A Garden of Delights

Archive for the ‘Learning’ Category

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.

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I know that the reason for regular ROW80 check-ins is not to brag about our accomplishments (okay, not solely), but also to share those less than stellar times when we are floundering and need the support of our fellow ROWers to get us going again.  Still, I somehow managed to avoid three check-ins in the past two weeks (one at Many Worlds and two here) because I felt I had nothing to report.

I wasn’t writing, and somehow, I’d begun to equate words on the page as the only marker of actual progress I could use.  Which is (of course) very silly on my part.  I was doing a ton of things, above and beyond the normal stuff of daily life.  If anything, I’ve had to become extra creative to fit in those normal things…  a few dishes here and there while waiting for my hot water in the morning, sort a few clothes and move a load for folding out on my way downstairs…

Thursday and Friday I was “at college” with my son as he was invited to participate in a  set of workshops* with the drama department at Hudson Valley CC and Shakespeare & Co. for their Northeast Regional tour.  A mini-homeschooling conference on Tuesday, car inspection and repairs on Wednesday, dental visits on both Monday and last Thursday, and on and on…

Oh, and I have managed to get back to some writing-related stuff.  The classes I am taking on Ancient Portus (not so much the Maritime Archaeology one) and the American South (global view) have provided a great deal of fodder for my stories.  Time Team episodes have given me a deeper realism of the past and what skies might look like, smells, even how the water might be…  We like to romanticize the past by imagining things were so much cleaner and purer (or how much more violent and dangerous) things were.  At least in fiction, especially, there seems to be a sense that we do things so very different than we used to.

Then we have to consider facts like the Tiber river had become so polluted during by the 2nd C BC in Rome that there were purification rituals for the river itself (and an increased need for well drilling), that the slag heaps from ancient iron smelting were stacked so high in some places they made their own mountains (and became a source of iron in WWI), or man-made hills of discarded pottery in Italy…  just think of the trees that had to be cut down and burned for those kilns and furnaces (making charcoal uses an insane amount of wood in its own right).

So, yeah…  I’m getting some definite ideas about the world in more stories, smells, sights, textures.  And I even managed some newish words last night.  Yay!

*For the record…  After Friday’s 3½ hr session on clowning, I have acquired a great respect for the control needed for any comedic actor as well an awe at the passion the Boodle brought to his parts.  He’s an amazing kid.
cups-8

Always?

It’s official.  I am the world’s most inconsistent blogger.

(It’s also official…  I do NOT like WordPress’s idea of a “newer, easier to use” [I forget the exact words they used] editor.  Give me the clunky thing in my Dashboard/Admin area.  Love that so much!)

Anyway…  I’m back.

Another Round of Words in 80 Days began today, and since I volunteered to sponsor (I haven’t ROWed in a long time, and I miss the gentle nudges to write regularly), I need to blog.  Why didn’t I choose my beloved writing blog Many Worlds From Many Minds?  I don’t know: maintenance reasons, emotional reasons…  Just reasons.


In the spirit of a ROW, it’s time to set some goals to keep tabs on throughout the next eighty days.  I’m going low-key right now with the option (one I’m sure I will exercise because I always do) of adding goals later in the ROWnd.

In fact, my first (and main) goal is going to be: Assess progress weekly and add more projects as needed.

Notice I didn’t say “adjust” or “tweak” or any of those other (sometimes weaselly) words that allow me to drop a challenging project just because something newer and shinier has come into view?  Well, I’m ALL about the shiny, trust me, but I’ve come to realize how self-defeating that behavior can be.

I just spent whole weekend cleaning out (actually I still have a few more hours left on the project yet) my OneNote files, notes that have piled up since 2003, notes that had not been synced correctly when I upgraded in 2010…  notes that came with seven (yes, seven!) “conflicted versions” because a random change or edit got saved on one machine and not another.

My next project is to make sure all my story files are saved, backed up and synced correctly, and that also will include digging into some scary archives.  Time to pull out DOSBox and Wordperfect 5.1 to make sure I have all the comments and notes.

And in the interim…  I have the goals of:

  • working through three chapters weekly of James Scott Bell’s Plot& Structure (including exercises)
  • catching up in my local critique group (including submitting something this week)
  • typing two pages a day of old notebooks in

And THAT is enough for anyone right now.

It’s been a process of rediscovering old interests, passions and… bad habits.  But thing can change.  In fact, they always do.

Captured

Posted on: July 4, 2015

CRW_4681_crop

What do YOU see in this image?

Today, I’m a bit late with my First Friday Photo post.  We were cleaning house and moving furniture.  All sorts of my least favorite, but necessary,  activities…

That means my head just wasn’t on blogging or pictures or pretty much anything until just before I should have gotten ready for karate.  I’m not going to that tonight because there’s a Dr. Who event at the local Barnes & Noble that the Boodle wants to go to…  yes, I’ll take pictures and post them one of these days.

Anyway…  my contribution for the First Friday Photo is a small foreshadowing of the thing I’m planning on doing tomorrow… which is trying to capture a near-perfect camera RAW image of a firework using manual mode (despite it being slower for my camera to process and write to its compact flash card).

JPEG taken in 2009

JPEG taken in 2009

I’ve had some luck with auto-mode shots. My old Canon G5 can write JPEGs to its CF card reasonably fast. It’s a dog at writing RAWs though. And RAWs with a reasonable exposure-time? Good time to catch a cat-nap between shots….

So I’m actually very happy to have captured these last Thursday during the Tri-City ValleyCats game:

A Random Capture

A Random Capture

From the Finale

From the Finale

They aren’t perfect, but they are exceptionally detailed captures. And I learned a bit trying to catch these, such as I should ignore my camera’s exposure warning and speed up the shutterspeed just a touch more (the excess light in the Finale shot means I could even turn down the ISO a nudge and get a less noisy image).

And the top image? What do you think it is? How do you think it was taken? Any guesses?

If you’ve got an image you’d like to share, jump on in and post your picture to the First Friday blog hop. We’re a social group, and we love to talk and discuss our images.

Putting Up

Posted on: May 29, 2015

I don’t want to make today’s blog post into a diatribe, but  I have so many opinions that I usually don’t want to share with the world…  Would the world accept them?  Does the world care?  Who am I to have an opinion on things I only know third-hand through the biases of social media and my oddly-sheltered childhood?

Thing is, I have opinions, and I have a place to express them.  I want to express them.

Doesn’t mean I should…

To express my opinion on most of these things means the first; it means I have to do something beyond saying “I agree/disagree” with something.  At the very least, I need to express why, and sometimes I don’t know exactly why—I just know I feel the way I feel.  More research needed…  and yet, it’s not right of me to be a social voyeur (at least not anymore than I already am with my writer’s people-watching addiction) as in the most recent brouhaha over the ATI families, TLC and the molestations.

Does my researching and exploring the situation make it better?  Or am I adding yet one more layer of schadenfreude to the situation?

Equal Right Amendment Map (Wikipedia)

Equal Right Amendment Map (Wikipedia)

If I want to go a step further, I can ask people to act on something I believe in such as this link for a petition on MoveOn.org about trying to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed.  Put up, or shut up…  I can speak out, let the world know how I feel and ask them to act with me.

If I don’t, then clearly I am comfortable enough with the way things are, with the way things might go (even if they get worse).  I’m content with “putting up” with it for a long time too.

Please sign, btw.  True Equal Rights will go a long way to preventing things like the above mentioned situation.


My personal “putting up” involves something far less dramatic or grand scale.  That said, it does affect my life greatly.

Lately I’ve had problems with my part-time teaching position at my son’s school.  The class I am teaching now is nothing like the class I signed up to teach (1st year French).  Now, I have students self-studying, with guidance, seven different languages.  I’m trying to inspire them to learn the language they chose because they chose it, and because they have a reason to learn it.  Three children put in consistent effort because they want to learn their language….  three students out of twelve.  The rest..  well, they say this is what they want to do, but they don’t do it.

William Blake's watercolor "Age Teaching Youth"

“Age Teaching Youth” by William Blake; a completely idealized impression of mentoring (Wikipedia)

I’m not quite sure where to go next.  I’ve already made it clear that there are no grades in the class; that the learning is for them; that  am available to talk with about trouble they might be having, etc. and as a dialogue partner and/or mentor; and…

I have three students who have shown me they have an interest.

As I had originally thought I was going to be teaching French as an elective class, … three dedicated students might actually be a good thing.

But, today is the second to last class of the year.  The final project needed to be handed off to another class for artwork…  last week.  Do I ask my students who haven’t put in any effort to “put up or shut up” for a weekend rush?  Is it fair to ask the rest of the children to put up with their class time being disrupted constantly by the disruptions and goofing off of those that aren’t doing their work.  (To me, the answer  to the last question is obviously “no”, but both the kids and I are in pretty untenable positions; the kids don’t want to be there, and I am trying to make everyone happy, when it’s clear that no one is.)

But…  for now, I am putting up with it.  The year is almost over.  I know a lot more about what I am willing to put up with, and…  what I have put up before I have no choice but to shut up.

“Audacity, more audacity and always audacity.” by Georges Jacques Danton

If you’re online, you get spam some way, some how.  From proclamations of  wealth overseas to titillating your lover better than any other man (which always struck me as funny, for obvious reasons), most spam is a horrible waste of time and mental energy.  And of course, the dangers of falling for the spammers’ tricks could fill several blog pages…

But did you know that spam could be fun?  Or empowering?

Well, it can at least be somewhat fun. Read the rest of this entry »

A bit of an apology, and some commentary:

First,I need to apologize for not having my guest piece up yesterday (or today).   Between missing some pieces of the post and being sick, I wasn’t up to posting things.  It will go up next Monday.  And thank you all for your patience with me.

And now the commentary…

I try to avoid reblogging, but find myself doing so all too often of late.  Sometimes it is simply because I feel I cannot say anything as potent as what I am reading in another’s words.  Other times, it feels only just to give the original author the accolades.  That very powerful piece by Christine Slaughter from The Dash Between I posted on St. Patrick’s Day, evoked so many memories for me…  I am grateful for the new awareness of my own rights that it gives me: And here, if you missed it, is the link:   http://brilliantlyred.wordpress.com/personal-bill-of-rights/

Institute of Mental Health 7, Nov 06

Institute of Mental Health 7, Nov 06 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This, of course, is not the only Personal Bill of Rights out there in the ether. A quick search helped me find many such pages. Most seem to revolve around people with problems: alcoholism, mental health issues, child and/or domestic abuse victims… It is both heartening and not to think that an affirmation of one’s value as a human being is so necessary among people who have not been able to receive the world’s fill of joy. The strength of will required to assert such self-value is good, and I cheers me to know that many have found that strength in the face of adversity.

But why does the existence of suffering make so many feel unworthy of simple human existence?

Like Christine and so many others, I have had my experiences that have left scars on my psyche. I do not dwell on them, or even analyze them (as I probably should). They helped mold who I am, but I am not defined by them or those who inflicted them. It’s wonderful that we are finding our voices in this world.

Especially when in watching articles such that this one from CNN, we find that too often, it takes an awareness that we are all human to realize that we all deserve the rights of humanity. How many of us do not know that we have rights as well?

Relevant Links:


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

obligatory “What I Allow”

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