Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Time Sucks...

There are just some activities that suck up your time.  You say “I’m only going to spend ten minutes on…” and then suddenly it is hours later and you are still on that site. 

This week while I’m home alone all day I have certain goals – mostly to work on cleaning my office.  This means while I am checking emails and so on I have to avoid sites like Ravelry, Pinterest, and Facebook if I’m to accomplish anything at all. 

Don’t get me wrong I LOVE wandering around these sites.  I find inspiration and laughter and a lot more on the sites.  However, I lose time like it is leaking through a sieve.  If I want to accomplish stuff I have to not look at those sites. 

The other thing that sucks up my time is the Kindle Fire that was just handed down to me.  I’ve been setting it up and removing things from the carousel.  I like the format but Kindle missed the mark when they didn’t allow you to put things in folders on the Fire – now if anyone knows how to do that – they should let me know. 

Along with setting things up I’ve been playing games on the Fire.  Backgammon, word games, Phase 10, Skipbo, and so many more are on there, and last night I spent hours playing backgammon, and others.  I will not be touching it today as I have too much to do. 

I have a crochet to do list and the other tasks in the office I want to get done.  Since my gout is bugging me today, it will likely be a crochet day.  I have a long list of what I need to do for crocheting.  If I can’t accomplish one goal, I’ll work on the others.

However, I will be avoiding those damn time sucks as they steal away all my good time so I cannot get done the things I want to get done – even if they are fun to spend time doing.  

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Yule or Winter Solstice

The year is waning, winding down to the calendar end of year.  More than that though it is a time when we have harvested all of our items – whether from the garden or from our lives.  Now we are facing the darkness of winter – allegedly this is a slower time.  However, in our constantly on the go world I don’t know that we actually get to slow down at all. 

When I cope with the craziness of this season, I struggle with all the obligations for the holidays.  What makes it tolerable for me is being with people who are dear to me.  This year that will extend to Kelly and Dominic who are far from their families but a new part of our family. 

This year in particular I am looking at all I’ve accomplished – not just this year but over the last 2 ½ years.  I’ve gotten that second degree finally.  Now I need to clean house (when it comes to my office that is literally) of the old and start looking for what will be next on my schedule. 

While my girls will be home for a few days (YEAH!!!!), I will have a week on my own with no obligations other than what I decide needs to be done.  In this week, I’m going to clean my office and look at what projects I want to work on first.  There are so many which can be a problem as I end up not being able to decide what to do first. 

If you’ve read my blog this will not come as a surprise to you – I have a list of things I want to work on and I’m hoping to focus on them during the next several months.  First and foremost, I want to work on submissions.  I want my work out there and being read.  Love it or hate it – I want editors, publishers, and readers to have the opportunity to see it. 

For this Winter Solstice, I am letting go of being in school and the focus that takes and looking forward to what paths and goals are next.  While I often think I know the path, there are always surprises with life.  This winter I’m going to focus on finding my way – whatever that way may be – editing, writing, crocheting, and just being me. 

There are six weeks until Imbolc (beginning of February).  In this time, I intend to explore all my options.  When I figure out what the next goal is I want to accomplish, I’ll start on the plan for it.  Who knows maybe there will be several goals – after all my life is multi-faceted so why wouldn’t my goals be? 

How will you spend the dark times this season?  What will you let go of at the end of the year?  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Done... Over... Complete...

I took my last final today - think I bombed it.  Regardless, I am done.  So long as I didn't fail the class (which I didn't) I have finished my second degree - officially.  Five semesters (2 1/2 years) and I've now got three degrees - Associate Degree in Business Machines (from Blackhawk Technical Institute), Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Science (both from UW-Whitewater). 

My faculty in my department have all been very supportive and helpful. The student workers who have covered the office have been wonderful. My family has been supportive, encouraging and helpful. It has been an interesting journey to this degree and to those who have helped - Thank you. I couldn't have accomplished what I have without you.

My two business degrees got me through a career in business and public service.  My public service career will continue (until I get my best sellers out there).  My Bachelor of Science is misleading because there was as little science in what I did as I could get away with.  My degree is actually English Professional Writing and Book Editing.  I'm very proud of all my degrees but this one is near and dear to my heart.  The business degrees are just that - business to make sure I can support myself.  The English degree is to move me along my writing career. 

Writing is what keeps me sane (or as sane as I get).  It takes all the images and words in my head and makes it into stories, poems, and other various things.  Whether others end up reading them or not is a different issue but I'm hoping more will be reading them. 

Now that I've finished I have plans.  I didn't get the grant I applied for but that doesn't mean I'm not going to write.  It just means I have to find alternative ways to support my writing.  Moving forward, I need to clean my office.  I have to put away all the school stuff.  Then I have to organize the entire office.  My office has to accommodate all the genealogy stuff, writing stuff, and personal business stuff.  I need to get things organized so all of that will fit and play nice together. 

After I get organized, I will work on self publishing, submissions, completing a manuscript that has been floating for three years.  It is a matter of moving forward to getting published - hopefully paid for my work at the same time. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Endings

My wish for the semester was that I wouldn’t have to struggle through a lot of cruddy weather when I went out for classes.  So far this semester it has been cool to cold and I’ve had a rainy day or two. 

Today it is snowing.  We are supposed to get up to five inches before tomorrow.  We will see.  The nice thing – I have one class period left and one final exam.  If the sidewalks are challenging at least it wasn’t a full semester of being challenging. 

In nine days, I will officially be done with my second degree.  I will have earned my bachelor of science in English Professional Writing and Book Editing.  This degree was for me.  My passion is writing and to edit.  I love to tell a great story but I also love to fix writing (mine included). 

I was hoping for a grant but sadly didn’t get one.  They only awarded grants to about three percent of those who applied.  While this slows me down, it doesn’t stop me.  I’m still going to move forward and focus on my writing.

The semester comes to an end.  My second career as a student comes to an end.  However, I feel like it is a good ending.  I’ll have opportunities to expand and explore my skills, time to focus on selling myself as a writer, and make steps forward in getting more published.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Done - almost....

Thanksgiving was wonderful with my daughters, nephew and husband.  We had a good time being together, shopping at a craft store, playing games, watching tv.  Nothing spectacular or extravagant went on but we had a good time just being together.

However, this week has been hell for me.  It is no one’s fault, work hasn’t been bad, classes haven’t been bad.  I just want to be DONE!  Officially I have four class periods left, one chapter to read, two assignments for that chapter and a final exam for that class, and for my other class I have one project to finish with a reflective paper.  If I thought I could still maintain my grades I would say – to hell with it all and just let it all go by the wayside.

I can’t do that because my grades would suffer.  Tonight I’ve spent an hour and half working on my final project.  Tomorrow night I will read the chapter and work on the two assignments.  I know there isn’t a lot left to do and I just need to dig in and do what’s left.  I’m just out of energy.

In two weeks I will be done with not only the semester but with the degree.  I’ll be able to go back to writing on a regular basis (need to have several alarms available so I can set them and get to bed at a good time).  I was hoping for a federal grant to assist with the costs of writing but I didn’t get one.  It won’t stop me – I’m just going to move forward at a slower pace and budget out what I can afford to do. 

First though, I have to get through these two weeks and all the assignments.  I know I will but in this moment I feel worn out and ready for it all to be done and go away!!!!  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Busy Weekend

Yesterday was filled with tasks and today will be the same.  In the morning we went to Sorgs to get supplies for Thanksgiving.  We came home and I worked on my paper which is due on Tuesday.  We spent some time together watching tv and having lunch before we went to Ken’s brother’s retirement party.  Then it was back home to have supper and watch more dvr stuff while I crocheted.  I finished watching The White Queen series last night while I worked on another scarf for Vicki (one she is giving away). 

In the mail yesterday I got a package from Circle Magazine and was please to find a poem and essay were published of mine published inside.  The art on the page by Sophia Gill is beautiful.  She made a stylized tree which fits the poem and the essay beautifully. 

Today will be a homework day.  Ken will go to the grocery store to gather up the last of the Thanksgiving items we need.  I will work on finishing my paper, reading two chapters, diagramming four or five sentences, doing an exercise, and starting the research on my final project.

I only have three weeks left (I think) and I’m ready to be done.  Once classes are done I will have earned my second degree.  I’m not walking for graduation – it doesn’t seem worthwhile to me to sit through a ceremony which will have no relevance for me.  I’m not going out to conquer the world with my degree.  I got this degree for me – to improve my writing and editing skills. 

It promises to be a busy day as I have a lot of homework to do and some crocheting I want to get done as well.  So much to do and hardly enough time to do it in – I’m looking forward to not being in school any longer so I can focus on my writing and crocheting rather than homework.  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Published!

If you want to read a small story that I wrote go purchase a copy of the November 18, 2013 issue of Woman’s World!  I have a small story in there about Stephanie – my youngest daughter.  It is VERY exciting to me to be published in a national magazine.  Granted it is a very small essay but they liked it enough to include it. 

Getting published is always difficult so I’m celebrating this small accomplishment!  With school, I’ve been focusing on school and work more than my writing.  One of the things I’m most excited about to be done in about a month (and that causes a great deal of panic when I think of all I have left to do) is that I plan to create a writing schedule.  Part of this schedule will be to start refining my work – both fiction and non-fiction – and go back to submitting everywhere I possibly can. 


In the meanwhile, I am ecstatic about getting this small but significant publication credit!  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Crocheting

I have been crocheting a lot lately mostly because people ask me for stuff and I’m stressed.  Crocheting takes me to a different place.  One of the hardest things when crocheting for others is working with the colors they pick.  I LOVE bright and fun colors.  They are cheerful.  But when someone says can you make me this and make it in colors I don't necessarily love it is a bit harder for me.  However, I do it because I know that not everyone is like me and loves those brighter colors.  If the colors they pick make them happy that is what I work with. 


Here are a few of my projects:

Bibs for a sweet one year old:


 Boxes for a variety of people:

      
      













Scarves:


Coasters:



Makeup pads and bag:


                                                    

Washcloths / Dishcloths:


These projects have been done over weeks of work.  Some of them will be gifts, some have already been claimed and taken, some I sold - mostly though, they were made with care and helped me destress. All I can hope is when I give them to the people who end up with them - they appreciate the work and care that went into making them.  The next project - well there are so many to choose from.  My biggest question - when is the next yarn sale? 


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Narrative - Technology Driven Society and How it Changes Our Story

"It's a Hole in the Ground!"

Technology is often cursed and condemned as being bad, evil, and will eventually bring about the end of the world.  However, technology moves our culture forward and changes our worldview.  As we expand and change our worldview, the narratives we relate to change in accordance to the new information. To illustrate this, I’ll compare descriptions of the Grand Canyon with an array of pictures to show the progression of society’s understanding of the natural wonder. 
 
If your only knowledge of a place is someone’s description – verbal or textual, you have limited understanding of the location.  The first quote gives a very different picture from the subsequent two descriptions

“It [the Grand Canyon] looks like the Gates of Hell. The region ... is, of course, altogether valueless. Ours has been the first and will undoubtedly be the last, party of whites to visit the locality. It seems intended by nature that the Colorado River along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.”
Joseph Christmas Ives, 1858 his journal, Prampolini Gaetano, Pinazzi, The Shade of the Saguaro / La sombra del saguaro.  Essays on the Literary Cultures of the American Southwest, pg 449

“I have heard rumors of visitors who were disappointed. The same people will be disappointed at the Day of Judgment. In fact, the Grand Canyon is a sort of landscape Day of Judgment. It is not a show place, a beauty spot, but a revelation. The Colorado River, which is powerful, turbulent and so thick with silt that it is like a saw, made it with the help of the erosive forces of rain, frost, and wind, and some strange geological accidents; and all these together have been hard at work on it for the last 7 or 8 million years. It is the largest of the 18 canyons of the Colorado River, is over 200 miles long, has an average width of 12 miles and is a good mild deep. It is the world's supreme example of erosion. But this is not what it really is. It is, I repeat, a revelation. The Colorado River made it, but you feel when you are there that God gave the Colorado River its instructions. It is all Beethoven's nine symphonies in stone and magic light. Even to remember that it is still there lifts up the heart. If I were an American, I should make my remembrance of it the final test of men, art, and policies. I should ask myself: Is this good enough to exist in the same country as the Canyon? How would I feel about this man, this kind of art, these political measures, if I were near that rim? Every member or officer of the Federal Government ought to remind himself, with triumphant pride, that he is on the staff of the Grand Canyon.”
J B Priestly, 1937, Midnight on the Desert, http://ncse.com/education/grand-canyon-poems-stories


Joan Stone, description of visit to Grand Canyon, 1949

These three descriptions are very different.  One describes the location as being equivalent to hell while the other two expound on the beauty of the location.  Yet they describe the same location.  The narrative from the first would be of a fearful and desolate place; while the narrative from the other two portrays a much different locale.  None of these adequately describe the avariety of landscape or the emotions evoked on seeing the Grand Canyon.

Pictures – sketched or photos taken with cameras – change the way we see the canyon because there is a representation that comes nearer to representing the natural wonder.


The next progression is to have sketches, drawings, or paintings of the regions.  These next two pictures are of sketches and a map of the region.  They illustrate the canyon in simple ways while adding to the text above.  

This 1858 hand-colored map, titled “Rio Colorado of the West,” is one of the earliest visual representations of the Grand Canyon area. It was prepared by John Strong Newberry, M.D., a geologist with the expedition led by Lieutenant Joseph C. Ives. It was published in 1861 by the U.S. Government Printing Office in the Report Upon the Colorado River of the West, Explored in 1857 and 1858 by Lieutenant Joseph C. Ives, Corps of Topographical Engineers, Under the Direction of the Office of Explorations and Surveys, A.A. Humphreys, Captain Topographical Engineers, In Charge.  Photo: Digital image courtesy of Cartography Associates, David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.  http://grandcanyonhistory.clas.asu.edu/history_humansatgrandcanyon.html


If you read one of the descriptions of the canyon and then saw the sketches above it would put form to the words you would have read.  Going from the text to the picture changes a person’s comprehension of what the Grand Canyon is.  While this must have taken a great deal of time and effort, it is a limited view of the Grand Canyon.  It certainly gives an impression of the expanse of the canyon but doesn’t illustrate the range of color or the immenseness of the canyon.  Leaping forward 136 years and several evolutions in technology, the pictures by Suzanne add comprehension and layers of narrative.  The link below shows the same type of view as the sketch from 1880 but adds layers.


Suzanne Inez Jaillet-Isham (Lily), Rest stop South Kaibab Trail, 2010

Click on this video link to see an expanse of the Grand Canyon similar to the sketches above:
Suzanne Inez Jaillet-Isham (Lily), 2008

The video shows a section of the Grand Canyon and allows you to see the real colors, gives a deeper perspective and depth than the sketches above.  The sketches above seem surreal compared with the video.  The change in technology changes the perspective of the viewer.  With the change of perspective, the narrative changes.  Instead of seeming unreal, the canyon now seems real.  You can feel the hard rock, depth, and harshness of the environment.  When compared to the written description, the sketch offers new layers for the narrative by providing a visual cue.  The video expands on those layers, adding in motion, depth, and more texture.


Early photos showed more of the Grand Canyon to a wider range of people.  However, the quality of the photo is grainy and lacks color.


Even 50 years later, technology had advanced enough for a woman on her honeymoon to carry a camera and take pictures she thought would be once in a lifetime pictures.  The photo below is still grainy and shows no color but instead of lugging along a huge camera, this was taken with a small camera.  It does give more depth than the sketches but doesn’t show the colors of the landscape:

Joan Stone, 1949, taken from the rim of the Grand Canyon


More than 60 years later, the picture below was taken with a digital camera.  The advances in technology adds layers to the narrative of the Grand Canyon.  

Suzanne Inez Jaillet-Isham (Lily), Bottom of Havasu Falls, October 2012

 Suzanne Inez Jaillet-Isham (Lily), Havasu Falls, October 2012

Water and plant life are visible in the black and white photos but the recent photos add the color of the area.  Additionally the black and white photos show the high walls and valley aspect but not the diversity of the landscape which the color photos illustrates.

Unknown photographer, 1920, Indian Garden on the Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon, http://archive.library.nau.edu/cdm/search/searchterm/NAU.PH.95.44.*/field/all/mode/all/conn/and/cosuppress/


Suzanne Inez Jaillet-Isham (Lily), Indian Gardens on Bright Angel Trail

Technology advances and our knowledge of the area improves and increases.  We can see more remote locations as cameras get smaller and more portable.  Also quality of the photo improves as it becomes safer and easier to work in this medium.  As we discover more of a region we hadn’t known before, it sparks the imagination and shifts the narrative we tell ourselves and how we talk about life in general. 


Technology may be cursed as it becomes available but ultimately it helps us advance our narrative about the world around us.  In some cases, it disproves theories and in other cases – like discussed above – it adds layer of understanding and accessibility.  

Note - For a fair comparison I tried to keep the pictures the same size but clarity of picture played a large part in choosing the size of the picture.  In some cases this meant the pictures were not equal in size.  The intent is to show the best quality picture not to give preference to one picture or another. 




Sunday, October 6, 2013

Definitely Fall

The smell of cooking apples is one of my favorites for fall.  Ken stopped at his cousin’s to pick up apples.  Yesterday with all our other things we made applesauce. 

My recipe is simple.  Buy MacIntosh apples because they are the best.  Cut them up – leave in seeds, skins and just slice them up into big chunks.  Place them in a pan – with either a bit of water (to prevent burning) or Mott’s applejuice.  This is just a couple tablespoons.  Cook until they are mush.  Put through the sieve.  Put in half pint jars.  Put in a water bath for about eight minutes. 

We did one batch this way.  The second batch we added red hots to.  Both turned out beautifully.  When the applesauce was hot, I had some over vanilla ice cream.  It was delicious!


Ken kept one of the jars from the water bath because the two pans we have hold seven jars each.  The left over applesauce got made into applesauce muffins today.  I think they will be scrumptious.    


Fall has come and with it one of my favorite activities – making applesauce.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Reasons to Call Your Mother at 2 in the Morning

My daughters call me at all sorts of odd hours.  They know I’m a night owl and am often up until 1 or 2 in the morning.  However, it doesn’t matter if I’m up or not at 2 in the morning when I see my daughters’ phone number I’m going to pick up. 

This last weekend my middle daughter (yup throwing you under the bus) text me at 2:15 am.  The question was “Are you up?”  Very polite and trying to not be intrusive.  However, I’d been asleep but had just gotten back from the bathroom.  My response was “What’s up?”

Now I am old enough to remember that phone calls at 2 am usually meant that something bad was going on because if you called at 2 am you were likely to wake the whole household.  This meant when you called at 2 am you better have something serious going on. 

Here are a few reasons why you should call at 2 am:
  • I’m in Vegas (or other gambling city) and just got ??? married or won a HUGE jackpot
  • I got in a car accident
  • I’m in the hospital
  • My house (apartment or other dwelling or vehicle) blew up
  • You’re my one phone call as I’ve been arrested.  This one comes with a warning though – as I told my girls when they were in high school – they better have been doing something really important because if you make me lose sleep because you were getting in fights or other stupid things – you better pray the police keep you.
  • I’ve just had a baby – this one is not likely with my daughters but you never know… This is category does not mean you can call me when you've found a stray critter on the road while driving home and you've decided to keep it... that can wait till morning
  • I’m drunk please come get me – however since my kids all live either 5 or 15 hours away from me, I’m probably not their first choice for a designated driver
  • I decided to surprise you and fly in – the cheapest flight arrived just now – please come get me (since their aunt lives about 10 minutes from the airport they would get a faster response from her – maybe)
  • Other disaster type events that I haven’t thought of

Now if you are calling for any other reason at 2 am I suggest you refer to this list because most people – mom’s in particular – have that gut wrenching feeling of oh shit what happened – when the phone rings at 2 in the morning. 

To be fair, my daughter text first and I was awake so not a big deal.  However, just a note – talking about the movies you’ve been watching all night – not on the above list. 

Will I still answer my daughters at 2 am even if it isn’t for one of these reasons?  Yeah, of course.  I will of course be giving them a hard time about it.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Catch Up

My semester started with a visit from Stephanie, two new classes, and lots of work.  It has been a crazy three weeks.  I have a grammar class and publication development class.  I like both of them and they are almost completely opposite. 

The grammar class is very structured, with deadlines, quizzes, and dates for everything.  The publication development class is not.  We spend our class times discussing articles, current events, and how all this relates to writing and publications.  I love them both.

My daughter very kindly reminded me as I was telling her about one assignment that I was 30 years older than my class mates.  She was right but it was one of those moments where I gave myself a mental shake of holy shit I’m getting old. 

Stephanie is back for another visit – flying as she has another wedding to attend.  We will get her for a bit on Sunday and Monday.  She hung out with me Friday morning and we went to lunch with Beth.  We are grabbing snatches of time where we can. 

I finally finished a scarf that I was working on.  It was a simple design and turned out beautifully but every time I worked on it I would fall asleep.  Last night I finished it though and now I’m moving on to the next thing.

This weekend I’m swamped with homework, time with Stephanie and errands.  The weather has turned a bit cooler – nicely nippy fall weather.  This is good for breathing but it makes my arthritis complain. 


I have thirteen more weeks to go and I’ll be done with my second degree!!  I cannot wait.  I have a long list of things I want to do once I’m done with school – crocheting, writing, reading… First though I have to get through the next thirteen weeks. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rape is Rape

In Montana, a teacher ended up having to serve 30 days for raping one of his 14 year old students.  Here is a link to the story:  http://www.politicususa.com/2013/08/28/judge-rapist-30-days-14-year-older-chronological-age.html

The reason given is ridiculous.  The girl acted older than her age.  It doesn't matter how she acts.  The fact is she was 14 and as her teacher the man knew she was 14.  I don't care if she danced naked down the hallway - he should have kept all his body parts to himself. 

Sadly the girl killed herself during the process of prosecuting the man.  I feel he should be charged with murder because his actions led to her death.  I know this is harsh but is it wrong? 

Typically, men like this pray on the same type of person.  If there are other victims out there, my guess would be that they won't come forward.  What would be the point?  Frankly it amazes me that any woman reports a rape because once it is reported she is typically raped again by the system.  There are almost always accusations of whether she asked for it. 

Rape is not sex.  It is about power and control over someone who is physically weaker than the attacker.  How a female is dressed should not provoke an attack.  No means NO.  Drunk, drugged, or impaired means NO. 

We are supposed to be an advanced and enlightened culture.  Unfortunately, we still live in a society where half the population has to be afraid of the other half.  Women still fight for control of their own bodies and access to birth control.  Why? 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

New - Last - Semester of Classes

In just under two weeks, I start my last two classes.  When this semester is done, I will have earned my second degree.  I'm both excited for this and a little sad.  I won't be crazy busy all the time once I'm done with this degree. 

I looked at master's programs and none of them sold me.  I think the next thing for me will be to spend a lot of time writing.  Whether I get the grant I put in for or not, I have two books ready for publishing.  I am in the process of editing two other books.  I have a third one I'm working on writing - whether it will finish the story or not I don't know. 

My writing has been on the back burner since I started school again.  I never feel like I have time to just sit at the computer and write.  Once I get started, the words just flow so I am looking forward to spending more time writing. 

One of my goals after I graduate is to spend more time submitting my work for publication and contests.  It is always good to put my work out there to see who likes what and what needs more work.

This semester I have a grammar class.  I know many of you are groaning over that but I'm actually looking forward to it.  I have already started reading the book.  My second class is a publications class.  It is with my favorite instructor so I'm sure I'll get something out of it. 

Before classes start, I am going to enjoy a short visit from Stephanie, crochet time, and as much down time as I can cram into the next few days.  Stephanie will be home for a long weekend.  We are going to get two very short visits from her this fall.  It will be fun to have her here by herself and get a bit of one on one time.

One more semester and then on to other things.  It will be good to move forward and focus back on my writing but I'm going to get the most out of the last semester.   

Friday, August 9, 2013

Yarn is wonderful... Yarn on sale - HEAVEN!

Recently, Vicki asked me to make a few things for her to give to her co-workers.  They are small items and I don't have a problem.  She emailed me the colors and I went to my lovely wall of yarn.  I pulled out all the colors I had but I discovered I didn't have them all.  This meant I had to go yarn shopping.

As you saw in the last post I also made a scarf for Ana and in doing so I used up one of my colors is Sashay yarn.  I love the colors of that particular scarf.  I actually wrote down the color so I would remember it the next time I bought yarn. 

It became obvious to me that I was going to have to go yarn shopping.  The types of yarn - ruffle and crochet cotton - I needed do not go on sale often.  My thought was I'll start with what I have all the colors for and see how far I get.  Ana came to visit and after seeing her with the scarf I realized there was a lot I wanted to try with that same color.  The ruffle yarn is $5 - $6 per skein and crochet cotton is about $2.25 per skein.  This is an investment. 

I get emails from all my favorite craft stores - Michael, Hobby Lobby, Joann Fabrics, Herrschners - letting me know about specials and sales.  Herrschners runs yarn sales all the time but I hadn't seen any with these two items in particular.  Then I get a Michael's email - I've just been deleting without looking at these (it's a time thing) but for some reason I looked at this one.  Good thing I did - they have both these yarns on sale. 

The other issue then is money - I was looking at my budget and thinking I really can't afford to go get a lot of yarn.  I'll have to keep it to the bare minimum.  This is just sad because if there is a sale on crochet cotton in particular I want to buy all the colors I can because I go through them quickly.  In my head I was considering payments for the week and having this internal debate about being good and not buying yarn and splurging and buying yarn. 

As I realize I am of course going to do the responsible thing, I got a payment for editing.  Perfect!  I can now splurge a bit on yarn.  It's been a crummy week for me - sinus infection, lack of sleep, weather induced pain for my arthritis - I've been a lot grumpy this week. 

Last night I determined I was going to stop at Michaels on the way home from work.  Their store is not user friendly at all.  From the door that doesn't open automatically to the narrow clutter filled aisles, this is a store that is difficult for me to get into and move around.  I took my scooter though and grabbed a basket - that was not fun - but I get back to their yarn corner and just had fun.  I grabbed all the colors I needed (except for one that I'm not sure they even make).  It was fun to look at the colors and think of the things I would make and who would like what colors.  I think I rolled around the two aisles several times looking, adding up money, and enjoying selecting the colors. 

I didn't buy one thing that wasn't on sale.  I saved $21.  I didn't break my budget.  I got five skeins of the ruffle yarn and twenty plus of the crochet cotton.  I picked some colors for specific people, some because I knew I was out, and some just because I liked them. 

When I left the store, I felt wonderful.  My mood was happy and I was looking forward to working with the yarns.  I even started one of the projects for Vicki last night.  Now I have to get the colors organized for my projects for Vicki and the rest need to be added to my wall.  I do think I'll be using one or two of the ruffle skeins this weekend too. 

My weekend plan - after the errands are done - dvds, crochet hooks, yarn... heaven!!!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

More Projects

This weekend a friend of mine – Ana – visited.  I had a wonderful time just chatting with her.  It had been a long time since our schedules meshed and we had been able to get together.  So this last week I made her two small gifts. 

This long scarf was made with Sashay Twist yarn.  I love the way it turned out and the colors in it.  I’ll be getting this again to make more goodies with it.




This was made with scrap yarn – I had a partial skein left from some other project and hoped it would be enough to make a scarf / cowl.  I also put on there buttons from my mom who gave me a bag of old buttons.  They matched it nearly perfectly and fit Ana’s style.




Vicki picked out this yarn from one of the big buys I’d done.  There were three skeins and I was hoping it would be enough for a shawl for her. 

This is the back of the shawl wrapped around my sister Alicia.  The color is purple, blue, black which doesn’t come through wonderfully in the picture.












Here is the front – it ended up being long enough to wrap around her.  I am certain Vicki will love it. 

The shawl took me about three days to finish – it is a simple mesh using triple crochet and chains. 

The scarf for my niece is a combination of techniques.  I did a zigzag scarf for the base.  Here are the directions:
Ch 5
Row 1:  DC in 4th ch (counts as 1st DC, dc in last ch (3 dc)
Row 2:  ch 3, dc in each st
Row 3:  ch 3, turn piece, work 2 dc in end of row (with turning chain counts as 3 dc)
Repeat rows 2 & 3 until piece is long enough.



 When the scarf was long enough, I did the chain and leaf technique I used on Vicki’s valances with the crocodile stitch.  I worked my way randomly up the scarf making it look like a vine and leaves.  Then using blue and purple I created simple flowers to add to the ends of the scarf.  She will get it on Monday and I hope she likes it. 


 



Today I’m moving on to two more projects that have been sitting in my basket for a bit.  I’m not sure how long they will take but I’m hoping to finish them up soon.  I have a long list of holiday gifts to make and want to start on them before the craziness of the next semester starts.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Editing

This summer I had a long list of things to get done.  I’ve done almost none of them.  My only excuse is I got distracted and overwhelmed by the moves going on in my life.  Now at this stage I just want a bit of peace before the next semester begins.  I have about three weeks before work becomes totally crazy. 

My romance novel I got some of the prep work done for self-publishing but I also found one more place I may submit it to.  I will have to read through carefully to see if it fits the guidelines.  If it fits the guidelines, I’ll submit one more time before I attempt to self publish. 

Moon Affirmations I’ve submitted to one more publisher as well.  I’m hoping to hear sooner rather than later on it to see if they are interested.  I hope so if not I will be going the self-publishing route on that one too. 

My Magic series (working title – fantasy novel series) – I finish editing what I think will be the first novel.  This story I started in November 2010 and I’ve been working on sporadically since.  The story in its entirety is 600 pages plus and I’m not done with the story.  In the last two weeks I’ve edited the first 200 pages.  As I read I thought what was I thinking and rewrote about ten pages of material to make it better adding in a couple of scenes and filling out other scenes.  I think total page count now is just over 200.  I’ve got all these edits in the computer (need to make a back up of these edits – soonest possible). 

Next I’m moving on to the second book in this series (or the second 200 pages).  I am going to edit it while I let the first book sit and stew for a bit.  Ideally I’d like to edit the second book quickly (maybe a week) and then read through the rest to see if I can work on the tail end to finish the story.  I think this is too much to hope for before the semester starts though.  It may have to wait until January. 

Each time I come back to this story, I fall in love with it.  I enjoy the characters, the plots, the world I’ve created.  It is one of my favorites right now.  I haven’t decided whether I will try the traditional publishing route with this or just do self-publishing.  I do know that I’m going to be very protective of it.  Right now it feels like a new born baby (yup almost three years old but still newborn to me). 


Hopefully I will continue to make progress for the next three weeks.  After that all bets are off as I will be in SUPER busy mode with two classes.  Oh and one other thing I want to get done in the next three weeks – read the four books I bought for my two classes – should be fun huh?  I’m actually looking forward to the grammar book – yup geek I know.  I found another book I really like too.  It is The Emotion Thesaurus:  A writers Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.  It gives a definition of an emotion, physical signals, internals sensations, mental responses, cues of acute emotion, cues of suppressed emotion.  It will help in editing to liven up stale description – so if I say a character was shocked – instead of saying shocked I could say they character suddenly stiffened – it sounds simple but when you are doing an initial writing saying the simple term is easy and then making it better as you edit is not always easy so this gives a list for the emotions.  I think it will be a good reference book.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Trail Mix

Yesterday at the grocery store cashews were on sale.  We picked up a two pound container of them along with a few other ingredients.  Today in under 15 minutes I made trail mix. 


In this batch I put the following:
             2 lbs cashews
            Bag of dried cranberries
            Bag of butterscotch chips
            Bag of mini colored candy
            Raisins
 The cashews are salty, cranberries are tart and different texture, butterscotch chips are sweet, raisins are fruity and different texture, and colored candy adds a pop of color and chocolate.  It is a matter of balancing the flavors and this one covers almost every craving you can have.  The salty, tart, sweet combo is fabulous for satisfying a bunch of cravings and at the same time it is still a mostly healthy snack. 


If you are looking for different combos you can do things like peanuts, chocolate chips, Reese’s Pieces, any dried fruit, and almost any other small snack type food to this.  This lasts forever – well unless you have people gobbling it up.  I’ve had a can of a similar mix in my drawer for six months and it is still good and delicious.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

Flowers - ones that my black thumb can't kill

Update:

Vicki loves her new curtains.  The valances - which I thought were going to be too long - were just right and could have possibly been a bit longer even.  Here are some shots of her dining room windows:



This shows the valance a bit closer:



Here is her bedroom curtain tied back:


The final products turned out better than I thought they would and Vicki was very pleased with all of them.  The bedroom curtain definitely blocked the light and helped her to sleep better.

Original Post
I’ve been working on a valance for Vicki’s dining room windows.  In my motif book, there is a flower line which is quite fun.  This fits Vicki and she marked it with one of her little tabs (this is what she does to all my crochet books in the hopes I’ll make her all the things she marks). 

I finally finished the valances for her two windows in her dining room.  I made 62 flowers of 4 different designs.  These were quick little flowers which took very little time to make but they are quite fun.  The one on the left (peach petal with white smaller petals and orange center) is an adaptation from the patterns because I wasn’t thrilled with how the third style (yellow/green petals peach center) worked up and looked. I ended up doing two of this style and they are the center flower for each of the valances. 


In the book the flowers are put together with fishing line so they look like they are floating.  I joined mine together with green chain so it looks like a vine. I could have just done a simple chain but that seemed a bit boring.  Instead I played with a leaf pattern.  I was going to try to make a triangle type leaf but the few things I tried I didn’t like.  As I was playing with the design I realized it would be easy to use the Crocodile Stitch for leaves.  In the picture below you can see where I did just chaining and then a different spot where I put four crocodile stitches in a row.  These four were worked directly above each other.


I also played with the spacing of the chains – from number of chains to number of leaves as the pictures show.   


When I did the crocodile stitch I discovered an interesting occurrence when I worked the stitches from the last stitch in the crocodile stitch instead of slip stitching into the center to make them straight above each other (see above).  When I worked the next crocodile stitch from the last stitch it created a coiling affect which I liked – see the picture below.


So Vicki would have two unique valances – I started the vine with a crocodile stitch for one and two crocodile stitches for the other one.  


In general I would chain a certain number of times (generally 5 or 10) before I added another feature sometimes a flower, sometimes a leaf or four.  As you can see from the picture below, I would sometimes put the flowers very close together.


I got the flowers to hang differently from the vine by varying how I attached the flowers.  In the picture below the left hand flower (white petals) is attached with a slip stitch at the bottom and top of a petal.  The right hand flower (pink petals) is joined by slip stitching on either side of the center flower.  The white flower hangs differently which adds variety just like you would see in nature. 


 This last picture shows a variety of flowers and leaf sequences.  Vicki will be tacking them to her wall around the upper part of her window (unless she decides to use a curtain rod to twine them around).  These will hang down in whatever arrangement she puts them.  My only concern is that Sasha may think this is a toy for her to bat at and play with but that isn’t going to be my problem. 


This is just the valance and the curtains are going to be a café type curtain with dots all over it in the same colors.  It should look good when we are done.  I’ll try to take a couple of pictures and post them later.  

Saturday, July 6, 2013

New Edition to the Family

Virginia and Stephanie have adopted a new kitten.  Her name is Gus Gus or GG for short.  She is eight weeks old and ADORABLE. 

Moo Shoo, their current one year old cat, seems to love her already.  He is letting her eat his food and play with his toys.  He doesn’t seem to be objecting at all to the new kitten.  The girls say he is slightly confused by her size – probably because he is used to bigger cats. 

GG on the other hand has been hissing at him but it sounds more like a huff then a hiss.  Also she seemed to know her own mind quite well.  Perhaps she will be dominant and Moo Shoo will be submissive – only time will tell. 

There is a new baby in the family.  Good luck to my girls with this one and hopefully the transition goes smoothly!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Slipping Away...

This summer is slipping away.  I mean to write here and tell all that is going on and then I look and time has passed. 

Work move is done – mostly.  They are still doing finishing touches but all of the offices are moved.  Most of the faculty are set up.  They still have to set up the mail boxes and paint the hall before they can hang all the bulletin boards.  For the most part though, the frustration and craziness of the move is done. 

Now it is time to settle into the new office and get used to the changes (though minor) that have happened in my office.  There are a few more organizational things in the office and there are definitely different office numbers to remember but overall I think we are in good shape.

Writing has been sporadic at the best.  I have gone through several steps for creating a clean file to e-publish.  I still have three or four more steps to go through.  I also need to buy some ISBNs.  At $125 each or 10 for $250, this is a big purchase for me.  Now if I had $1000 they would be a dollar each but that isn’t going to happen plus I don’t think I need that many. 

It is a business expense but at the same time it is an expense.  I know – it is an investment in my writing.  I should just do it.  I’ll have to see how the budget goes this next month. My hope is to have the files prepped and ready so that when I do finally purchase my own ISBNs I’ll be able to publish and start making money.  Then of course I have to deal with the marketing plan. 

This weekend I’m hoping to get my office cleaned and maybe even submit some writing to different publications.  I’m not making great progress on that yet today – still sitting in my jammies and writing… and waiting on a call to see if there is power in the office. 

I am alone in the house and it is wonderful to have the music I want on (perhaps a bit loud) and doing mostly what I want.  It is just nice to be ALONE.  I’ve missed the quiet that comes with hearing my own thoughts. 


Well no more stalling – time for a shower and cleaning the office.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Anniversary

Thirty two years ago today I was a young and naive seventeen year old preparing for a journey I really had no clue what it would be like.  Unlike most girls, I didn't dream of a certain wedding or even getting married.  Then Ken came into my life. 

Our first year of marriage was difficult as we both had to grow up, learn to be partners and parents, and cope with the pressures put on young married couples.  It was a rough year but we survived.  We lost my grandmother and other loved ones.  We worked through unemployment, money issues, and almost all issues that couples handle throughout their marriage. 

The myth for marriage is that your wedding will be a perfect day that is the beginning of a perfect life together.  That is bullshit.  It is the beginning - but it isn't a magic ring that once you put the wedding ring on your finger life becomes perfect.  It is that you have chosen a partner to walk through this imperfect life.  With all of life's good and bad times, this is the person you are choosing to trust with your most intimate secrets, your heart, and your true self. 

As is normal, the person you are closest to is the person who can be the best for you and the worst.  I know I drive Ken nuts with my foibles just as some of his drive me nuts.  There are few that can make me angrier or happier than him.  I'm sure if you asked he would say the same. 

Marriage is a joining of lives.  Ken and I joined our lives on this day 32 years ago.  It has been a journey of discovery both self and as a couple.  We have learned to be parents, adults, children, and every other aspect of partners along this journey.  For this journey, I can think of no one else I would have wanted to spend this time with.  Ken is my husband, my love, and my soulmate. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer Slipping Away

This summer I have a long list of writing projects to get done.  I have not worked on them at all.  I submitted one article for a contest but aside from that nothing.  I need to get focused.  It just seems like there is so much going on I have no time to consider my writing tasks. 

At work, my department is moving.  This week is filled with finishing the packing process and prepping for the movers.  They are coming on Monday to take all of our stuff upstairs.  It may be a bit of a crazy week plus for myself and the student workers.  Of course there are some things that can be packed in my office now and other things that have to wait for the last minute.  The problem is making the judgement call on each item. 

Last weekend I visited Vicki which was great.  I also discovered a less expensive way to travel to visit the other two girls in Georgia - that is SUPER exciting.  The cost savings means instead of going down every other year we may be able to go down every year and possibly more often then that.

This weekend I am hoping to get some of my craft room and office organized.  I have a number of tasks to get done and hopefully can make some good progress.  Hopefully I can work on a system for keeping track of my writing projects - where they are, leads, and so on.  I've got ideas in my head but at the same time I haven't solidified what I want done.  One of the things I want to do this weekend is to sort through all my available yarn and put it into the bins that Ken set up for me (it is a wire crate type set of shelves).  This will make it easier for me to see what I have which will lead to me not buying yarn unless I need it rather than guessing that I might need it.  The crafter in my head is saying you always need more yarn - there can never be enough yarn, but I'm gagging her (or trying to) and being a responsible adult. 

I have a friend coming out to have lunch and chat.  I'm looking forward to her visit as we always have a good time together.  Ken will be off with his brother cutting up wood.  It will be just us girls.  I'm excited for this as I don't often get time with friends just to hang out. 

Hopefully all of the activities this weekend will be multiple steps towards getting some of these writing projects and tasks done.  My biggest obstacle at this point is my messy office and that will be my focus this weekend.  Then I can hopefully post (somewhere) a list of things to get done and start crossing them off. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Shots done... and other random news

For the last three weeks I've been getting shots of goo in my knees and yesterday was my last shot.  Now I just have to go back for a final check up.  I've noticed a decrease of pain in my knees though I still have pain and problems but it is a decided improvement.

Last weekend we went to Vicki's place in Indiana and Gin and Stephanie came there from Georgia.  My nephew and our friend also joined us so we had seven in Vicki's apartment.  Considering there were so many we did really well.  The time flew by but I think we all had a good time.  Except maybe Sasha who was not happy that Moo shoo from Georgia (Gin and Steph's cat) came to visit too.  He was all about love me and she was all about get the hell away from me.  By Monday when they were getting ready to leave she was not having hissy fits every time she saw him.

Circle Magazine has one of my articles in it.  I was pleased to see they printed one after they had contacted me for a few to use.  This is the next thing on my list - get back to writing.  I'm supposed to take it easy this weekend (because of the shots) so I'll work on the grad gift I still have to make.  However, once this weekend is done I'm going to switch to writing mode.  I, of course, have a to-do list.  There is a grant to write, articles for Circle, a contest, and a few other things I want to work on.

I have vacation to use up so I'll likely be taking a few days - after my department moves - to have writing time at home ALONE.  I'm very much looking forward to having this time and being very productive.  One thing I have to tackle is cleaning my office.  It is a wreck and I need to handle it - sooner rather than later.

No kids and no pets - it has been nice in the house with just Ken and I.  I have my moments where I miss my kids but mostly, I'm quite content to be without extra people in my house.  Ken and I are figuring out how to deal with each other which is always interesting.  At least there hasn't been any bloodshed - yet...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Done...

The semester is done.  I think I’ll end up with one A and one B.  If I’m lucky the B might be an A-.  I’m glad it is done and I learned nothing from my science class that I will use or remember and some good things from my Prose Stylistics which I’ll use when I’m editing.

Yesterday was a busy day with errands and running around.  Ken helped Dominic unload from his move up from Indiana and I hung out.  I wrote in my journal for the first time in forever – that felt really good.  I have to type up a poem I wrote while I was waiting. 

One of my essays was published in Circle Magazine.  They contacted me for some they could use so I sent them in a few.  It was a one page essay that I wrote a while ago. 

I have to make a list of deadlines I don’t want to miss for writing.  There is a grant I want to write for and a few competitions I want to enter.  There is also a few publications I want to look at their guidelines.  Yup – there is definitely a to-do list for the summer.  It should keep me busy and out of trouble…well at least busy.

Vicki has made a very successful start to her job.  She is busy from the moment she steps in the door until she leaves.  She is even taking work home with her already. 

Now that Ken and I are on our own, we have a few things to get done – like rearranging things in the house, the basement fixed and so on.  It is nice to settle into a schedule with him and getting used to there being no buffer between us. 

I’m getting shots in my knees for the next two weeks.  I started last week and it was interesting to say the least.  I nearly passed out on the nurses – I guess I should actually drink water before I go to these appointments.  Fortunately, I’ve noticed a decrease in pain this week for my knees and I’m hoping the other two shots will keep that going in the right direction. 

The next couple of weekends will be busy with a visit to Vicki - Gin and Stephanie are coming up from Georgia so they can see her new place – and helping Kelly and Dominic move to their new house.  I’m excited for both.  We haven’t seen the girls in a while and it will be a quick visit but we aren’t going to do a lot of running around but just hang out at Vicki’s apartment and be together.  Kelly and Dominic will be moving into the next stage for them.  While I’ll miss them living near us, I’m happy for them to be on the same page and moving forward.

After that I'm hoping for a slower pace so my weekends will be less hectic and more about writing and relaxing...

Crafting Escape

It was a good weekend.  Friday I left work to go to the doctor with Vicki.  We were forceful about her needing a different antibiotic.  She ...