Posted in Around the House, Computers and Internet, Writing

Rough Week

I had that one really great writing day last week and then it all dried up. When I say “dried up,” I don’t mean that no words came to mind…not exactly. I was just too cranky to find the words and let them out.

It started with a migraine that wouldn’t go away. I woke up migraine free this morning after 7 days of migraine. It was not one of those all-encompassing-bad migraines, but one of those where your head hurts and you feel dizzy and things look weird and nothing seems right.

Then I joined a reading group for next year where you try to read a book a week all year, only you fit the books into categories that someone else makes up. It sounded fun, but led me down the deep dark path of “what did I read this year?” I only had like 20 books in GoodReads and surely I’d read more than that, right? Turned out I had 38 books in my “Currently Reading” list that I’d never gotten around to finishing. So I’m making my way through the ends of those now. I do the audio book of “Becoming” when I’m in the car waiting for kids, a fun kids book “5 Children and It” (from the Top 100 Fantasy Books list that came out not too long ago) in the morning when my brain isn’t awake yet, and “Thinking Fast and Slow” when I have more brain.

Then my sister told me that my dad caught Covid. Seriously? He goes nowhere and sees no one. He doesn’t even feel bad from it. He went to the doctor for something else and they tested him for it any way. So now he’s super perky because he’s on good drugs. This did not make me feel better about life, though, because now our carefully laid out Thanksgiving plans are not going to happen. We were kind of all depending on having a few lazy days somewhere that wasn’t this house for the first time in seven months. It made the crankiness worse. And a cranky Lisa is not a writing Lisa.

A few days into this “no writing” phenomena, I just decided I hated everything and I was done writing forever. I cleared off my desk, took down a bunch of art, and decided to work on some other projects. One of those was clearing out my hard drive. So I spent a solid day combining all my photo files, deleting the randomness out, and making those nice. Then I spent a day sorting out my documents folder into places where things actually went. That led to me shoving all my poetry into a Scrivener document, like I’d always planned. Which led me to looking for poems that I couldn’t find, but knew I’d written. Which led me to tidying up my writing from the TPL writer’s group and putting it all into the right Scrivener files.

Which sneakily led me back into real, actual writing again because I kept finding things that just needed a little tweaking here or there to fit into place in their own main storylines. So I’d tidy this bit up over here, and change the time of this piece right there, and bam: a whole new scene just appeared. MAGIC!

Posted in Around the House, Everywhere But Home, Family Time, Friend Time, Parenting, Saving Money

Feast of Tabernacles

You know how we thought the Feast of Tabernacles last year was weird? Yeah, this year is weirder.

If you are new to this blog and do not know: we are an interfaith household. My husband’s family belong to the United Church of God. More info on the Feast of Tabernacles can be found here.

David is headed off to Utah with church friends from all over. I dropped him off at the Tyler airport today after spending all day with him yesterday trying, and failing, to get his phone fixed before he left. We ended up getting him a new one instead, as T-Mobile doesn’t recognize Sprint’s care plan after their merger.

David waited til the last minute to tell us what he was planning, then the pandemic threw a wrench in things as well, with some locations deciding to limit visitors all together. So Utah was super last minute, which meant getting him a reasonably priced airline ticket was going to cause some issues. He ended up on three different planes with one eight hour layover in Dallas and one twelve hour layover in Phoenix.

He was totally calm about all of this. It was me wracked with worry. What if he missed a flight? What if the Phoenix Airport wouldn’t let him spend the night inside? What if he forgot to pick up his luggage in Phoenix and ended up in Utah without it?

My anxiety levels were already crazy, but sending my 19-year-old off on his own for the first time drove me over the edge. Hence the All Crochet All Weekend confabulation.

He got there just fine. His friends eventually picked him up at the airport. He’s great, he says.

Meanwhile, the other four of us are at home this week. Nick and Greg are going to watch videos livestreamed from other locations. They can do it in the morning with a Florida site or in the afternoon with the Utah site David is at. (Ree and I? We are doing school work or writing or practicing instruments. We’re fine.)

Posted in Around the House, Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, The Past Comes Back to Haunt Me

Keeping the Sabbath

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So this week in Spiritual Practices class we covered “Keeping the Sabbath.” If you know me well, you know the phrase “keeping the Sabbath” weirds me out. I spent a long time trying to shove my big round self into the little square hole of my husband’s religion and “keeping the Sabbath” and “keeping the Feasts” where big phrases in his church community. It really makes me shudder.

With the Unitarian Universalists, keeping the sabbath seems to be an easy affair. It can be done any day or any time. It doesn’t even have to be all day, apparently.

What is a Sabbath practice? The Hebrew root of Sabbath is a word that means “to cease.” So the big question here is: What do we want to turn off in our lives to make a Sabbath? What do we change from our regular lives?

For me, a Sabbath looks like turning off a lot of my responsibilities. I don’t do PTA or volunteer work on a Sabbath, nor do I attempt to get any serious writing done. If a great writing thought comes to me, of course I’ll write it down, but I won’t sit in front of my screen with my mind on my plan and my plan on my mind.

In thinking about it a while, what I realized is that I need more than just not doing things, though. I need things to do. So I thought about it a little more and decided that the things I could do that would make the Sabbath a little cozier were adding in good music, making gratitude lists, reading from my spiritual books, and spending time on self care that I don’t usually get to during the main part of the week (like fun nail polish or teeth whitening or other spa like treatments).

What are some things you do to make your Sabbath a great experience?

Posted in Around the House, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, Writing

Organizing all the things

Over the weekend, my family cleaned out our garage. All four of us at once. Usually it’s just me and one kid or the other, dragging things out and throwing them in the trash. It takes all day, sometimes two. This time I put my foot down and made everyone work together at once. Two hours later we were nearly done. Two dumpsters were filled with trash, the van was filled with donations, and more donate-ables were put out at the curb for people to take. Later that afternoon, I pulled some memory boxes inside, one by one, and dug through them. More papers were added to the recycle bin, old bills were shredded, and folders were made and labeled with dates and kid names. I knocked out 3 of the 7 that were left before the end of the day.

While I was going through all that paper, I found 6 new poems, notes on two novels that I’d never seen before (one which tied up a plot hole I’ve been edging around for months), and a rough draft of a short story I cannot remember writing (but it’s in my handwriting). And all that doesn’t include the four notebooks I found that I hadn’t had a chance to dig through yet.

This afternoon, I typed all that into the computer. Between the random sheafs and the notebooks, I ended up with 14 poems across the last decade. While I was putting those in order, I discovered 22 other poems that had been mis-foldered at some point in the past. Since I was on a roll, I went through all the rest of the notebooks in the bedroom and checked for poetry. Found 5 more pages of one novel, written longhand, and three pages of notes on another one.

After all that nonsense, I opened up my old yWriter files from the current novels and translated a bunch of character/location/item templates into Scrivener, then updated my three current Scrivener novel Outliner Columns/Keywords/Custom Meta-data so they all had matching information to work with.

(I also went to the doctor and shopped at three stores today. I’ve been hyper-productive.)

Posted in Around the House, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, Writing

New Writing Planner

I always intend to blog more than I end up doing. I type up my morning pages and then think “I’ll add to these and make a blog post.” And then I end up dumping the info into a post and don’t edit it or hit publish until a couple weeks or month or so later, when I do several at once. I do that with a lot of things. I think “I’m going to do x,y, or z” and then don’t plan well around that thing, so not as much gets accomplished and then I feel bad about it. I decided to get better about planning writing things.

On Sunday I got out my new HP Classic Planner, the Welcome to the Book Club one. It’s super fun and has lots of book themes dividers and pages. I got the accompanying planner stickers, too. What I failed to notice in my buying spree was that this is a horizontal layout, not vertical, and I converted to a vertical process for regular life stuff several years ago. I had no idea how I was going to use this one. I had initially decided I was going to chuck July through December and start it in January. I’d have a plan by then, right? But on Sunday a beautiful plan came into my mind and I had to try it.

So here is my new writing planner for July.

Rainbow themed calendar pages from the HP Classic sized planner. Calendar Month is July 2020

I have only included writing goals, writing related events, and the odd regular-life event that impedes my normal writing time slots. Blue ink is for writing, purple for revision, green for events (like writer’s guild meetings, library writing class, other writing-related classes, conventions, etc.) and pink for impending due dates.

Weekly view looks like this:

I’m using the left side for planned scenes to write and # words needed for that day, the middle for word sprint counts, and the right side for events that might impede the schedule. The bottom right provides a place for overall word count for my main project, things I love this week, and what writing related guidebook I’m reading this week.

I started using it on Monday and it’s working out pretty well so far. (these photos are from Sunday when I first started filling it out) I like being able to just get up andstart on work I already know needs doing. I plan on updating it weekly on Sunday like I do my regular life planner and meal plan. 🙂

Posted in Around the House, Computers and Internet, Crafts, Exercise, Family Time, Friend Time, health, Lifelong learning, Music, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, Parenting, Television & Film

Huge List of Activities to do with Kids during Covid-19

I started this document ages ago and have shared it with many friends, family members, and FB forums already. It’s compiled from many, many different places: lists on facebook, travel websites, space websites, family websites, school websites. It’s broken down into categories for ease of use: The Arts, Books, Celebrities, Coding, Crafts, Disney, Exercise, Food, Movies/TV/ Mental Health, Museums, Music, School Related, Travel, and Non-Internet Things to Do.

Hope you enjoy it. Here’s the link.

Posted in Around the House, Organizing, What I Love, Writing

Morning Pages, Day Two

So it’s not morning. Morning was good.  Full of Animal Crossing and kids and happy, human goodness. David came over and we sat on the back patio and chatted online with Steph. We visited each others islands in Animal Crossing and made stuff for each other. We sat around and watched Community, I cleaned the kitchen, we ate some Shells and Cheese. A good day so far.

So now I’m at the computer and looking at my planner to see what I scheduled to write for today. Only I scheduled everything except for the writing. Oops. So here I am planning my writing in my non-morning Morning Pages.

Today: Finish critique for TCG

Tomorrow: Caro’s Quest writing – whatever the next scene needs to be

Wednesday: Getting class stuff together and writing ahead for that.

Thursday: Start work on Chapter 2 Magical PTA

Friday: Finish up work on Magical PTA for LCG submission

Saturday: Start work on The Dreaming end of Ch 5 or beginning of Ch 6

What else? I don’t even know.

Posted in Around the House, Writing

Six Weeks into the Pandemic

It’s about six weeks into the quarantine/social distancing/pandemic. I’ve been thinking about doing Morning Pages for about a week or more now, but never started because I was having bad hand days or Nick was being too loud, etc. Downloaded a template for Scrivener this morning and now I’m off!

Right now I am missing church. I can’t get the Internet to keep going long enough to do a video this morning. I’m actually disappointed about that. I dressed up, got everyone else out of the house, and then nothing. *sigh* At least I have my new keyboard to type on, right? Right. Still getting used to that, though. My left hand fingers feel like they are flying away every time I lift them from the keys.

And now my husband is mowing right outside of the room. This always happens, btw. Not the mowing necessarily, but someone interrupting what is supposed to be my private time. The downsides of a pandemic, first world problems.

Posted in Around the House, Computers and Internet, Exercise, Family Time, Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, Parenting

Our Quarantine Home Life

Sundays are fairly normal. My husband, Nick, gets up around 6:30am and exercises, then I get up and make some breakfast. The midkid and I watch our church service online instead of driving two minutes down the road. Nick and Greg make a grocery list, which Ree and I add to once our church is over. Then Nick goes out shopping for a couple hours while the kids and I do some household chores. In the later afternoon we watch another documentary or play a board game. Sometimes Nick has to work some more. Then the Nick makes dinner, the kids set the table, and we eat dinner. Then it’s time for showers and bed.

On any given weekday, Nick gets up at 5:30am, goes to the living room and exercises with some weights my kid brought home randomly from my dad’s house. He is so thankful for that. I wake up at 6am and grab a cup of tea and a chat with him before he heads off to shower. I read the news until it’s time to swap. After my shower, I dress myself and put on makeup and jewelry because that is one little piece of sanity in my day.

Nick starts work at 7:15am in the home office I rigged up for him from the desk our college kind left behind. It’s perpendicular to my own home office. We hung a curtain from the ceiling between us so our online meeting people don’t have to see the other person in the room. I also need it there because I cannot write if someone is looking over my shoulder. I’m also not used to people being home during the day. I usually spend quite a lot of time alone and I’m going a little bit crazy without alone time.

7:15am is also when I wake up the kids. They don’t wander out until nearly 8am, so I spend time playing the new Animal Crossing Game. It’s very soothing to have someplace to go and other villagers to visit with. My brain doesn’t care that it’s not real. Once the kids come out, we eat breakfast and then take a walk around the neighborhood. I try to pick a different kind of thing to look for every day, just to keep it interesting. Sometimes it’s a kind of tree or a bug or a bird.

When we come back inside, our 7th grader  has an online meeting at 9am. The teacher says its optional, but she also texts me every time he doesn’t show up, so I try to make sure he goes into the Zoom meeting before I leave his room. Then I encourage our 10th grader to look at his assignments. His teachers haven’t posted much at all, so he’s inclined not to check unless I stand there and watch him do it. Since he has 8 classes to check, this takes a while.

At 11am,  I coax the kids away from the computers and we start looking at our lunch options. I’m usually the one that buys the lunch food, but I cannot go out because I’m immunocompromised, so we have to make do with what my husband brings home. He rarely thinks of lunch food. By noon, we’ve come up with something, eaten it, and the kids wander back to their devices for some recreational screen time while I chat with my husband, who has an hour off for lunch. Sometimes instead I hide in our now-quiet bedroom and luxuriate in the fact that no one is speaking to me.

At 1pm, it’s instrument practicing time. Each kid has two instruments, so one plays for 30 minutes, then the other, and then back and forth again. Sometimes I don’t have to monitor this time period. If I can get away with it, I sneak off to do some writing or editing.

From 3-5pm, it’s serious school work time. The middle school teachers have been assigning all the things, so our youngest has a TON of work. The high school kid does not. So I have the youngest ask the middle one for help during this time while I go do my “work hours.” I have a lot of volunteer positions — Secretary for the Tyler Council of PTA’s as well as focus person for Bell, Moore, Lee, and Andy Woods PTA’s when they need help, Secretary for the Lee Band Parents Association, Secretary for the Moore Middle School PTA, Membership chair and Assistant Webmaster for the East Texas Writers Guild, Facilitator for this group. Plus I’m a member of  two critique groups. Some of my groups have successfully transitioned to online meetings, some have not.

At 5pm, I encourage the kids to go play outside or water the garden or weed something. Soon it will be too hot for that, so we may swap our morning walk for yard work, do indoor chores during this time, and take a post dinner walk.

From there, the kids get some non-homework time until dinner set up starts. I usually try to find some artistic thing for them to do or science experiment to run instead of more screen time. Some times it works. Occasionally one of them has an online music lesson during this time.

We eat dinner around 7pm, like we always have. After dinner, it’s time for a family board game or more Animal Crossing, which we play on the big screen together in group mode. Occasionally Nick or I will have an online meeting for one of our groups instead. (He’s on the security and media teams at church and he’s also trying to host online game nights for some of his co-workers who are quarantined alone.)  Then showers for the kids and they are sent off to read in bed until they fall asleep. Nick and I go to bed around 10pm after watching Star Trek: the Next Generation.

Fridays are different because Nick only works half days. We have our eldest son over (he lives alone around the corner from us) and do some take-out for lunch. Then play a game, usually. He goes home afterwards. Then Nick’s been finding household jobs to do to keep him occupied while the kids finish their school days. He’ll make a fancier dinner that night.

Saturdays are pretty normal. We wake up later, sit around reading or playing music on our instruments, then eat a bigger brunch. Nick’s church meets on Saturday, so he and the bookend boys watch the service online while I sneak off to write. Our midkid wanders off to read. After church is over, we have a family dinner and maybe some more board games. Sometimes we watch a documentary together. Then the eldest goes home and we do our nighttime routine.

And that’s our week.

Posted in Around the House, Music

The Saxophone Has Arrived

Have I ever told you the saga of the Christmas Saxophone? Settle in. This story is long and weird.

Sometime in October or so, my sister called up and asked if Kid#3 was still interested in playing the saxophone. This is the kid that so far has learned to play the recorder, the violin, the guitar, the snare drum, the ukelele, the piano, and the flute. Yes, yes, he wants to play saxophone, too. So my sweet sister orders one around the end of October, early November from someone on e-Bay. The expected arrival date at this time was around Thanksgiving.

In December, excuses started pouring into her inbox. “I forgot to mail it when I went to the post office.” “I can’t find a box to fit it into.” “I’m really behind on everything right now. Isn’t Christmas time crazy?” So when the saxophone didn’t arrive by Christmas, no one was really surprised. Disappointed, yes. Surprised, no.

Post Christmas, the excuses stopped coming. My sister kept trying to contact the lady and not hearing back. We despaired of ever seeing this instrument and we told the sax teacher we’d lined up that we wouldn’t be able to take lessons yet.

Sometime in February, my sister got an email that said the sax was on its was on its way. Greg had pneumonia. The coronavirus pandemic hit. Mail delivery started getting weird. We honestly just figured wasn’t coming.

Then yesterday, nearly seven months after she ordered it, the saxophone arrived!

It wasn’t in a box at all. It was in a regular soft-sided case, smelling of motor oil, and wrapped a couple times around with duct tape. We immediately checked that there was, in fact, a saxophone inside the case, and a then threw that nasty, smelly case away. We washed the saxophone as best we could, transferred it to the smaller, gig-bag style case that had sat empty all these months, and then dropped it off curbside at our lovely local band instrument shop. They’ll do a deep cleaning, a tune up, and set us up with mouthpiece, ligature, and reeds before it comes back home with us again.