A Garden of Delights

Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

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!

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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…

 

Life in limbo

At least, that’s how things seem to be lately.  I mean, yes, I’ve been doing things…  lots and lots of ‘things’.  Most of those things involve time and activities with the Kidlet and the Hubby.  And paperwork…  lots and lots of paperwork too.

Emotionally I am in a bit of a funk because I realized (with some chagrin) that I’ll likely never achieve my dream of becoming a citizen of the UK.  Want doesn’t really play a part in it…  I mean, I want to very much.  But logistically, I am not in a position to do such a thing and probably won’t be for so long that the feasibility of such a move goes down the toilet.

At least I get to live there vicariously for a few weeks at the end of this month.  🙂

But dreams of England aren’t the only things I’ve considered.  Dreams of story are too.  Trying to find them again, trying to reconnect to worlds that seem to be happy to fade into a distance of paying bills, planning budgets, driving, shopping for heavy-duty archeology trowels…  and other people’s stories.  Oh, that last one is actually a killer.  I once thought I needed to read and see what others were writing and doing to fill my head with ideas and options, but… no.  The more I immerse myself into the worlds of others (often without much enjoyment even), the harder it is to connect with my characters.

They’re like cats that way.  They don’t take snubs well, and they don’t seem to get the idea that I’m just spending time elsewhere so I can be a better writer of their stories.  I’m not even sure they care if I write their stories, just as long as I am dutifully enthralled by them.  There’s a reason I used to think that Alanii’s alter-ego with feline.  He’s corrected me on this matter many times, but…  my cats are more like puppy-dogs than he is.

Which is why I took so long before setting out my ROW80 goals (today is officially the first day of Round 2 and I am just getting around to writing this post up)…  I am still not sure what my goals are.  I know how to set my goals, how to make them S.M.A.R.T., but I don’t know what I actually want to focus on or even achieve these days beyond get the “next thing done”.  There seem to be so many next things, that I am driven to distraction just trying to get through a day.  And when I do have those free moments that I once would have used for Those Five Sentences, I don’t write…  I space out.

So, at least for this week (the nice thing about goals is that they can be adjusted), I have ONE goal:

Make a list of  ten things I dream of doing and prioritize them by how much I want them, how long they will take to achieve and what steps I will need to follow to meet each one.  And one caveat here…  no “pay bills” goals here.

We’ll see where that gets me.

Giddy Goose

Posted on: March 6, 2017

One of my husband’s nicknames for me is “Silly Goose”.  I forget when it started, perhaps after I started calling him “Punkin”.  All I know is he has called me that so much, I don’t remember him not calling me that.

Today though—well, yesterday, I was more of a giddy goose.

I’ve been steadily making progress on my trip to England (I’ve started calling it that because it really is just England this trip, no side trips to Wales or Scotland (though we will be at Hadrian’s Wall for part).  I’m not sure a three-hour layover in Dublin really counts as being  in Ireland, and even then, the Republic of Ireland is an independent European country.  So, England it is.  I really hope we can do this again sometime soonish so I can add in the rest of this wonderful group of islands (I really want to head up to the Orkney Islands one of these days too…  oh, and through the Mediterranean countries and…)

Anyway, one of the little hurdles I was waiting on just arrived yesterday.  My English Heritage membership package arrived yesterday (when I was in the UK last, I fell in love with English Heritage stuff, the sites, the discounts…  even the Dandelion and Burdock Root soda [I drank a lot of that stuff, and I don’t drink soda most of the time]).  The new handbook is gorgeous!

Isn't the new handbook cover lovely? My favorite colors!

Isn’t the new handbook cover lovely? My favorite colors!

I may be getting a bit silly with my planning.  Last night I was trying to get a rough calculation of how much petrol I’d likely be using for the trip so I could budget it in to our plans.  Since the rental cars (yes, two, so I can actually get some sleep on the trip) are going to cost us more than the airfare, it makes sense to make the decision work in my favor.  You should see what I have planned for those car days 😉

Does this mean I haven’t been really working on my other goals?  Well, sort of, yes.

I have been working on my classwork, trying to get as up to date as I can in each class because FutureLearn’s new policy for its free classes goes into effect tomorrow, and I have another class to start then.  This means, I may have to actually set aside the three I am working on so I can dedicate all of my attention to finish this new class (which actually might help my other classes) in the time allotted.  Or…  depending on my experience, I might wish to actually get the certificates.  I want to get them eventually.  I’d just like to wrap up a few more before I buy those (being here in the US, it’s easier to do one bigger transaction than a bunch of little ones).  *shrugs* Who knows?

Plotting and planning for the Boodle’s B-Day is also in the works.  He wants a ‘calmer’ day out (if one can call games at Dave & Buster’s calm) with friends.  He’s also asked for a day with one of his best friends from an old  school at a park and getting ice cream.  It sounds like a great idea to me.  I really enjoy time with his friend’s mom too, and because of our schedules, I almost never see her these days.

My stories, however, seem to have stagnated…  I can get a few words here or there in my play pieces and my fanfics, but anything “serious” (which translates to anything I’m actually trying to plan out) seems to be stuck.  I’ve been reading an article in the most recent Romance Writer’s Report(s) called Know Your Code with suggests that certain personality types write certain ways, based on something similar to Briggs-Meyer personality types.  So far what I’ve read feels very much like me.  The question then becomes “how to make this ‘work’?”; I love the way I feel when I am writing, but life has this way of sabotaging the best of sensations….

The nice thing is I’ve been finding ways to bring back in some photography.  This past Wednesday while the Boodle was at swimming, I took advantage of the great weather and played around with camera on my cell phone while the sun was setting.

A sunset over the YMCA parking lot

I like the banner-like feel of the shot, but I think I miss using my Canon G5.  My hand is steadier.

I think that’s all I have to say for now. I’ve got plans to work on for next month and the upcoming “new” Round of Words (we’re already in week 9, can you believe it?).  I’d like to make some progress before I get on an airplane.

Progress is a funny thing.  Little steps suddenly reveal themselves as mountains conquered, while the grand journeys I had set upon seem stuck at port from an infestation of teredo navalis.*

That’s where my writing lingers of late…  stuck in dry dock, awaiting repairs as I play catch up with the world around me.  I am getting caught up with my critique group (after being behind by five critiques), but the tally of new words this week—for the whole week—was less than 500.  At least this is not counting class discussions for the MOOCS I’m doing at FutureLearn; my class participation is on track.

As for the rest of my progress?

  • Write my five sentences daily — nope
  • At least three days a week, write a page, front-to-back — nope
  • Make weekly progress in travel plans for UK trip this Spring —check
  • Post here once weekly with progress — missed last week, but did post my Wednesday check-in at Many Worlds
  • Maintain and update the ROW80 blog/site and linkies once a week — check
Things still undone....

Things still undone….

Not much progress, as you can see.  The England trip is almost completely sketched out (important, but not since we’re not going until the end of April, more a case of me obsessing over things).  I’ve fixed links on the ROW80 blog and tweaked some of the links (and am starting to work out a system that will stop me from running late every post).  I’ve even changed computers and started two classes.

I’ve done a lot.  Just not a lot of writing…  Guess it’s time to work on that next, hmm?

* Keeps crossing my mind lately because of the Shipwrecks and Archaeology class I’m taking via Futurelearn and a Great Courses lecture series we have about Ancient Technology…  how a silly thing like a worm could decide some of the greatest battles in history.

I have bad habit I’d really like to break.

I tend to react, often quickly, often with great vigor, and…  often without much forethought.  In other words, I tend to overreact, fly off the handle and not think before doing so.

So very much not a good habit.

Some of this comes from the fact I’ve felt rushed to make decisions all my life.  We live in a world where instantaneous responses are demanded for more and more daily affairs.  A product of technology perhaps, though I didn’t grow up in the era of cellphones and email.

Hopefully his son got some letters from Dad

That said…  I often dream of those days when people would travel for days to carry a message from one person to another.  Imagine a note from a Roman Centurion to his family.  Some news would be missed in the weeks and months between letters, little events such as his son’s first steps would not be so vital to record in a letter as a count of the wool gathered from the sheep this past season or that Citizen Maxanimus had offered to tutor the young child for the small fee of two hens.

Today however, messages are traded back and forth at the speed of conversation.  Some people type better with their thumbs than they do with all their fingers combined.  And many of these people can’t use a pen except to scribble their name on some official forms or an electronic pad at the store.

With that kind of communication speed, it’s easy to expect near instant answers to every question that can be asked.  Extra company is coming over…  Can you pick up two loaves of Italian bread on the way home?  Oh, and XXYY can’t eat gluten, so can you also grab some rice?  (because, of course, company that didn’t plan to come until the last minute expects a feast when they arrive) Or the fear of relationship trouble … Are you mad?  You didn’t call this morning (because we need to call our dates the first thing we wake up or we clearly don’t like them)

Don’t we ever take time to process things anymore?  Is it so wrong to simply have a cuppa and maybe a dish of fruit and cheese or some snacks as opposed to a full meal when unexpected guests arrive?  Or to say…  “Oh, I didn’t know you were coming.  I was making X, but I can put that in the fridge for tomorrow if that doesn’t work and we can go to Smith’s Restaurant tonight.”

Yes, some decisions need to be made on a moment’s notice.  But we live in a world where every decision seems so urgent….  And I am not good at it.  I like to think my ideas through.  I panic.  I get frustrated.  I snap…

I’d like to change that about myself, but…  it’s not easy to do.  The best way I’ve discovered?  Refuse to make so many instantaneous decisions.  Demand time to let the ideas and possibilities simmer.  Something I have learned in my near-half-a-century of life is that there are second and third and fourth (and more) chances to redo those poor initial reactions.

Thankfully!

Some cool links on decision-making:

I forgot my last few weeks of posting (I know!  but at least the break in between wasn’t almost a year like I had done).  Who’d have thought it would be so hard to come up with single weekly blog post?

Thing is…  it hasn’t been a single post.  Just a single one here.

I’ve been busy, busy, busy over at my writing progress blog Many Worlds from Many Minds, and have been either posting there or commenting on the many wonderful participants of the Writing challenges I have been involved with: the Round of Words in 80 Days; Ready. Set. Write!; and the JuNoWriMo.  It was also the end of school for me at BCS (and homeschooling), so there were progress reports to make and assignments to review….

The plan this summer is to merge this blog with Many Worlds so I can dedicate my attention to maintaining one online home.  Or rather one blogging home…  with Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and… well, you get the idea.

But that’s for later this summer.  For now…  I just really wanted to both apologize to you all for being absent and to note a small change to the First Friday Photo blog hop I hold here on the 1st Friday of every month.

From now on, I’ll be opening the FFP linky up the week before the first Friday of each month so people have time to post their links.  The links should go active on the Friday.  This way people can schedule their posts somewhat, and they can have something to look forward to on First Fridays.  😀

Waiting for laughter

Waiting for laughter (cred: Eden Mabee)

Hope you’ll all join in.


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

obligatory “What I Allow”

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