Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Foray's in Fiction: Quote

Visions by Alice Popkorn -flickr

“The great Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa said that to be an artist means never to avert your eyes. And that's the hardest thing, because we want to flinch. The artist must go into the white hot center of himself, and our impulse when we get there is to look away and avert our eyes.”
― Robert Olen Butler
From Where You Dream


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Block, Blocked, Blocking

Too soon to crow, but...

I started crocheting again last week.  Picked up the Rooster Filet that was my Secret Santa project last year.  Still not done tho its been in the stage of nearly done for six months.

As always I'm having issues with the finishing.  Not just getting it finished but with the finishing techniques that turn a fiber art project into a useful item.  This is the case with ninety percent of my unfinished projects.

Crafter's Duffle.
Including the Secret Santa  project from 2012 that is still unfinished primarily because the Mobius strip (that pile of brown on the left above) became too bulky to carry around after surpassing 4 inches in width and required a complex put away/get out protocol to prevent the thread tangling in the strip or loosing track of the working loop and risking unraveling an hour's work while fixing it.  Not to mention the time it took to fix it.

This has been a formidable block to working on the Mobius Strip for with a 5-10 minute get out/put away process it felt pointless to get it out unless I was sure of at least 45-60 minutes of uninterrupted work.  Time blocks of that size are rare and far between with all the duties I have here at Mom's and when I have them on the weekends she is at my brother's I usually need them for the sorting, organizing, rearranging projects and writing, research and exercise.

That is a getting-it-finished issue.  The finishing techniques issue is with the over 200 tails needing tucked on the panels seen in the picture to the left.

The Mobius strip is to serve as the bottom, side-pockets' back and carry strap for the crafter's duffle I designed myself in July 2012.  Working on it consumed the six months before Christmas 2012.  I worked 6 to 8 hours a day through August, stepping it up to 8-10 through Thanksgiving and then 16 to 20 through December 23.  I'd so miscalculated how much work was going to be involved!

I fully intended to maintain at least the 6-8 hour per day until it was done once I returned from the three week visit to Mom's in January 2013 but then the lifequake rocked my world and I never got to go home except for a few short visits until early May when there was no home to go home to.

I took it on the coast trip last Saturday and got a good 90 minutes of work on the way.  I thought it best to leave it safe in its bag for the return trip after we climbed back into the van with who knows how much sand in our clothes and hair and whatever that sticky stuff the wind plastered us with.  I could feel on my hands and face and legs where skin was exposed so knew it had to be in my clothes as well.

In that 90 minutes though I did make it all the way around one edge or 1/2 the entire Mobius or 8 feet of 2 chains + single crochet, repeat.  All the way around plus 18 inches.  Completing a Mobius round or both edges is 16 feet and adds 1/4 inch to the width.  It is now at 9.5 inches and I'm aiming for 12.  I'm sure I'll be speeding it up with practice. I was once doing the whole 16 feet inside 90 minutes.  Or two episodes of Stargate or Desperate Housewives or Madmen.  This weekend while Mom's gone it's going to be Star Trek Enterprise.

I'm probably going to be sorry I set it down that way to set up the photo shoot for the rooster filet.  Especially considering the unexpected offer of help I received:

No thank-you Bradley.  Not Helping.

Actually Bradley was asking me for help and holding my work hostage until I complied.

The rooster filet issue was with the blocking.  No amount of blocking was going to make a trapezoid into a rectangle.  The bottom was four inches wider than the top and one side was two inches shorter than the other.

This was probably the result of:
  • working on it in too many different moods which can change the tension causing the stitches to tighten up or loosen up
  • switching crochet hook sizes by accident which changes the size of the stitches

My solution was to work a row of slip stitches all the way around, adjusting tension intentionally to tighten up the looser stitches.  It seemed to be working until I got to the third edge--the wide bottom.  I worked it over and over before getting it right.  I probably reworked it a dozen times.  Sometimes I'd skipped stitches which caused the fabric to bunch.  That's a vision issue.  But the primary problem was keeping the tension just right.

I think I finally got it.  The test blocking looks promising though I still need to finish the 4th edge.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Toes in the Water (ROW80 Check-In)

This pic of my sister at the surf's edge last Saturday is a
good depiction of my current stance toward my writing goals
one week after returning from a 2 month hiatus.

I made significant progress since last week when I finally broke my posting hiatus and jumped back into ROW80.  My round 3 goals as stated last Wednesday were:

  • Define my intent for round 4 and work to recover the story dream for Blow Me a Candy Kiss so I can return to the structural rewrite that was interrupted by my furbaby's final illness in late May.
I'm still fiddling around with defining Round 4 Goals.  Going slow on purpose.  Do not want to overdo them again.  So I'm taking mental notes as I observe the experiment I'm conducting as I add tasks back into the mix.

Progress has been in the second part--recovering the story dream for Candy Kiss and returning to the structural rewrite.  Since last Wednesday I've made a point of giving undivided attention to the story dream--essentially daydreaming it and jotting notes occasionally.  Until Monday this was done randomly at whatever time of day I could fit it in.

Then last week I began re-reading Robert Olen Butler 's From Where You Dream as it is the one that taught me how to daydream the story before starting to write scenes and why it was crucial to do so if you aspire to literary fiction. He also advised never to miss two days in a row of focused work on the story until the first draft is finished.  

He also stressed how important it was to begin work on your story each day first thing--before encountering or using language in any other capacity.  This takes advantage of having just been submerged in the unconscious where the story evolves and prevents being sucked out of the dream by the predominately abstract nature of mundane language usage.

This reminder, that seguing directly from sleep-dreaming to story-dreaming was in the best interests of the story, immediately quashed the dithering about whether to return to the early bird schedule. I had myself more than half convinced that I was a natural night owl and should stop fighting it. Yet I knew that at least for the duration of my stay here at Mom's the early morning hours are the most likely to be free of interruption.  Hence the dithering.  

There's now no wiggle-room for dithering. So I began moving my wake-up back from noonish to 9ish as a first step and making my first activity a 30 to 50 minute Candy Kiss daydream.  This morning, Wednesday, that was followed by two hours of research for the next scene followed by an hour or two of rewriting that scene in the Scrivener rewrite file garnering me several rewritten paragraphs and three completely new ones.

Altogether quite a successful week for writing.  And that doesn't even count keeping the daily post going with no more than a 24 hour lag on a few.  Besides which, I got several of the hiatus backlog posted--all of the Sunday Serenity and Chin Grin, the story of my bad fall on August 12.

I guess you could say I have my toes in the water.


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Going Where My Heart Will Take Me

Faith of the Heart -- Star Trek Enterprise Titles Song
Lyrics by Diane Warren
Sung by Russel Watson
Originally recorded by Rod Stewart

It's been a long road
Getting from there to here
It's been a long time
But my time is finally near
And I can feel the change in the wind right now
Nothing's in my way
And they're not gonna hold me down no more
No there not gonna hold me down
Cause I've got faith of the heart
I'm going where my heart will take me
I've got faith to believe
I can do anything
I've got strength of the soul
And no one's gonna bend or break me
I can reach any star
I've got faith
I've got faith
Faith of the heart
There are five more verses: Russell Watson - Faith Of The Heart Lyrics | MetroLyrics


I started watching reruns of Star Trek Enterprise on Netflix last week and by the time I heard the titles song the third time I was beginning to own it--the sentiment of it.

Since then I've seldom let the show continue without playing the titles a second time and often three or four times. Now the song plays itself in my head all day and I'm starting to feel it viscerally.

I've come to identify with it to such a degree I've taken it on as my personal anthem.

Since I've found several YouTube versions I probably won't feel the need to replay them at the beginning of every episode.

Star Trek Enterprise was the only Star Trek series I never got to see all the episodes.  In fact I have seen less than half of them.  They were always changing up the schedule without warning--switching from Saturday night to Friday night, switching from the 7pm slot to 4, 6, 8, or 9pm or even 1am--usually to accommodate a sport show.

Star Trek began weaving itself into my psyche at age 9 becoming second only to the Bible and tied with Shakespeare in impact to my sense of story.  From age 11 through my late teens I was a rabid fan of the Classic Star Trek--Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scottie, Sulu, Uhara, Checkov--and recognized even before age 13 that a great many of the episodes were parables.

I realized recently that it had been years since I'd seen classic Star Trek episodes and began to long for them and thought it was about time I take advantage of their availability on Netflix but once I signed in and saw Enterprise and remembered I'd missed so many episodes when they aired, I decided that it was fitting to watch the prequel to the classic Star Trek first.

Watching Star Trek now is an exercise in tracing my relationship to story back to its roots.  I wish to re-encounter as an adult and as a writer all the stories that enthralled me as a youth.

It's also homage to the first stories I wrote that weren't children's picture books or chapter books--Star Trek fan fic.  Though I didn't know that's what it was called and it was long before the Internet so I didn't know anyone else did it and only a handful of my sixth grade classmates ever saw any of the pages.


Monday, September 08, 2014

Sand and Surf and Sisters

These three vids were taken by my sister Jamie at Sunset Beach Warrington Oregon on Saturday.

This a bit of a lazy post.  By embedding my sister Jamie's fb posts I've not had to upload the vids to my YouTube channel nor write the explanations.  Thanx Sis.

Spinning on Sand
This screenshot from the above video is an iconic image representing the day for me.  Twirling like that was a favorite thing throughout my childhood.

This my sister Carri running on the beach

I only wish there had been a vid or pictures of me running as that was such an awesome sensation--running free and fast and fearless for the first time in decades.


Sunday, September 07, 2014

Sunday Serenity #405

Sunset Beach Garabaldi, Oregon
 Mom, my two sister's and I went to the beach yesterday.

One Way to Stay Warm
 It was supposed to be a warm day but the ocean breeze overpowered the sun.  Mom and my sisters spent most of the two hours in the chairs bundled in jackets and blankets.  I stayed warm by staying in motion--running, spinning, slopping through the shallow surf.

Taking pictures.

Sun Dazzled

Wet Sand and Shallow Surf--Made for Running

A Couple and Their Dog Cavorting


Saturday, September 06, 2014

Room to Run (ROW80 Check-In)

Room to Run
We went to the beach today.  Mom my two sisters and I.

It was Sunset Beach in Oregon not far from the mouth of the Columbia River.  The expanse of sand at low tide is vast, flat and wet.  It is possible to drive the car onto the packed sand right to the edge of the wet sand and park which allowed Mom to walk to the spot we set up the chairs to watch the surf.

It's possible to drive on the wet sand uncovered by the low tide but not wise to park there for long if you intend to drive off of it again.

Between our chairs and the surf line was an expanse of wet sand at least the width of a quarter mile racetrack.  I knew from experience that this it the best possible surface for running.  It's nearly as low impact as a trampoline.  I took off running toward the water.

I actually never sat in a chair the whole two hours we were there.  I ran and wandered, slopped through the edge of the surf, spun in circles with my arms stretched out until I was too dizzy to walk straight, stumbled zigzag fashion until I could hold a course and ran some more.  And started all over again.

It was the first time in decades I was able to full out run without hesitation for there was no fear of tripping, stepping off the edge of a narrow path or running into someone or something in motion darting out from the dark periphery of my visual field.

Having heard it was going to be warm--high 70s or 80s, I'd dressed in layers starting with shorts and a tank top.  Over the tank I'd worn a hooded, long-sleeved, lightweight cotton pullover for the ride against the car cooler's icy breath.  I fully expected to pull it off once we arrived.  My sister came prepared to body surf on her boogie board.

But we were met with a stiff churning breeze. Chilly and stinging with the moisture and sand it carried. I had to put on a hooded windbreaker and a cotton scarf around my neck.  With my legs bare I was still tensing with the chill.  Which is why I started running and then stayed in motion the whole two hours.

Those two hours freed me from the oppressive caged feeling I've been struggling with for months.  Fifteen minutes in I found Happy.  It lasted until at least an hour after climbing back into the car.

The breeze seemed to have swept my mind free of clutter giving me clarity of thought.  Briefly, but enough for me to latch on to an insight or two.

Seeing the sand stretched out all around reminded me of a motivational story I'd read on line recently.  One I'd heard before:

There was a speaker (preacher or motivational) who set a large transparent bowl before his audience and put in it several large rocks until there was no room for another.  
He asks the audience if the bowl is full and they chorus 'Yes!'   
He then adds a bunch of stones half the size of the rocks until there is no room for more.  
'Is it full now?'  and again the chorus answers 'Yes.'
Next he adds rocks small enough to close up in his fist until there is no more room.
'What about now?'  Still the chorus of 'Yes.' but maybe fewer voices, maybe a drop in volume.
Now he pours in gravel.  And asks again.  The yeses are mixed with noes many sounding like questions themselves.
And sure enough there is still room for sand, filtering down through the crevices and crannies all the way to the bottom.
'Surely it is full now, eh?' He asks, pouring himself a drink from a pitcher of water.  The chorus is divided into firm yeses and noes.
He grins, pouring the pitcher of water over the surface of sand.
Retold in my own words.

The rocks, gravel, sand and water represent items on a todo list.  The main point being made is that in order to fit in the biggest things--the highest priority or most time-consuming--they need to go in first.  The secondary point is that many tasks can be fit into the interstices--standing in line, waiting rooms, stalled traffic.

I was reminded once again that writing needs to be one of the big rocks.  Although many of its related and component tasks can fit into the interstices it needs also a block of dedicated time.

Which has given me the missing motivation to return to the early bird schedule.  A motive that is purely my own.  Not an attempt to please my husband who is a natural early bird.  Nor to comply with anyone else's idea of what I should be doing or even my idea of what others think I should be doing.

I will be easing into it though.  For to start off with expectations of an instant and perfect switch would set me up for failure.  Still I don't think it will take me as long as it took last year when I began the transition the first time.  The insomnia is not as intransigent and I won't have to relearn the same lessons from all the trials and errors from that time.


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