Thursday, January 31, 2008

Friday Snippets 28

Blow Me A Candy Kiss
by Joy Renee

part 2 (part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5)

"I thought you’d gone off camping with Aunt Carla and Uncle Ron." She continued to call Greg’s parents Aunt and Uncle as she had all her life. Carla Kelsey Vickerson having been Irene’s best friend since college, the two families were as entwined as needle and thread.

"Candy Kiss fell asleep in the waves and the hell copper couldn’t wake her up and it flew her into the sky." Daisy May sing-songed against Iris’ neck.

"What?" Iris shot the question at her parents.

"Candice has had another seizure. It looks very bad this time." Irene spoke carefully, her voice calm but her eyes locked on Iris’ as she doled out the weighted words one by one. "It happened while the girls were playing in the surf, so we assumed at first she had drowned."

"Iris disentangled herself from Daisy May who bent to pick up the Koosh ball at her feet. "Let’s play catch" She tugged at her sister’s hand.
"Later, Sis." She patted Daisy May’s arm. "I need to talk to Mom right now."

"Mommy can’t wake up Candy Kiss either and Auntie Carla cried black tears all over Uncle Ron’s shirt." Daisy May held the Koosh ball by one stretchy strand and watched it twirl, completely absorbed by its revolutions, as if they held clues to the meaning of life.

"Mom?" Iris’ voice was pitched high with panic.

"We didn’t want you to hear this over the phone." Irene said. "We’ve been driving for hours. And no sleep last night. Dad needs a cup of coffee." She nodded towards Daisy May and then towards the kitchen.

Iris followed her mother through the dining room and into the kitchen where she began fumbling with the coffee maker. She caught sight of Greg standing at the other end of the kitchen, in the doorway that led into the long hallway which joined the living-room to the rest of the rooms. He stood to his full height, as though on guard, arms across his chest. Even without his uniform he looked like the court bailiff he was on week-days. He stood like a mountain, a ward against all but earth-shattering disaster.

"What’s going on Mom?" she dropped the box of filters on the floor.

"Never mind, dear." Her mother bent to lay a hand on hers as she bent to retrieve the filters. Their heads collided. The box slipped from her fingers and tumbled across the floor, scattering filters helter-skelter. "The coffee was just a ruse to get you in here. Little pitchers have big ears." Irene raised an eyebrow in the direction of the living room where sounds from the television informed them that Daisy May was occupied.

Iris looked at her mother through the sheen of tears brought to her eyes by the bump on her head. They each held a hand to their scalps, rubbing their sore spots like some bizarre mirror image. This brought a grin to Iris’ lips but, sensing the seriousness of her mother’s news, she restrained it.

"So, is she in coma again?" She was already thinking how to rearrange her schedule so as to participate in the around-the-clock bed-side vigils that had become near routine in the fifteen years since Candy’s first coma at age three.

But Irene was shaking her head and Iris felt suddenly that it was imperative that she go stand by Greg, even behind him, to be shielded from her mother’s next words. But the obstacles between them were insurmountable, not the least of which were space and time. For the words were coming NOW and even as she heard them, before their import reached her, she saw their impact on Greg, saw his shields buckle. No protection there.

"No." Irene was saying. "It’s not coma this time." Her pause to draw breath was an eternity inflated, was no time at all. "This time she’s brain-dead."

Her mother had laid the words out between them with the bluntness of shock--to her way of thinking, kinder than drawing out their hope, but leaving them un-tethered in a suddenly weightless world. And into the well of silence her voice had dug rang the laugh they all knew as Candy’s.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #71

Thirteen Pictures of Our Room After the Big Makeover

The first five pics are taken clockwise starting just inside the door and to its right--facing it that is.

Those four white boxes are the bottom half of Ed's boot boxes and serve as drawers. Two of them were emptied in the sorting. One holds sorted computer and camera related things. The other unsorted papers that were sorted out of other boxes in the BIG SORT project of last week. The yellow box on the bottom shelf is also full of unsorted papers. I'm waiting until I get the dreaded junk drawer sorted before I tackle the papers as there are more in there.
As an interesting side note, I've re-shelved the Great Books set seen in the pictures above and below backwards with the first one on the far right. That put the Syntopicon (Index of Ideas) and Homer through Shakespeare within arms reach while sitting at my desk. Those are the ones I access the most often. The others I need to get up and walk around to the foot of the bed or do calisthenics on the bed to reach them.
Continuing clockwise, the next five pictures are of my 'office'.

The blue drawers are full my sewing paraphernalia. Still needs a lot of organizing but at least everything is more accessible then it was in that giant snowman gift bag the once fell on us from its perch atop the stack of cardboard boxes aka bookshelves.

Above, I show how the drawer pulled out with a board laid across it extends my desk space when needed. Below, I've taken the board off to show the innards of the junk-drawer which I talked about in yesterday's post. It is the last big sorting job left to do and it intimidates me. It is so stuffed with stuff the stuff oozes out when I open it like the biscuit dough out of those cardboard tubes.
Above is the cupboard next to the closet in which my Mother-in-law stores quilts. I've put all our bags in here: backpacks, duffels, purses, book bags and so forth. Sorry the quality is so poor. Somehow the dial on my camera got bumped off auto focus.

The last two pictures are of Merlin enjoying the room. One of the best unanticipated benefits of this project was that I was able to ensure the room was both safe for him and safe from him--at least enough so that he can spend most of the hours I'm awake and in the room off his harness and leash. He is loving that. Especially the access to the window. I tried to get him to go look out the window so I could get a picture of it but he was more interested in me and the camera--especially the wrist cord hanging off it. That cat!

I posted the before pictures in TT three weeks ago and pictures of the process of putting the room back together two weeks ago.

It is fitting that this project which began on January 1st is memorialized on the last day of January.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Good Enough

Last Friday evening after another three hour sort project, I declared the room 'good enough'. It isn't perfect by far. But it is good enough to start using it for its intended purposes. And there are many ways that starting to use it that way will help in the fine tuning.

Merlin was the inspiration for the declaration. He had been taking every opportunity to jump in the middle of what I was doing all day. Especially in the middle of whatever box I had just emptied or set up for filling. Every time I left an empty or mostly empty box unattended he was into it. Once, I'd not turned my back a full minute and when I turned back he was not only in the boot box I'd just emptied of books but curled up in the snooze position with head tucked under. He lifted his head when I turned the camera on and the lens motor buzzed as it protruded.

Earlier he had been pouncing on every thing, grabbing, biting, batting. He found everything in those boxes more interesting than his own toys, from paper clips to rubber bands, from string to pencils, from loose paper to scissors, from plastic bags to cardboard anything. And Styrofoam bits. Is Merlin the only cat who thinks Styrofoam is better than a live mouse?

It amazed me how easily he switched modes too. That is something that has never come easy to me. I envied his ability to jump in a box and fall asleep in a minute or less. I envied his ability to feel relaxed.

During the sorting I had been handling all the little pieces of my 'toys' too and wishing I felt free to get out the projects they belonged to. From needlework to reading to fiction and poetry writing, from research to drawing to surfing the net. And the more I thought about it the more I realized it really was time. For one thing, I haven't touched my story files since the Sven challenge ended two weeks ago! It is time. And past time.

I relaxed then and enjoyed the weekend with Ed. We went out for breakfast and then shopping on Saturday morning. We both got new shoes and hair cuts. And he got me a flash drive. I encouraged him to use the computer all afternoon while I read. Sunday we did three loads of laundry and then took a walk in the falling snow to deliver a DVD and a couple of books to the library drop box. I got a couple dozen pictures of the snow and planned to post about it Sunday night but we didn't get the pictures off the camera before Ed went to bed. We got about nine inches of snow on Sunday.

I was so looking forward to Monday and having the room to myself for some hours while Ed was at work. Then I woke up with the headache that escalated into a migraine. I was useless for over twelve hours and slept for the following twelve.

I learned one thing though. The room is a much more pleasant place to be sick in than it ever has been before.

I woke up feeling fine about nine-thirty this morning only to discover that Ed was off today. So again I didn't get to have the room to myself to set up a project that needs spreading out. But I discovered that sharing the room is much easier now than it was. I spent a couple hours this afternoon reading a novel while Ed surfed and played games on the laptop held on his lap. We were both sitting up at the head of the bed and it seemed to be working. If you've seen the pictures I've been posting about the room project, you know there is only the bed for sitting on.

Speaking of pictures. Ed finally walked me through the process of getting the pictures off the camera onto the laptop. Shortly after that, I finally found the camera manual. It was in the last unsorted place. The dreaded junk drawer. The drawer from which things pop out like biscuit dough from those cardboard tubes whenever I open it. The drawer which I continued to stuff various odds and ends I could not readily identify a proper home for all through this project.

Ed suspects he will be off again tomorrow. There is more snow expected tonight and that affects the incoming and outgoing trucks so shipping will be light. If he is home tomorrow I am going to enlist his help in getting the after pictures taken so I can finally post them in my TT.


Monday, January 28, 2008


nuf said. if you've ever had one, you know. if not...well, words can't explain. any attempt would come across sounding like a pity party which I want no part of.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Monday Poetry Train #30

I've still got nothing new of my own. So this week I give you a quote from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke:

If your everyday life seems poor, don't
blame it; blame yourself; admit to
yourself that you are not enough of a poet
to call forth its riches; because for the
creator thee is no poverty and no poor
indifferent place.

That was heading the thought for the day on the January 25 entry of Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy which I featured in my Sunday Serenity post yesterday. It spoke to me as chiding, exhortation, and challenge. For too long I've been blaming everything but my own laziness and fear that are truly at the root of my lack of productivity. And that holds true for all areas of my life, not just creative writing.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sunday Serenity #41

Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach is one of the aids I've been using this month in my quest to create the life I want. This isn't the first time I began working with this book. I bought my own copy of it while we lived in Sunnyvale CA in 2000 and shortly thereafter found a copy of it for sale on the Friends of the Library shelf at the Library. I bought it and inscribed the front piece to my Sister-Friend Jamie and mailed it to her. I suggested that we work through it together. We exchanged a few letters, emails and phone calls discussing it over the next several months before both of our lives began to unravel in their unique ways.

My copy of the book was sold along with most of my personal library in the summer of 2001. Last month when I was visiting my family, Jamie put her copy in my hand and said she wanted me to have it so that we could work on it together again. She had bought the workbook that goes with it and thought it would suffice for her. I was reluctant to accept her offer of the book but I knew how important this project we had agreed together the week of Thanksgiving to begin by the New Year was to her. So I accepted with a provision, that I would borrow it until I was able to get my own copy again.

Because of Jamie's generous gift back to me of the gift I once gave her, I was more motivated than I might have been otherwise to make proper use of it. It is one of the books I spend time with nearly daily. I may have missed a day three or four times and then combined it with the next day but I don't think I've missed more than one day since January 1.

This has added serenity to my days.

On the January 14th entry, the day after she first discusses the importance of gratitude for the Simple Abundance path, Sarah Ban Breathnach insists that if you are intent on following this path with her having a Gratitude Journal is not an option. I resisted at first because I already have so many things on my list of daily to dos. But the next day while working on the shuffling of boxes and papers for the room project I found the little notebook in which I had begun my Gratitude Journal the last time. I'd forgotten that had survived the move from California in August of 2001. It survived because I'd had it with me those two weeks we lived on the streets of the Silicon Valley. I confess I hadn't written in it but I did keep it with me.

So, Alright already, I said to whatever Jokester had seen fit to cause me to pull it out of whatever cranny it had been tucked into for the past several years. I mean how much more blunt did I need the message to be? So that evening I began.

After ten days I can testify that I see positive effects already. It is as if my compass had been spinning endlessly and suddenly has begun to settle, a little jerky, a bit of a wide swing, but with an evident aim in a definite direction. A direction I am as eager to follow as it seems eager for me to approach. A direction that seems as much person as place.


Friday, January 25, 2008

7 Weird Things About Me

I have been tagged by Julia for this one.

1. I had such a crush on Star Trek's Captain Kirk from age 11 through 16 guys my own age would not even register on my radar. Or should I say tricorder? I spent my allowance to join the William Shatner Fan Club just to get the photos and one life sized poster of Kirk on the transporter.

2. I also bought his much lampooned record The Transformed Man and listened to it over and over until my family begged for mercy. Whatever you want to say about The Transformed Man, I fell in love with Shakespeare due to his readings of Hamlet, King Henry the V and Romeo and Juliet on that record. I still had that LP when I got married and until I lost it in a move in 87. About ten years later my sister-friend Jamie got me a CD of it and I still have it.

3. By the time I was 13 I was equally enthralled by all things Star Trek. (and continue to be) I spent babysitting money on the paperback books that adapted the episodes into short story format until I'd collected the whole set. I wrote Star Trek stories all through Jr. High and High school. This was before anyone was publishing novels based on the Star Trek universe. I even bought and put together a plastic model of the Enterprise.

I once had a dream that I was piloting the Enterprise through space and then brought it in for a landing on our driveway and right on into the carport. I think this had something to do with the fact that I was learning to drive and the sense I had that my Dad's Buick Electra was as big as a spaceship. Which also may have had much to do with why:

4. I didn't get my driver's license until I was almost twenty

5. Then the first year I had it, I was in two accidents nine days apart. They both involved peripheral vision issues so I suspect the RP had played a role but in the first one a huge RV was parked on the corner to my left at the intersection I was stopped at and it blocked view of the nearest lane and in the second one a new pair of heels got caught at the base of the accelerator pedal so that my foot continued to press the accelerator even as I was shifting my foot toward the brake causing me to accelerate through a four way stop. In the second one I was alone in the car but in the first one I was driving my 13 year old sister to a doctor's appointment.

That poor 65 Mustang. The first accident took out the driver's side rear fender. The second one took out the front bumper, grill, hood and radiator. I was still paying off the repairs when I got married in 1978.

I didn't learn that I had inherited my Mother's RP aka Tunnel Vision until 1987 the year I turned 30. But I had stopped driving by the time I was 24. This may have had as much to do with the fact that the cars we had in the eighties were stick shift and I'd never learned how to drive stick shift. Ed tried to teach me how on the logging roads in the hills above the Rogue Valley around 1985 I think and I did learn to handle shifting into the low gears but I never got comfortable enough to go take the driving test again.

6. I've been such a night owl all my life. As child I waited for my parents to go to bed and then turned on my bedside high-intensity gooseneck lamp and bent its neck down til the bulb was only an inch above the plastic mat it sat on. I would read by that sliver of light for hours. Once I fell asleep without turning off the lamp and my Mom, who had just happened to get up and thought to check on my sister and I, found it like that with a scorch mark forming. She woke me up and showed me how close I'd come to setting our bed on fire.

That cured me of abusing high intensity lamps but it didn't cure me of being a night owl. Throughout my teens I would often find myself still awake an hour before my Mom was due to call me for school so I would just stay awake--until bedtime the next night. Throughout my twenties and thirties I would often stay awake for 48-72 hours. I would get some of my most productive and creative writing done during those marathon sessions. These days 24-36 hours is common and 48 occasional.

7. All through 7th, 8th and 9th grades, whenever the weather was dry enough, I would race the school buses down the hill. Because the bus had to stay on the road that looped around the hill and I could take a trail that cut straight down the hill, I could often be at my back door before the bus pulled to a stop in the high-school parking lot behind our house. And that was even if the bus caught up with me and passed me near the bottom because it then had to go around the block and compete with dozens of other buses to reach its drop off spot.

Now this may not sound so weird if you are picturing a modern middle school girl running home from school. But I wasn't allowed to wear pants to school. Other kids were wearing them by then but my parents wouldn't allow it. So I was in a dress and school shoes. And always carrying at least five books and a big fat binder in one arm and my clarinet by the other hand. And usually my coat as well unless I had its hood tie tied around my neck with the rest of the bright yellow nylon coat flapping behind me.

I hated riding the bus that much. It was the noise and the jostling mostly but it was also the anxiety over the possibility of being harassed by the kids as had been common through grade school.

This running paid off in eighth grade when I wowed my PE teacher and the whole girl's gym class by beating the school's girl's record for the 440 by 9 seconds. It was just a regular everyday PE class and I was clueless that anything out of the ordinary was going on until I rounded the last curve and could suddenly hear the rising chorus of "Go, Joy! Go Joy!" I learned later that the teacher had told the class that if I kept the pace I was going to beat the record.

She later told me that she had never seen a girl my age run the 440 like that. She said that I ran it full out like a sprint just like the Olympic runners. She said that I had the potential to be an Olympic competitor if I had the right training. When I told my parents that night they smiled much the same way they smiled when my baby sister pronounced 'fur' as 'foo'.

I should probably make this number eight: Of all the things I used to do and don't anymore I miss running the most. I would like to run again. If I could find a safe place for a legally blind person to run. If I could get healthy enough again which means lowering my blood pressure enough that heart attack or stroke wasn't likely to be the finish line.

I tag Jamie and anyone else who wants to play.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Friday Snippets 27

This is the last of my complete short stories. I've split it into five parts. That gives me five weeks to prepare more snippets from my assorted rough drafts. Or write more scenes. Five weeks. Sigh.

For the significance of the image above, read on.

Blow Me a Candy Kiss
by Joy Rennee

(part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5)

Iris let the book she had just finished fall closed. It lay on her lap, the weight of it like despair. She had just read this lengthy expose of the foster care system as part of her research into ways for her and Greg to create a family despite their unexplained infertility. She hadn’t discussed it with Greg yet, though she assumed he knew. How could he have missed seeing the books and brochures on adoption and foster care laying about for the last several months? Now she needed to talk about it and didn’t know how to broach it, for it was too closely related to the fact of their childlessness. They had talked that topic to death long ago and buried it under a tombstone marked TABOO. Yet it remained, a black hole to which all other subjects gravitated and were distorted, leaving naught between them but the vacuum of her womb.

She flipped her thick hempen braid behind her in order to reach for a Kleenex and then had to drag it back over her shoulder before she could get comfortable again in her nest of pillows and blankets in the loveseat-rocker.

"Ugh…This lousy cold!" She blew her nose vigorously. She should never have read such a downer book while down with a cold. Facts and anecdotes from the book were seething in the juices of her outrage. Oh, how she wanted to talk about it!

"Tell me about it!" Greg, stretched out in his recliner with his own book, suddenly loosed a convulsive sneeze. He fumbled for his box of Kleenex and found it empty.

"Here, catch." She tossed her box into his lap. For a moment there she had thought he was inviting her to tell him about the book. But why would he ask her to add to the aggravation of this already defunct week-end with one of her harangues at the injustice of a universe that bestows multitudes of kids on indifferent to hostile parents, while withholding them from those who want them with passion and would bathe them in an ocean of love. Meaning, of course, Greg and Iris, who had spent the last five of their ten year marriage holding monthly wakes for hope.

She took a chocolate candy-kiss from a bowl on the table beside her, peeled it and popped it in her mouth. Luxuriating in the bitter-sweet flavor flooding her mouth, she thought: NO, Greg would not thank me for bringing that up today. It was bad enough their summer colds had thwarted their plans to spend the week-end camping at the coast--together with their families. The others had gone on without them, to soak up surf and sun, leaving Greg and Iris to soak up Kleenex at home. So she caged her tongue behind gritted teeth and reached for another candy-kiss.

Chocolate could cure broken hearts and rainy days and do wonders for the common cold. Too bad it couldn’t solve the dilemma of their childlessness, now that this book and uprooted her budding interest in foster care as an alternative. She was no David to take on such a bureaucratic Goliath. She just wanted some kids to love. But love was suspect in a realm where kids received mostly pain from the love of their parents, and false hope from the love of their foster families.

What a conundrum! Thought Iris, licking chocolate off her fingers and then drumming them on the cover of the book. She gazed hard at Greg and the sight of him sent a surge of inarticulate need through her--a need to hold and be held, to hang on for dear life. When her hand floated into the space between them, reaching for him without a direct command or even permission from herself, she looked at it, awed by its singularity. She closed her fist on emptiness and drew it back into her lap. She was glad Greg hadn’t seen that. She would have read in his eyes recognition of her need and then watched as knowledge of his impotence to fulfill it overwhelmed him and he looked away, turned away, walked away. So many ways to go away without getting away.

Not that Greg was impotent in any literal sense. But their childlessness had muted their passion, turned sex into a calendar event, a dutiful reaching out in the dark, a somber clutching or furious fumbling, eyes closed, faces averted and tongues held quiet in the coffins of their mouths. If nothing is said then there can be nothing to misunderstand. Isn’t that so? She grimaces at her sarcastic thought, forced to recognize her own part in their conspiracy of silence. Thus the marital bed becomes a veritable mausoleum for two.

Iris slid the book onto the coffee table and something fell over the edge onto the floor with a soft plop. She bent to retrieve it, her arm fishing blindly under the table, patting the carpet until her fist closed on something that felt like rubber spaghetti and paper meatballs she reeled in her arm to find her hand full of Koosh balls and used Kleenex. She separated out the dried wads of tissue, tossing them over Greg’s legs into the trash can--three overhand throws with her left hand, each followed by the twonk that signaled success.

She grinned, pleased with herself, but then felt silly thinking: Leave it to a childless day-care provider to find fulfillment on a Sunday afternoon by chucking desiccated snot rags into a tin can from across the room. Her arm, having got the knack of it, was reluctant to stop, and before Iris quite knew what she was about one of the Koosh balls was arcing over Greg’s chair. It cleared the rim of his book which immediately fell from his hands as his startled "Hey!" echoed off the walls.

His glasses were askew and Iris laughed with glee as he adjusted them with one hand and found the offending Koosh ball with the other. She held two more Koosh balls aloft in an obvious challenge.

"It’s like that is it?" he said, letting fly. As did she. His skimmed her cheek with a breeze and landed behind the loveseat, which put it out of bounds. At least until somebody was willing to perform major acrobatics to retrieve it. He caught hers and tossed it back as she lofted the third one, which he again caught. And so on. Until wild throws landed both Koosh balls out of reach and they were scrambling to re-arm.

Once out of their chairs the room became the arena as they dodged and ducked and danced until they collided in the center of the floor, laying simultaneous claim to a solitary Koosh ball--another one having been lost behind the loveseat. Greg got it first so she clambered over the coffee table and onto the loveseat. She dove over its back, feet flailing air and hands groping carpet but all she got for her efforts was a handful of her braid. Then Greg caught her by the waist one armed and stuffed the Koosh ball down her back.

"Oh, that Tickles!" She squealed and tried to untuck her T-shirt from her jeans but he penned her arms and laughed as she squirmed. Then they were face-to-face, laughing and panting and Greg was about to kiss her. Iris knew this the way animals know earthquakes or hurricanes are imminent. He was going to kiss her and it would be like their first kiss ever, full of wildness and wonder. But instead, a knock at the door--and destiny took a detour. Greg went to answer it, still grinning while Iris, still gasping giggles, fished out the Koosh ball.

Then Daisy May, her fifteen year old, Down’s syndrome sister, (who, their mother always said to anyone offering sympathy, graced her parents’ golden years with her generous heart was lumbering across the room to wrap solid arms around her. "I love you Iris June." she said, rocking them side to side.

"And I love you, Daisy May." Looking across her sister’s bulky shoulders at her approaching parents, she was startled by the age lines etching their faces. Iris had always gazed upon her mother, Irene, as upon a time-warped mirror. This is what I’ll look like thirty years from now, she had told herself at every stage of her life, and the prospect had given her comfort. But not today. Today it sent chills into her soul.

"What are you guys doing here?" Her voice was a battleground where the giggles left over from their romp conflicted with the alarm she felt at the sight of her parents’ somber faces.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #70

Once again I have to postpone the promised 'after' pictures from my room makeover which I've been posting about all month. I have continued to work at the sorting projects every day this past week but in spite of huge progress in getting organized I've temporarily made things look worse so I haven't started taking after pictures.

Today I put in a five hour marathon sorting session, hoping to swing it around close enough to picture perfect. But I didn't make it and I could tell that I wasn't going to get there in time to prepare the pictures for a TT even if I could take them by noon tomorrow. Last week's TT pics on the process of putting the room back together after stripping it down to its bare bones took me about four hours to prepare.

So I've stooped once again to another list of LOL Author/Title combos from the eleven page list someone emailed me several years ago. We're only on page two now. I've got hundreds more of these to throw out in emergencies like this. Besides they are kinda fun.

Thirteen More LOL Author/Title Combos

1. Carpet Fitting: Walter Wall
2. Caulking Made Easy by Phil McKrevis
3. Chauvinistic Men by A. Lone
4. Cheaper than IBM: P.C. Clone
5. Cheating on His Wife: Izzy Backyet
6. Chest Pain by I. Coffalot
7. Chicago Gangs Of The '30's: Tommy Gunn
8. Chicken Dishes by Nora Drumsticks.
9. Children's Songbook: Skip Tumalu
10. Chinese Apathy: Hu Cares
11. Circle Perimeter: Sir Circumference
12. Classic Groceries: Chopin Liszt
13. Cloning by Irma Double II

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ode To Joy

Yesterday Ed downloaded Beethoven's 9th Symphony for me. It took him two days to find a version that was whole and of good quality. This has been one of my favorite pieces of music since I discovered it in 1993. I latched onto the 4rth movement as a lifeline through many of the ups and downs of my mood disorders. I have often wondered if there was something about this symphony that actually rewires the brain and makes it less receptive to the emotions of fear and despair or maybe just more competent to process them in a life affirming way because it really did feel like the hundreds of hours I listened to this symphony throughout the nineties caused a significant shift in my psyche.

The first time I consciously remember hearing The Ode to Joy, I was listening to classical radio while doing housework. It stopped me in my tracks and before it was over I was in tears and for the first time in my life I knew what was meant by tears of joy. I did not even know it was called Ode to Joy yet. I had to listen to the station obsessively for over a week before I caught the name of the Symphony and it was several weeks later before I bought a CD and learned what the 4rth movement was named.

Ode to Joy, both the title and the music, has been tightly woven into my sense of myself since then. My discovery of it was near the beginning of the traumatic break with the fundamentalist sect of my childhood and thus the beginning of what I did not yet know was my personal spiritual quest. It seems somehow apropos that my spiritual quest seemed to take on the theme of seeking joy. The pun or double entendre was not lost on me then. I had long thought it was ironic, even grossly unfair, that having been given the name, Joy, I spent a good part of every year since age four battling the demons of profound sadness and despair.

I have not listened to Beethoven's 9th very often since we moved in with Ed's parents in 2001. I did bring my two CDs of it with me but both had developed scratches right in the middle of the 4rth movement. Then the headphones to my discman got shorted out. I had gotten Ed a nice boom box that first Christmas here and after that I did listen to it occasionally but it was so frustrating to not be able to crank it like I always had before. The walls of trailer homes are thin. Even cranked it would have had to compete with the very loud soundtracks of the movies my father-in-law watched. Listening to my music cranked was one of the benefits of staying home alone on Saturdays during dirt track season when Ed and his folks were gone from six to ten hours.

Somehow in the last couple of years both of the CDs had gotten misplaced in the chaos of this room. I found them during the June makeover of the room and started listening to them in July during the Sven challenge after I suddenly remembered that music had been an integral part of my writing routines all through the nineties after I had discovered its power to set a mood-to-order for a scene or even an entire story or a character. By associating a piece of music to a particular piece of writing it not only helps set the needed mood but it helps in the transitioning back into the work on it after a break. It also helps immensely in retrieval of memories of your thoughts and intentions for the story which I guess is why it helps with the transitioning--a kind of conjuring by association. Sometimes I can write on the scenes while the music is playing but more often listening to the music is part of the intense daydreaming of the story during the prep stages--the initial prep stage when a story idea is newborn and the daily prep stages for writing scenes.

Beethoven's 9th symphony, movement 4 had become so integral to my life, I very nearly named my blog Ode to Joy.

It had been several months again since I listened to it and years since I've been able to hear the 4rth movement without skips and stutters. I listened to the entire symphony shortly after I woke up this morning. All 74 minutes of it. I listened with my total attention. In the last ten minutes I was once again surprised by tears of joy. I wanted to listen to the 4rth movement again but the file Ed downloaded is all one track. So this evening I went looking for a good YouTube version of Ode To Joy. The best one was split into two parts which I've embedded below. There is also a good presentation of the entire symphony in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2

Ode To Joy from Beethoven's Symphony #9 4rht movement. Part one is above and part two is below.


Monday, January 21, 2008

The Faith Club

The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew--Three Women search for Understanding
by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner

These three women all lived in the New York area in 2001, all three with children to try to explain the events of September 11 to. They came together to write a children's book about their three religions but their meetings soon took on another aspect which they could not have foreseen. They began to explore one another's faith traditions and to share their stereotypes of each other's cultures.

Several times in their early relationship their project almost came to a halt due to misunderstandings born of unacknowledged and unexamined biases. But they held onto their hope of coming to understand one another's religions so that they might write the book that would explain the three Peoples of the Book to children.

Soon they began to rely on the friendship they were cultivating, the mutual respect and the fellowship of their frequent meetings.

I can't say much more than that right now as I haven't finished the book. I am going to continue to read as much as I can before I sleep tonight as the copy I have is a library book and it was due today. My husband will be returning it for me in the morning.

I couldn't think of a more appropriate thing to blog about today, on the day the life of Martin Luther King Jr. was celebrated, than the book I happened to have spent the last couple of days with. A book dealing with the efforts of three people of disparate backgrounds learning to engage each other with profound mutual respect. Because that is the one thing, the one needful thing, to bring Dr. King's dream to full reality.

At The Faith Club web site there are instructions on how to form a Faith Club of your own, excerpts from the book, and a blog in which the three authors occasionally post, sometime about something on their mind, sometimes about their next tour appearance


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Monday Poetry Train #29

print for sale at

I still don't have any new poems of my own to post but I really miss the Poetry Train so I'm hopping aboard again this week with this poem that, as a creative writer who is also a creative speller and long time user of word processors, got my funny bone in a tizzy.

Note I did not write this. I ran across it somewhere online in a context that led me to assume it was already spread far and wide anonymously. I hope I am not infringing on anyone by passing it around some more. I just couldn't resist. it is so funny.

If someone recognizes this and knows who the author is or where it was published, if it was, let me know so I can give appropriate citation.

Owed To A SpellChequer

Eye halve a spell in chequer;
It came with my pea sea;
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it to say
Weather eye am wrong oar write -
It shows me strait aweigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
it nose bee fore two long,
and eye can put the error rite
its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it;
I am shore your pleased two no
its letter-perfect awl the weigh,
my chequer tolled me sew.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sunday Serenity #40

Smile! It's like magic. It triggers our brain to concoct its own joy juice.

You don't believe me? Listen to this guy:

Smile right now! Regardless of what is going on in your life I want you to smile. Smile big. Smile goofy. Smile a smile that spreads from your lips to your entire face and eyes, even your neck, shoulders, and scalp. Just smile!

Smiles seem to be one of those physical postures or actions that are ‘hard-wired’ to a particular emotional state. You simply can not feel sad while smiling. Try it.

You'll have to go read the entire thing to see the scientific explanation if you must have it. I didn't think it necessary to clutter my Sunday Serenity post with it when all you have to do is try it to prove it to yourself.

Hat Tip: Just More Words At the End Of the Day

Yes, the pic is of me, Joy Renee, age 2 years.

Join us for a moment of Serenity.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Snippets 27

This is the conclusion of a short story. In the first part (last weeks snippet)Margot and her toddler Nikki suffered a brutal beating from Tod (husband/father)before he left for work. Later Nikki had offered to share a treat with his baby sister, Tina, and Margot wondered how long before 'Tina too' would share in the beatings.

Running In Circles
by Joy Renee

(Part two--continued from last week)

In the afternoon, Margot sat alone on the couch. This was her time of day. The babies who had fussed restlessly throughout the quiet morning, now slept calmly under a staccato of blows from Mr. Jamisen’s hammer up on the roof. For a brief time she could do as she chose and usually--in spite of dirty dishes piled in the sink, a sea of crumbs surrounding the highchair and the baby-clothes, rattles, bottles and slimy, half-gnawed teething biscuits jumbled with the blankets on the mattress--usually she chose to curl up on the couch with a magazine or to just lose herself into the view of Westlake High out the window, her private movie-screen, fantasyland, time-portal, where once upon a time she had been track star, cheerleader, honors student and Todd had been "Todd the Bod Taylor" district champion in the shot-put and hammer throw.

But today for the first time she felt her ties to the past sundered with a finality that left her whip-lashed mind whirling with the shreds of her sanity. The silence-shattering sound of Mr. Jamisen’s hammer up on the roof threatened to scatter them irretrievably. She began to focus on the individual blows, counting them with fierce concentration, breathing, in rhythm with them. In…two…three…out…two…three…

"It’s all in the breathing, Margot." The voice of Nikitrina Alvarez coached her with the hollow echo of memory. "Pain is just a barrier not a box. Float over it. Breath. In…out…in…out. That’s it. Thatta girl." Nikitrina--Nikita, her high school track coach, and twice in three years her Lamaze coach, was her taskmaster, conscience, friend and Godmother to both Nicky and Tina.

"Margot you have no idea what you’re doing. I’m telling you you’re Olympic material. With the right training you could be ready for 2004. Five years. Give me, give yourself these five years, and I swear you’ll make history. If you get married now what will you have in five years but three babies and a divorce."

"But you don’t understand. I’m not quitting school or the team. I’m marrying Todd so I can stay at this school--and on your team. I’m tired of being jerked around the country by Dad’s company. I’m tired of being jerked around by Dad. He’s already talking about forbidding me to run. Indecent behavior for a lady he says."

"The cost is too high Margot. Have you discussed birth control with Todd? I understand he’s from a devout Catholic family. Are you sure he’ll let you continue running beyond high school? It’s not an either or situation. There are alternatives. We could arrange a local foster home for you. You would be welcome to live with me."

"Dad would never go for that." she had laughed. "You? A divorced woman as guardian for a young impressionable girl? You just don’t know my Dad. Only marriage will get him off my back. And Todd loves me. We can make it work. I just know it."

"You think you’re going to do things differently from your parents but you’re doomed….

NIKITA: …doomed to repeat…
NIKITA: …repeat the cycle. And without intervention…
NIKITA: …the cycle remains unbroken…
NIKITA: …the violence escalates. And it carries over…
NIKITA: …to the next generation. You think your love will protect you. But, Honey, before it’s over it’s love you’re gonna need protection from."

With the voices of Nikita and Todd circling their well-worn tracks in her mind, Margot slipped into an exhausted sleep where other voices joined them until they blurred into the sound of a crowd cheering. And she was running the track, her feet as light as her heart. Oh the joy of it! To feel the power in her pumping heart and pistonning legs, to take in lungful after lungful of air and let the laughter well within her, as she passed up other runners. The sense of freedom gave her heart wings. The cheers of the crowd encompassed her, held her in their buoyant grasp, seeming to negate the laws of gravity so that she soared around the track. For this crowd, for the exhilaration its cheering imparted to her, she ran. She ran for them. Won for them. She kicked into the homestretch, pulling on her reserves, giving her all to the roar of the crowd. But something was wrong here. Where was the finish line? She must have misjudged. There was still a lap left to run.. There was Todd on the sidelines rooting for her, holding his lead shot above his head in a victory signal. There was coach Nikita holding high the Olympic torch. She ran on with no diminution of power. But when she came around again, still there was no finish line. And Todd threw his shot at her which became the newborn Nicky as she caught it. Still she ran but slower now as Nicky grew in her arms, a time-lapse film with substance and weight. The roar of the crowd coalesced into a single voice. Todd’s. And she turned to see him running behind her waving his hammer menacingly above his head. She screamed.

She sat up on the couch, trembling, her breath harsh in her throat. The sound of her own scream echoed in her head. She got up to check on the babies in an effort to reassure herself of reality. But in the doorway to their room she choked back another scream. The crib was empty.. She ran to the cradle where she found Tina under a pile of Nicky’s blankets and stuffed toys. She was OK.

"Nicky!" Margot called as she rushed around the room looking under, in and behind everything. In the closet she found a litter of kittens but no Nicky. She turned to see a mother cat jumping from the sill of the opened window, to a chair and then to the floor, another kitten in her mouth. The chair! Nicky had climbed out the window. She grabbed Tina and ran.

Outside she ran frantically around the entire block of cottages. No sign of Nicky. She called up to Mr. Jamisen who was perched like a vulture on the roof. "My Nicky climbed out the window. Did you see which way he went?"

"Ain’t no place of mine to mind your kid." he said without missing a beat with the hammer.

Across the highway at the track a commotion caught her attention. Baseball and track teams were mingling in a crowd around some attraction. Wild with hope she ran toward them. And as she approached they parted to allow her into the center where an unclothed Nicky stood, sporting the bruises from his morning ordeal and fresh scratches on his chest. Beside him stood coach Nikita holding the limp form of a kitten.

"They found him in the field over there. He beat this kitten senseless for scratching him." she paused as she cast a glance over Margot and Tina, taking in her bruised face and assuring herself that the baby was fine. "It could just as well have been Tina. Next time it might be." The two women’s eyes met in a long, silent exchange. The determination in Nikitrina’s eyes filled Margot with both trepidation and confidence. Here was a formidable opponent but also a strong ally.

"The cycle must be broken now Margot. It won’t stop by itself. If you don’t put a stop to it, I will. By naming me Godmother you gave me that right. You made me as responsible for their welfare as you are."

Margot looked back at the Lambing Sheds through a blur of tears and heat-shimmer, and they seemed to be fading in and out as if about to disappear altogether. "Yes coach." she sighed. "I’m tired. So tired. Tired to death of running in circles."


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #69

Last week I posted before pictures and promised after pictures for this week. Well I discovered I don't yet have thirteen after pictures tho I do have plenty of pictures taken during the process. So this week its about the process but I couldn't pare it down to thirteen without loosing something important to the story.

I'm continuing to work on the fine tuning of the room and will continue to take pictures. I hope--I am aiming for having thirteen after pics for next week.

Thirteen Plus Pictures Showing the Process of Our Room Makeover

These first four pictures were taken Friday morning January 4th before dawn and show the room from various angles after I'd removed as much as possible out of the room and dusted and vacuumed. This shows what I have to work with in terms of space.

The next four show the process of putting together the bench for elevating the bookshelves above the level of the bed.

I am quite proud of this concept. It was mine.

As promised in an earlier post this week the explanation for the Froot Loops box: My specifications for the bench was for a 12 inch wide plank. Ed mistakenly bought a 10x2 inch plank. I didn't discover this until after Ed left for work that morning. One of the bookshelves required 12 inches but the other one would be OK with 10 so I went ahead and started putting it together. I had it ready for the bookshelf and was about to bring it in when I realized that I needed to make sure there was room for that 12 inch plank on the left side of the 'bench' and that meant making sure the edge next to the bed was 12 inches from the wall its entire length.

The only measuring device I had was that retractable one that Merlin just can't leave alone. The problem with it is that it is floppy and I had to hold on to each end of the measured length to be sure of accuracy. This wouldn't work for multiple measurements along an eight foot plank. I needed something not floppy. Like a ruler. But I couldn't find one.

After wasting twenty minutes looking for a ruler I started measuring everything in sight: books, cardboard, boxes etc. The first thing that measured exactly 12 inches on one side was that Froot Loops box. So there you have it.

Above, I've placed one of my pride and joys into the bookshelf: My Great Books set. In my archives in the spring of 2005 is the story of the miraculous acquisition of this set which replaces the one we lost.

It was the replacement of this set of books that made it possible for me to start thinking about returning to work on my Fruits of the Spirit storyworld. It is the Syntopicon (a topic index to 3 millenia of western literature) that is the essential thing for the research stage of these stories. I've discussed this elsewhere so I won't go further here.

One of the things I am most pleased with about this room makeover is that I've found a way to put the whole set within arms reach of my writing station and prevent if from being blocked by clutter other than blankets. This is going to be so helpful as I proceed deeper into the storyworld that I reengaged with intensity due to the 70 Days Challenge first round last July.

Above is a picture of the green shelves atop the entertainment center. This was taken about 10AM Friday morning. At that point I had to stop working on the room because I needed that 12 inch plank to proceed. I tried to take a nap since I had been awake over 24 hours but I couldn't stop thinking about the project and I was still awake when Ed got home about 5. He went after Subway sandwiches for our dinner and brought back the right sized plank with him. But we both agreed that we were too tired to proceed with the work on the room that night.

So it wasn't until Saturday afternoon that the next picture was taken. We didn't start working on the room again until then because we went out for breakfast and then to Wal-Mart to pick up organizing aides.

You can see that I continue to make changes. I've decided to move half the Great Books set to the other bookshelf to make that bottom shelf available for both of our public library fiction since that is where Ed does most of his reading in the winter so they should be more convenient for him.

Below you see the tower of drawers we bought for our HABA. (Health and Beauty Aides) It fits nicely on the end of the bench without blocking the TV.

Below shows the three large tubs we bought for Ed's clothes. They fit just right up there on top of the green shelves and it is fitting that space be Ed's since I can barely reach the top of the green shelves anyway. Ed is nearly a foot taller than me.

The next three pictures were taken early Sunday afternoon. I was still relaxed and being thoughtful about moving things in and placing them. But not long after these were taken Ed's folks returned unexpectedly. At 4:30 Sunday afternoon instead of late Monday or sometime on Tuesday. News of a storm about to drop snow on the passes changed their plans.

Our stuff was still scattered all over the house so Ed started bringing things as fast as he could, leaving them on the bed for me to stick wherever I could find a spot. No more time for thoughtfulness and no more time for pictures. This is why I still have so many sorting projects left to do and why I don't have enough after pictures.

Below is a picture of Merlin on the duffel which is on the bottom shelf of the entertainment center. This holds my sweaters and sweats and winter scarves and similar things. This picture was actually taken last June as a before picture of that makeover. The duffel was moved at that time to atop the green shelf which stood in front of the closet. A picture I posted in last week's TT shows how that worked out for us. The duffel ended up piled to the height of my eyes with clothes that couldn't be easily put away in the closet. And then those that couldn't be easily put away in the duffel.

The duffel is now back on this shelf tho it is wrapped in a blanket to keep dust cat fur off it. Merlin likes it for a bed when the TV is off.

Below are two pictures showing my effort to create a mobile workstation out of our luggage carrier and cardboard boxes. I put this together Friday evening and told Ed that I hoped to find something sturdier than cardboard to use for the shelves.

Ed found a better concept for the mobile workstation: this small utility cart. Also in view here is the three drawer tower we bought for my sewing.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Just Let Me Read

Today was Library Day for me. It was also the last day our Phoenix branch will be open it the temp building. They will be closed for two weeks and reopen in the new building about five blocks further down the same street on February 4th.

I hung out there for an hour longer than my business required. I was feeling nostalgic. I took my new camera and got pictures of the inside. I was hoping to post some tonight but I still don't know how to get them off he camera to the laptop. I forgot to ask Ed for help before he went to bed. He is going to be a bit exasperated about it because he has already coached me through the process once. But I tried to do it on my own with the room pictures last week and got stuck half way through the process and not sure what to do thought it better to do nothing. I had hoped that Ed would coach me through it again but he just did it for me while I was in the other room.

I could probably teach myself to do it if I could find the manual that came with the camera. But that is in one of the boxes I still need to sort.

I will be posting more room do-over pictures for my TT tomorrow. I had hoped to get that ready to launch by midnight but even though I took a nap while Ed was doing his TT this evening I am just to tired.

And let's be honest. I'd rather be reading. My arms are aching from the haul of books today and they are really the only thing I can think about. The books I mean. Though the aching arms are a constant reminder of the books. LOL.

So I am going to read.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Say Goodbye To the Sweaty Guy

Or at least Adieu for a few.

70 Days of Sweat

Yes, master.

Sven Round II is done. But a Round III is in the works so stay tuned.

Goodbye isn't quite the right word since there will be another round nor do I intend to take the sweaty guy off my sidebar for the hiatus because that is my link to the links of all the other participants. There is a lot of good writing going on out there. I had to severely limit my surfing to and reading of it during this round so I hope to catch up with some of it in the next few weeks.

They are telling us at 70 Days of Sweat site to check back on February 1st for news about Round III.

As for my Sven Round II outcome? I missed the 70K mark by 5-7K but I still feel like a success. When I first chose to get involved with Sven last July, I consciously chose not to get hung up on word count as the primary measure of accomplishment. For me it was about instilling work habits and making room for story making in my routines.

I’m looking forward to round 3 but I’m not going to wait for it to continue working with my stories.

BIG BIG Thanks to all the sponsors for their efforts and time and the same to all the participants for being part of it and adding to that sense of community and a shared commitment and caring. It so helps to know you are not alone and that what you want is not outrageous or weird or irrelevant to ‘real’ life.

(Yes, if you've been over to read the goodbye post and its comments you saw some of those last paragraphs there. I cribbed it off there. You aren't having a weird de ja vu.)


Monday, January 14, 2008

Taking My Measurements

I need to post on the fly tonight so I can get back to my storyworld. One more day to go for the 70 Days of Sweat challenge.

This is a picture of my cat Merlin trying to help me take measurements during the room re-do project. He loves the retractable measuring tape and kept grabbing at it every chance he got.

The box of Fruit Loops is not there for a handy snack. I was much to busy to think about food that day. Nor would they be higher than #699 on any list of my likely snackables. If you want to know what it was there for, come back for this week's TT which will be pictures taken during the process of putting the room back together again after it had been stripped to the bare bones.

I know I promised after pictures this week but I discovered I don't yet have thirteen after pictures tho I do have nearly twice that many of the process. So I must go with what I have while I continue to take after pictures for next week's TT.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Evolution in Space and Time

I just made my last Sunday check-in for Sven round two. After a full week of working at my new workstation I was able to add between 6 and 9K to the 51K I garnered for NaNo. I hope to add another 3-5K by Tuesday midnight. It is tempting to think if only the room do-over had been done before October 15 just think what I could have accomplished with a steady pace like that. But then I remember that, in fact this isn't the first room do-over in the past year. The before pictures I posted on my TT were not the true before pictures. They were actually the 'after' pictures for the June do-over that weren't taken until the room had once again devolved into chaos because we had not maintained it. Which was primarily because we had never really finished what we had started.

Below is a picture from the day before the June makeover of the room. The day before we moved in the bookshelves that were supposed to solve all the issues of this jerry-rigged system of cardboard boxes and whatnot. This was my workstation from the spring of 2005 forward except that the laptop was added in November of that year. Before that my primary writing station was at my in-law's PC in the living room to which I had access only between 9PM and 6AM most days. WIFI and Broadband was not added until September 2006 so until then my Internet access was still limited to the graveyard hours.

I am fairly sure that if I had discovered the 70 Days challenge while my workstation was still this chaotic I would not have even momentarily considered joining in.

Below is one of the pictures I posted in my TT. This was taken the Friday before Christmas. But this was essentially my writing workstation throughout both of the 70 Day rounds and NaNo. Except that those boxes were not there before my return from Longview in December so I was usually able to have my legs under that board and access the shelves underneath.

It actually wasn't so bad before those boxes took away my leg space. If the rest of the room could have been put in as good a shape and maintained as well things might have gone more smoothly through Sven II and NaNo.

Below is a picture of my workstation taken during last week's do-over. I believe it was taken late Saturday evening. It has changed several times since then and will probably continue to change in minor ways as I continue to use it and discover what works and what doesn't. Besides that I haven't finished unpacking all the smaller items that I carted out of the room in boxes of various sizes and there are several sorting projects still to do that will add and subtract items in this area. That white drawer-in-a-box is one of the biggest of those sorting projects as it long ago devolved into a junk drawer. It also needs to be one of the first because it needs to become the home of many of the items from the other sorting projects.

Featured here is the wheeled utility cart we bought Saturday to be my movable desk. It can roll to the foot of the bed which is where Ed prefers to use it as there is no room for his legs between it and the bed here. And I can roll it out to the living room for late night work sessions that would disturb Ed's sleep. We can also roll it on out to the front porch when the weather warms up in March.

To the right of the utility cart is one of the tower of drawers we bought that day as well. You can't see the bottom one but there are three drawers. This was bought to hold my sewing projects and supplies. It represents another big sorting project even though it was just bought for I just stuffed things into it willy-nilly that day. I had no time for fiddling or fine-tuning and I had no place to put the big gift bag that held all this stuff before.

As you can see, I have unfettered access to the closet for hanging up the hanging clothes now.

I have a funny story to tell on myself. That Friday night the day before this picture was taken, I was back in the back of the closet rearranging the items back there. At that time I was still planning on making sure that the closet door could be shut so I was frequently testing that it would still roll. Usually I was on the outside when I tested it but I was impatient so I pushed it shut while I was still inside and that time, though it shut just fine, it jammed when I tried to open it. I was trapped inside. Ed had to come get me out. I was so glad he was home! I gave up on the idea of being able to close the closet door.

Below is another shot of the corner from last June. I am adding it because it shows the big bag holding my sewing sitting up on top of that stack of boxes in the corner. That was a precarious position for it. I always had difficulties lifting it down when I needed something out of it. I almost always had to ask Ed to get it down and put it back. One night while I was typing and Ed was sleeping, it fell off and brought down with it a boot box full of books that had been up there with it. The bag landed on Ed's head and the box of books bounced off my arm before glancing off the keyboard where it dislodged the cap off the 'n' key. Luckily the bulk of the stuff in the bag was yarn and the only damage to my arm was a bruise just above my watch. The boot box was not returned to its lofty place.

The whole point of this post is to emphasize the relationship between order and productivity. I've been using the time I am working at it to contemplate the relationships of space, time, stuff and self. Rolled into the concept of self is the dreams and goals where use of space, time and stuff is delegated to various endeavors, the success of which depends on a proper relationship between self, space, time and stuff.

You are probably saying 'Huh?'

I'm not sure I can be more specific just yet. Some of the concepts and insights I am contemplating are as vague as that sounds. But I have been trying to use mindfulness as I tackle this project. It is far from done though I can be productive at my writing station. It was because I stopped working at it when the June do-over reached a similar stage that things devolved into chaos again. I am determined not to let that happen this time. So I am constantly evaluating and re-evaluating the uses of the space, time and stuff as I continue to change and rearrange.

I have spoken here before of my issues with hoarding. I am working hard on that issue as well. That is the theme of much of my contemplation of space, time, stuff and self. The emotional attachments I make to things is an issue I've had since infancy. I managed to let go of a lot of things during the major stage of the do-over. Many things that I removed from the room on January 2 and 3 were never returned to it. Between us Ed and I winnowed out several bushels of things.

From the moment I started moving things back into the room, I tried to be mindful of what it was, what it was for and when and where it would primarily be used. I was also making myself think twice and thrice and more as to why I wanted to bring this or that back in. I had hoped to be able to do that with every last item but my plans were abruptly altered by the early return of my in-laws from their vacation. They returned on Sunday afternoon instead of Tuesday because of the snow predicted for the passes that night. So a lot of our stuff still remaining in other rooms of the house was returned to our room in a manic ninety minutes and placed wherever temporary space could be found for it.

It is going to be harder to let go of things that were brought back in here. It is going to be harder to organize the things we do use regularly while working around all the stuff that was placed temporarily into the spaces that are the most likely homes for them. For example: I can see that the best place for the CDs is a certain shelf that is near the new home of the boom box but that shelf is occupied by a box that needs sorting and if I move that box something else will have to be moved. If I sort that box, I run into the same conundrum with nearly every item in it.


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