A Garden of Delights

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For my Sunday ROW80 post, I mentioned a bit of how day seem to become a blur that I mostly note only in my travel journal and how this is sometimes a good thing.  I stand by that, though to be honest, sometimes I wish I didn’t.

For writing, the blur feels especially useful, but it only works in tandem with a solid journaling practice.  With the blur, days pass by allowing regular stresses and annoyances to fade to a dull roar at worst, and often into obscurity.   The recorded bits in the journal highlight remarkable or otherwise somehow significant moments which come to life once more in the words and images I’d created.

Pretty much like a book should come across, imho.

Yes, there are occasional great stories out there that describe a character’s daily actions in explicit detail, but rarely do even these dwell on the minutiae for long.  Once the significance of the action the author wants us to recognize is made clear, the action moves on wooshing past the little things and onto what really matters to the story.

Likewise, the journal entries record those things that matter.  The smile that stood out of a crowd and made a day feel so much nicer, the raw moment when everything seemed to just fall apart, but stuff needed to be done no matter what, so that’s what I did.

These are the things that I know I read for, be the moment as fantastic as a life or death escape from a rampaging dragon or dealing with a tween whose heart is breaking because the cute girl in class didn’t sit with him a second time in a row.

The rest is merely a blur.

Returning to the ROW80…  it’s time for a check-in.

I wish I could say everything is roses, but actually, I staggered on my daily writing (did two days of three) and, beyond some serious daydream planning, haven’t touched the outlining for ‘Listii’s new story (fortunately he’s a pretty easy-going guy).  All else seems on track.  Will see you all on Sunday.

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A ROW80 Goal Post

A few months ago, I had a plan.

Actually, I’ve had plans and been executing them, step-by-step, most of the time I have not posted here.  Life has been…  well, Life.  Crazy, unpredictable, sometimes hellish, sometimes wonderful—mostly it’s been a blur that I remember only through looking over notes and drawings in my travel journal.  Maybe this is a good thing….  a topic I think I will try to develop into a real post for my Wednesday ROW80 check-in.

We’ll see.

You may wonder why I say “We’ll see” when I am writing up (albeit late) my list of goals for the Round of Words in 80 Days challenge.  After all, shouldn’t I be committing to regular posts and improving my writing?

The answer is “probably”.  Lately though, beyond my maintenance of the ROW80 site and blog, I’ve spent more of my word-related headspace in reading.  Some video time, but mostly reading and learning what appeals to me as a consumer of stories.  I’ve found that I run through an average-sized cozy in a day, I love a series, and that I’m the kind of reader (and watcher) who should never start a series when it’s new—if I have to wait for the next book… I may never return to it.

I do need to return my attention to some writing output however.  Which is why I’m making this post.

So here goes, my (8-week now) plan for the ROW80 challenge:

  • a daily note of something that has happened (journal)
  • continue to devour books
  • a once-a-week post about the books I’ve read
  • continue work on the ROW80 blog
  • outline (this first week) and then rough draft the new story that has been tossing in my head about one of ‘Listii’s covert missions

It’s not a great list.  It’s just a start…  long term goals don’t really work for me.  That’s something else I’ve discovered in my lull from posting.  Neither do breaks…  I need to maintain a consistency of scheduled events or the clutter of Life’s demands takes over and I lose sight of the place I’m trying to get to.  My ROW80 goals are as much a daily thing as anything, but I’ll be updating them weekly.

And maybe that more than anything is my goal for this Round of Words.  Be achieve some consistency in Life.

This post is just a ROW80 check-in.  It’s not that things haven’t been happening in my life of late; it’s that life have been so very rich that there’s no attempting to “catch up” without losing pace with all the upcoming things we have planned here at Chez Mabee.

It’s one hell of a place to be.  😉

What has been suffering is the progress I hoped to make on my ROW80 goals.  I’ve been mostly keeping up with the Big Four I posted back in July (the writing has suffered, sadly, but I think as much because my brain has been in a refill-mode as opposed to a pouring-mode…  I’ve read a lot as well as discovering cool new shows to watch).  However, I have not posted here to add any secondary-goals or maintained any tracking of my progress…  or (worst of all), I have not actually visited any of my fellow ROWers.

So, time to get my propel progress beyond my inner life and out into the real world where accountability is key.  To boot, I’m adding a secondary goal of processing 10 photos in my archive drive, because I’ve decided that I’m going enter some into art shows next year, and I need to start figuring out which photos I want to use and how to best prepare and present them.

Exciting times!  Hope you’re all looking forward to new adventures too.

I gave all my money to a cult today.

Well, technically I had lunch with my husband and son and paid the tip with all the cash I had on me, but we didn’t realize that the restaurant we’d gone to was run by the Twelve Tribes.  Which is weird…  I’d looked up their website several times before we went (we live in a very rural area, so finding a decent selection of local eats beyond the local grocery has been a challenge, especially since our favorite pizzeria burned down two years ago), and somehow missed that bit of information.

To be fair to the group, they weren’t hiding anything, on the web or in the restaurant (look up the Yellow Deli in Oak Hill if you’re curious, and before you ask… yes, the food was yummy and the restaurant was beautifully decorated, but no, I don’t think we’ll be going there again, not even for those pictures of the place I’d wanted to take).  I was just somehow dense or blind.

But something about the place felt odd, and after a lot of discussion with hubby (who usually is pretty good at finding out creepy stuff and somehow didn’t either), I looked again and suddenly finding the nasty stuff was easy peasy.

But no matter!  This post, being my weekly ROW80 check-in, is about more than my weird lunch…  it’s about my writing goals and my (debatable) progress.  I could have wished for a more productive week as far as my goals had been planned.  But I accomplished a huge amount of unplanned-for stuff that needed to be done on short notice.

Specifically, I didn’t do much weeding out of extra paperwork; if anything, I added a bunch with all the notes and research that filled this week.  In doing so, I read two books from my research stack, Radium Girls by Kate Moore and The Honor Code by Kwame Anthony Appiah, and got ¼ through The Faithful Executioner by Joel Harrington.  Oh!  I got some incredible answers for some worldbuilding conundrums I’d been trying to figure out.  (And I did get rid of some extra fluff.)

So win in my book…

The rest of my goals need more due diligence this upcoming week.  I did write every day, but only three days involved new story.  My walking schedule was equally sporadic, and often devolved into stepping in place before bed because I missed the goal all day. But best for last… my house-cleaning goal has been a resounding success even with the busy week, with tons of laundry, vacuuming, dusting and closet-clearing achieved. 😀

And I even took some awesome pictures of our week of fog, the mini-maker faire my son was involved in, and some lovely baby horses at a nearby farm, like the two pics in this post.

Round 3 of the ROW80 actually started last Monday, but…  well, this just shows one of the awesome things about the Round of Words: one can jump in at anytime, and I just wasn’t ready last week, physically, mentally and especially emotionally.

However, after several chaotically busy weeks (good ones, mostly), this Saturday I received a bit of a wake-up call when I nearly lost all my archived photos and stories (and music…  lots of music) to a failing harddrive.

What had happened is mostly my fault… a case of I’ll deal with it later that refused to wait for “Later”.  Luckily, the chance of this particular combination of distractions and diversions being repeated is less likely than my winning the NYS Lottery…  despite the fact that I never buy lottery tickets.  😛

This round, however, I intend to reduce my use of Later.  As a result, I also intend to clear out the many years of fluff files and duplicates that I’ve accumulated through years of shifting electronic stuff from one machine to another, then to another (with two backups per shift).  That’s a lot of fluff since 1991…

So, here are my goals for Round 3 of the ROW80:

  • goal 1) clean out my electronic house
  • goal 2) everyday Test Mile of 5 Sentences or 250 words
  • goal 3) clean out real house…  excess paperwork first
  • goal 4) walk a mile daily

It’s a small list, and I may add temporary/weekly bits here and there as needed.  Small, in this case, is huge…  Goals 1 & 3 are multi-layered affairs.  For example, this week, I intend to gather up old magazines for goal 3 and either recycle or donate them as makes sense.  For goal 1, I will be gathering together all of my archived disks (some are even 5-¼ floppies still) and moving whatever data is on them into our server where I can start sorting through what I want to keep and what I don’t.

Sounds like enough for one week, eh?

SPAM

Posted on: June 6, 2017

Actually, I do love Spam (the canned meat product, not the stuff in my inbox ).  Though if it was the only thing for breakfast, I’d have to pass.  There’s a lot of cleanup involved in spam.  I’ve spent the last few days deleting bunches of it.

Some of it is pretty funny, and if I’m ever in need of an ego boost or am feeling poorly about the quality of my blog posts, all I need do is check the spam folder.  The fawning, often incoherent, compliments begging me to contact the spammer to “help” them sign up to my blog feed never fail to amuse.

The best spam comes when the spammer posts huge compilations of facts, most true, gleaned from around the web and offers it up like an encyclopedia of the odd and obscure.  I actually read those.  I don’t keep them or post them, but some part of me just loves fact-checking those gems.

This, however, was meant to not deal with spam, but be a ROW80 check-in post.  Though, if I’d had any sense, I’d have used one of my goals as “clean out the spam”, because it needed it, and then I could also say “Yay!  I’m getting things done.”

I am getting things done though too.  Now that JuNoWriMo has started, I’m in full swing:writing every day, sometimes over 2K.  I’m also kicking butt on the reading end of things, with my latest acquisition being Prairie Fever: British Aristocrats in the American West.  I’m not too far into it yet, but already I’m gathering some great impressions for The Swan Song Series: Marche.  Especially the opening chapter at the frontier and battlefront.

That’s about it.  I have to head out not (into the deluge) for my son’s LEGO club.  Keep writing!

Back From…

Posted on: May 23, 2017

Old cemeteries can be fun…

Oh…  many places—and times!—can’t forget about the very many time periods I just visited these past few weeks.

I thought I might be able to get around to a quick video/photo blog post while I was in England the past near-month, but…  even doing a quick Facebook photo post was often more than I could pull off easily.  Internet things were not the way I’d anticipated they would be in the the UK after over 10 years.  Ten years ago, the internet was spotty, but predictable.  You plugged your phone into the outlets at the hotel and waited most of the night for your photos to make the long journey across the ocean to home.

These days, you could do things faster, but the photos were generally bigger (and I took a LOT more of them) and things were wireless.  The hotels expected most people to have their own cell phones with basic connections, so oddly enough, internet access was even more spotty.  I did have a usable cellphone there with 3G service (as a non-resident, getting service with 4G and tethering/hotspotting was more of a PITA than I wanted to deal with, so our Pokémon Go use was limited to visits in Starbucks and Wetherspoons (what Elizabeth Anne and I affectionately call the Applebee’s of the UK) where we could get The Cloud or BT_Wifi.

I never thought I would miss Google Starbucks, but…  having an 11 year-old with his heart set on capturing a Mr. Mime (he saw one but never got close enough to catch it) brought out how nice it was to have our US wireless setups the way we do.  Of course, I was an idiot and mis-understood when my husband explained to me how our emergency back-up phone was supposed to work, which made this all the worse.  Ting does have a way to use its service overseas and we’d set our son’s phone up as “if we can’t get anything else, we can use this” device.  It seemed a reasonable thing to do for a $5 surcharge for the month.  Thing is…  calls would have been outrageous cost-wise.

First night in London, we went HERE

But…  it seems data wouldn’t have been.  I could have let the Boodle get online once in a while to try capturing the European exclusive Mr. Mime Pokémon.  Thankfully the Boodle said he had a wonderful time despite this (he’s already making plans for our ‘next trip’ and he hasn’t mentioned Pokémon at all, but he has mentioned several castles and historic ruins he wants to see).

I really don’t know how to describe how wonderful (and how frustrating at times) this trip was.  I thought I was going with few expectations, since I knew how different it would be to make this trip with my son after so many years away.  But I did have expectations… as did the Boodle.  They didn’t ruin the trip, but sometimes things were a bit harder because of them.  We  discovered that our interests aren’t as in sync as we’d both have liked (prime examples: the Boodle is quite obsessed with Stratford-upon-Avon and waking up late, while I found Stratford too touristy and wanted to up and out the door early to See All The Things!).

It would easily take as many weeks as we were in England to describe all the amazing things we did and experienced there.  I know my favorite parts, even with all the other parts being so good, were the three visits with fellow writers (fellow ROWer Alberta Ross and fellow WIPpeteers: Kate Frost and Elaine Jeremiah).  But there was also meeting Ann, caretaker of the Witley Court Facebook page and site staff; Marta, site archaeologist at Vindolanda; Issac and Rachel, the boy and his mother we met at Dover Castle and spent and evening playing on gun turrets and playgrounds and finally enjoying dinner with next to the English Channel…

How can one put the awesomeness of this sort of experience into a blog post?

I don’t think I could, and I’m not even going to try.  I will just leave you with one of our final views (well, except for the sushi bar at Heathrow airport) of England…  a view down the pond of St. Jame’s Park in London (we were almost, but not quite to Buckingham Palace when I took this picture) looking toward the Thames, the London Eye and 10 Downing Street.  Next week I’ll talk all about the writing I didn’t do while I was ‘across The Pond’.  😉

As the sights fade away…

 


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

obligatory “What I Allow”

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