Home > Trip > Dispatches > Local Dispatches > Local Dispatch #24

Saturday, December 30, 2011: Cup

I found this (pictured) cup in Colorado this past summer. We were on our way home, and had just set up camp. It was sitting in the mud, next to a leave no trace sign. I considered leaving it where it was because we have enough mugs, but after thinking about this for a bit, I decided to take it home. It has a chip on the rim that distinguishes it from the thousands of other mugs that look exactly like it.

I suspect that this cup once graced the table of a local diner, and that it previously held many cups of coffee. I don’t drink coffee, just tea and hot chocolate, so it now serves as both a tea cup and a hot chocolate cup. It’s light

Tea Cup

brown on the outside, and black on the inside. It’s round on the bottom, flares up, and is kinda square on the top. It’s ceramic, and holds heat quite well. And it holds more fluid than I originally thought.

I’ve come to equate this cup with the day’s expectations. Every morning, I get up, go outside and tend to the animals. On days like today, when it’s well below zero, I come inside feeling a bit chilled. Breakfast tea, which Pete usually pours into this cup, warms me up. I then feel a surge of energy, along with the sense that this is a day in which all things are possible.

Some days are momentous. And other days are so-so, meaning that not much memorable happened. And still other days (like today) are both momentous and so-so. The so-so part was that nothing of consequence happened. The momentous part was that I enjoyed its uneventfulness.

I decided that it was too cold to ride, and so I instead worked on agent cover letters and my proposal. At one point I had this realization that I’d change the first paragraph of my proposal, an excerpt in which Pete and I are heading north in a school bus, to an excerpt about my meeting Rainbow.

This enabled me to put the entire book in context in the rest of the overview. This may seem like it is either here nor there, I mean, who cares? I saw this as being momentous. At the same time, I had what I want to believe reaffirmed, which that is that constant revision pays off. There are times in which I often wonder if I revise too much, and am just being obsessive. After all, some writers (like Jon Katz) have published several books in the time it’s taken me to write this one. So be it. I can’t live with the nagging feeling that writing wise, something is incomplete or that it could be said better.

I finally pulled myself away from the computer, and went out to do the midday chores. All the critters were in good spirits. Feeding, cleaning up after, and hanging out with the goats, chickens, and horses always makes me feel good. I even like cleaning out the goat shed. Quite often, I think that this must be in my genetic makeup.

There was not much daylight left when I finished up, just enough to take Tinni for a walk. He was glad to get away from the mare hoo haa, and moved with a bounce in his step. It was (to use a now overused word) a momentous walk. The roads were plowed yesterday, so the footing was good. And because it was cold, the distant mountains were more clearly defined than usual. The sky was blue gray, and the snow clung to the birch and spruce.

Tinni and I walked alongside the roadside berms, which are now in places six feet tall. Every so often he snorted. My hands and feet stayed warm, although my nose did sting a bit. Didn’t see a soul—this got me to thinking people around here don’t know what they were missing. This was the most beautiful day of the year.

After, I came in and finished up working on my proposal and sample chapters. Found small things and fixed them. It’s now done. Out into the mail it will go. I suspect that writers who are marketing their work go through phases that are akin to Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s stages of death. These are elation, hope, uncertainty, bewilderment, denial, anger, dismay, and finally acceptance. I’ve finally arrived at the acceptance phase of this project. Whatever happens now happens. The act of writing gives me great joy, and this is why I do it. I still believe that publication is verification that I’m good at what I do, and conversely, that non-publication is verification that I’m not any good at what I do. However, I don’t give this as much thought as I used to. Acceptance: I just do what I think has to be done.

It’s now evening. My cup is at the sink’s edge, and soon will be washed, rinsed and put in the dish rack to dry. Tomorrow morning it will again be filled, and after, I will again put its rim to my lips. I won’t know if the day is so-so or momentous until it’s well underway.

Next: 25. 12/31/11: A Momentous and so-so Year