A Garden of Delights

Posts Tagged ‘#row80 check-in

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…

 

April 16th seven years ago in a city called Troy

Last week I didn’t quite fulfill my initial goal I’d set for myself.  To recap, this is what I set for myself:

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 (What Am I Doing? 4/3/17)

Last week, I bemoaned the fact that Shiny was more than just an adjective but also a state of mind as I tried to describe the cause of my failure.  I can’t say I am better off now.  The ‘new and shiny’ is still demanding more of me than I suspected.  I knew it would be hard to narrow down the list, but…  yeesh.

Still, I think I have come up with something that works as a decent starting point.  Ten things I dream of doing and how I intend to get there… and after that, new goal: to take dream from the list and start working on achieving it.

  1. I want to do something that will help others without causing hassles for the people I love.  This may seem like an odd thing for a dream.  It’s clearly not a S.M.A.R.T. goal.  It’s vague, has no defined times, and…  attainable and specific ran right off the cliff here.  But this is who I am.  I like to help, to do things that make peoples’ lives easier…  and I get into all sorts of fluff because of it.  Starting now, I want to figure out better ways to help without also becoming a problem.  Sometimes it will mean saying “No” more.  I bet sometimes I will have to say “Yes” more too.  This is not something that can be given a one-size-fits-all-(or even most) solution, but…  I can dream, can’t I?
  2. April 15th, four years ago on a road called Lower Flatrock

    The storyworld that exists in my head needs to be realized in more than one ‘permanent’ format.  I don’t want to just work on the writing—I need to get through that part, but I also want to develop the skills to also give it form in other expressions, preferably drawing or painting since I have at least half a chance of achieving it there.  I would like to someday make an animation of some of the stories, but that’s not as high a priority as more basic art.  To that goal, I need to dedicate more time to drawing and trying out how to use other artistic media.  I may start joining some of the Boodle’s art classes, as they’ve been wonderful for helping him learn how to use the different tools to achieve his artistic visions.

  3. I want to travel because, while the internet has made the world much more accessible, there is a limit to the depth of experience one can garner from 360°images, webinars, and descriptive text passages.  This is a dream in some ways…  my husband is very much a home-body.  It is also a goal that I can meet in limited forms.  Next week I will be on an airplane, heading across The Pond with the Boodle to spend a few weeks exploring England and meeting some fellow writers.
  4. I dream about living in one of those homes that is part retreat, part library, part museum and antique shop.  Sometimes this dream wobbles a bit and I actually am living in an antique shop, one that specializes in old books.  Sometimes the dream involves running a Bed & Breakfast that would have some of these elements.  Clearly I need to refine this a lot more…
  5. Sharing things that I find beautiful with others brings me exponential happiness… I need, in a visceral way, to do this. Since art and beauty are subjective, this isn’t always as easy as I would like, but generally, I have good luck with this.  I just want to keep doing it…. and maybe increase my ‘out-reach’.
  6. I know I am not taking the best care of my body that I can at the moment (as much as it likes to remind me of that fact, I am not giving up my green tea lattes from Starbuck’s though).  So I have other dreams/goals involving fitness and health…  one of them is to run again and do another 5K race, running the thing this time.  Why?  Because I had a dear friend, almost a brother, who loved to run in 5 & 10K races, and he died before we could run together.
  7. I’m putting this a bit further down the list because…  really it’s not up to me, so to speak—it is his life, and he will make these decisions on his own—, but I really want to be able to help my son discover what gives him joy and a sense of fulfillment.
  8. In little things as well as big things, I want to keep a sense of wonder.
  9. I dream of worlds where contact between two people meeting is not abrasive, but soothing.  I want people to be comforted by my presence, and to be comfortable in theirs…  I’d like to find my ‘tribe’.
  10. If we’re talking dreams…  I dream about helping grow our local homeschooling community center into a more self-sustaining resource that involves the community at large in some ways.  I know what I would do if I suddenly had a lot of money… or the skills to help operate such a place.

The Boodle and his Great-uncle measuring fish fry, 2 years ago April 16h

There it is…  I suspect this list isn’t The List. It just is The List For Now.  Seems to me, this is a process that I would benefit from participating in regularly.  So…  to Round 2 for this goal, and onto the goals for the rest of this round, starting with the new goal of ‘the week’.

A Sense of Wonder

Why?  Because it’s the goal I am in the best position to work on now and it opens so many of the other goals.

MOAR!

Posted on: April 10, 2017

Last week I thought I I’d set a S.M.A.R.T. goal for the beginning of this round of the ROW80.  Just a little thing…  one goal, to figure out what I really want to focus my attention on by making a list of ten things I really want to achieve in my life.

My mind of late….

It’s a bit more challenging than I thought.  I found a lot of “this would be so very awesome if I could do it” things, but…  whether it’s because I’ve been in a funk of sorts for a few years now, or because I’ve been too distracted with dealing with day-to-day blargh to want anything except an escape, I just didn’t get it done.

Since we all know that there really is no escape, that leaves a lot of brain-ing for answers that just don’t seem to be here now.  I have worked with the “this would be super awesome” bunch for a few days now, but that’s a huge list, and the processing is taking longer than I’d planned.

I have discovered a few things about myself in this…

  1. I cannot stop myself from discovering and seeing new things—the “Shiny” is all-encompassing.  Even when the ‘new’ things are actually very old (I fully intend to see lots of castles and ruins in a few weeks as we jaunt through England), I feel an obsessive pull to see and discover more.  Or in the words of the web…  MOAR!  Do All The Things really is a thing for me.
  2. All the Things isn’t feasible, but a lot depends on successful navigation of what is possible within the limits of time, energy and physical constraints (money, location, etc.) for me to maintain any kind of mental stability
  3. In addition to All The Things, I also cannot stop myself from obsessively volunteering to help others who share my passion for discovery and finding new things.  (Ask anyone who knows me personally…  I am a (frequently annoying) font of “try this” or “maybe you’d be interested in this” ideas and suggestions for shows, events, challenges, websites, travel info…)

Like many of my friends, I one of those 30 browser tabs open at a time people.  Social media is a dangerous place for me, not so much for the flame-wars (though those can be excellent places for story ideas and character creation) but for the plethora of links and ideas to consider and explore.  The images that inspire ideas…  like these!

Imagine walking these, the cultures of people who lived in such an area through history (keep in mind that whoever posted these photos did overdo the image saturation a bit)…  Copper and thus the Bronze Age in human history, may have occurred because one group of people realized that there were other ways to use the beautiful green stone malachite than for jewelry and personal adornment.  And when did people come up with the idea of making storage containers out of clay and firing them into pottery?

Yeah, I think of some odd stuff…

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.

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.

First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

Im Gegenlicht

All the Colorful Stories

Mount Kidd twilight

More Photos

obligatory “What I Allow”

Short Stuff

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