’s easy enough to tweak, and I added some extra ingredients for a more flavorful “co-starring” crust:

2 cups flour
2 sticks (1 cup) Earth Balance butter (cut into thin slices)
1 tsp. salt
1 VeganEgg (2 tbsp. powder whisked with 1/2 cup cold water)
fresh and/or dried herbs/spices (I used 1 tbsp. dried chives, 1 tbsp. black sesame seeds, and 2 tsp. coriander)

This recipe yields two 9″ crusts, so freeze the second for later.

Mix the flour, butter, and salt, then add the VeganEgg mixture and herbs. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.

Now to the filling instructions:

Sauté onions in Earth Balance butter with salt and pepper until tender, stirring in nutritional yeast toward the end. Pour in pastry shell. Whisk VeganEgg with water, mixing in the thickened milk. Pour mixture over onions. Bake at 425º F for 25 minutes or until golden brown. (I left mine in for 30 minutes and the crust is a little crispy.)

Does it approximate a traditional quiche? Not looks-wise—the baked VeganEgg is dry-looking compared to a quiche made with eggs—but taste-wise it is very good indeed!

 

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Next time I’ll add mushrooms to the filling and fresh herbs in the crust, and maybe some poppy seeds. Fancying up that crust was a very delicious idea; when we had late-night leftovers this was the first dish I reached for.

More scrumptious holiday recipes I used at Thanksgiving this year:

The Best Vegan Stuffing Recipe

Cashew Gravy

Cabernet-Cranberry Sauce with Figs

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Read my post about my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary here.

 

11/13

Thoughts on the Eve of My 36th Birthday

I am grieving for a country that doesn’t exist yet.

I don’t know anyone who voted for that repulsive excuse for a human being, but then I guess that’s just proof of how thoroughly I have insulated myself, both online and in real life. And I’m not alone. No one I know was remotely prepared for this.

My first thought was, I am so, so ashamed to be an American.

And then: Eff that. This is OUR America, too. I’m not going anywhere.

When I do eventually get the chance to ask someone who voted for that hatemongering, predatory narcissist WHY they did it, I will say this: “Did you ever stop to think that voting for the candidate endorsed by the KKK would result in a surge of hate crimes? Did you ever really consider what you were aligning yourself with?” (Because wah, wah, wah. Why is everyone calling us ignorant and racist?)

I am angry and I am scared. This is the first thing I have written about the election, but it won’t be the last. I’m done being complacent.

Here’s a round-up of my favorite analyses, postmortems, and calls to action:

No, we should not wait and see what a Trump administration does. We should organize our resistance right now.  

A Time for Refusal

Autocracy: Rules for Survival

What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class

President Trump: How America Got it So Wrong

Alarmism saved my family from Hitler: Why I won’t tell anyone to calm down about Trump

So far I’ve attended a peace rally, set up a recurring donation to the ACLU, signed up to volunteer with HIAS, and joined a bunch of “secret” groups online who are beginning to organize and disseminate information. If anybody has any more suggestions as to how to protest, volunteer, and speak up, I’d love to hear them. (I’ll be making more donations to Planned Parenthood, SURJ, et al.)

It’s absolutely terrifying how quickly the media has rolled over. Check out this bullshit:

 


Okay, I’m done ranting for now. I’ll drink a glass of champagne tomorrow in gratitude for my existence, but apart from that it’s down to business!

 

11/07

What’s News

Here’s another quickie post—I’ve thrown myself into NaNoWriMo, so I won’t be blogging again regularly for at least another month!

 

 

There is now a Youtube channel (with a million thanks to my friend M.A. Barrett for putting together such beautiful videos!) I’m planning to sit down in the next week or two and get a bunch more recorded. Like I said, this is going to be sort of like my video series from 2012, only much shorter—2-3 minutes long, and more generally creative. I’d love to hear your requests for future video topics!

 

Things I have written lately:

Why Success is a Crock (and What to Aim for Instead) on Medium

Bile and Begrudgery: How to Break Free of Your Own Bullshit on Medium

Creating a Life Without Envy (inspired by Hindu concepts of Oneness and Devotion) on Dead Darlings

 

Things that have been written lately about Life Without Envy:

Local Author offers ‘Ego Management for Creative People’, Philly Voice

“A Most Savage Plague”: A Brief Encounter with Literary Envy, Kate Gilbert on Readers Unbound

Novelist Claire Hennessy transforms envy into pure admiration on Girls Heart Books

 

Podcast interviews:
Morning on the Dock #52 with my friend Elizabeth Duvivier of Squam Art Workshops

Tranquility du Jour #381: Life Without Envy with Kimberly Wilson

 

Another exciting thing: I took a six-week illustration class at RISD and now I’ve committed to drawing (or just doodling—no pressure) every day for the next year.

 

First page of my new #sketchbook! #art #drawing #micron #watercolor #watercolorpencil #flowers #sketching

A photo posted by Camille DeAngelis (@cometparty) on

 

Thank you to everyone who’s come out to my events over the past month-and-change, thank you for buying the book, and thank you for reading!

 

Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.
Photo by Anne Weil