Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good-bye 2011

So everyone does end of the year wrap-ups. I'm not so into those for myself. I will say, for starting out so badly for me personally (fell on black ice and dislocated my elbow Jan. 28th, thus sidelined for 6 weeks), it has ended up significantly better (not difficult, given Jan. 28th). I retired Dec. 16th and am still adjusting to that, but I think it is going to be terrific.

In terms of life on Earth, I don't think it's been a very good year in some respects. We've all lived with all the bad news so I won't bother to reiterate that.

I am however, as always, so grateful for the people in my life. My family, my friends at my former job and from other circles (science fiction friends, writers, knitters, French students & teacher, etc.) and from years gone by. No one is luckier than I. I am a billionaire in friends!

If my hopes and plans develop as I'm intending, 2012 is going to be a major year for me. We'll see.

I don't make New Years' resolutions.

Thank all of my friends and acquaintances for enriching my life beyond measure. I only hope I deserve your love and kindness.

And I wanted to update my States I've Been to  map:

visited 31 states (62%)
Create your own visited map of The United States!

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Last Week

And I don't mean "last week" - I mean, I'm coming up on the last week of my fully-employed career-type working life. All kinds of things are bubbling to the surface now that I didn't expect.

I'm a little thick about some things. It wasn't until just Friday that overhearing some co-workers joshing around opened my eyes to the fact that I'm leaving behind that social part of working - daily gabbing, gossiping, teasing, debating, advising, critiquing, and commiserating that is the workday world. At 3:30 next Friday, I will leave that circle, for better or worse. I won't be part of that "us" any more, simply because I will no longer be there for the daily fertilization of the memes, gossip, in-joke, co-worker's family news, latest bureaucratic snafus, that keeps one a part of the group. This thought struck me forcefully, but it didn't derail me. It's something I will miss, for sure. But leaving it is a part of life. Another loss. One must find other things to fulfill some of those benefits. And, of course I'll keep in touch with my friends of twenty years. It'll just be...differently.

Makes me wonder, though, what else I've been a little slow to anticipate as I'm carried along this one-day-at-a-time conveyer belt to retirement?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I DID IT!!! I finished my National Novel Writing Month Novel!

Crossed the 50,000 word finish line about 10 minutes ago. Yowzah!

BOY am I glad that's over with! I'm going to let this puppy marinate for at least a month before going back to it and seeing if it really is worth kneading and stretching and shaping and coloring to try to make it worth actually sending to publishers/agents.

Now I need to get the word count posted, and put my Winner's Badge up!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Here I am, 1,751 words from the Finish Line. I just wrote some 2,550ish of them. But I am just too beat to finish it up. I mean, it's the finish! It has to be given a certain amount of thought, and a special effort, not one dragged down by fatigue at the tail-end of the day!

I'll think about how I'm going to wrap this puppy up all day tomorrow - then get home and have it done by 7 pm. Then to jog across that line, ripping the banner apart with my bare teeth in the world's biggest grin!

Or something. Anyway. I'm going to get it done. Goodness, me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Yeehaw! I got my 5,000 words in tonight! Now I can sail on in to the winner's circle by hammering out just 2,500 words a night tomorrow and Wednesday night. PIECE O CAKE! AND!!! the story is right where it needs to be to end about then, too.

A. Maze. Ing. I am SO stoked!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

40,000 words, and this contest is MINE!!!

Yeehaw, folks, I'm going to finish this! NaNo's word counter tells me I have only to write 2,414 words a day now to get my 50K.

I still don't know exactly how this story ends, but it has done enough surprising (to me), interesting things so far that I'm sure it will end, somehow.

And now, I'm going to bed!

...ETA: Uh-oh, I guess NaNo's counter thinks I've got FOUR days left. Well, it still works out to only 3,219 words a day, and after 5,000+ both yesterday and today, I'm still completely sure I'll make it. No Problem-O.

Hee hee hee!
I'm finding this writing blitz to be much more tiring than I remember it, lol. As a result, I never did the third planned two-hour session last night, leaving yesterday's total a still-respectable 5,000 plus words.

I just finished today's first two-hour session at a little over 3,000 words, also respectable. I'll take a couple-hour break and come back for the last time this weekend. I am pretty sure I can hit 40,000 by tonight. That will leave me with a MERE 3334 words per day between now and midnight Wednesday to get to 50K words, which is QUITE do-able. Victory is SO CLOSE!!!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pounding down the words!

In two two-hour sessions today (one more yet to go!) I have written (officially, using the NaNoWriMo word counter) 5,038 words! Woo hoo! Another 2500 in the last session tonight, and I will have achieved today's goals!

I can DO this! 8^D

And just to add to the silliness, I'm posting a photo of the NaNo badges I've earned so far this time:

"Oh, my," you say, "How do you earn such wonderful badges?"

Well, starting at the top left, I earned these badges for:

NaNo Socializing (dragging a family member or friend into NaNoWriMo -- which I consider I've done since I assembled my crack Support Team of five friends and relatives!)

Caffeine Abuse (Consuming dangerous amounts of coffee, tea, or caffeinated soda in my quest for 50 K) -- oh, yeah.

Procrastination (Skipping writing for more than 3 days) -- hang my head in shame, it has nothing even remotely to do with vacuuming (though doing housework instead of writing is one of the ways you earn this badge...if you're not me)

Word-Count Padding (I did the writing out contractions option for this one. It's amazing how many words you gain with one little keyboard trick!)

THE RALLY BADGE!!! I am so proud of this one!!! I got it by having a 5,000 word day (today!)!

And, the Secret Noveling badge, and how I earned this one I'm not going to be specific about, 'k? Thx.

I can't decide whether to iron these badges onto my Camp NaNoWriMo tee shirt, or to leave them loose so I can re-earn them next year. Probably the latter.

Friday, November 25, 2011

OK, I'm over the 30,000 word hump tonight! I still have all day tomorrow and all day Saturday to reach 45,000 - that's 7500 words each of two days. But I did almost 2,000 in a little under...say...5 hours. Heheh. Well, it's going to be a squeaker, isn't it? However, some of that time today I spent working on the plot, and also on some cooking and cleaning (seems to help when I'm stuck on the plot). So - I bet I can get darn close to 45K by Sunday night! And then I'll have Monday, Tuesday and clear until midnight Wednesday to get the last 5,000 words in! That, my friends, is a Piece Of Cake.

I AM going to win this thing this year. There is a shiny, wonderful NOVELIST badge waiting for me to claim it (and according to the rules of NaNo I will be permitted to wear it at every single family gathering from now until the end of time for my relatives to tremble in awe and admiration) AND I will be getting the 50% discount on the price of the writer's program Scrivener, which is turning out to be pretty darned good. Lots and lots of features I haven't needed yet, but which I might someday find absolutely vital, and they provide a ton of video tutorials and forums etc so I'm looking forward to that. (Truthfully, Scrivener is priced *extremely* reasonably so I'll buy it even if I don't hit 50K, but I'd rather get the discount). ANNNNND there are some kind of secret web pages at the NaNoWriMo site that ONLY "Winners" get to see. I'm very curious about those.

But the really big incentive is that I just sent a check off today to Mr. Typewriter for an Olivetti Lettera DL / 33 portable typewriter. This is the typewriter I bought myself in 1968 to take to college with me. It also, as it turns out, was the model that what's-his-name used to write Apocalypse Now. I loved that little typewriter. I have no memory of what happened to it, though. It must have vanished from a yard sale or something. *sigh* I'm getting to the age where I'm vulnerable to this ridiculous kind of nostalgia-splurge. Gonna have to be careful about that.

AFTER I get my typewriter. And it will be much better for my conscience if I've "won" NaNo before it gets here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Now It Can Be Told

I'm going to retire Dec. 16th. I have plans. I couldn't say anything anywhere to anybody before I told my boss, and I waited until Nov. 15th for that.

I'm going to CA to visit my son and his family for a couple weeks over the holidays, then coming home to Be Retired. Ahhh....

I suspect - I strongly suspect - that the Ahhh... part isn't going to last longer than a couple-three months, maybe. Because I have a LOT to do. I intend to move to Paris (France, not Texas, ha ha ha co-workers you're so funny) around the turn of the year 2012-13. Probably more like Spring of 2013, but you never know; maybe I'll get my house sold sooner than I expect. I'm not looking to make a killing on it, so maybe it'll move.

But in the meantime, I have to pare down my possessions by about 99%. Literally, 99%. Then I have to sell my house. Neither of those are trivial activities. Lots of work.

Anyway, I've been planning & scheming and saving and figgerin' for a long time over this. I need to do it (a big dream of mine, of course, else why would I?) while I'm still young and healthy enough to enjoy it (not to mention, afford it). I'll have to live like a starving student (except with food) -- tiny walkup studio apartment, walk everywhere, scrimp, economize, budget budget budget - but the thing is - it is 100% totally do-able, and I'm doing it.

It's probably a good thing I have so much work and hassle between me and Paris. Otherwise I might just die of excitement!

And, I'm planning to get over there by cargo steamer! Adventure: In for a penny, in for a pound!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fell behind last week. Took several days off from the novel. I continued to think about it, and make notes, etc. And this weekend I'm on a big push to hit 40,000 by tomorrow night. I'm centering my whole weekend around it - three two-hour sessions wherein I get 3,000 words each session, both today and tomorrow, will do it. So far so good! I made 3,000 this time with 47 seconds to spare! (EggTimer is a very handy little timer program!)

And as is usual when writing, I'm discovering that when I actually hunker down and concentrate and go for long blocks of text, things start popping up in the story that are useful and helpful and all kinds of interesting. Where does this stuff come from? Is there really a troll in my basement who's feeding me stuff up through the floorboards if I just trust him enough to put them on paper for him? And what does he get out of it?

Enough - obviously I need to get away from the keyboard for a bit!

Session One of Six - completed!

ETA: much later: OK, it's a good thing I got that 3000+ in earlier because now I'm pooped. The little chore I'd scheduled to keep me busy between writing sessions sort of...morphed...into something bigger than I'd expected. And I am finding that this writing biz is tiring! So - I will try for the 3 3,000 word sessions again tomorrow! Maybe get an earlier start...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fell behind a little bit. Took three days off. However, yesterday I devoted over an hour to plotting and planning, so I knew where to go when I sat down tonight. The joint's jumping now! We got explosions and fires and disappearing woman, schemes and nefarious skullduggery all over the place. About time, too, I say!

Boy, is this thing going to need a lot of work when it's done. LOL

Friday, November 11, 2011

Well, to my surprise, I did it! I got caught up to my 2,000 word a day goal tonight! This, after I didn't write at all the night before the night before last, I wrote the night before last, then didn't write again last night. I've been really tired, and my stomach's been burning. I suspect this is all about Week Two of NaNoWriMo. They told me there'd be days like this. However, despite my discomfort and grumpiness, I sat down and hammered out enough words to get caught up again. And I still have two more days of weekend to go! I hope to have built up another nice word-cushion by Sunday night.

I won't say anything about the novel itself because I've locked up my Internal Editor in a deep, dark dungeon many many light-years from here until the book is finished.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

I'm using Scrivener to write this thing, and there seems to be some discrepancy between the Scrivener word count, and the NaNoWriMo site counter. Scrivener says I wrote 2030 words tonight, but when I put the total in the NaNoWriMo word count update, and checked my stats there on my NaNo Novel stats page, it says I wrote 1919. That's quite a difference! Oh well, I'll just go with the total number, that's all I care about. And I will make sure that I get well past 50,000 at the end, to make sure NaNo agrees I win!

Much tireds out tonight. I keep waking up at 3 a.m. and never really getting back to sleep before the alarm rings at 4:30 a.m. Bah, humbug.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

No new words tonight - I had a plumber in to fix something here, and I bought a couple of ebooks on how to use the writer's program Scrivener, which is one of those incredibly powerful tools that have umpteen functions and layers and all kinds of adaptability etc etc, but which you can also just climb up on and start 'er up - but I spent an hour studying the first ebook. I needed one night off, and I was 1.75 days ahead of the standard NaNoWriMo goal of 1667 words a day, and even using my own personal goal of 2000 words a day, I'm still 785 words ahead. Back to the grindstone tomorrow night! I aim to win NaNo this year - if ONLY to get the 50% discount on the actual Scrivener program (they're letting NaNo writers use it for NaNoWriMo to see how we like it; it doesn't have all the functions and features of the purchased version but ye gods, there's way more than I'll ever use anyway).

So, anyway, that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it. My imagination will be better for the rest, believe me.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Well, I made something happen in Owl Island tonight. I'm not sure it really carries the story forward, but I had to goose *something* into happening! Thank GOODNESS for re-write!

Well, I"m being a good little NaNo - no second-guessing myself. Got to see this thing through to the finish line THEN worry about rewriting and editing to make it better.

I'm satisfied with my progress for the first week: over 16,000 words! Next up: The Dreaded Week Two!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Another weekend over, *sigh*. But I made my NaNo goal today, and I got MOST of my household To Do list done. One thing I conveniently forgot was that I had intended to put the plastic over my windows this weekend. It's going to be more and more necessary, I'm afraid. It really IS fall -- and knowing Nebraska, winter could drop on us like a ton 'o' snow ANY day. So -- I will try to do a window or two each night this week. Around NaNoWriMo, of course. I do have my priorities straight. *sniff*

Saturday, November 05, 2011

What a nice day I've had! My friend Lin took me to see Une vie de chat, an absolutely enchanting short (70 minutes) French animated film about a Parisian cat with two lives, and the little girl and the cat burglar whose lives he enriches. I loved, loved, loved it! Then we went to a bookstore, and then we ate Italian at our favorite neighborhood place. Days don't get much better than that!

And, I have met (exactly, as it happens) my daily NaNoWriMo goal of 2,000 words! Huzzahs all around. Oh, I should mention that Lin treated me to the movie as a reward for reaching 10,000 words last night. Friends don't get much better than Lin! Thanks, Lin!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Made my goal of 10,000 words tonight! Woo hoo!

Thing is, I think a lot of this is going to have to get trimmed in the rewrite. Oh well, at least I'm getting the story down. This is so much fun!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Another good night on the novel! It's coming together, kind of. It's going to take me all this first seven days to even get all the main characters introduced, and it's going to be interesting trying to sneakily start the actual plot while the reader thinks they're just being introduced to characters - but then, I guess that's true of any novel. *slumps* Duh.

Well, it's good to be writing again, and so far, so good! I'm well within reach of my goal for tomorrow night: 10,000 words!

And I've got a bit of a synopsis, finally:

An inner city kid from Omaha, a recent and bitter divorcee from Des Moines, and a disappointed accountant from Minneapolis each reserve a cabin on an island in the middle of a remote Minnesota lake, for a month of rest, meditation, self-reflection, and peace.

They think.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

So - another great writing session on the second night of NaNoWriMo. Over 3,000 words! Well, it's been fun so far. I'm going to run with it and build up as much of an extra (over 2,000 words a day average) as I can, because as sure as there's little green apples, there are tough, dry patches to come. But not this first week, anyway. All the experienced heads at NaNoWriMo say so, and my four other experiences bore that out. The first week's a breeze, the second week's a bastard. The third week is hell, but if you can get through that still laying down a decent word count, then the last week is like the Giant Slalom in the Olympics - downhill all the way and thrilling as heck.

In the meantime, one day, at least 2000 words, at a time.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

OK! Well! This first night went very well. It feels great to be writing again! Woo hoo!

I blocked off two hours but I'd reached my goal by about 1 1/4 hour. I'm reaching for 2,000 words a session - and two sessions a day on the weekends and holidays. I hope it goes this well all month! Ha ha ha, of course I do.

'Scuse me, I'm going to go eat chocolate now. *g*

Well, here it is. I'm even wearing my NaNo tee shirt. (I've adopted their camping theme from their July and August novel-writing month sessions, because I like it better than what they've come up with this time, well, I like this tee shirt better than the November one.)

I aim to post at least 2000 new (and the first) words on the word counter tonight!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My vacation in New England (now that I've got the NaNo announcement out of the way) was *fabulous*. I'd never been there except for one week a few years ago for a five-day conference; my friend picked me up and we spent about a day and a half during the conference hosting agency's business meetings (they didn't need us non-member attendees) and my friend took me around to a few interesting places. It was October, but I had just missed the peak color week - and it was heart-stoppingly glorious. This time, too, I kept hearing how the trees were so much more colorful *just* before I got there - but I'll tell you, if they'd been any more beautiful I think I would've died of wonder.

This time, we spent time just over the border in Massachusetts (my friend lives in New Hampshire), and the majority of the time in her house on the Kennebuck River in Maine. We ate, talked ourselves hoarse, ogled the sights, shopped, ate, played Scrabble, read, talked, ogled the trees, get the gist. I thought sure I'd gained 10 pounds, but when I got home it was only 2 lbs, so I was pleased.

I saved up for this trip; I had such fun just shopping my head off! I've got 95% of my Christmas shopping done now! And I bought myself a bunch of fun stuff, too. Old books, new books, note card sets, a beautiful sweatshirt, a deck of cards that says "Pie Fixes Everything" - a geography game! --and a bunch of other miscellaneous stuff. One book I got that I read that night and just loved was The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, by Reif Larsen. If you love maps, if you love well-travelled field notebooks with all kinds of sketches and diagrams, drawings, clippings, and comments in the margins - if you love stories about family members trying each in their own way to find their way back into one another's hearts after a tragedy - and if you love science? THIS is the book for you. If you know someone who loves those things? This is the Christmas present they need. That's all I'm sayin'.

And! I get to update my "States I've Visited" map! I get to add Maine and Massachusetts!

visited 26 states (52%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or website vertaling duits?

Friday, October 28, 2011

I got home from New England Sunday afternoon and have now put another week of work into the past. It's the Friday night before November 1, when NaNoWriMo starts, and I have made a few more notes about my November novel, but it's still frighteningly vague. I don't even know what kind of story it is! This is truly scary. I have invested a lot of myself, my money, and my friends' willingness to encourage me, in this. *eep!* I'll be doing a lot of brainstorming over the weekend, that's for sure! Well - I do need to keep in mind it's supposed to be FUN! So I have to mention, there will be map-drawing this weekend, too, and maybe some character portrait drawing, and who knows what else? Maybe writing music selecting...


Friday, October 14, 2011

Bright & early tomorrow, I fly to New Hampshire for vacation at a friend's of many years. She's got a place in Maine, so we'll be going there, too -- I've never been to Maine. I've visited NH once, for a conference, and managed to squeeze in about a day and a half to spend with my friend -- the first time we met, after oh, gosh, almost twenty years of snail mail and email correspondence. We found each other through the old Prodigy (remember *P?) Letter-writing BB. She's been a terrific friend, through good and bad days, comedy and tragedy, joy and despair.

Here's where I see some people say "The internet is a WONDERFUL place!"

People who have suffered tragedy due to internet connections say the opposite, of course.

What it is, is a human place. Humans made it and it is just exactly as good and as bad as humankind can be. I don't know why that isn't obvious to everyone, but there are those who act like it's Hades' Foyer. *shrug*

Me, I'm on vacation, and my vacation is going to be in New England in the middle of October. If i wasn't bouncing-off-the-walls tired, I'd be too excited to sleep. I just hope I'm not to tired to sleep, instead.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Here it is October again. That, as you may know, is the month before November.

Some of you may remember that I have spent other Novembers unsuccessfully participating (if you can call it that) in that annual global exercise in literary insanity called National Novel Writing Month. (aka NaNoWriMo) You might even remember the exact number of failures I enjoyed. No? Okay, four of them. I started four novels and never finished them. A couple of them got to 20,000 words, the others, I don't even remember but not that many by a far stretch. After the fourth failure I swore off the event. What was the point? I asked myself, and had no answer, so I quit. No more.

Obviously, I've succumbed again else I wouldn't be writing this, would I. * Sigh * What IS the compulsion? I do not understand. They got me this time with their Camp NaNoWriMo theme. This, it turns out (I think), is not this November's theme. It appears (I haven't bothered to do any serious research into the question) they had some kind of practice session/s in July and/or August? And called it Camp NaNoWriMo. But when I found the event's themed products, something snapped in my brain and I went nuts. Volumes of memories of my childhood summer camp came gushing forth. Things I hadn't thought about for fifty years came rocketing out of my deep memory banks and showered me with nostalgia. Hooked? Ha! Before I knew it, I'd bought the tee shirt AND the “care package” and was eyeball-deep in my journal writing down those memories.

So, ahem. This is a 100% self-inflicted misery. I tell my closest friends, poor creatures, and I announce it here, but there's nothing stopping me from changing my mind at any moment. Let's be clear: at this time I have zero ideas for a novel, and only a few very vague notions about characters. I'm hoping I can beef that up a bit before Nov. 1, you betcha.

I dug out the materials I purchased in years past; the book No Plot? No Problem! And the No Plot? No Problem! Novel-Writing Kit (I'm a sucker for kits, you may have noticed. I also rediscovered the little package of achievement badge patches I bought one of those years, with delight.)

I think for me, it's trying to find the fun in writing again. A lot of life stuff got in my way a few years back, and I just haven't felt the urge to write fiction. But I did enjoy it so, and I sold quite a few short stories to small-press and online markets, so someone else liked my writing a bit, one time, when I was busy writing story after story, it seemed like the ideas would never run dry. No way could I ever write them all. Funny how life stuff can make that all go away in the blink of an eye.

OK, so here's the announcement, ta da. I'm going for the brass ring: a 50,000 word novel in 30 days; between November 1 and November 30, 2011. When they make them available, I'll install a word-count meter here. I'll also try to post little reports, musing, whatever, here, daily but I'm not promising that.

Part of me is going, “Oh crap, here we go again,” and another part is going, “Oh goody goody goody! We're doing NaNo again!”

Friday, July 15, 2011

In French, there's a term “faux ami” which means “false friend,” and it refers to French words that are so close to English words that we can mistake them for meaning the same thing – but they don't. One example, “librarie”: guess what it means in French. Nope – not library, but bookstore. The French word for library is “bibliotheque.”

Other things than words can be faux amies. Well, friends can be false friends, of course. But a host of other things can fool us as well.

The one I'm talking about today is one of my own making. Only very recently has it dawned on me just what a false friend it is. It feels like a wonderful, comforting friend, where I can snuggle down, relax, read, knit, eat, surf the Net, talk on the phone...

I'm talking about my “Nest.”

It's a big old leather recliner (it's too big for me to use the recliner so I shoved the hassock from the other chair in front of it) plus one or, often, two, TV trays parked adjacent to hold plates, or my ever-growing pile of books to be read, or today's mail. It's so big that I've had to stuff a rolled-up wool poncho and a king-size pillow at the back of the seat, and jam the two bolsters from the couch along either side, to make it comfortable.

It's also the oak side table with the reading lamp on it. As well as whatever other useful stuff/debris I allow to build up until I have to clean and reorganize it so everything doesn't keep sliding off onto the floor or into the wastebasket.

I have spent many hours in my Nest. Times too numerous to count, I've thought, "I should get up and do something," but it's so comfy, I let the thought slide on through, I wriggle down deeper into its comfort, and stay put. I love my Nest.

My Nest wants me to die.

Recent bloodwork, and a visit to the doctor, and the evidence of my bathroom scales and the condition and signals of my body, have revealed its evil purpose. Oh, nothing frightful – yet. This is the first time I've had blood sugar above the normal range...the second time my cholesterol has been above the normal range...and my BMI is Obese.

I got to thinking about my Nest, and it occurred to me that everybody I've ever known who had the tragically familiar constellation of health problems: obesity, diabetes, congestive heart failure – all of them had their Nests. Which came first? Probably varies amongst people. But I know for certain that until I had spent a few years developing and inhabiting my Nest, I had perfectly normal blood sugars, perfectly normal cholesterol levels. Since I quit smoking in 2009, I've gained some 40 pounds. That wasn't all the quitting, I'm sure. But some of it was, and some of it was The Nest.

This all occurred to me two days ago. I decided then to go home and take a photo of my Nest, write this post, and blog about it, as part of my holistic approach to changing my eating and fitness habits. But when I got home, and thought about picking up the camera and taking that picture, I felt active resistance to the idea. I didn't want to. I just wanted to get dinner, bring it out to the TV tray, open up the Internet, and bliss out. So that's what I did.

See what it did there? The Nest is evil. I shouldn't call it The Nest. I should call it The Death Trap. 'Cause that's what it is. (Sometimes my holistic approaches to changing bad habits have to back up a few miles and take care of seemingly innocuous little bits of mental debris before I can get to the big stuff.)

So at least, last night, I took the pictures. And now I'm posting this. I have 92 pounds I want to lose before the next Bastille Day (July 14th). That's less than 2 pounds per week. That's do-able; in 1994 I lost 55 pounds in 4 months, so I know it's do-able. I expect all kinds of health and mental wellness benefits to kick in way before that last pound drops off. I'm going to list them in my journal and maybe do some dumb things like put one good benefit on each of a bunch of index cards, and leave them all over the house (especially in the kitchen), to remind me that The Death Trap Is Not The Nest. It is NOT my friend. It wants me to die.

The battle is on.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

One of my favorite "Paris" blogs is David Lebovitz's Living the Sweet Life in Paris. He's an American chef/baker/I'm not sure what-all, and his blog is 50 kinds of fun. He features recipes often, of course, and cafes and restaurants and just living in Paris yarns. He also plugs cook books he finds excellent, and I was so impressed with his writing about Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One by Joe Yonan, that I immediately ordered it online. And it's every bit as cool as David said it was.

Tonight I tried my first recipe out of it: I made the Sweet Potato Soup Base and after portioning it out into four containers to save some for another night, I sauteed a four ounce chunk of salmon, broke it up and dropped the pieces on top of a bowl of the soup, added a slice of lemon and a few extra leek shavings, and then - amazing! - I remembered to take a picture!

I was uncertain how good this might or might not be. The idea of the combination of sweet potato soup and salmon wasn't a 100% sale for me, but I figured, if I want to be adventurous, this is how you do it.

Happily, I was pleasantly surprised - it was really good!

So I thought I'd better report it here.

This cookbook has many great recipes and I can't wait to try more of them. It includes over 100 recipes for both weeknight staples and weekend projects. Says so right on the cover.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The landscaping crew came out Thursday and planted 5 Bridal Wreath plants in the empty space out front, and one of them in the middle of the "bird bath" flower bed triangle out back. It would look a lot better if I'd plant some colorful annuals in both places. And scatter some grass seed to fill in the numerous small bare spots in the front (it gets about 100% shade all day long, plus there were two old blue spruces here until about 1995 so there are undoubtedly still anti-competitor chemicals lingering, plus there is the maple tree in the middle of the yard also pumping out anti-competitor chemicals so it's no wonder the grass struggles...but it is definitely doing better than most of last year.) I have already used more energy writing this than I have in actually *working* out there so I'll shut up now since I don't have any intentions of actually working out there.

Really life is almost uniformly uneventful these days, which at my age is just what I like. I go to work, I come home. I putz around the house as needed, outside I water the hanging baskets and the transplanted plants and the new plants, I come back in and read and watch Netflix (I don't miss TV at *all* - anything I want to see, I can wait awhile and see it on Netflix.) I go to bed early and start the routine over in the morning. I'm loving all the reading I get to do.

I'm content - but that's boring to read in a blog so I'll sign off now.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Just what the title says. I was VERY fortunate with my arm; I've got full function back and no pain (just a little stiff when I straighten it hard, which isn't a function anyway). Went back to work March 9. And, finished my first pair of socks last week. I've got started on the second pair but O'Keefe bit through the yarn last night so I have to learn a new skill - the Russian join - to get the yarn back together so I can proceed. That will be tonight's knitting goal.

I had a landscaping expert over yesterday to look at my yard the way it was intended to be (our original drawings and plans from his company, who did the landscaping work in 2007), and how it is now (after two years of neglect by me). This makes me sound wealthy or something, but really I've been saving money those two years, also, and at this point in time I think it's important to get the front yard looking nice again. All my neighbors keep theirs looking nice and I'm ashamed I've let it go this long. There are reasons for it but it's all inside my head and other incentives are shifting into gear now so I'm going to try to do right by my wonderful neighbors AND my terrific house. I'll feel better once it's back in shape.

The first order of business is just spring clean-up. Later we'll replant the areas where the plants failed. After that, I hope to hire them to come back once a month during the growing season to keep things looking tip-top.

This IS stuff I COULD do myself, except that's been part of the problem, I keep telling myself that and then never get around to it. I have to face my shortcomings realistically - I'm never going to become That Gardening Neighbor I had envisioned. I always enjoy mowing, too, but this year, after hurting my elbow, I don't think the vibrations and exertion would be particularly good for the arm.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Well, I haven't kept this up very well...I did drive out to CA to spend a wonderful holiday week with my kids, and drove back without the slightest bit of any kind of problem. I had to rearrange my overnight motel city plans a couple times to avoid horrible winter weather but it all worked out fine in the end.

Almost got through the entire month of January - then on the 28th, I slipped and fell on black ice going to work, dislocated my right elbow (worst pain I've ever had - do NOT do this!!!) and I've been off work since. I start PT today and hope by the middle of March to be back to work and in fighting fettle, if not sooner but that's up to the orthopedic doctor. I intend to keep up my end of the project, that's for sure.

For someone who is constitutionally averse to housecleaning, this enforced sloth (two weeks of not using my right arm AT ALL for ANYTHING) has me champing at the bit for Spring Cleaning. Also, all those months of Not Knitting this winter, now I'm simply frothing to get back to it. Even bought two more skeins of sock yarn and two more books of patterns using sock yarn. And I haven't even finished my very first sock! (That was started, of course before the accident. Um...months and months and MONTHS before.)

I never imagined how hard EVERYTHING is without the use of my "good" (dominant) arm and hand. It takes five times longer and ten times as much energy to do ANYthing. And I'm a huge baby. I have been so fortunate all my life with good health and lack of injuries, that I have just had no end of tantrums (alone, in my house where no one can see my bad behavior) over how frakking difficult everything is. Yet I know full well how lucky I am (not just in the accident, which *could* have just as easily resulted in crushed and broken bones, nerve, connective tissue and blood vessel damage) - I'm among the luckiest million people on the planet, I reckon - good health, I'm able to support myself and own my home, wonderful TREASURES of family and friends and an understanding boss at work - there's no end to my list of good fortune. So now that the pain and disability is abating, I'm trying to keep that in the forefront of my thoughts now.

I love the sun but it does show up the dust, doesn't it? *sigh* Patience, Terry, patience...