Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Short story update and summer heat!

Good morning! Brief post here - but I know how busy you are and some days call for brevity. And I need practice at such things so win-win!!

I usually don't make it to the hair shop until my husband says something (poor guy) so yesterday I dutifully trotted in and had the color repaired. This is less vanity than public service - as short as I am, and at over 80% grey, EVERYONE can see the revolting mismatch. 41 is still too young for a head of dingy grey hair, so off I went. NO, I am not posting this to talk about how lovely I look. I am posting to tell you that I was clever enough to grab the laptop on the way out the door. So, the Short Unnamed Horror Story had another 200 words dumped in, and some awkward bits deleted. Still working on the yuckky trucker scene, but I've neglected this for too long and I am really looking forward to finishing SOMETHING - so yukky scene it is.

It's going to be hotter 'n a pistol today, so I am trying - desperately, to finish writing up my to-do lists and get the day rolling - 8 pm tonight will be too hot to put away laundry or tidy dishes or lug in the groceries, so the morning looks busy! I haven't been exercising at all - lots of discomfort on the right foot, but that is partially due to more attention to the house routines. Yay - tidy house and exercise all at once.

We played at the park yesterday morning, and it was nice enough that the kids got to play outside all day long. Time to figure out how to top that one for today, in between the to-do lists!

Right, off to it. If anyone has ideas on how to get my daughter to try watermelon or cantaloupe, please post it here. I'd like her to eat dinner tonight, and so far, that's all I've come up with for a main course.....;-)

enjoy your summer day, wherever you are!


Monday, June 27, 2011

Culture check-in - art, books, food, music, movies, etc.

Good Monday to everyone!

I determined, some time ago, that sharing cultural what-nots is Waaaaaaaayyyyy more gripping than domestic mishaps. And in the assorted chaos that is my life, promptly forgot about it. Happily, I've recalled it now. Here's what I've dug into lately:

The giant basil plant. Jon was craving caprese sandwiches, and stopped off at our local Bachman's to bring home a new basil. We have a west-facing deck, and our plants get blasted by sunlight once June hits (well, once it stops raining, anyway!) Even with our minimal sunlight, our two initial plants are already stunted. $10 Well spent dollars later and we have a plant on our front step that gets partial sunlight and smells like basil-flavored heaven. The sandwiches have been amazing.

"Inception" - started watching it Saturday, and other than twinges of irritation with DiCaprio's character (why does smug come so easily to him?) I like it pretty well. We've only got to the part where Ariadne stomped out and Leo sets off to find Yves, we'll have to rewind a bit to get into it again tonight. So far, a fun story.

"Garden Spells" by, hmmmm, Sarah Addison. Well, I must like some of it a good deal because I'm re-reading sections of it from time to time. It does suffer by comparison to Practical Magic - too many similar plotlines. And Practical Magic is snappier with dialogue, while Garden Spells has strong description, but is soft on dialogue. Practical Magic is darker in tone, and heavier in subject matter -  the stakes for the characters are higher, so the resolution is a bit more satisfying. Garden Spells is simply sweeter. Overall, I really like it for what it is. Light reading has it's own joys, and Sarah Addison does a really lovely job of world-building and scene setting, and throws in some nice plot twists - she resolves her plot in a really tidy way too. A fun summer read.

Pandora - this is a fun diversion....for when I have time to listen to it (well, practically NEVER). I like it best for picking music by artists I'm in the mood for, and seeing what shows up - without the effort of doing a playlist on my Ipod. Very cool music source.

Miscellanea -  I've managed to dodge what felt like bronchitis or pneumonia - yay! and have resolved to eat more produce than usual. This could get expensive - local produce in MN is really stunted from all the rain. I've purchased one tomato plant, but will have to get it some friends and a proper container. I say this is a wise move - did you hear that an ENTIRE TRUCK worth of tomatoes was stolen in Florida? Veggies won't be cheap up here this summer! We decided to research campsites this week and go camping for my birthday weekend. I don't want many things, in general - I just want time to enjoy DOING things with my family. The kids are a great age for it, so we need to get them out there. Looks like I need to sign them up for swim lessons like NOW. So, pool hours shall commence Very soon! Today is a zoo day - need to get there before the great government shutdown slams the doors. No word yet on that - and I have to say that closed state parks will cause a big problem for the above birthday plan :-(.  That's our government, hard at work. They better not be collecting a paycheck for ANY actual shut-down time. I will be one peeved tax-payer if I find out I'm funding their 'we-don't-have-enough-money-to-run-the-government" time.

There. There's the culture note for the week. I hope you have a lovely one!!!


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Denny's birthday

Just a brief post, in honor of my brother Denny, passed away 15 yrs ago, at 29. God rest your delightful soul, my brother. When I see flashes of you in my son, it brings me such joy. As is the custom, it's raining again on your birthday. I wish you were here.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Snippet of the Troll-wife story

As promised, though delayed by a vicious headcold. All I could think when I looked in the bathroom mirror this morning was "What. Exactly. Is your Problem?!" One's body is said to repair itself whilst it sleeps. This one's body clearly Missed the Memo. Damnation.

Without further ado (or is it in this case a Don't? As in, Don't let yourselves get this hateful bug!) a snippet from the untitled Troll-wife story.

"My wife is a troll.

I am not being figurative here - here skin is green as a Granny Smith. Leah - the closest thing to her native name - is taller than me by a good half foot, with silky long hair of a radiant emerald. Unkind things have been said, of course, about her teeth, but I will affirm this - her eyes are kind.

She's known widely around here for her shockingly quick wit, and in the six years she's run our tax firm, the customers have only been devoted fans. And if Leah made friends the same way, her eyes would be, perhaps, more green than red.

A troll's cry is the damnedest thing. She's tried for years, but never managed to entirely shed her Magical self. When Leah cries, I - and everyone nearby - become spellbound, for lack of a better word. How it hits me, is I seem to be under earth, and the moon is setting just past a hole I can barely see in the dimness. The under earth creatures corner each other in the small, echoing tunnels of her home. Where they violently - loudly - tear each other to pieces.

Afterwards, with a shrug of her massive shoulders, she apologizes and whispers, "...friends would be good."

There. One day late and several dollars short, is my snippet - too wordy for a poem, too sparse for a story. A sproutling, I guess.

Off I go to start the day. Woops, in this case, just catch up.

Have a wonderful weekend wherever you are :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Well. THAT was unproductive! Er, ROW 80 too, Sorta.

Hello friends, it's your half-assed blogger here. (sighs. sips coffee.) How've you been? Stressed? Pulled in 12 directions? Frazzled?


Okay, then. It's just me.

Well, since you've been kind enough to show up, I'll try to make this witty, and if not witty, brief. Save-up-the-writing-energy-for-something-brilliant-kind of brief.

No, I don't buy it either. How's this for honest, then: Pleading-with-my-son-to-stop-swinging-a-makeshift-lariat-between-keystrokes-kind-of-brief.

Summer days at the orchid house have revealed a few sad truths: #1 - that 2 week effort at tucking the Last Orchid in the garage at night has Not resulted in a bloom spike yet. It's only been consistent for week one, so hopefully we'll end up with two consecutive weeks to test the theory.

#2 That time management thing (particularly the management of enriching things for the kids to do WITHOUT me having to be Too near by) has been a massively pathetic struggle  flop.

#3 That whole daily writing thing is currently bloody impossible.

So, with those admissions out of the way, I think I'll strive (always, at least, I will strive) to transcribe the intro to the troll wife story. It started as a poem but quickly devolved into long-winded babble (nothing new there) and last night at my writer's group, where I attempted to re-work it into a short story, I realized that I am conflicted about my conflict. The irony...

I don't want it to go someplace it inevitably seems to want to go. I'll post some of it later today. Whether or not you want to read it is entirely up to you :-) The flavor seems to go from humor to pathos to grim reality (that was the point where I realized a pregnant troll wife may not be able to help herself from eating her husband.) I'd meant it to be lighthearted and a way to consider differences in an odd couple.....but it went all different.  Finally, on the short story front, the WIP is simmering, and I've not been working at it. I'll have to lift the lid soon though, and see if it, and I, am ready to dive in again.

That's it. Carry on, and thanks for being here. I've missed you too :-)


ROW-ers below!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Musings, writing, weather, ROW ROW ROW your WIP.....

Goodness, deluged again. Anyone needing to be in touch with their watery side really should consider a visit up this way. I'm guessing the water table is Quite reloaded, which is good, as July and August are beastly dry. That's right - two and a half months of usable summer. Which reminds me that I need to find a way to grow my own tomatoes - I'm finally mastering bruschetta - (EVOO/diced tomatoes/basil leaves/S&P + ital. bread drizzled w/EVOO & toasted - then rubbed w/raw garlic) and the price of veggies is going UP.

The grey weather helps me think, but it puts me in cocoon mode and that frees-up little writing time - too much else going on. Seriously - on our 10'x10' deck yesterday, I had TEN kids playing with the sandboxes - aged 3-11. Nevermind that I told the older kids "Guys - It's pretty crowded, but if you really want to join them...." Those 3 lasted 8 minutes after I told them they had to make room for the 3&4 yr. olds. What I get for insisting that 'no one gets left out', I suppose.

So, no writing so far this week, plenty of musing. No exercise the last few days either - my baby toe is objecting and I have to find some moleskin or somesuch. I've been crashing hard at night, and my husband (our entertainment director)had 3 neighbor kids watching movies with us until PAST 9. The summer schedule fascist clearly has to show up today, or a good half the summer is going by the wayside.

In the Art dept., it looks like we have 4 Father's day cards to make and two have to go in the mail w/gifts today. I think those will be scans/prints and stamping - good thing I've a few apprentices who need to earn their keep! I'd like to scan one or two of the loose sketches I did at the arboretum and load them here, something new to see for you, anyway ;-)

Ah well - the romantic artistic life awaits. Hauling kids to the farmers market, post-office, baseball, karate, ballet. Making cards, dinner, beds. And hoping the kids get something out of each step of the way. And that way better start now. (The Artist's Way, indeed!) Hopefully I can scrape time out to visit my fellow ROW-ers today - I love the inspiration from their rockin' efforts - check them out in the list below! You never know who you'll want to read next!

Happy Wednesday!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer rituals, time + current event wall of shame + ROW 80

Good morning, friends!

Since the great Northern Lights non-event, the Orchid house has been in a higher gear than usual. For some things, anyway. I've been catching up (to my ultimate dismay) on current events, clearing out baby gear we no longer need, going strong on enforcing violin practice and lessons, and neighborhood momming duties with 1-4 spare kids around each day. Not kidding, if any kid in the vicinity has a problem or boo-boo, major or minor, my house gets hit up first. I don't mind, but the recurring knocks on the door, (starting Friday afternoon at the last bus-stop drop-off), foretell a long, crazy, summer. One neighbor is going to get a talking to, though, because I am Not okay with her 8 yr old son finding a locked door and empty house when he goes home from playing. Grrrr.

I've also found that once you start sweeping your floor more than 1x/wk, it seems to NEED it more often. How the heck does that work? I've also found that the vacuum cleaner wand is a better choice than the floor setting for cleaning the litter box pad. At least, if you don't mean to rip off the first two layers of the rubber pad. And that hanging sorting pockets from Ikea are very good for holding Pokemon, Yu-gi-oh, and Bakugan cards.

ROW 80 update - well, I'm succeeding with the exercise plan every other day (more than that and the location of the metal pins in my foot become painfully obvious!). Anyone who doesn't think ballet dancers qualify as serious athletes need to work this video, and post whether you make it past the first 30 minutes! I haven't squished in the writing time yet - clearly I have been too reactionary with my time, and I have to work on that today. Jon and I are getting on the same page with nighttime schedules for the kids, but I'm the one who has to dictate the days. Today's plan involves a big cup of coffee or tea, an uninterrupted half an hour, and my calendar for the week. Maybe I'll find a time slot to build a backbone good for saying "NO" to my kids ;-) I really really miss working on the WIP, but my current priorities are many! And not taking care of them is non-negotiable.

Current events - I am tired of Palin's emails (what the aitch is this 'sposed to accomplish again?) Weiner - if he'll betray someone he loves, what's he going to do for us, whom he does not? C. Anthony - you are a waste of carbon. Jersey Shore - oh get a real job, all of you. Anyone named Kardashian - if being popular is your actual job, you are also abusing your share of carbon. Facebook data mining - you and I are very near to being unfriended, FB, And, no change here, STILL want Toddlers and bloody Tiara's Off the Air. Folks, enter your babies in 'cutest baby' contests all you want. If you win, you get free diapers or somesuch and that is fine. But don't sexualize your 3 year old and start bitching down the road that she won't do her homework. Chances are good she wants to be a Kardashian when she grows up.

It's time to rescue my orchid from the garage (trying to force a bloom stalk by cooling the poor thing in the garage each night for 2 weeks.) We've missed church today, so I'll need to catch the message online later. Wish I had more art or writing to share this week (er, or LAST week), but sometimes life is just

So make it good :-) (woops, check other, more enthused ROW 80 writers below!)


Thursday, June 9, 2011

flap.....flap....all downhill since that trucker debacle.....naught much for ROW 80

I think I'm sabotaging myself. I just figured it out.

I am not being massively productive these days. I am (clearly)LATE on my check in - which I actually care about this morning, but was too tired to accomplish yesterday. To be fair, I was also HUGELY disappointed last night - one of the occasional benefits of being a northern gal is that we can get a pretty good shot at northern lights. After Tuesday's solar storm, we should have had some good ones. About the same time the sun FINALLY gave up and set (10:20) or so.....the clouds rolled in. Damn damn damn. So, despite my earlier, EXCITED resolve, my (proverbial) gas tank emptied flat out and no check in for me.

I said I am sabotaging myself, because I've taken away a key element of excitement in writing - not knowing what happens next. I know pretty much what happens in every aspect of the story, so the impetus is blunted a bit. I doubt that's my biggest problem though.

SUMMER is my biggest problem!!

Kid schedules - baseball practice, karate practice, daily violin, swimming lessons, ballet lessons, birthday parties, play dates, gardening time with the grandparents, graduations - and that's the FUN stuff! (and it is fun - my daughter (aged 3) had her first ballet lesson last night. And I don't think I've ever seen anything sweeter - each girl would have looked perfectly at home atop her own white fluffy cupcake!) That's not counting all the other stuff that we have to stuff in between(meals, laundry, exercise, grocery shopping, connecting with friends and family!!) Or just trying to have more time to connect with Jon than just evening news and talking budget and schedules! Time management is my (boringly) repeated albatross, and I don't think the implications of summer have sunk in at all. Until now.

The only honest thing to do here is commit to one writing session per week, grimace at my ineptitude at that time thing, get my genius six yr. old son to invent a time-slowing-down machine, and just go with the flow. I have not given up on the story. It's been hanging around for 6 dang years, it ain't going anywhere. I haven't done a lick of poetry (although I'm mentally revising an unsettling one about tornadoes) and honestly, it's wayyyyyy off the radar. In my last post, I was determined to keep up with the daily 30 minutes. I guess I'm just going to have to work up to that with babysteps - Somehow. Right now, I'm sticking to 30 minutes of exercise, which I hate doing, but then I can stick to ANYTHING for week one!! We'll see how long that lasts. If you were to note that I have RAPIDLY shifting priorities for my 'spare time', I would have to say yes, yes indeedy. Such is life, such is me.

Am I signing up for round three of ROW 80?

Absolutely :-)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Finding balance and writing - ROW 80 too :-)

Today, like many of you who actually do things to take care of your health, I broke out an exercise video - my "Ballet Conditioning" Elements video, by Elise Gulan. As part of my recovery process from the foot surgeries, I'd like to be able to walk upright while barefoot, at a slightly normal pace. You know, like most higher primates can. (THAT to the dr. who said the fused bones aren't needed for 'normal Human' movement. Yes, yes indeed, they certainly ARE.) So, seeing how ballerinas are nothing if not outright bendy, and with my long buried love of ballet resurrected by Black Swan, this was my Christmas present to myself. All I've been waiting on is reasonably stable feet :-)

So I did the first 5 segments, slightly modified for the fused joints, of course. And despite the small motions, and deliberate non-hyper pace, I was sweating, arms quivering, and leg muscles...entirely bewildered. So I treated them to swimming at Lifetime. If I can walk at all tomorrow, I'll fire up the disk and give it a day two effort. And if I can still move after that, it's an every-other day workout for me. And what, you may ask, does this have to do with Art, let alone writing?

Teaching myself a lesson, mainly. That if I can make myself do something that is guaranteed to be physically uncomfortable, but really pay off in the long run, then there is every reason to do a 30 minute mental workout daily as well. That will pay off, in more concrete ways, probably a lot sooner. I did VERY little writing this week on the WIP - 20 minutes all told. And I'm pretty ashamed of myself for that - mainly because it's the proof that I have not been sticking to any consistent routines whatsoever, and that's my Achilles heel - another part of the foot I want strength in!! On the other hand, I played with my kids at the park, got done a lot of errands I'd been putting off, and took more steps in our home to get things running a little more smoothly.

All good stuff that a 30 minute daily workout might provide even more energy for. Ahem. Now, who wants to place bets that I use writing as an excuse to not exercise?

Take care of yourselves. Drink water more, move a little more, laugh a little more, try to do both at once. Your heart and mind will thank you.

And, in repayment for you (presumably) listening to the genesis of Another goal, I will include commentary on how That is panning out. If any of you are embarking on something like this, feel free to share that in comments!! Misery luuuuuuuuuuves company ;-)