Thursday, December 31, 2009

Packed

wai u no letz me halps? ai b xlant pakr
moar funny pictures


All but the last minute items are packed. I've been at it for over fifteen hours today. Can't remember how much time I spent on it yesterday--four or five maybe. I'm not saying I never took breaks during those fifteen hours today. But I never really stopped thinking and planning even when sitting down.

A lot of the work I did today was not the true packing. I first had to sort and organize bunches of stuff, then set the things to go aside and then start packing the designated bags and when they filled up, start winnowing. I was setting limits on myself and although I am still taking more than my FIL thinks is reasonable it is less than a quarter of what I took a year ago when planning to be away for months.

Here is the list of bags each with a designated category:

  • One medium duffel for clothes and shoes
  • One hanging bag for hanger clothes and jackets (not really a bag but a raincoat enclosing the clothes)
  • Two bags of sewing. One less than half the size of the other which is a beachbag
  • One small bag of dirty clothes (no time for laundry this week). And the smaller sewing bag fits inside atop the laundry. So that consolidates two into one tho it breaks the theme.
  • One computer bag (am taking my laptop so my sister can make inquiries on how/if we can get the files off)
  • One smallish book bag containing more reference than free reading. Also loaners I'm returning and others I'm lending
  • One HABA (Health and Beauty Aides) aka bathroom bag (large purse size)
  • One notebook bag containing the paper files pertaining to my WIP and misc office supplies. Largish attache size
  • One small box the size of a briefcase containing drum kit
  • One small purse
I really miss not being able to snap pics on a whim and upload them from camera to laptop to blog in minutes. Ed hasn't introduced my camera to his laptop yet. I could have taken pictures of the packing process and of the packed bags but even better of Merlin who was 'helping'. Altho I captioned the LOL at top of post, I did not take that picture. I spent an hour trolling the pictures on icanhazcheeseburger.com looking for one of a cat in a suitcase or duffle.

Merlin, our cat, knows something is up. He was all over the place. Did more running today than I've seen him do in months. He chased his little ring a ding balls all over the house, entertaining Ed's Mom and Dad. He chased shadows. He chased wrinkles in the bedding and in the clothing I was trying to pack. He chased and grabbed at the crochet thread I was rolling onto a smaller tube.

Well I've been awake since 4AM and I just heard the neighborhood erupt in hoots and hollers. Lots a horn honking and whistling. Must be 2010 already.

We were supposed to leave here at 10AM but we couldn't get one of my prescriptions renewed until after ten tomorrow so we'll be hitting the freeway a bit later than planned.

By this time tomorrow I ought to be in Longview at my Mom's.

I don't know what my computer usage is going to look like once there so bear with me. I hope to be able to maintain a daily post. I just can't promise they'll all have hours invested in them.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Packing



Life Photographer Margret Bourke-White Sitting Amidst Contents of Opened Suitcase
by Alfred Eisenstaedt
print for sale at art.com

I finally started packing for my trip to Longview. Didn't get far. Mostly dug out all the soft-sided bags and purses from a good sized duffle down to small zipper pouches. Pulled some hanging clothes out of closet and put them inside a large raincoat in lieu of a hanging bag. Tho I actually have a hanging bag but am storing out of season and too-small things in there and don't want to pull them out and leave them at the mercy of Merlin and Ed for three weeks.

I have been aiming at packing light. Ha. I couldn't pack light if my life depended on it.

I still haven't lived down the last trip when I filled both the back seat and the trunk with my stuff. But then I was going for what I thought would be a two to three month stay that turned into a six month stay. This time I'm only going for three weeks tops.

I've asked my sister to request several of the library books I was in the middle of when I had to leave last summer and one that I'm in the middle of here now but can't take with me as it will be due over a week before I return. Asking for those six or seven books means I shouldn't need to take so many from here. Ha.

I thought I wouldn't be bringing my laptop since it's screen died the Sunday before Xmas. But my sister suggested I bring it so she can ask the guy that does work on their computers advice on getting my files off of it.

Then there's my fiction and poetry portfolios--the notebooks filled with the printouts of my best work so far. And the handwritten notes for the story world that accumulated during NaNo--mostly the family trees and names with descriptive tags i.e. the beginnings of character sketches.

Then there's the crocheting. Why do they have to put crochet thread on those huge tubes. That makes them so hard to pack around. I know it would be silly to take all ten or fifteen of them but how do I choose? And since I'm hoping to give away several more bookmarks I'll need to take the ribbons too won't I?

And then there's the sweat pea embroidery on Mom's sweater that I didn't finish yet. Finish? Ha. Haven't got it out to try to work on it since October.

And I haven't even begun to think about the HABA--Health and Beauty Aids--arrrgh! Don't want to think about them.

I can't get pictures off my camera or get to the ones stored on my laptop so I went hunting for pictures of packing for travel online and found that one gracing the top of this post. I felt some better about my own packing seeing all that stuff spread around her there. Compared to last year at this time when I was packing, I am going light. Relatively speaking.

There's just no way I could travel on a bus or plane. Which is why Ed is driving me to the Rice Hill truck stop on Friday to meet my sister there who is driving down from Portland where she will be leaving Mom art our brother's home.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cookie Monster Blues

yestidy dese b kookeez today mai human calz dem hair o da gog
moar funny pictures

Oy. I had too much sweets at the family shindig Sunday. Been paying the price since Monday morning. The cookie monster howls for more, throwing temper tantrums and when denied crashes into long sweaty naps waking in foul mood with loss of articulation of both limbs and tongue. Yes, much like a hangover.

I have to snap out of it. I'm supposed to leave for Longview Friday morning and I havn't started packing or any of the other trip prep. When I start to think about it I just want to crawl under the blankets.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Flipping


Ed got several computer games for Christmas. One of them is Flip Words which is now on his laptop which wer're sharing now that mine went pfft. So I'm consoling myself over missing my laptop (like missing a limb) by playing Flip Words. I am gaga over word games. My fav online is Text Twist and I would love, love, love to have the full version of that one. Meanwhile, this one is pretty cool too.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Serenity #159


Lydia Crocheting in the Garden at Marly
1880 by Mary Cassatt
Oil on canvas
26 x 37 in (66 x 94 cm)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


This painting by Mary Cassatt has several things lending itself to serenity for me. First I love Cassatt's work and every one I've encountered has had a soothing or joyful effect upon my spirit. Second, I find the colors in this one especially soothing. and finally the woman in the picture is crocheting and that (along with needlepoint and cross stitch) induce serenity in my. I often refer to them as my Xanex or Valium.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

If Only It Were That Easy...

i can knits  computr screen?
moar funny pictures


I would even teach myself to knit if it meant I could whip up a new screen for my laptop.

Or whatever it is that stopped working. Ed keeps changing his diagnosis back and forth between software and hardware; between screen itself and the video card. Thinking it was a wore out screen, he hooked up the monitor of his mom's PC to my laptop--hoping we could get logged on and into my files so I could get the rest of them moved onto thumb drives--but that screen too stayed black upon bootup. So he changed his theory to something inside having gotten jarred loose--like the video card--either when I dropped the laptop last January or when I broke the hinge on the lid on my book light last June which caused the case to bulge at the upper left corner and a sound that could almost be called a rattle when the laptop was tilted.

With that theory in mind he proceeded to unscrew screws on the bottom, lifting off little 'lids' and when that didn't give him access to what he wanted to see, he went after the screws holding the entire case together. But after getting out all the screws he could find, removing the battery and gently prying at the gap the ensued something was still pinning the case together and he didn't want to force it.

At that point he told me that he was in over his head and he needed to get in contact with a friend of a friend who does laptop repair and might be able to advise him. He won't see the friend until work on Monday. So this nightmare which began last Sunday morning takes another turn.

Since I'm leaving for Longview on Friday morning it is looking unlikely that I'll be able to get the rest of my files off the laptop before I leave. Now I'm panicked there may not be any way to get them off at all. What I have left on there that is truly irreplaceable are the pictures from my camera taken since May; the hundreds of family photos I scanned between May and late June; some of the original graphics done for various projects (mostly existing or planned websites or planned needlework projects; some downloaded music; and the data files for the info managing ap Chaos Manager2 which served as my PIM for several years before I acquired WhizFolders Organizer Pro and still holds a lot of data I never got around to moving over to Whiz, including contact info, passwords and links and numerous notes to self of the kind writers make when musing on a WIP.

And of course a great deal of the blame for this is my own. I've blogged here repeatedly since the inception of Joystory about my negligence when it comes to keeping my files in order and backed up. I guess I'm incorrigible.

Added to the panic and the feeling that nothing is going right this month is the feelings of failure and self-flagellation--a serious questioning of whether I deserve to succeed, whether I've been fooling myself all along as to my qualifications to accomplish any of my aspirations. All of which puts my mood in the pits out of which I still fiercely attempt to climb but a sense of overwhelming weariness is gaining on me.

Question: are the events and thoughts causing the mood or visa versa.

Backing up my files isn't the only thing I've neglected in the last several weeks.
  • I stopped meditating shortly after arriving at my mom's last January. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
  • I slowed way down on mini-tramp work when the weather got too chilly in early November and have been on it only three or four time since Thanksgiving and even then only for five or ten minute sessions.
  • I stopped being careful about what I put in my mouth and when (things I should, I don't and things I shouldn't I do)
  • I stopped writing altogether after NaNo except in blog posts and you can see what they've amounted to lately. (so she wants to be a writer? ha!)
  • I stopped taking care to get a solid 7.5 hours of sleep each and every day so my hours are all over the clock (I keep forgetting to take the 5HTP which aids in this and I self-medicate the fatigue with extra caffeine to the tune of triple squared any sane definition of a healthy amount)
Well. Enough whining. I have work to do and if nothing else it will be distracting. I have about ten by six inches left to go on that crochet project which I still hope to include in the package for the family member whose name I drew to be their secret Santa. Our extended family (on Ed's side) is having our get together tomorrow afternoon. So I'll be hooking the night away.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Well dis Embarrasin...

so Mr Red Soot waz welcom gest... ...well dis embarassin.
moar funny pictures
I captioned this one. Vote for it here.
See more captioned by Joystory.



Have yourselves a merry merry Christmas.



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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy






I'm busily hooking away at that gift I mentioned previously. I'll be able to say more about it after our gift exchange day Sunday. If I finish it that is. If I don't, it may become a birthday gift instead.

Meanwhile, I'm remembering previous Christmases and the general frantic tension of the days leading up to them and that led me to think of the poem I'd written on one such Christmas week and I thought I'd repost it tonight along with its explanation from my Monday Poetry #28 offering of two years ago:

Coverstory
by Joy Renee

Sorry, this poem does not relate.
I’m running a little bit late.
It’s already half-past eight
And I’ve got still to do
Many stitches times two
And the wrapping of seven plus four.
It’s got to be ready to go out the door
Not a minute later than one.
And I’m afraid I won’t get it done.
If I continue to fiddle
With riddle and rhyme
I am sure to run out of time.
So I’ll have to forgo my remarks
On the silliness of making
A thing for protecting
Worth more than that which it guards!

############

This poem was written in 94 or 95 to slip into the gift bag with a needle-pointed book cover for a paperback which I had been frantically putting in the last stitches on the morning our gifts for Ed's family were being picked up by his brother as they left the Longview area on their way to Phoenix, Oregon. We didn't get to go that year as Ed couldn't get off work, nor did we have a reliable car.

To see more of my poems go to the Poem Portal which is a post I update with Titles and links whenever I add a new poem. It's been over a year since I've written a new one tho. It's been on my mind to get back to poem writing ever since I updated my hard copy portfolio the first week of December with the twenty-some poems that existed only on Joystory and/or my hard drive.

I'm slowly getting my desktop on Ed's laptop swung around to my liking. I was able to download my licensed copy of WhizFolders Pro, my primary note organizer and early draft ap, directly from their site by signing in to their customer support area. So now it has all the bells and whistles not included in the trial version. Like spellcheck, a thesaurus and embedded objects including active spreadsheets.

I'm so glad I managed to get all my writing and other text based files backed up Sunday before the screen of my laptop gasped its last. I just wish I hadn't fiddled so long shuffling images and folders full of images around trying to figure which thumb drive to put what in. That's how I spent the last four hours of the screens life as it flickered and wobbled and dimmed. The last time I backed up the image files it took over two hours.

Ed's extended family living locally are gathering at a Chinese restaurant tomorrow late afternoon or evening. Our gift exchange isn't until Sunday evening after Ed's brother and wife arrive from Toutle WA. Yes the same ones who were in that accident in Montana last week that totaled their van.

I will be trying to squeeze in time with several books that were due at the library Tuesday that didn't get taken back because Ed was too exhausted to make a special trip over. There are more books due early next week too. I won't be finishing with many. If any. Besides the holiday prep and family stuff going on over the next several days, I also have to start preparing for my trip to Longview the following weekend--tentatively planned for Friday or Saturday.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit: It's About the Giving!

Enough with the maudlin morass I sank into Sunday. I've reached out and grasped a slender reed of grass on the edge of the swamp. On Sunday I started making something for the giftee in the family whose name I drew from the bowl on Thanksgiving Day and today Ed took me shopping for the other parts of what I had planned for them. Getting my mind focused on creating a really special package for this really special person took it off my own woes and the series of whams I blogged about Sunday night for my Monday post.

While we were out and about this afternoon I saw a homeless man with a a cardboard sign reading, "Any little bit hleps." I was reminded of the ten days we were homeless on the streets of the Silicon Valley in the Summer of 2001 with our two cats, remembering how grateful we were for little offerings of help--a small carton of catfood, a 5 dollar bill, a bus pass, even conversation. However difficult our ten days were that summer, it must be expoentially more so for this man in the freezing cold weather we've been having this month. And to be homeless the week of Christmas!!! I was suddenly awash with gratitude for what we are currently blessed with.

I was also moved to want to do something for this man but he was across several lanes of heavy traffic and to get to him would have entailed driving not just around the block but around an entire shopping complex or getting on the freeway and driving to the next exit into town and then driving back through the stop-and-go town traffic. So I sent up prayers for his wellbeing and while I was at it, all those in like position this winter; this holy day season associated in all our minds with the warmth and safety of home and the comfort of fellowship with family and friends.

When we got back home and I got logged onto Ed's laptop and started searching for something to post about for which I wouldn't need any of the materials still trapped on my laptop's hard drive, I shortly stumbled onto this post: The Dewey Tree

It is a challenge to give away books to any of a variety of chaities such as libraries, literacy programs, soldeirs serving overseas, schools etc. Here let me let OnlinePublisist explain:


As I write this, I think of a favorite blogger who passed away this time last
year. Her spirit lives on in the Dewey Read-a-Thon, Weekly Geeks, and The Bookworms Carnival. She loved reading. She loved books. She supported Banned Books Week and believed everyone had the right to reading m
aterial. In her honor, I'm calling this donation project The Dewey Tree. It's a little bit The Giving Tree, a little bit Dewey, a little bit charity. :-D

Here's what you do:

*Gather up the books you can live without. It can be 4 books, 10 books, or 20 books! *Find a worthy group you would like to donate your overflow books to. It can be your local library, a literacy campaign (mine will go to the literacy center I volunteer for), or overseas. There's a great list of book donation sites here on the ALA. Find a charity
that speaks to you!
*Then take a picture of your donation and email it to me (onlinepublicist [AT] gmail [DOT] com). It can be a pic of the mailing label on your package, one of your kids giving a box of books to a
librarian, or you handing books over to your literacy center. Be creative and have fun!

I will accept pics (and will post favorites) until January 4, 2010. At that time, I will enter the names of all who sent donation pics into Random.org and choose three. ***AMENDED: PLEASE GO HERE TO ENTER FOR THE GIVEAWAY*** Those three winners will receive custom made totes from me! I will email you pics of my available fabric and have you build one you like. The pic above is of two I made recently.

You'll have to go to the post at OnlinePublisist to see the picture of the cool cloth bags she has made. They can be book bags! Yay. Or green consciouness shopping bags. Or sewing, crochet, knitting or scrapbooking totes. But the point isn't really about getting a bag is it? This is an exercise in giving. And in honoring our Dewey!


Please, if you are moved to, pass the word along about this giving project. Email and Twitter. Use the graphic heading this post on your own blog or facebook but be sure and link it to the post at OnlinePublisist.

The act of giving in the spirit of generosity is a powerful mood booster.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Taking a Break from Gloom and Doom



This video mugged giggles and guffaws out of me despite my entrenched upsidedown smile.

After yesterday's loooooooooong gloomy post, I thot I'd give us all a break. I'm in dire need of one. Had a Dr. appointment today which always wears me out mentally and physically. Will be giving up my might work session tonight for some sleep.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

So Much for Sunday Serenity, So Long Holiday Spirit

moar kitteh ROFLOL


This week, calling this blog Joystory is like calling a mudpie chocolate bliss.

Oh, I am so far, far, far from feeling the spirit of Xmas or New Years.

I've been trying so hard to hang on to a sliver of it, a glimmer of it, with one wham after another in the last three weeks or so splashing muck all over it. The crowning wham was the crapout of of my laptop screen this morning. I'm typing this on Ed's laptop. He suspects a driver failure on mine. He thinks we might be able to hook the two together with a USB cable so that we can opporate mine with this one's keyboard so I can get all my files off. But he can't promise to get off work in time to go shopping for one any time before Xmas so that probably means Saturday or later.

I'm supposed to leave for Longview sometime the week after Xmas, to be there for my Mom's birthday. Now it's looking like I'm going to be stuck carrying my files on thumb drives and scrounging time on their PC to blog, check email, write (as if) and work on the family photo scanning project. I'm supposed to be there for two to three weeks.

Actually, I'm supposed to be arriving back home right about now--yesterday, today or tomorrow. The original plan was for me to travel back with my mom and sister when they passed through here the Tuesday after Thanksgiving on their way back from visiting family and attending a Bible conference in Gerber, CA about a 3 hour drive south of us. But on Thanksgiving day at Ed's family get-to-gether the plans were set for his family to celebrate Xmas on December 12th as Ed's brother, traveling down from Toutle, WA couldn't get Xmas week off. At that gathering we all drew names out of a bowl for our secret Santa recipiant and I drew one of the names I really knew how to do for. I was psyched to draw that name. But then I learned the gift exchange would be during the time I was gone. I was dithering about whether to go or stay when Ed took it upon himself to ask my mom and sister (when they stopped on their way south on Thanksgiving) if he could keep me until after Xmas and then they could have me for Mom's birthday, January 3rd and a couple weeks beyond. Everybody was happy with that concept.

We also learned that week (it may have been Thanksgiving day or a day or two earlier) that our niece who got married two years ago and has been living in Montana ever since was expecting a baby in June and planned to bring the baby to visit Washington and Oregon family within a month or so of the birth.

I was high on Holiday spirit that weekend and for most of the following week. I pushed acrosss the NaNo finish line by noon on Monday and then spent several days relaxing, doing what I felt like doing--reading novels, sleeping, crocheting, reading blogs, cleaning out email inboxes and watching Gilmore Girls with Ed every evening. If only I knew then how short the life of my LT really was.
I think it was the first weekend in December we got news that Ed's brother in Toutle was going to have to cancel his plans to come here on the 12th as his 90 something father-in-law was very ill and possibly dying. The earliest he could make the trip would be New Year's weekend. You can see how that was going to mess up my plans to go north immediately after Xmas. But then we got to thinking that I could maybe ride back with them. Toutle is very close to Longview. Close enough Ed and I used to babysit their kids when we were living in Longview. Yes, one of them is the young lady now living in Montana. She has two siblings, a brother and sister, and we've not seen any of them since the summer the younger girl graduated from high-school in 2007.

So that was their grandpa who was possibly dying that first weekend of December. Well he raillied and seems to be holding his own for the moment. But by then Ed's brother had already switched his days off and couldn't change them back. So our whole family Xmas was still going to be held about a week late.

I attempted a little rally of my own last week. All that crocheting was part of it. It helps me think. And then when Ed's folks left town Thursday morning for an overnight trip, I decided to use the time they were gone to do laundry and clean our room. I told most of that story in a previous post. The wham came when I got a muscle spasm in my lower back while sorting laundry. In spite of it I pushed on and got four loads of clothes and bedding thru the machines, decluttered our room and bagged the garbage, and put the livingroom (where I'd moved my 'office' and moved in the mini-tramp from the porch) kitchen (where Ed had prepared for me halibut fillets on a bed of greens, mushrooms, tomato and avocado) laundry area and bathroom) before Ed's folks got home.

Meanwhile, when taking breaks while waiting on the machines or to give my back a break, I busied myself with a major tidy-up task in my laptop files. While working on that book review of The Brutal Telling, last week I had decided that I really needed to get all those partial book reviews copy/pasted from their MS Works documents into my WhizFolders Pro Book Review document. I had moved about twenty or so of the most nearly completed last October if I'm remembering right and managed to get several posted. I needed to get them into the WhizFolder document so I could take a good look and decide which ones were worth pursuing, which ones I needed to send for at the library either to finish, reference or to help me decide whether to pursue a review.

Besides getting their topics created in Whiz makes them available to drop notes and links I come across and thus build the skeleton of a review with a slow calcium drip and prep its wardrobe one thread at a time.

I transferred 60 to 80 of them and in the process created bib slips for each of them in my Whiz Reading Journal as well as review topics in the Whiz book review document (there are now over 150). The 'bib slip' file in the reading journal is where I record the bibliography info for any book I encounter and especially engage with (even wishlists) and manage library books from ordering to renewing to returning and keep track of page numbers I leave off on and maybe some notes as to the relevance to any research project or WIP.

If I was on my LT I could take a screen shot of Whiz and post it here. I was going to go grab the one from Thursday's post and repost it here but what's the point. You can scroll down or go here to see it. Or click on the WhizFolder lable and find other posts where I sing its praises. In one of them you'll find the link to the WhizFolder Pro site. Or just Google or Yahoo. My link is in my Whiz Web Map and two or three other handy locations in WhizFolders. As are every important, regularly used link. How am I going to manage without it? For even a few days?

Well I'm getting some hints while doing this post without it and it is not a pretty picture. I have done all and I mean all draft work (except for simple, short and shallow blog posts) and note managing in Whiz for nearly two years now. All and I mean ALL of my bookmarks for both the web and my files are in my WhizFolder files. Many of my passwords and screen names as well though I seldom needed them since Firefox was set to remember me.

I did manage to back up my writing files onto a thumb drive before the screen sighed its last. That and my ebook folder were the only ones that would still fit on the same thumbs. My graphics file and my audio/video files had gone outtasight. While I was in Longview my entire graphics file fit on a 4GB with a sliver of room to spare so I knew I was going to need to split it up next time and that is why I procrastinated on backing it up. I had no idea it had nearly doubled in size--with all the digital pics I dumped in from my camera and all the family photos I scanned while in Longview, and the graphics for that mysterious website Ed and I have been working on during his off seasons for the last couple years, which I can't be specific about for fear of someone else grabbing onto the concept and running with it.

As for the audio files? They used to fit on a 2GB. Just some music and an audio book. That was before I downloaded itunes and started loading up on free podcasts. Now I'm not sure where they sit but I'm pretty sure its in the double-digit GB as in over 10, possibly closer to 20. I couldn't even begin to think about them this afternoon so I put my focus on the graphics. I hoped to get them backed up. Especially the family photo scan folder, my camera dump, my Pics for Posting folder where I've put pics collected or processed for web display. I spent hours combing through every file looking for things I could delete. There were a lot of duplicates but not enough. They could only dimple the mass that I needed to shink. I see now I wasted a lot of time in dithering and shuffling files around trying to make it easier for later so that related things could be on the same thumb. I should have just bundled them however they would fit and made the move.

And then used the extra time, if any, to see if I could figure out how to move the WhizFolder program onto a thumb. It's supposed to be possible. Tho some of the features are deactivated or something.

I was getting very close to ready to move them when I was called to dinner. I have never wanted so badly to just ignore that call and boy that's saying something. I dreaded finding the screen black again when I got back from doing dishes. I had no appetite. Was even nauseated. My back tensed up and threatened to spasm on me again while I did dishes. But when I got back to the room and lifted the lid of my laptop the screen was still on. I set about clearing a spot to sit as Ed had moved the stuff I'd spread out on the bed onto my side while I was in the kitchen. It was only 7 and he was getting ready to crash. The ten hour days are catching up with him.

While I was showing him the crochet project I started this morning before all the hullabaloo with the LT, I kept glancing at the screen and I saw it start to flicker, wobble, lines scrolling up, the corners brown out. I said Look that's what I'm talking about and he nodded and then Wham! it went black.

That's when he told me it looked more like a driver crash than a failure of the hardware. And while I attempted to get the image back by forcing a reboot again...and again... and again, he got out his laptop and set me up with a desktop. If you're remembering that post back before NaNo when I blogged about him setting me up with a desktop on his Vista and me spending hours getting all the settings to my liking--big fonts, menus, scroll bars, color scheme, background, and so forth, well, just this past weekend he upgraded to Windows 7 so I have to start from scratch.

Meanwhile I'm used to using a mouse and I'm having a hard time getting this touchpad to cooperate. It's more sensitive than mine ever was and everytime I want to scroll a couple lines I end up at the top or bottom of the page. I'm used to using Firefox and he hasn't downloaded it yet. I'm used to having certain keys identifiable by touch because of the textured stickers I put on them. Not only aren't they tagged for my fingers but many aren'te even in the same place--like delete. And I can't have a real light on in here right now. And I have his LT on a box on the foot of the bed and am sitting half sideways which is making my lower back very ticked with me. I should have taken it in the other room but when I started Ed's folks were still watching TV out there and I thought I would be done in 30 minutes tops.

My plan when Ed got up this morning was to spend the day reading and crocheting when my eyes need to rest. After that 17 hour sleep I had Saturday I wasn't ready to sleep, I was just getting my brain back when he got up at 4AM. So I got coffee out of the pot he made and back in our room alone, I got down my big bag of yarn because I had an idea for an Xmas present for someone. Can't say what or who just yet, just in case. I haven't crocheted with yarn since highschool. It's quite different.

So I started my news pod casts playing in iTunes and listened while I crocheted. I intended to start reading after Ed left and thus fear of interruption with him. But I got hooked and was still at it between 9:30 and 10AM when I looked up to see my screen black.

It's now almost 1AM and I still haven't slept since 4:30 Saturday. I began this post at 9Pm, scheduling it to post after midnight. But I'm still writing. I didn't start out intending to go into this much detail. This is the kind of thing I do in my personal journal--tho I do admit quite a bit more tidy here--vomit words onto the page/screen. I can't access my journal--yes, its in a WhizFolder--so I guess I'm making this a substitute.

I'm about wiped. But I haven't even finished listing all the Whams from this past week yet. I think I'm trying to avoid having to think about them. Here goes...

My sister-friend Jamie almost died a week ago last Thursday. She'd been having breathing issues for over a year. She sounded like Darth Vader. They had been running tests on Thrusday and it all took so long that the Doctor who'd seen her earlier in the day had gone home and the Dr on call who took over her case consulted with her over the phone--they were in the same complex but she was in reception and he in his office or radiology, not sure. So after making her wait for hours and hours for the results of all these tests he calls her on the phone and tells her they found no evidence of an obstruction. She was free to go. She'd been living with this for a year after all so what was another night? He didn't even bother to meet her face to face and hear the sound of her breathing.
It was the receptionist who looked alarmed (so my sister who waited with Jamie all day tells me) and she suggested quite firmly that Jamie not spend the night alone at her apartment. So she was going home with my sister to my mom's house where Jamie lived from age 13 to 21 as my parent's ward. But they were halfway there when Jamie's biological sister who lives in the deep south now got on the phone with my sister and told her to take her back and make them take care of her. (a total paraphrase if you get my drift) So they went back and went to ER. Where they called the ENT (ear nose throat) guy from home. Radiology had been looking at bronchial tubes and lungs but the obstruction was in her windpipe just below the voice box. Scar tissue had occluded 90 percent of her airway. It was supposed to be the size of a quarter but it was the size of a BB.

They had to send her by ambulance to OHSU in Portland, OR where the next day they stretched the airway with a balloon and took a biopsy. Thank God there was no evidence of cancer cells. It's hard to know what caused it tho bacteria infection is one possibility and she has had a lot of lingering coughs over the last several years. At least that Wham had a happy ending.

But I stressed through the whole of Thursday night and into Friday evening. And I couldn't help but think that only if I'd gone north as planned, I would have been there to hold her hand instead of here fretting and refreshing my email and checking my IM every five minutes. Jamie is almost young enough to be my daughter--if I'd been a teen mom, I'd have a kid her age. I babysat her a couple of times when she was little and after she lived with my parents she spent a lot of time at my appartment and it was during those years our relationship developed into the sistership it is now. Love you so much sis!!! Go here to read Jamie's post about the ordeal.

She and I are often IMing half the night but I haven't heard much from her since the day after her surgery as her biological sister flew to her side as soon as she could. Jamie's sister was only a couple years behind me in school.

That wasn't the last Wham--the last before the laptop crash, I mean. Not even the penultimate one. Which is this. My neice in Montana lost her baby Wedensday. A lot of the busy work I've done since has been an attempt to take my mind off that.

Here's the last: Her parents were driving over from Toutle WA to see her and hit a patch of ice on one of those Montana mountain roads. They crashed into a guardrail totaling their van so bad they were penned in. Then an eighteen wheeler went by them and it hit ice and the trailer slewed causing the driver to drive over the edge into the ravine. Which they witnessed in fear it was going to slide into them, or that one of the other cars going by would. The truck driver, a woman, lived but was in critical condition. There was a man in the sleeper and he walked away, even climbed out of the ravine without help. As for Ed's brother and his wife, they too walked away once their doors were pried or cut open.

But now they are having trouble finding a rental car they can take out of Montana and he has to be back at work by Tuesday. Oh, and he traded days off with someone so he could make that trip and now what with his transportation iffy who knows if he's going to make it for Xmas at all.

I rather doubt anyone has made it to the end of this. Along about the sixth paragraph I began to realize I was most likely conversing with myself but that's OK. This is how I process.

It is now 2:30AM. *head shaking* Ed will be up in 90 minutes. My hands, wrists, forearms, elbows and sholders are all wondering if it's NaNo time again already.
Excuse me if I don't proof read.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Serenity #158





I'm dedicating this day to reading.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Yeah. I'll Get Right on That

Yeah I
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I took that muscle relaxant right after posting last night. I was asleep before midnight. Not sure by how much. I slept until about half an hour ago--quarter to five, give or take--nearly 17 hours!!! Not that I never woke up. I did several times but I just couldn't be bothered to move. So I'd fall back to sleep. Into dreams that were vivid but not exactly pleasant. Not quite nightmares. A lot of sorting and other kinds of monotonous chores. A lot of arguing with characters from real life and story that morphed in and out. A lot of listening to alarming news reports from a radio or TV that wasn't in the scene so maybe those voices were coming out of the ether. And that sense of moving being an effort. Such an effort! Like swimming in pudding.

I'm sitting up now. Waiting for the call to dinner. The complaints from that muscle in my back are at whisper level as long as I make no sudden moves. I thought I'd get something posted now so I can use my session tonight for something else. Maybe write. Maybe read (currently in middle of The Elegance of the Hedgehog). Maybe crochet. Maybe a little of each. But at this moment it is hard to imagine wanting to do anything but go back to sleep. Only the memory of that dreariness I just woke from keeps me from wanting that.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Forays in Striction

sory,   bit tied up jus nao
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My in-laws were out of town from Wednesday morning through late this afternoon and I took advantage to do our laundry and clean our room. Then late last night while sorting the dirty clothes the muscles in my lower back declared war on each other. There have been moments today when I couldn't walk without hanging onto the wall. Ican't stand or sit up straight without support which means sitting on the edge of the bed like this isn't working very well.

It feels like elves are crocheting Christmas stockings our of my muscle fibers.

It doesn't help that I got only a couple hours of sleep between 3 and 5 this afternoon having ran the washer and dryer all night while Ed slept and then spent several hour cleaning our room after he left for work and then another hour putting the kitchen, living room, laundry and bathroom back in order before I was free to lay down. So I think I'm going to take a muscle relaxer left from the prescription for the stiff neck I had in November and see if I can sleep this off.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Taking Stock

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures


Anyone who knows my history regarding packing whether for a day trip, my book bags for school, or that 6-12 week stay at my mom's a year ago after her hip surgery and stroke that turned into 6 months, would totally ROTFLOL at the sight of that pic heading my blog post. I'm currently anticipating packing for a 2 to 3 week visit to my mom's just after Xmas which I intend to keep inside sane boundaries but that is only tangentially related to what I really want to talk about here.

The weird way my mind works took me in another direction after my initial reaction to seeing that pic of a cat sitting inside the harness of a humungous backpack on icanhascheezeburger.com. Sure I briefly flashed on memories of packing a year ago and the snickers and head-shaking of certain others about the amount of stuff I transported 300 odd miles and then on the current plans to pack for this year's more typical holiday visit but then I started making an analogy with the a slew of other overflowing, overstuffed, and over-committed elements of my daily life. Like my todo lists, my projects list, my closet and drawers, my library account, my bookshelves, my clothes hamper, my WIP story world (120+ characters & 120+ years), my TBR piles (To Be Read and To Be Reviewed), my electronic files, my dreams and ambitions. In fact just about everything except my wallet and bank account which contain zip--in essence neither exist.

Ever since NaNoWriMo closed November 31 I've been doing a lot of thinking about all that, taking stock of where things stand as opposed to what I intended when I set certain things in motion. Like this blog for instance. When a post like last night's book review takes me ten hours to prepare and as I work on it I am faced with the list of reviews-in-waiting in various stages of production and remembering my determination throughout November to keep my fiction writing on the front burner after November 31st, I have to wonder if I've got my priorities in proper order.

I justify the book reviews and blogging as support for what I claim is my true passion: to write my own stories, essays and poems and get exposure for them and maybe in the process generate some income to support my story (and needle & thread) habits and maybe contribute to our getting into our own home again where I can hope to have an 'office' that is not in the same room where Ed sleeps.

The book reviews serve multiple purposes: they draw visitor's to Joystory which has the potential of making it worth monetizing; they brought me opportunities to do reviews for review copies of books and to host giveaways which are great fun as well as bringing the page views; the emotional support from the sense of belonging to a worldwide reading community; and the requirement to analyze and put into words what I've learned about my craft from my encounter with another's work.

That last is the one most important in regards to my own work and thus the one tipping the balance towards justifying continuing to write and post reviews, even to continue to blog. But if I can't also give a similar amount of my time and energy and creativity to my own WIP? The balance tips the other way. Or ought to.

When was the last time I spent ten hours writing my stories outside of November?


This screenshot shows less than a third of the reviews in progress in my files. This is my note taking ap, WhizFolders Pro, in which I do all note taking and draft work for all writing since I got it nearly two years ago. Each of the items in the list on the left is a review that when clicked on will open in the window on the right to view or edit. The color code I'm using: Red = books begun but not finished before due back at library; Green = books I'm currently reading and in my possession; Yellow = books still in my possession which I've finished reading; Magenta = books I've finished reading but that went back to the library before I finished the review; White (not shown) = reviews mostly written but needing a final polish, fact check or links.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Book Review: The Brutal Telling by Lousie Penny

The Brutal Telling
by Louise Penny,
(c) 2009
Minotaur Books New York
372 p

I must admit, I had a little trouble getting caught up in this story and I haven't sorted out why yet. I was immediately drawn in by the first chapter loving Penny's use of language, the mood and setting, the hints of mythic themes. But then the next 20 to 30 pages had me feeling confused and discombobulated and I kept putting it down and resisted picking it back up. The mythic undertone went missing, the stage felt cluttered with a crowd of clowns clamoring for my attention with which they played ping-pong--for point of view kept shifting among them from paragraph to paragraph and even inside paragraphs. Often I was unsure which of the several characters on scene were speaking.

There are a number of explanations for my difficulties and not all of them the author's fault. I tend to be slow-to-warm-up for one. Whether it's a book, a task, a social interaction, I usually need more time and effort than most to get engaged. Or it may have been due to having been shook up by the fall I took the evening after I'd read the first chapter but before proceeding on, having tripped over our cat Merlin and fallen flat out on my chest knocking the wind out of me and jarring my joints and bones. A bruised hand made it hard to hold this 372 page hardback and the twinges of pain distracted me who am so easily distractible.

One explanation for my slow start that puts all the blame on me could be that I was trying to read too fast whereas Penny's use of language demands savoring like fine cuisine and her wit cannot be captured in flyby sightings.

A possible contributor to my confusion was being unsure of pronunciations of the French words and names scattered throughout. If so, that could have been solved by encountering these links to audio clips of pronunciations on Penny's website before beginning the book. Especially the one for repeating characters for the series and the one for The Brutal Telling itself.

Whatever the explanation, I persevered, and carried by the momentum of that awesome first chapter which planted the need to know who and why--a most crucial element of a mystery story after all--I was soon captivated by the story and the cast of eccentric characters from Ruth the curmudgeonly poet and her pet duck Rosa to Myrna the ex-psychologist now used bookstore owner; from Peter and Clara wedded artists to Dominique and Marc about to open a high-end spa and inn; from Gabri and Olivier a gay couple who run adjoining bistro and Bed and Breakfast to Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his entire team of personally trained investigators.

I used to read murder mysteries by the book bag full but only pick them up occasionally now as it seemed I was always solving the mystery inside of fifty pages and unless there was something else compelling about the story it would be hard to resist skipping to the end to confirm my guess and then moving on but since I hate doing that it seemed better to not start them at all. But not only did Penny's Brutal Telling have more going for it than just a mystery to solve, I could not figure it out after fifty pages... or one-hundred... or two-hundred. In fact I had not figured it out before the moment Gamache himself sprung his solution near the end.

Maybe I could not figure it out because I did not want it to be true for the culprit had become for me one of the beloved characters populating the village of Three Pines--as beloved by me as by the friends and community surrounding and supporting [her/him.]

Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in when a body is discovered in the bistro. A body of a stranger that no one in the tight-knit community of Three Pines, a small village just outside of Montreal in Canada, claims to know. Having no identity for the victim is bad enough but the investigation soon reveals that the body had been placed there some time after the murder. So the bistro wasn't even the murder scene.

No weapon. No evidence at all that connects anyone to this mysterious stranger let alone shows them with motive or opportunity. But though physical evidence and forensics plays a role it is not the center of focus as Inspector Gamache looks within the human heart for the key that unlocks the mystery.

Gamache works with a team of agents he personally trained and each one is a well developed character in their own right. And although some more easily take to his laid back methods and strange intuitive leaps, all adore, respect and trust Armand Gamache and take to heart his advice:


“…to catch a killer they didn’t move forward. They moved back. Into the past. That was where the crime began, where the killer began. Some event, perhaps long forgotten by everyone else, had lodged inside the murderer. And he’d begun to fester.

What kills can’t be seen, the Chief had warned Beauvoir. That’s what makes it so dangerous. It’s not a gun or a knife or a fist. It’s not anything you can see coming. It’s an emotion. Rancid, spoiled. And waiting for a chance to strike.”


And so they go about collecting the hard evidence, asking questions and listening intently to the answers and observing the behaviors of the community as it reacts to this brutal interruption of the idyllic life they believed they'd been living. It becomes clear that Armand Gamache operates on the assumption that the line dividing good and evil is drawn within each human heart and every heart is capable of incubating either chaos or compassion, terror or trust, brutality or tenderness and outcomes whether welcomed or feared all depend on crucial choices made within the inner sanctum or our souls where the endless struggle between fear and love plays out. And those choices are influenced by the stories we tell ourselves and each other. If you tell brutal stories you are bound to have brutal consequences. This recognition on Penny's part of something I'd long come to believe--that the power of story goes beyond mere entertainment to that of a veritable co-creator of our lives--was the lasso that roped me in.

Before long so many secrets and lies are unearthed and the potential suspects have proliferated to such a stunning number, one is left wondering if the idyllic community life was nothing but an illusion masking a festering, rancid heart of darkness. Maybe even goodness itself is nothing more than illusion and the true nature of us all is a rage and terror filled soul awaiting the least nudge into chaos and criminal acts?

Setting is handled as skillfully as character and plot intricacy. With setting Penny creates and plays our emotions like a musician an instrument. The village of Three Pines is, still after several days, so vivid in my mind I feel I could get there if I just knew the correct bus route to ask for. And I want to get there. Maybe even live there. Though Myrna already has my dream location and I'm not sure I'd fit in anywhere else. And I'm afraid Ruth would mark me as an interloper and poke me with her cane and drop cryptic verse couplets into my pockets and I'd end up waddling around in her wake like Rosa.

This was my first Inspector Gamache story and I'm definitely psyched to discover there are four preceding this one in which I can hope to get better acquainted with the Inspector, his family, his team and the colorful, eccentric Three Pine villagers. I learned of this book from a review online last October that prompted me to immediately check our library and finding it on-order got in queue for it. My turn came last week. I just learned our library does have all five titles but, sadly, only one copy of Still Life, the first one, which has 12 holds on it, and I do want to read the first four in order now that I know about them as I think part of my problem committing to the story at first was a sense of dislocation, of having been dropped into the middle of something and feeling clueless. But on the other hand that may have been intentional on the part of Penny as the investigators themselves must feel like that at the beginning of every new case. At any rate, I still want to read them in order so I've got a bit of a wait

_____

Some interesting facts and links:

The order of the five Inspector Gamache mysteries:

STILL LIFE
A FATAL GRACE / DEAD COLD*
THE CRUELEST MONTH
A RULE AGAINST MURDER / THE MURDER STONE*
THE BRUTAL TELLING

* the 2nd and 4th were released under two titles for some mysterious publishing reason--the first for US and the second for UK. As a writer this would really, really, really annoy me. Most of my own stories begin as a title coupled to a single scene around which all the rest coalesce--especially theme and metaphor. For me my titles are crucial to my connection to the story and I would have as much difficulty recognizing them with a different title as a mother would her infant that was given a face-lift. I suppose that makes me a 'difficult author' from whom agents and editors would flee? *sigh*

Do visit Louise Penny's website which is lovely and chock-a-block with photographs that I'm sure are meant to impart the flavor of rural Quebec where the novels are set.

Don't pass up Louise Penny's blog which she regularly posts to with not just announcements of promotional events but very personal journal entries.

Check out Louise Penny's awards and honors for the first four novels. (now I simply must get my hands on Still Life. 12 in queue for 1 copy x 3 weeks = *sigh*)

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hooked



I've been obsessed with crocheting bookmarks for over a week now. Hence the lazy posts. Last summer I had deprived myself of the crocheting as punishment incentive to put the finishing touches on the ones already crocheted--tucking the tails, blocking and adding ribbons and beads. But while I was preparing the five bookmarks for my read-a-thon mini-challenge winners I decided that it was probably best to leave the blocking and decorating to just before handing them over to their intended anyway as it is so difficult to store them in such a way as to keep their ribbons from creasing and their edges from curling. I learned this while trying to keep several nice for several days while prepping the last two and all of the envelopes.

So with the new permission to go crazy crocheting I've done just that. I've lost count of how many I made in this latest stint but I know that what I had before I started was in the teens and that counted the five slated for my read-a-thon mini-challenge winners. Now my collection of not-yet-beribboned bookmarks numbers nearly forty and that doesn't count the extra one I made for one of my challenge winners after deciding that I couldn't mail the one with the big bead on it this time nor does it count the one Ed asked me to make for him that was half again as long as the regular ones with 20 rows instead of 12.

Until the last couple days I was focused on getting at least one of the granny-square-stitch ones made for each color and type of thread and then started making duplicates of the Xmas colors (red, white, green) and the blues (my fav color) and then I decided to switch to the striped pattern I designed myself and not only see how many cool color combos I could accumulate but see how much time I could shave off the nearly four hours that pattern has been taking me to make.

After making four in just over 24 hours I've gotten it down to just under three hours. The granny-square-stitch with 12 rows of 2 clusters of 6 double crochet now takes me 40-50 minutes. The striped ones have 7 rows alternating 9 clusters of 4 double crochet with 8 clusters of 3 double crochet with 2 double crochet standing singly to bracket the ends of the latter. With four rows of the first and three of the latter that adds up to 4(9x4) + 3(8x3 + 2)=222 double crochet for the striped vs the 12x2x6=144 double crochet for the granny-square-stitch. Which means that once I'm as practiced with this new pattern I should be able to make one in 80-110 minutes.

Of course for neither of them does this time count the tucking of the start and finish tails, the blocking and the application of ribbons and/or beads. The striped one has two tails per stripe and I didn't stop to tuck the six tails on any of the four I made in the last 30 or so hours. I probably should do that before I start another one. The day before I started work on the striped ones I'd tucked tails on a stack of ten or eleven granny-square-stitch ones and then made one more granny whose tails are still hanging so that gives me 4x6 + 2 = 26 tails to tuck.

It's my least favorite step in the process but it's definitely time to tuck them tails. That's the equivalent of thirteen granny-square-stitch ones and I never did let the stack get bigger than twelve before tucking. It's one thing to accumulate a hundred naked bookmarks. It's quite another to accumulate several dozen untucked tails.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Honey Notes--The Perfect Stocking Stuffer

It was nearly a year ago, in mid January, that I posted my review of Maria Murnane's charmingly quirky self-published novel Perfect on Paper: The Mis-Adventures of Waverly Bryson. The story of Ms Waverly, a young professional woman, opens with her fiance dumping her just days before the wedding and follows her through the following year or so as she first mourns then fumbles and bumbles her way back onto the dating scene.

Click here to read the first chapter. Click the cover image at left to order the book.

To console and distract herself and entertain her girlfriends as she suffers through one dating disaster after another, a series of professional power shuffles that don't all go in her favor, and dicey encounters with her dilettante Dad, Waverly composes these humorous couplets she calls Honey Notes:

Looking forward to a fresh start with the New Year?
Honey, I'm with you but I can't seem to leave behind my behind.

Have a tendency to put your foot in your mouth?
Honey, at least it is less fattening than putting ice cream in your mouth.


Her friends encourage her to turn them into a greeting card line.

Well Maria Murnane's friends and reader's encouraged her to do the same and now Perfect on Paper has been re-released by Amazon Encore in conjunction with the release of the Honey Notes. Either or both would make a great stocking stuffer for the 20 to 40 something single women on your Xmas list this year

These are the six Honey Notes chosen for the first packet:
Front: Ever feel like you don't know anything at all?
Inside: Honey, congratulations. At least you finally know that.

Front: Afraid to show your vulnerable side?
Inside: Honey, that's better than showing your cellulite side.

Front: Can't face the dating scene after a breakup?
Inside: Honey, hit the bar, and hit it hard. Beer goggles are the lonely girl's Cupid.

Front: Life has its ups and downs, right?
Inside: Honey, if you're talking about my weight and my bank account, the unfortunate answer is yes, in that order.

Front: Is it worse to be fake or bitchy?
Inside: Honey, just face it. If you're asking, you're probably both.

Front: They say laughter is the best medicine?
Inside: Honey, toss it in with girlfriends and wine, and you've found the fountain of youth.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Serenity #157

Jump for joy
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I thought I would share some of the LOLs I've captioned in the last month or so. I think these are just the ones I haven't already used as post headings tho I may have forgot and included one or two of those. I've obviously been spending way too much time on that site for someone who claims to be so busy. :)

so Mr Red Soot waz welcom gest... ...well dis embarassin.
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u not jus b strinin  meh along i hopes
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Hey.   I
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dis b mai work in progruss now
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les u wantz 2 letz teh kat outta teh bag u gotz 2 takes meh
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Keeps dat up  ai be dustn u
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da bigger 2 c u wit
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dat isnt wat  ur sposa b doin
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It has come to my attention  what you are doing there.
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allz teh nooz  datz fitz 2 knaw
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Is cutness a crime?
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wat buks?
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sompin don smel rite wen wurdz not speld rite
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Can't Turn These Pages Fast Enough

rnt u redy 2 turn da page yet? nao? wel hurreez up!1!
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I'm reading a mystery novel--The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny--and now is not a good time to stop turning the pages. Besides I'm still not up to long stints at keyboard and mouse. Hoping tomorrow will be better as this was second full day since my fall Thursday evening and day 2 is notoriously the worst. Got a huge bruise over the knuckles of my right hand from thumping the washer on the way to floor and another one on my left wrist under my watch which I had to take off. So far those are the only two visible bruises but every joint, muscle and ligament from my neck to my ankles is screaming bloody murder. It's a total mystery how I didn't break any bones. Mine or Merlin's. Merlin is still acting clingy which is out of character for him. Not that he's allowing cuddles but he lays about and sleeps within touching distance and if I move he moves until some part of him is touching me.

Did he learn his lesson? No. He still opts to 'escort' me down that narrow hall, waiting outside the bathroom door for me, dodging between my feet etc. Good thing I'm moving extra slow or it might have happened again. Once today as I was passing the couch on the way to the hall, I picked him up and carried him until I reached the bathroom door. Not a real solution though.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

No Foray Friday

funny pictures
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The aftermath of yesterday's fall is setting in and I'm just not into sitting at the keyboard. The only fiction foray I'm into right now is the novel I'm reading. Though sleep appeals even more.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Boom Boom

if u not dummer dan goggie u lern how 2 heel an nawt b trippn ova me all da timez
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I tripped over my cat this evening. Fall down go boom. Literally. Boom. Twice. Fell full out flat in hall between washer and wall with left arm crossed over ribs and right arm flapping to side and thumping side of washer--first boom. Hit floor chest first, knocking wind out of me--second boom.

Made pretty interesting percussion sounds--still got the drumming on my mind :)

Merlin likes to escort me through the house. He takes the lead and does a lazy S shaped zig-zag right in front of my feet. I've been afraid something like this was going to happen. I've kicked into him a few times. Not always so gently. You'd think he'd learn not to do that.

I thumped him pretty good this time too and fell on him. I felt him trapped between my crossed ankles as I was going down. I was afraid I'd really hurt him but then before I could suck in a good breath I heard him galumphing back down the hall and into the kitchen. He hid for a good fifteen minutes. Wouldn't come to my call. But when he finally did he was walking normal. No limps or favoring of limbs, no pulling away as I ran my hands over his neck, ribs, belly. He must be feeling it though. And he's been exceptionally clingy all evening.

Well, I'm going to turn in early again tonight. Though I'll probably read for awhile snuggled in layers of fleece. I just don't dare get chilled now. These jarring incidents tend to trigger major pain cycles. I'm already having trouble with the mouse.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

One of Those Days

gotz hedake  go way  rrrrlll bite urs off
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I've been having one of those days when everything I touch I fumble, drop, damage, loose, or otherwise make worse off.

My in-laws turned the heat off an hour ago and it's chilling down fast. A snuggle with my fleece blanket is appealing right now. With the light out. And eyes closed.

A nap. Yes, a nap might knock this headache. Plus the best place for a bad mood is sleep--either I just loose awareness of it or it serves to make very interesting dreams. In dreamland the more damage the better. Just like in storyland.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Drumming Books


You must have noticed I seem to be stuck on the drum theme this past week. I'm not appologizing and I may not be backing off anytime soon. It's fun. It's feeding my muse. And it's research for my WIP.

My focus on drumming must be drawing drum related stuff my way because even when I'm not looking I'm finding things on and off line to do with drums or peripherally thematic. Like the email waiting for me this morning from the editor of Book Drum.

I confess I rubbed my eyes a few times and did a few 'am I dreaming?' checks that was so weird. I'd been thinking of putting out a request via my blog and/or twitter and/or facebook for suggestions on where to look for good info on all things drums--history, genres, how-to, jargon, who's who, ethnic practices around the world, but I hadn't yet. I thought briefly that someone stumbling onto my blog saw my interest and was offering info or maybe spamming me. But when I opened the email what I found was even better than unsolicited (except through the urgent exuberance of my psyche's obsession) info about drumming.

It was an invite to participate in a new book site based on a concept I've been interested in ever since I read Gordon R. Dickson's The Final Encyclopedia in the eighties. Of course this isn't anywhere near that ultimate in hyperlinked, multi-media info repository featured in that novel but it's pretty cool none-the-less.

The concept is to create a book profile, a multi-media companion to a book. There are six sections: Bookmarks - Review - Setting - Glossary - Author - Summary. Summary is a complete though brief overview and needs to be objective while Review can have a personal bias. Author contains bio info and interviews and such. Setting is for maps and photos of landscapes and cityscapes and info on the places and time where the story takes place. Glossary is a simple list of words and terms necessary for understanding the author's intent--this is the only section that is not multi-media. Bookmarks is a bit related to the concept of footnoting. This is where you can include materials that expands on anything (item, person, historical or cultural reference) in the story, including audio and visiual aids.

See what they did for The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.


So when I do the Bookmarks section for the book I signed up to do--The River Why by David James Duncan--I can include such things as: a video of someone fly fishing (hopefully on an Oregon river) photos of items likely to be used by a fly fisherman--tackle and waders and vests and hats festooned with hooks; photos of the scenic rivers in the story; info about author's quoted or alluded to within the story or in the chapter epigraphs and their possible relevance; info on Seventh Day Adventism, the religion the main character was raised in; photos and info on the flora and fauna encountered by the protagonist; audio of a song mentioned in the text. That's just a few examples.

I waffled back and forth as to whether I was going to sign up to participate. There is a deadline (January 31, 2010) and I have so much on my agenda between now and then what with the holidays and the visit to my Mom's in January. But this project is the ultimate in portable. I needed to re-read and thoroughly notate The River Why for my WIP (for a character whose encounter with the novel was transforming) and this was the perfect kick-in-the-pants. There is possible financial reward if my offering is awesome enough--as their debut onto the web they are having a tournament with a grand prize of 1000 British pounds. But even more intriguing to me is the possibility of a job interview which will be in the offing for anyone whose book profile during the tournament totally impresses them.

Besides, how could I turn away from anything with the words book and drum combined? Seriously? That would be a total snub to the Synchronicity involved in this email dropping into my inbox this morning.

What is really weird and almost unnerving in light of this is that this wasn't the first time this week that I've encountered the pairing of books and drums in a concept. Check out this video that came up in my drum searches. Be patient as the books don't appear until the last scene but it is so worth the wait. It's funny as well as intriguing and it stretches the concept of just what is music to an eye-popping wonderment.





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Monday, December 07, 2009

Music As Story



OK gotta stop goofing around on YouTube watching percussion vids. I need to put together some kind of post and get busy with the other things on my agenda for this session--the reading and writing I discussed in yesterday's post. I don't have all night this time as I'm not going to stay up until I'm a Popsicle again. I estimate it will get unbearable by 2AM and I intend to be snuggled in under covers by then--maybe by 1AM. I may still be able to read but can't count on it.

I went on YouTube looking for something related to the CD featuring the Wurzburger Percussions Ensemble with Siegfried Fink that I checked out of the library today. I'd especially hoped to find something about the first track on it which had been composed by a Rolf Liebermann originally for 156 office machines and then scored by Fink for percussion instruments. I find the concept of composing a percussion piece for 'instruments' not traditionally thought of as musical instruments facinating.

Sadly I failed to find anything directly related to this CD or that track. But my search terms led me to a whole new realm of drumming delight.

And while I was watching/listening I began to notice how the music seemed to be telling a story. I'm not sure if that's because the two pieces I embedded here that initiated that concept sound like they could be from movie or TV sound tracks (and the name John Cage, composer of the piece below, is associated in my mind for no conscious reason with sound tracks) or because there really is something to it. Are well composed musical pieces based on the same form that well composed stories are? The rise and fall of drama towards a cathartic climax?

It would make a certain sense, if so, that there would be structures used by the mind around which concepts accumulate and develop or enhance meaning. I already believe that story is primal and integral to our humanity and if so it must predate language itself and what better communicator (presuming a lack of lanuguage) than music?

I wonder if anyone has done any research, writing or musing on this concept anywhere.


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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday Serenity #156

Dreamin of drumz n oppozable thumbz
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gotz da drumz.  thumz taks longer  DNA dlivry mor lade bak den UPS
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Been goofing with my drum sticks. Tapping on everything in sight. Learning to hold them right and trying to learn to hold a beat for longer than ten seconds. It's not as easy done as said. The manual that came with my kit suggests a metronome so Ed found a freeware one online and downloaded it for me. Check it out here.

Have also been goofing on icanhascheezeburger.com. Captioned a bunch in the last few days. Check em out here.

Did some goofing around with Ed today too. We went out to eat at Carl Jr and then shopping for snack foods to munch while watching three more episodes of Gilmore Girls season six. I crocheted three more bookmarks during and just after that. Tonight he had to crash early as he as to be at work by 5AM but because of that he's expecting to get home early enough to take me to the library where more drumming books, DVD and CDs are waiting and to the post office to mail the five bookmarks to my read-a-thon mini-challenge winners (after taking me to store for the proper envelopes.)

I've been goofing away most of an entire week and goofing time is about over. Tomorrow work on my fiction WIP goes back on the daily agenda and along with it fiction reading, which I've been neglecting to the detriment of my writing. As a writer of fiction I must stop thinking of reading fiction as something I 'get' to do only after my 'work' is done and treat it as one of the duties in my 'job' description.

[ooops. i goofed when typing the title and didn't catch it before publishing. this is only my 156th Sunday Serenity]

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Winners

ai finish dis storee  does it haz a ckwel?
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Winners of my drawing for Nelson Demille's The Gate House (sequel to The Gold Coast) are:

Denny, Alaska
Marjorie
karen k
a real librarian
MoziEsmé


Congratulations!!

Please send me your snail mail. joystory @ gmail

Remember Hachette only mails inside the USA and Canada and is unable to mail to PO Boxes.

Per the rules, failure to respond by Monday afternoon will be considered a forfeit and I'll email the next one in the sequence generated by random.org

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Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday Forays in Fiction: Cooling Off Period

Curling up wit a gud buk  bes ting evah
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Since Monday morning I've been reading a lot of fiction. Not so much (or at all) writing it. Though I haven't really stopped thinking about it, I haven't touched my WIP files since I uploaded my words to the NaNo verifier Monday afternoon. For the last few days I've been feeling an intense revulsion at the thought of looking at the mess I made. I decided it was best to not look. For now. A part of me would just as soon put the real file through the scrambler as ever look at it again.

So I'm keeping my didstance to gain some distance. But I don't want to wait too long and let the embers cool to the point the spark can't be lit again. It's tempting to wait until after the holidays but I know that would be long enough to make getting revved up again difficult, besides I have a 2-3 week trip to my Mom's planned for the first of the year and I mustn't wait until I get home and get settled here again.

My plan is to dip back in on Monday. One week isn't long enough to gain objective distance though so I'm imposing the rule that I can't delete anything done during NaNo until March. That doesn't mean I can't rewrite sentences, paragraphs, pages etc only that I do those rewrites in a separate place or in such a way that preserves the NaNo version such as in parenthesis or a different color font. Anyway, what I have in mind isn't as ambitious as rewriting. I'm itching to collect the new data--character info, time line, family trees, scene lists, and such and get it recorded in the FOS worksheets file.

I'm also itching to keep writing. I could have kept on going Friday afternoon. I was prepared to keep on going. I expected to have to keep on going until near midnight. I only put my file through the NaNo verifier at noon to see how far behind I still was. I was surprised to find that I'd already crossed the finish line. Once that surprise wore off though I allowed the lurking exhaustion to pounce.

I do think I did the right thing by taking a break but I also know from past experience that taking a break can take on its own life and keep on justifying itself day after day after week after month. So this year I'm setting the limit of one week and then I'm getting back to work. And I'm going to keep on working throughout the year regardless of what other things are going on. Not at the NaNo pace. Far from it. But it is vital to stay involved in the story world and in the WIP files. And in the daily forming of words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into pages.

Meanwhile I've used this break to feed my muse with daydreaming, the reading of fiction, the making of crocheted bookmarks and watching 2 to 6 episodes of Gilmore Girls per day. That last is because Ed and I are watching the series through together and it's what he wants to do with our evenings between dinner and sleep on the days he works and the afternoons on his days off. Since part of the fun of this time through for me is watching him react to his first encounter with each episode, I hate the thought of him continuing without me while I'm in Longview and he hates the thought of waiting for two or three weeks to see what happens next. So because of that we're pushing a bit harder than we otherwise would.

We started in late October are now on disc 3 of 6th season so have 30 some episodes to go. This has been good for the story maker in me as it is compressing the seven seasons more than they ever have been for me before. And because I've seen all the way to the end and all but season 7 multiple times before, I'm able to watch as an apprentice story teller at the feet of a master--seeing the story whole and its parts in relation to the all.

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