A Garden of Delights

Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

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.

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.

jayce_and_the_wheeled_warriors_by_noender-d5zi9mh

credit NOENDER via Deviant Art

Kid TV is for adults

I wasn’t planning on this topic for a blog post this morning.  Actually, I was going to continue along the theme I’d started for my ROW80 Check-in and try writing a piece of flash fiction about a cat and his/her human.  After all, cats do make up a good portion of the internet… and my personal life.

But, I tried something different today…  mostly because I wasn’t finding the words.  I needed help, and I didn’t want to spend too long finding it.  So I hopped over to the One Minute Writer site for a kick in the writer butt.

But the prompt today had nothing to do with cats….

It’s okay though, because Approval Cat said if I could come up with an idea about Kids TV during a one minute writing session, then I should write a post about that instead of cats.  Approval Cat is so very understanding…  especially after some catnip and sardines.

So I’m going to write about inspiration, and how some of the silliest things can trigger one’s imagination and drive her to create stories and art.   I’m going to write about an 80’s cartoon.

Back in high school, I wasn’t the best student.  Bored often, distracted always…  I gave my teachers (and parents) no end of despair when homework was involved.  I liked to draw, but had stopped doing that for a few years because my father had thrown all my work away in a (failed) attempt to get me to focus on schoolwork and not obsess over horses and fantasy worlds.

I firmly believed I couldn’t write.  My grades in English were abysmal, and my best friend seemed to know everything about the subject, could write perfect sentences, spell perfectly, etc., so that felt like her thing, not mine.   And because I had been above-middling in arithmetic all through school without any effort, I listened when people said I should do that instead.

…fade out to middle school and earlier…

Thing was, I’d always created stories.  In the early days, I had created nations with my horse models and Barbies, scribbled little notes and plot lines of an Arabian princess (quite literally an Arabian) named Anocka-Jenay and a helpful rapscallion named Coca-nora helped the queen of the humans find a way to make peace with the equine people against the dangers of…  well, all sorts of kid fears, but usually the “bad” humans.

When my horses were taken away, for a time I still tried to make those stories, but my confidence had never been that high, and I didn’t have the same connection to a lot of other ‘kid things”.  Most of my childhood entertainment had been dismissed by my parents as too juvenile; most of my age peers didn’t talk about Jacques Cousteau, Walter Kronkite, and Quincy M.E. with the same passion I did (if at all).

… fade back in to high school…

There was Star Trek…  I liked it, a lot.  Like a lot of girls (born a decade before me), I thought Walter Koenig was incredibly cute as Chekov, and I did have a short phase of idolizing Spock, though mostly it was a fondness for Leonard Nimoy himself, since In Search Of was also one of my favorite shows, and the “Spock makeup job” made my skin itch.

But for me, Star Trek wasn’t unique.  My parents were avid sci-fi and fantasy readers and watchers, and every weekend there was something genre on the television, either the original Battlestar Galactica, Lost In Space, Buck Rogers, and so many others.  I used to fall asleep listening to Rod Serling’s silken voice drifting up through the floor because it was on so late in syndication.

So, when Shan Jeniah encouraged me (or I encouraged her…  or it was mutual encouragement, I forget now) to start creating a fictional world based on Star Trek because she’d fallen in love with it…  I definitely didn’t refuse.  I did love the show, and I definitely needed an outlet for some of that creative (and often very silly) energy I’d been building up.

But while I enjoyed the show and the writing, I didn’t love it.  And I hadn’t really found something that connected quite right.

Then, one morning while getting ready for school (I often watched cartoons in the morning while eating breakfast), I passed an odd show…  a bit Star Wars-like, a bit corny (okay, a bit more than a bit), with better than average art and cool music.  And, without even knowing why…  I was hooked.  I saw so much potential in these characters for more.  Questions like: why did Gillian have a domed garden before the Monster Minds came; what sort of magic was he using in such a technologically advanced world, flying fish(!), space ships that looked like ancient sailing vessels…  what kind of name for a powerfully intelligent plant creature was “Saw Boss” anyway?!

And..  it didn’t hurt that one of the first real episodes of the show was this one: Final Ride at Journey’s End.  It wowed me.  In the 80’s, it seemed pretty much impossible to find a cartoon that pushed boundaries the way this episode did, leaving viewers wondering if one of the heroes (or somewhat anti-hero) of the story might have died in a suicidal assault on the enemy.

Okay, so it wasn’t that unusual.  But at the time, even my cartoon experience had been severely limited, and though I loved what I’d seen of Robotech, I hadn’t yet seen a whole episode of it, and so didn’t know how dramatic a cartoon could be.  I liked knowing there wasn’t an answer…  answers were offered everywhere in kid’s shows, reassurances like the constant parachutes in G.I. Joe (not that I ever watched that show) or the friendly (read: annoying) commentary of 7-Zark-7 in G-Force that filled in the blank spaces with comforting words about how a town was going to be rebuilt soon or so-and-so was recovering in the hospital and doing well.

As if children needed constant protection against the truths of the world without a huge sugar-coating…

I liked the ambiguity that Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors left me with.  I could work with that ambiguity, and I did.  I created worlds upon worlds based on that ambiguity.

While most of my fiction has moved far away from its roots in Star Trek and JatWW fanfiction (most, not all…  the Was Long Variation and The Dots get regular doses of word love), this show in particular sparked a passion in me that has lasted to this day.  And I don’t see it fading soon.

So, thank you, One Minute Writer, for giving me a chance to speak about an inspiration.  And…  thank you too, Approval Cat, for letting me write about something non-feline.  And thank you most of all, DIC Audiovisuel, for producing this great show.

approvalcat2


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

Scarlet Sunset

Above Monument Basin

Summer's Light

More Photos

obligatory “What I Allow”

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