Stephanie Burgis
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One of the nicest things about coming home from a long vacation is the reminder of how much I love where we live now. Coming back from a long absence makes all the beauty seem fresh and new to me again. This afternoon, I took Nika out on a long hike along a footpath that starts ten minutes from our cottage. It winds through green fields, with big, sleepy cows and horses quietly chewing long grass. I let Nika off the leash to spin in dizzying circles with me and, at various points, six different dogs. Her whole body wagged! I came home feeling amazingly refreshed and filled with happiness.

This morning, Patrick and I put our new scheme into action and woke up at the ungodly hour of 6:15. (Okay, I know we're wimps. So sue us. It's still almost two hours earlier than we normally wake up, and we are soooo not morning people!) Quick breakfasts--no hot drinks--a quick Nika-walk, and then she gratefully trundled back into bed (she was so exhausted, she kept shooting us pleading looks, like "Why are you doing this to me???" when we dragged her out of bed for her morning walk) and we hopped a bus to go downtown and sit in a coffeeshop for an hour or so of writing before work.

And guess what? It felt good. Surprisingly good. Well, tiring, too...tonight, we're going to try to go to bed earlier, in preparation. But it was such a great way to begin the day. We've always done our writing in the evening, in the past, but it's just so hard to enjoy the evenings when Patrick doesn't get home from work until 6-ish, we have to have dinner first, and then try desperately to fit everything in--writing, relaxation, exercise, and even, maybe, some entertainment... So many of our Clarion friends are successful morning, pre-work writers that we finally decided to give it a try. So far, I'm voting "yes". We'll see how I feel tomorrow morning when the alarm goes off again...

And when I got back at 10 this morning, I found the nicest possible email waiting for me--a letter of encouragement from an editor at one of my favorite magazines. Wow. What a great morning!

So now it's time to finish washing up the dishes, start cooking dinner, and make a list of what I need to get tomorrow at the university library...but what the heck. I can handle all that, no problem. Between our morning writing stint, good email, and Nika's walk, I'm feeling remarkably buoyed up today.

Oh, and one fun link to pass on: I came across this Year's End list of recommended short fiction from 2003 online today. It includes Patrick's "Five Things of Beauty" (yay!) along with lots of other good reads to hunt down, many of which are still available to read for free online. Check it out!

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