Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tackling the Biggest To-Do

Crocheted Quilter's Tote
It was my intention from the moment I started the travel jewelry kit in June for my sister that I would give it my disciplined focus until it was done--hoping that meant in time for her birthday in mid July--and then transfer that same discipline to this Quilter's Tote project that was my Secret Santa gift for my sister-in-law in 2012.  Well, tho I did manage to maintain the disciplined focus on the jewelry kit and gave my sister half of it the week of her birthday and the other half the last weekend of August, too many unforseen things happened with it (just like with the quilter's tote) and multiple rethinks and redos became necessary as reported in earlier posts and the final handover to my sister did not take place until this past Friday afternoon.

The weekend was all about the read-a-thon but on Monday I cleared my craft table of the tools and materials from the jewelry kit project and got out the quilter's tote.  I layed it all out for this photo but also to re-familiarize myself with its current status.  I got out the to-do list for it and re-read it.  It is in a small notebook that travels with the project and the first page reads:

  • Prep mobeus strip (in blud basket above)
  • Prep wraparound panel (folded on left side above)
  • Prep back/front flap panel (folded on right side above)
  • Crochet 5 4" x 4" squares--4 for pockets on the carry strap 1 to wrap around the twist in the top of the strap.
  • Crochet 3 small flowers for buttons to secure flap on front of bag
  • Crochet 1 large flower for the strap wrap
  • Assemble tote

Except for the squares and flowers which have patterns, each one of these items require multiple pages of instructions and task lists broken down into sub tasks and dependencies (tasks that must be done before another task can be started). Those lists were disorganized and missing some things I'd thot of since writing it so I tore them out and started over.  
Assuming I've thought of everything...

But if there is one thing this project has taught me is that it isn't likely that I've thought of everything.  In fact it might not be possible to think of everything before beginning a project and that has too often been my reason for procrastinating or quitting after encountering an  unforseen snag in my plan.

I've done the same thing with my creative writing...

But if there is one thing that sticking to it thru all the snags with the jewelry travel kit (a three week project that became a three month project) taught me it was that I'm clever enough to figure out a way around or through the snags.

I think I've solved the structure problems I encountered a year ago when I tried to assemble the tote with the original plan and ended up with a flop.  Literally a bag too floppy to be useful.  Who wants to always have to depend on having someone hold a bag open while you put somethng in or take something out unless the bag is already stuffed to the gills?

I think my solutions are going to work--installing cord on all the edges and lining the bag bottom and sides with microfiber pads. I'm in under no illusion that there will be no further snags but I'm confident I can work them out too.

Tho it's possible that I'm going to be late for this Christmas too having gotten such a late start and that kind of disappointment has often tempted me to procrastinate.  Not this time.

This will be my main focus for every day that it is possible.  It's not always possible--appointments outside the house, company, illness, Mom's needs--life sometimes has its own ideas.  But it will become north for my mental compass and my attention will keep returning to it.

One difficulty it presents is that it is not portable.  It's a long time since it's been a lap project let alone a purse project.  It has to remain on the craft table.  Another difficulty is that very little of the work left to do is of the type that I can do with only half an eye on the work while I'm watching videos.  Much of it is more like sewing than crochet and except for the 5 4" x 4" squares even the crochet is meticulous, detailed stuff in which placement of the hook cannot be by touch.

So I can't watch videos while working on this but I can listen to documentaries and audio books and daydream my own stories.  In fact I better take advantage of the fact that many of the hours spent on this project were coupled with daydreaming my storyworld.  Thus the very act of handling it again triggers the memories and puts me right back into the scenes I was working on when working on this or that section.  Since I am hoping I have only a short time left with it, now is the time to get as much of that out of my head and onto paper or screen as possible before I hand it over.  Or I may have to start another one. :)


Monday, October 19, 2015

A Round of Words in 80 Days Round 4 2015 Goals

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life

I'm back after dropping out for Round 3.  It's been a rough year.  Life threw some new curves.  One of which was the diagnoses of high-functioning autism aka Asperger's Syndrome in mid September.

Apparently one of the crucial things for someone on the spectrum is a highly structured day which means that participating in things like ROW 80 can only be of help.

The fact that I've had the experience of ROW 80 since 2012 is helpful as I it has given me the tools I need to create that structure.  Now tho it needs to apply to my whole life and not just writing.

similar to Round 1 and as always they are time investment rather than word count.
  • Storydreaming with note-taking tools at hand. 15min Daily (until about mid summer this year I never lost this one since instating it in my first round in 2012.  A ROW80 win!)  --this had become an integral part of every day for me. I never really stopped the dreaming but I wasn't taking notes.  But even with notetaking it's not enough if it never leads to more than jotting notes as I live inside my story.
  • Read/Study Craft 15min Daily Average -- This is one of the writing tasks I hung onto all year.  At least a significant amount each week if not always daily.
  • 7.5 hours of sleep daily --  the last two years have taught me the importance of this for keeping my anxiety low and energy high, weight down and creativity sustainable.
  • Move/Breathe/Meditate 15min Daily  -- I never got this back after the respiratory illness last winter.  I know it is crucial to health.  Both physical and mental.  And most especially creativity.
  • Personal Journaling 15min Daily  --has not become a daily habit yet.  in fact i've not even reached for it since late February.  I feel serious resistance to it which probably means I need to be doing it.  Especailly to help me assimilate the autism spectrum diagnoses and how it affects my writing goals.
  • Read Fiction 30min Daily Average --this is one thing I kept up even while sick except for a few of the worst days.  And continued right up through mid September when I began the big research project I've discussed elsewhere after my autism spectrum dianoses..
  • Social network activities 30min Daily (writing Joystory posts doesn't count only social reaching out like reading/commenting on other blogs, guest posts and posting to fb, twitter, pinterest etc) --another thing I've a strong resistance to.  The autism diagnosis helps explain this but doesn't let me off the hook.  If anything it makes it more important.  
  • Engage with the Blow Me a Candy Kiss structural rewrite file 30 min Daily*  --  except for November when I'll be working on the companion story from husband Greg's POV called To Embrace a Funny Bunny.  These two likely belong to the same novel but I'll be pretending they don't for the durration of NaNo. 
  • All of this in service to the overarching goal for 2015: Regain the joy in writing that I lost sometime last year.  The Joy/joy meter hovers around 7 out of 10.this week.

I've been struggling with this structural rewrite since my first Row 80 Round in 2012.  The autism spectrum dianoses helps explain why I have no problem accumulating words but can't seem to hang them on an appropriate plot scaffold.  Apparently issues with cause and effect are common on the spectrum.

I'm hoping that working with Dramtica Pro will help address this issue.  Using it for NaNo prep this year hoping it will prevent the creation of another mess.  Am concurrently running Candy Kiss through it's paces to see if it will also help me fix an existing mess.  If it does then there is hope for the over two dozen WIP messes.  Or at least some of them.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Serenity - Travel Jewelry Box

This is part of the travel set I made my sister for her birthday.  Which was last July.  I finally handed this over for the second time on Friday.  The first time I gave it to her was labor day weekend but I had to take it back to fix a couple things.

I'd given her part one the week of her birthday.  That was the first version of the earring wallet made from the same plastic needle point canvas as the box and meant to fit inside it.  But the same day I handed her the box she gave me back the earring wallet because the hook earrings would not stay put.  I had to comepletely rething the concept and start over and the result doesn't even fit in this box.  She has decided to use it for make up instead of jewelry.

Now she is asking me if I can install some plastic loops on the lid to hold mascarra pencils and I sad no problem.  Hope it won't take me another month.  :)

The clasp is what I forgot to install the first time and my original concept didn't work and I had to rethink it.  What I settled on was sewing a button on the bottom and attaching elastic loops to the front edge of the lid and the top edge of the polar bear picture which is opposit the front edge of the lid.  Not shown in these pictures is the vinal pocket on the back of the polar bear picture.

It took me an hour to prep the pictures for the box and there are more pictures for the earring wallet so I'm going save those for another post later this week. I just don't have it in me to prep the pics and write about them.  I'm still read-a-thon hungover.  Six hours of sleep after forty awake was not nearly half enough.  To be sure I would sleep again at a fairly decent hour tonight in spite of waking up at one I denied myself all caffeine and even my perscription Adderal today.

You can see pictures of it as a work-in-progress here.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

My Brain on Books XVII

I am reading for The Office of Letters and Lights the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo today as I love what they are doing for literacy with their Young Writer's Programs and because I've participated in NaNo every year since 2004 and will again next fall.  I have been blessed to have it in my life and would like to give something back if only kudos and link love.  I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their site and see all the great things they do to foster love of reading and writing and story in kids. If you happen to be doing NaNo this year you can find me there as joywrite

This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones. I may be posting some updates on Twitter @Joystory and the Joystory fb fanpage. But this is where I do anything more than a line or two.  Including mini-challenges unless required to have a separate post..   

Be sure to scroll to bottom of this post for advice on how to ward off those scary nap attacks. You won't be sorry.

Ode to Dewey
by Joy Renee
We Miss You Dewey

3:00 AM - Where did all that time go?
Still awake.  Not even struggling.

Well maybe a little.  Not having any trouble staying awake but am having trouble staying on task

I've done more reading on the blogs and social media following the thon activity and reading Dewey's archives than in books since last eveing's vid chat with Ed.  I opened a lot of books.  Mostly eooks but a few tree books and skimmed around in them.  Reading table of contents and other frontal matter--intros, epigraphs,  acknowledgements, and such.  It's one of my favorite things to do with non-fiction.  It may not be very productive in terms of stats but it's fun and that's the operative word for a thon is it not?

Besides it can be very productive in terms of comprehension, retention, and connecting the dots when reading them later.  I call it 'Einstein whispering sweet nothings in Emerson's ear'  or is that visa versa?  At any rate I wrote an essay on that theme in the late 90s.  I've shared it here before.  Not sure I feel like hunting the link right now.

Ambition is at low tide.

 Awake for over forty hours.

I mostly lurked on the blogs and social media.  Played the videos, imagined how fun this or that challenge might be, admired page layouts, followed comment threads and drooled over images of books.

But my ambition would not rise to the level of leaving more than a few comments with already familiar names.

One little project I accomplished was sharing the image of my Ode to Dewey poem on facebook, twitter and google+.  And while I was on fb I stumbled on my neice's posts in the newsfeed and discovered Im a great-aunt again.  Since October 1!  How did I let that get past me?

I spent half an hour at least drooling over baby pictures.

Well, because I've not been on social media much in the last month.  And even when I was it was only on my blog's fan page after the rare blog post.  My focus has been on autism research, NaNo prep and the fiber art project I finally finished Friday (original due date July 11) that will probably be the subject of tomorrow's post.

Very little of what happened conformed to my plan for the thon.  The only thing besides sticking to the dual theme that I adhered to was my intention to be OK with a pliable plan.  No shouldas or any other mental shaming tactics.  I kept the entire thon more than 90% on thon related activities.  And I had fun.  Now that was the plan.

The hardest part was staying away from Netflix and Amazon Prime.  The quick story fixes that resolve in 30 to 90 minutes that have consumed the bulk of my blogging, writing and reading time for most of a year before mid September when my Asperger's diagnoses shifted my obsession.  I've done more reading in the last four weeks than in all the weeks between last October and mid August.

I never did start that audio book this afternoon.  I think I'm going to go grab a quick snack and run the thon out listening to Carley's Voice.

3:00 PM - OK I think it is time to start the audio book and get on the mini-tramp and then pick up the crochet hook.  My afternoon slump is on.  I've been floundering for three hours.  Was reading the hub blog and discovered a link to Dewey's archives and got lost there for awhile and then I started writing updates and and editing them obsessively until so much time has passed I feel the need to start another update before I post.  And thus I've accumulated everything since 8 without publishing.  The 8 AM opening meme was left hanging at 9 for vid chat with my husband and I didn't get back to it until after 10 then decided to do the 11 AM  before posting and at some point got sidetracked by hunger and then the hub and Dewey's archives and then when I came back to the post I needed to check a fact in one of the books and ended up reading for i'm not sure how long.  Then...

Well you get the picture.  Its what I'd have blamed totally on the ADD two months ago but now I'm seeing autistic aspects to some of the behavior.  Afterall both ADD and autism are all about attention issues and information processing.  A high percentage of those with autism diagnoses also have preceding ADD diagnoses.  I'd be interested in seeing a brain scan showing neuronal activity to see if it is possible to differentiate between them.  Is ADD on the spectrum?  Or is the ADD diagnoses wrong for those who eventually get the Autism diagnoses?  From what I'm picking up in my reading so far I don't think there is consensus on that.  In fact I've seen no evidence the question is even being taken seriously by today's 'experts'.

All those question could be asked of Bi-Polar as well.  I was nearly diagnosed with Bi-Polar in mid 2013 and again a year later but it was finally ruled out when it was determined that the anxiety coupled with insomnia and sleep deprivation accounted for the symptoms.  And now I know the source of the anxiety is the autism related sensory processing issues.  The OCD and perfectionism is also as they say co-morbid with autism.  Meaning, I gather, they are often found holding hands.

And I'm rambling....
When I could be reading!!!

It doesn't help that I hit 24 hours awake at 8:44 AM.

Yeah I know.  I said as I prepared to post last night that I was headed to bed.  And I got there in time to get almost 7 hours but I never made it past the hypnogogic stage and gave up at 3AM and started reading.

You know what?  I'm going to post without editing this update.
Take that perfectionism.

11:00 AM - Here's my promised comments on Neuro-Tribes.  I'm a bit over halfway and his overview of the history of the autism diagnosis has reached the 70s.  Here's why I'm now glad my diagnosis took nearly 60 years:

  • First off the name autism itself is based on the Greek root for 'self'  as in autonomous and reflects the bias of the early observations of toddlers as self-involved, self-stimulated, 'lost in their own world' and 'preferring' the company of their self or things over that of other people.  This of course raises the specter of 'selfish' a definite implication of a character flaw.  They're off to a rip-roaring start these 'experts'
  • Before WWII and into the early 1950s the likely diagnosis would have been schizophrenia especially if there was language deficit.  
  • During WWII Hitler gassed us.  
  • During that same decade and into the 60s America forcibly sterilized us, guilted our parents for causing it (refrigerator moms!) and shamed them for not institutionalizing as recommended by the 'experts'.  
  • In the institutions well into the 60s (and beyond?) they chained us to the wall or beds and kept us sedated. 
  • In the 60s and 70s they finally began to recognize it as neurological rather than emotional but aversion therapy became popular and was gladly incorporated by the institutions--including hair pulling, poking, slapping, shaking, shouting starvation and cattle prods.  

America doesn't torture, right?  Right!

It would be an interesting study to explore what role this permeation of aversion therapy in our culture (autism wasn't the only deviant behaviors it was advocated for) in the two generations preceding 2005 played in the choices made by Americans at Abu Graib and Gitmo.

i also find it interesting that more than one of the 'experts' who developed or advocated the use of sterilization and aversion therapy grew up in the German influenced areas of Europe where they got most of their education and cultural biases.  Could that have had any influence on their perception as they 'objectively' observed these children put in their care?

You think?

I'm afraid to find out what the current consensus is.  How can I trust that it is any more worth depending on than that of just 25-30 years ago?  Why should I even entertain the idea of giving them the benefit of the doubt?

Just asking.

OK that was probably an example of the way my autistic brain works.  I see relationships and patterns in data that no one else sees.

8:00 AM - Well I read the Donna Williams memoir for the entire three hours.  No switching as planned. But plans are pliable today.  I'm going to read the Thon blog for a bit and do the intro meme tho it is too late to be included in the giveaway.  That will probably take me thru til 9AM when it is time for my daily morning vid chat with my husband who is 300 miles away.  We have two a day and I'm not giving them up even for this.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Longview WA USA.  A port town on the Columbia river between Portland OR and the coast.  This is my birth town and where I lived until I married at 21.  I'm living with my Mom and sister, unwillingly separated from my husband for financial and health reasons since January 2013.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Carly's Voice by Arthur and Carly Fleischmann.  It is an audio on CD from the library and I plan to  get on the mini-tramp and then get my crochet fix and rest my eyes while I listen during one of my circadian rhythm slumps in the afternoon and wee hours.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

spicy avocado dip with corn chips, rice cakes and/or veggies.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I was diagnosed with high-functioning Autism aka Asperger's Syndrome last month.  I will be 58 next month!  I was a little perturbed that it took so long to figure out.  Until I read the chapters in Neuro-Tribes covering the decades between WWI and my high-school years in the 1970s.  Now I think I'm grateful.  Talk about clueless!  I'll expand on that later on today and probably develop it into a post in the near future.  Meanwhile I'm in the midst of one of my obsessive research projects and would appreciate any input/recommendations--resources, info, support groups, etc. Web based and not.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

Treat plans as written in soft clay not stone.  It's about pleasure not perfection.  About community not conformity.  About honoring Dewey and literature not stats.  You will notice I don't post numbers of pages or books.  With my visual impairment I couldn't compete anyway and besides I like to graze.  Especially non-fic.  I seldom read a book cover to cover during the thon.  Those I finish were usually begun days, weeks or months earlier.  So I seldom get to entire my titles in the data base.  Thus the thon stats are ot accounting for my typical 3-5 hundred pages spread over ten to twenty books.  I wonder how many more like me there are and what the ratio is between us and those who read whole books. I bet the stats are biased towards YA, children's and light genre.  I wonder how that info might affect the industry peeps who contemplate contributing prizes or otherwise supporting the thon.

Just thinking with my fingers.  What do you think?

5:00 AM - and so it begins.  I'm excited and would rather be reading than blogging at the moment.  Besides I'm cold so I think I'll crawl back in bed with my Nexus 7 until the house heat comes on.  Tho that could be risky as just like last April I did not really sleep last night.  I dozed off a few times but could not get past that hypnogogic stage.  I was awake before 9am Friday so making it the full 24 could be a challenge even for me for whom all nighters are as natural as breathing.

As I stated in last night's pre thon post, my focus today will be on NaNo prep and autism spectrum.  I'm participating in NaNo in two weeks and a month ago I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.

Thus the first four books I'll be switching between this morning are

[I have this scheduled to go live at 4:44am.  But if this bracketed paragraph is still here on top after 5am I don't have my eyes unglued enough to check in yet.  I will be here soon as I can.]

Fighting pose


Friday, October 16, 2015

Read-a-Thon Rev Up

Ode to Dewey
by Joy Renee
We Miss You Dewey

It's that time again.  The fall 24 Hour Read-a-Thon.  

As I type this now I've got exactly ten hours before my 4:44 alarm goes off so I can get up and unglue my eyes in time for my 5:00 AM Pacific Coast start time.  So if got two hours to get to sleep if I intend to have a solid 8 hours to bolster me for the full 24 hours.  If I make it that would be a first.

My tendency to insomnia is triggered by upcoming events.  All my life I've had trouble sleeping the night before a trip, the first day of school, my birthday, a family get-together, a doctor appointment, shopping excursions.  Basically anything with a social element or anything I'm highly excited or anxious about.

For the April thon this year I did not sleep at all the night before and made it the full 24 so I was up from noonish on Friday to after 6am Sunday.  Because of that there were several stretches that were a struggle to stay awake and even when fully awake my abillity to focus my eyes and mind were so compromised the pleasure of the event was severely curtailed for me.  I swore I'd not let that happen next time.

So I'm getting ready to wrap up my day.

I limited my caffeine today so that should help.

I've got my Thon post My Brain on Books XVII all ready to schedule for 4:44am.  I've got my Nexus 7 loaded with ebooks and audio books and I've got a pile of library books incuding one audio and I've got several talking books from the Washington Talking Books Library.  I plan to listen to audio a good deal while I crochet.

Tho I'm not going to hold myself to it like a rule, I've got a general dual theme going for my reads: Autism research (including novels featuring a character on the spectrum) and NaNoWriMo prep.

That has been the theme of my reading for the last month.  September and October have been NaNo prep for me for a decade but the autism research began in earnest for me in late August when my councelor and I decided to pursue an Asperger's diagnosis for me which was then confirmed in mid September.

Yikes!  it's almost 8pm.  I better post now so I have time to get my thermos of coffee made before I go to bed.


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Sunday Serenity -- Having a Ball

Blue Muse Having at It
she seems a bit bemused but she's game
My Blue Muse and I were having a ball today playing with ideas for this ball of lace weight yarn. There's 420 yards so I believe that's enough for a scarf and hat set and maybe a vest or prayer shawl as well.  I think we settled on an infinity scarf to begin with.

One of the gems I got on my birthday binge last November, it's a blend of superwash wool, silk, and nylon with a metalic silver strand.  I first got it out to make a scarf in February but when I undid the hank and began winding it I ended up with a snarl:

click to see post from February

The night it happened I managed to untangle enough to create a ball from each end the size of golf balls and over the next several months with occasional fussing with it I increased the balls to tennis ball size.  Since Wednesday I took them both to softball size and then wound one onto the other.  It is shotput size or the size of a large grapefruit.

That's how it looked last November when I brought it home


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