Posted in Around the House, Everywhere But Home, Family Time, Friend Time, health, I Am Traveling, I Really Do Cook, My Own Personal Weirdness, Writing

Lisa’s Writing Vacation

AKA: How I managed to spend a whole week NOT writing

This was a hard week for me. As I’ve mentioned before, my half-brother Ray passed away last month. Last Thursday I drove to DFW and dropped my car off at Katherine’s and she drove me to the airport. I hopped on a flight to California in order to help out Ray’s widow, Susan, and kids getting reading for the memorial service. I’d brought my writing stuff with me, hoping to get to spend some of my free time writing, but there honestly wasn’t any minutes to spare.

I got to their house after a long day of driving and flying and with a negative time change, I was so very tired and it was only 8pm. I tried to stay up and talk with everyone, but it was no use – I was in bed by 9:30pm PST.

The next day I woke up at 4:45am, but managed to coax myself back to sleep until about 6:30am. I went to make coffee, but my nephew ran out and shooed me away, telling me that his dad always got up and said “Make the coffee, Joe,” and he was determined to keep on making the coffee, even without his dad around to remind him. Just like that, I could hear my brother in my little nephew’s voice and see him in his every movement. I had to shoo myself away before I cried all over the little guy.

We spent the rest of the day taking kids to and from school, organizing, then cleaning rooms of the house and the patio so it could be all ready for the memorial service the next day.

My biological maternal grandparents

The next day I was again awake at 4:45am, but this time I got up, made my own coffee, and spent some time taking photos of photos in my birthmom’s room (which was where I was staying). Her walls are absolutely covered in photos, many of which I’ve never seen before. I stood up on a stool and angled myself this way and that to get the best photos possible. Once the other’s were up, I started decorating the house with photos of my brother and his family, and then put out the tablecloths, and washed up all the dishes and platters I thought we might need. An hour before people were due to arrive, the first visitor showed up. He was the ex-husband of my brother’s housemate and since he was early, we put him to work carting drinks into the house, setting up the coolers, and re-installing the door to the garage that Joe had taken off a few weeks ago (and was unable to put back up alone).

After that, everyone else started arriving and over the course of the day I manned the buffet table, meeting many members of the housemate’s family and Susan’s family. There were even some little kids there. Everyone brought fruit. It was fruitopia. The day spun by so very quickly. We were unable to have the main part of the memorial service, due to some clerical errors that kept Susan from being able to get Ray’s death certificate (and therefore also his remains), so the little tree she was going to plant in his honor remained on her front porch. A few of us spoke about Ray, even his little son Jeff, and we all cried. It was nice to meet so many people that loved my brother and sister-in-law.

Because it was also the busiest day of the band year back home, I skipped out on the early evening’s visitor (who had come late due to his work schedule). I went back to my room and watched the livestream of my kids marching at UIL Contest and then looked for photos of them from the Rose Parade earlier in the day. I texted with them, congratulating them on their Sweepstakes win. And then I went back out and joined the conversation.

My kids at UIL Marching Contest.

The next morning I did not get up early. We all got up a little later and then moseyed over to church, which was part Southern Baptist-part rock band church-part surfer dude speak. Everyone there was really nice and no one bugged me about my mask. After church was lunch and after lunch my best friend from high school came and scooped me up and we ran off to Starbucks for a while. I was sad to leave her when our time was up, but I love how easily we slipped back into that friendship for a couple hours.

After that, Susan and I loaded up the kids and went to the beach. We didn’t stay long, just long enough for Joe and I to get thoroughly soaked from the waist down and for Jeff to lecture us on the improbability of us turning into merpeople and Susan to get creeped out by some weirdo. A couple hundred beach pictures in ten minutes, really. But it was good. I always feel better at the beach.

I am at Imperial Beach with my nephews.

Susan dropped us back at the house and stayed just long enough to say hi to the chair lady. Then she drove back out to pick up Angela. I made my “famous” chicken spaghetti and “Aunt Mandy’s” green beans for a late “fancy” dinner. I laughed at that. Chicken spaghetti is the easiest thing ever. I taught Joe my secret sauce, just in case they liked it. Oh boy, did they! Jeff said I took him to “Flavor Town” and “Delicious Land.” I’m so happy it was well-receieved.

We went to bed very late that night, in some part due to a conversation that needed to take place out of the earshot of the children. We had to wait for Joe to fall asleep. In the end, an agreement was reached about what would happen with the kids if something happened to Susan. It was a hard conversation, but necessary. I was really glad to be included.

The next morning we all got up at the crack of dawn so Susan could drop me off at the airport and then take the kids straight to school. I waited in the longest TSA line I’ve ever seen, but made it to my gate all right. The flight itself was mostly okay, but there was a medical emergency towards the end in first class, so we ended up spending quite a while at the gate waiting for that to get sorted out. Then Katherine picked me back up and we had a late lunch and then went to rest at her house for a while before I drove home. I was feeling so foggy and out of it, I was worried about driving home. I did end up making it home okay, but I had to stop for a while halfway home and walk around for a bit to get my brain back online. So I didn’t get home until about 7:30pm (I’d expected to be home by 5pm).

Katherine and I tried to make up for me not remembering to get a photo with Emily.

The next day I spent cleaning my entire house. Being away from home on a super busy weekend makes the mess so much worse. But I was also still feeling so groggy and weird that it was hard to get anything done. I started to worry that I was coming down with a cold or something. I attended my Spiritual Practices group, but I absorbed none of the conversation, alas.

The next morning was my pill box refill day. I couldn’t find the pills I needed to fill the box. I finally realized that the reason I was so out of it was that I had picked up my medicine at the pharmacy before I left on the trip, but had forgotten to put that one in the box I took with me. So I’d skipped it for a couple days by accident. (And now I know just how essential it is to my health and well being.)

I taught a lesson at the Wednesday Whatchamacalit group that day and it went well. That should be a separate post, but I don’t have that ready yet. Later. I spent the rest of the day resting/spending time with my younger kids because I knew that the next day I had some more big cleaning to do.

Thursday I went over to the David House and helped him get it cleaned up because my dad was coming to visit. David was supposed to have finished moving rooms before my dad came to town and he had not finished. Plus there was resetting the room he’d moved out of and resetting the closet of the room that stored the stuff that used to be in that room and putting stuff from the room he was moving to into that closet. If it sounds circuitous, it really was.

After that was the recycling. I don’t think anyone has taken the recycling out of the house since January. I filled my entire Jeep up from top to bottom and back to front. It was only about 2/3 of the total recycling. I had other errands to run, though, so I did that and never got back to check on the David House.

This morning I got up and realized that I’d never gotten around to doing the critiques for the Pineywoods Critique Group, which was just as well because I hadn’t sent anything in over the last weekend, either. So the spouse and I went and got haircuts, which we have literally never done at the same time before. Then we ran a couple errands and ate lunch. One of the errands was picking up all the boxes of history for the ETWG Historian position before the current Historian moved and took them with her.

This was the last thing on my To Do list for the day besides feeding and chaperoning the band. It’s also the first real writing I’ve done all week. I’m not sure I’ll have time during the weekend to write, unless I am very careful with my time. We have the game tonight, my dad in town, an afternoon church party tomorrow, dinner at my dad’s and games, then church Sunday morning, and an ETYO concert Sunday afternoon. I may not get anything sent in to the critique group this weekend either. Chapter Nine of CQ needs re-drafting. Maybe I’ll send them some more poetry.

Posted in Everywhere But Home, Speaking, Writing

Speaking Engagement at ETWG on 07/12/21

I will be speaking this Monday at the East Texas Writers Guild members meeting at 6:30pm via Zoom. This one is a little last minute (their scheduled speaker fell ill), so I am cobbling a few of my 20 minute lessons into one hour long speech about “Bringing Creativity to NANOWRIMO.” Hope to see all you local writers there! (If prompted for a password, it is “2020”.)

Posted in Computers and Internet, Everywhere But Home, Speaking, What I Love, Writing

Today’s Speaking Engagement at WWW

First thing this morning, my dad called and told me that he had left his suitcase behind yesterday in his haste to get out of the house on time. All his medications were in there, as was his laptop. So I needed to drive and meet him halfway between our town and his and hand off his stuff. The only problem? I was supposed to speak at the Wednesday Writers Whatchamacalit Facebook Group at 11am and there was no way I was going to make it back in time for that.

So I did what any half-way reasonable human would do: I found a place online that would record me giving my presentation, along with my slide show, and I recorded it and sent the link to the group, promising to come back and do a Q&A in the comments section once I was home.

So that is just what I did and it went really well. You can watch the whole thing for free here (you may need to register for a free account with Panopto first.) or go here for the WWW group and comments

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 Everywhere But Home, Speaking, What I Love, Writing

Speaking Engagement on 06/24/20

I am once again speaking at the Tyler Public Library’s Writer’s Club Facebook Group on June 24, 2020 at noon. My topic is “Building a Sustainable Career Through Managing Your Creative Assets.”

Posted in Everywhere But Home, Speaking, What I Love, Writing

Speaking Engagement on 05/20/20

I will be speaking at the Tyler Public Library’s Writing Club Facebook Group on May 20, 2020 at noon. My topic will be “Writing Memoirs.”

Posted in Everywhere But Home, Speaking, What I Love, Writing

Speaking Engagement on 04/29/20

I will be speaking at the Tyler Public Library’s Writer’s Club Facebook Group on April 29, 2020 at noon. My topic will be “Scene Crafting.” You can join the group here.

Posted in Everywhere But Home, Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness

What Changes Will I Make Post-Pandemic?

Before all this happened, I didn’t really think of my life as boring. I had my monthly family events (one for each extended family), weekly church, weekly writing groups, biweekly writing groups, PTA board meetings and events, kids marching band events and band concerts, and weekly dates with my husband. I feel like I normally have a really full, busy life. Then I started reading post after post from other people about what they missed in their lives: regular live music events (not involving their children), daily or weekly visits to restaurants or bars with friends, art shows, ballet, opera, races, festivals, farmers markets, fancy charity events, parties, etc. I realized that my life really hasn’t changed that much since we started socially isolating and “wow, my life is so boring.”

Some changes I’d like to make:

  1. Start attending live music events
  2. Start going to my friends art shows
  3. Find some friends that can go out on the nights I have free (this is tricky – there’s only one night I’m free, really)
  4. Start dragging my family out to community festivals on the weekend – there must be some that go on on Sunday afternoons, right?
  5. Start arranging the family visitation calendar so I can start going to the extra events my church puts on (there’s usually at least one a week)
  6. Join a musical group – I’d like to find a singing group because the RA & fibro make it hard to always be able to play instruments.
Posted in Around the House, Everywhere But Home, Exercise

Coronavirus, Day Sixteen

Today’s adventures included a trip to the post office and a walk around the neighborhood.

Because I’m a writer at home, I normally have very few co-workers. I joined a few groups of writers, editors and publishers just to have some socialization, as you do. One of them is a group that also enjoys planners, stickers, and all the stuff that goes with them. We have a few miscellaneous boxes that have been sent around a bajillion times, full of those kinds of supplies. When you get the box, you take whatever you want out of it and then put in whatever you think an appropriate amount of other stuff into it. It’s supposed to be at your house for like three days, max. I got mine on Friday morning, the same day we got a shelter in place mandate from our city. With that and the local postal service having recently stated that we had postal employees with Coronavirus, I really wasn’t sure that it would be open for mailing. I chose my stuff, nonetheless, and put more stuff into the box.

Yesterday I was going to go to the post office, but all thoughts of that flew out the window when I found out that my sister was hospitalized. Then I managed to tear the top off the box when moving it to the front hallway. But today I got out of the house and went to the post office. I prepared myself with hand sanitizer and clorox wipes, waited until a few cars drove off from the parking lot, and then went in. There were two workers and one other customer. The customer had a mask on. The workers were wearing gloves. I wiped down the counter where I was doing the reboxing, just to ensure that if anything touched the counter, it would be safe-ish. Nearly everything fit into the new, smaller box. During my packing, one of the postal employees explained to a lady that they weren’t wearing masks because no one could understand them with them on. A few people walked by while I was packing. Another one wearing a mask. One that laughed at him and also at my clorox wipes. I waited off to the side until they were done. Got my box mailed, almost made it out before encountering another human up close, but didn’t quite make it out. At least she had a mask and gloves and hand sanitizer as well. Went back to the car, did some more sanitizer and wiped down the stuff I was returning to the car. Drove home, changed clothes, washed up again, re-wiped my phone with sanitizer, since I’d used it during my time in the post office to look up the address. Managed to get this far without touching my face. Washed it, just in case.

Later this afternoon, went on a walk with my midkid. If you lived on one of the few blocks we walked, you sure got a treat! Ree danced the entire way, practicallly. He’s so funny! We did have one not-so-great moment, though. A car drove up exactly like David’s, so we walked up closer to it than we would have a strangers. We realized too late that we didn’t know the driver. He yelled at us out the window. It was not pleasant. Went inside, cleaned up again. Some days it feels like all we do is wipe ourselves and our stuff down.

Posted in Everywhere But Home, Speaking, What I Love, Writing

Speaking Engagement on 04/01/20

I am once again speaking at the Tyler Public Library’s Writer’s Club! I will be speaking on April 1, 2020 at noon and my topic will be “World Building.” All are welcome to join the Tyler Public Library’s Writer’s Club Group on Facebook.