April 5th, 2010


"Only mustard isn't a bird," Alice remarked.

Another warm and sunny morning in Providence. This chair and this window and this desk are far more pleasant places to be when there is sun coming in through the window, and when it's not freezing outside.

And any day that begins with an email from my agent informing me that a "scary cease-and-desist order" is being sent to an unscrupulous peddler of cheaply printed POD "books," one who has recently been offering an unauthorized edition of one of my short-story collections via Amazon...well, a day like that must hold some promise.

Also, the pastel, leporine horror of Zombie Jesus Day has passed, and that's always a good thing.

So...maybe things are looking up. Never mind that I've already been barraged today with news of the death of the Aral Sea, and of a Chinese oil tanker that's about the break apart on the Great Barrier Reef, and...never mind.


Yesterday, it very quickly became obvious that I was too ill from the Ambien and not having slept to hope to get anything written. Instead, Spooky and I left the House about 3 p.m., and retraced the route we'd driven on Saturday night. We left Rhode Island on the Hartford Pike, and drove as far west into Connecticut as Pomfret, in Windham County. Saturday, we'd turned north here, at the intersection of the Hartford Pike and Route 97. Yesterday, we turned south, onto Wolf Den Road, which skirts the western edge of Mashamoquet State Park. For me, this sort of research is pretty much the same as "scouting locations" for a film. That's how I think of it, anyway. It serves the same purpose. Finding the places where scenes in a novel will occur. Standing there, smelling the air, getting to know it as well as I can. We drove south on Wolf Den Road to Brooklyn Road, then circled back north on Valentine Road to the Hartford Pike. The woods were magnificent, just slipping into spring. I spotted white oaks and red maples and mountain laurel. The sky was wide and bottomless, that hungry blue laid out overhead and the sun blazing alabaster. This is where the novel begins.

Before reaching Pomfret, we stopped to examine an old mill in the Dayville district of Killingly. We'd noticed it on Saturday night, but in the darkness it had been little more than a hulking shape. We're both fascinated by industrial ruin, so we had to have a better look. The mill sits just south of Dayville Pond, and Five Mile River winds by on its eastern edge. The site is fenced off, so there was no danger of us actually entering the treacherously dilapidated structure. We did notice that a great section of roof had collapsed. And a little later, when we stopped for coffee, we noticed a local newspaper headline that read, "Part of roof collapses at vacant mill: 40-foot section caved in on Friday." So, the day before we first saw the mill, the roof had collapsed, which seemed somehow oddly ominous. Back home, Spooky found a bit about the mill online. It opened in March 1883, as the Sabin L. Sayles Company, a manufacturer of woolen goods. In 1895, it became the Dayville Woolen Company, which in 1902-1903 was incorporated as the Assawaga Company. Finally, in 1939, the mill was purchased by a German wire manufacturer, "...William Prym and Company and began manufacturing straight pins, safety pins, cover buttons, snap fasteners, and hooks and eyes." So ended its long history as a textile mill. Near as we can discover, the William Prym Company ceased operations in Dayville in 1995, and the mill has sat vacant for fifteen years. It was recently purchased by a Pomfret businessman, who planned its renovation, though I do not know to what end. We took something like sixity photos of the mill, some of which I'll post.

Driving west, we listened to the Smiths and Massive Attack. Heading home, David Bowie. We made it back to Providence about 7 p.m.

Damn, my coffee is cold, and there are too many sweaters in my office. Five is too many. Anyway, photos behind the cut, and will be more in later entries:

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