Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Writing

…Please Pause…

That kind of feels like what my brain is saying in regards to “the new normal” of living life alongside/with a pandemic. I am healthy. So far, my family and close friends are all healthy (or at least not suffering from COVID-19 symptoms). But my brain is “noping out” of serious stuff right now, apparently filled to overflowing with dread and malaise from keeping up with the news.

In practical terms, this means my brain refuses to let me work on my novel. Working on novel edits requires a massive amount of “holding stuff in my head” in order to keep moving forward: each character’s arc, the plot arc, the overall scene goal, the chapter goal, the corrections currently necessary to each of the previous, the finer points of wordsmithing, AND the ability to mark something for later attention.

And I just…can’t. It’s too much right now, too overwhelming.

And while that’s okay, it’s not okay for me to stop writing altogether. I don’t want to do that, or to let even these circumstances control me so much. Instead, I’ve returned to short fiction. I’ve had several dozen short stories languishing in various stages of (in)completion, and added more to that number in January, when I participated in another Weekend Warrior flash fiction contest over on Codex. These stories, along with previous years’ stories, have been begging for revision, for editing and refining and rewriting before they can achieve a story’s ultimate goal: submission to market. And that’s what I’m doing.

This is the exact type of challenge I need. Each story is short, far smaller in scope than a novel, and thus easier for me to hold all the parts in my head. Also, each story can be completely reworked in a matter of days, so I get a rush of much-needed endorphins to propel me into the next story. And I can work different stories on different days, changing tone or genre or sub-genre depending on my ever-shifting mood and the mood of the world happening around me.

It’s been a great change for me, and has re-invigorated my writing practice. I’ve sent out more stories in 3 weeks than in the previous seven months, when I’d been exclusively noveling. In fact, right now I’m sitting on some really good news–but until contracts are signed, it’s got to remain my little secret. Just know that I’m holding something shiny and new against my heart, waiting to share it all with you as soon as I can.

Be safe, everyone. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Stay at home to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the health and safety of healthcare workers and first responders who are unceasing in their efforts to save as many lives as they can. Be good to each other, and to yourself. To quote from The Red Green Show, “We’re all in this together.”

Magic of the Everyday, Moving, Personal Life, Writing

Whew!

Well, the transition is over. We are moved out of our previous home, and all our things–both those we stashed in a Pod for showing, and the stuff from the mover’s truck–are in our new house, albeit much still in boxes stacked haphazardly in various spaces. We’re updating the lighting and fans and such things even as we attempt to unpack and put things away, which means everything is going more slowly than we’d like. But it’s going, it’s getting done, and everything we’re updating is delighting us that much more.

And of course, let’s not forget that we have to find various types of doctors, a vet, a chiropractor (sooner rather than later after that Pod!), the good stores to shop at, banks, and two types of pharmacy, and also explore parks and dog parks, cook, clean, cut grass, figure out trash days–basically, live a normal life. Or, well, whatever passes for “normal” in this house, at least.

The Pod got delivered yesterday, and though my back is aching today, the whole thing is cleaned out, ready to be picked up again and carried away. Dasher the dog is in dog-heaven, because he just got a delivery of all the toys that went away before the showing. He’s been carrying around his lemon-head toy, leapt into the pool yesterday again and again for his favorite old frisbee, and fell asleep last night still holding his long squeaky snake toy, which he’d been dragging around like a true prize. All is well on the canine front!

And on the orchid front, as well. My oh my, who knew that just a wee bit south, the orchids just don’t need me to do anything–other than not thoroughly abuse them–in order to flourish. They are thriving on this new location, growing like literal weeds and looking lush and gorgeous. A few are newly in spike, and one that was spiking as we moved (and oh, didn’t that make me nervous, moving that big, spiked orchid; I was so afraid I’d break off that flower spike!) is about ready to burst open. I promise I’ll post pics soon, although they might hit Twitter first.

My new office is wonderful, and after the bedroom where we sleep, it was the first room set up. My novel is up on the wall, 3×5 cards showing the scenes left to write. And I’ve been writing here. It’s a perfect space, and I love it. Let’s hope my writing loves it, too!

And with that, I gotta run. More writing to be written, more packed things to unpack, and  yes, a vet appointment for Dasher to meet his new doctors.

Happy Summer!

Moving, Nature, Personal Life, the dog

Moving Blues

Oh my word! The stresses of trying to make your house look like a hotel where no one permanently lives, kept clean by an entire staff, while you actually live there and have no staff but yourself.  While also trying to manage a dog with seizures who is undergoing yet another medical procedure. And, oh yeah–write a book!

As you might have guessed, we’re moving. Again.

Southward, once more. To the Orlando area. I’m excited about some new opportunities, but I’ll be very sad to see the end of many things I’ve loved here. Not only the yard that I’ve transformed into a veritable paradise (to me, at least), filled with fruit and scent and bloom, but the neighbors we have here, and the places we’ve come to love, our beloved solar panels, and the wildlife in this area, too.

Just last evening, we discovered that the owlet on the esplanade is actually one of a pair of owlets! We heard, then saw, them both, cree-ing piteously as dusk settled in under the laurel and live oaks, bobbing their heads and craning their necks as they flapped vigorously, strengthening those wings for the glories of future flights. And the hummingbirds are returning in force to the feeders here, and starting to battle for the feeder territory.

We’re in contract on both ends–selling this home, and buying the new one. But oh my word! (yes, I’m repeating myself. but it deserves repetition; these last few days have been stressful!) Realtors, and unrealistic clauses, and inspections, and deadlines, and so very many phone calls, texts, emails, and voice-messages! It’s like a horror novel that never really took off, but merely devolved into a more ridiculous angsty dread with every passing moment, and no real plot to speak of because things move at both a snail’s pace and with ever-increasing speed at the same time.

All this is to say: well, don’t expect to see much of me around these parts until after June begins. At that time, I’ll be coming to you–with any luck and with the appropriate sacrifices to the various gods of moving, whomever they may be–from the Orlando area. Ensconced in a new office. And with a dog fully recovered from his latest batch of medical stuff.

Wish me luck!

Nature, Personal Life

ugh

my right thumb was stung by ground hornets on monday as i tore out the spent broccoli, and now my entire hand is swollen and gross. just got meds yesterday from the doc, and while they’re helping, they also make me a bit snoozy. and typing is still haaaarrd.

so, while i recover, have a quick picture of the wee little plums forming on the plum tree:

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Travel

Home Again, Home Again

I’m back from my trip to London, where I stayed with friend and Taos Toolbox roommate, Mel Melcer. We had a great time, and ended up nearly walking our feet off. And hey, I discovered some things about the UK.

For starters, all that “rain and dreary gray” nonsense was just that–nonsense–during my trip. It was hot. I mean, I packed the wrong clothes! I ended up buying a sleeveless top, and wished I’d brought a pair of shorts, or a skirt. Whew! We sought out the shade, and changed plans one day to avoid London due to the heat (well, that and our tired feet…).

Also, Big Ben isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Photo proof here:

Big Ben covered in scaffolding.

OK, in reality, the trip was awesome. I saw so many amazing things, ate and drank great things, and on top of all that, 3 of my Taos Toolbox classmates and I got together one evening, and had a great time.

Instead of blathering on, let me share a few photos with you. But first, other amazing things not pictured: visiting Forbidden Planet; attending a reading/meeting of the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club; touring Westminster Abbey, walking St. James Park; my first British tea house tea, including my choice of really superb gluten-free cakes; riding the Tube; meeting Mel’s cats, and tonnes more!

Tower Bridge. Got to see the drawbridge raise to let a paddlewheel river boat through. Riverboat’s name? Considering where I’d come from it was, ironically enough, the Dixie Queen.
Panoramic view of the Thames riverside walkway, with a strange aberration from the “pano” process that tickles my fantasy-laden fancy!
Beefeater Tour Guide at the London Tower. He’s also the Raven Master!
One of the seven ravens held at the Tower. Meet Merlin.
Shakespeare statue in the park where the Taos group met; I particularly like the quote on the scroll old Will is holding.
“Alien life forms” in a greenhouse at RHS Wisley Gardens. (These gardens were a-mazing!)
Sparkling wine with Mel (left) and me (right) in her garden.
Feeding the swan and cygnets at Hever Castle and Gardens–another great place to explore!
Inside Hever Castle, looking out into the central courtyard.
Mel and I ride the London Eye, getting a great view of practically everything!
Husband loves scotch. But he did NOT get this one, which I saw at the World of Whiskey, inside Gatwick Airport. (click to embiggen, and check out that Duty Free price! Yikes.)

 

plain silliness, Writing

On Not-Writing

The dog sleeps contentedly, the chores remain caught up.
Looks around for something else to do, but the eye rests on nothing undone.
Even the cat has been waxed, and run off yowling.
(It is not my cat, but a friendly neighborhood stray. I fear I may have offended it.)

Nothing for it then.

Pours Japanese green tea in fancy Thai teacup.
Sips. Dreams.
Opens file and at last, and begins to write.

food, Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Personal Life

Catching Up is Hard to Do

I was gone for the past two weeks, up north in New Jersey where I got to visit the burgeoning autumn weather. You’d better believe that fresh, tart Winesap apples were stowed into my carry-on for the trip home. When I pulled out the sacred bag of Apple, Spousal Unit dove into one right there at the airport, while we waited for luggage to arrive on the carousel. Mmmm, the things you miss when you move…

Visiting fall was wonderful. Apples in season (I made two apple pies!), fall foliage turning lovely, cool nights that brought out blankets and closed windows (one night dipped to 38F), and recipes that matched the season–braised root veggies with chicken, mushroom risotto, currywurst. Bracing winds one day, lovely weather the rest of the time. Even though I was kept busy, I really enjoyed my time on the Shore.

But this weekend brought another kind of fun: the Gainesville Orchid Society’s Orchid Show at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens! I only joined GOS after last year’s show, and am happy to admit I’m a rank novice and total beginner at this “orchid thing.” But it’s a lot of fun, and I’m learning so much about an amazingly diverse group of plants. And the show was amazing. So many types of orchids on display, and more for sale from various vendors. I couldn’t pass up one particular plant–Bratonia Shelob ‘Tolkien.’ I mean, really, could I consider myself a fantasy writer if I didn’t buy one of those?!? Here’s a link to what it will look like should I get it to bloom. (Some report it has a slight fragrance, too–extra bonus!) Just now, mine is a tiny bit of green–healthy, but nowhere near sending up a bloom spike. Cross your fingers that this little spider orchid will grow and bloom wonderfully for me.

But it’s time to dive back into writing. I’m looking forward to it, especially since the dog seems to have gotten over his “stick to her like a burr to flannel” phase. I’m behind on where I expected to be at this time, but life happens–as it should–and I’m okay rolling with the flow. Good writing is ahead of me. I can feel it. Like fall, it’s in the air.

Now I’m off to eat a persimmon. You know what they say–whether in NJ or in Florida, eat your local seasons. Happy fall.

Magic of the Everyday, Nature

Worms in my Kitchen? I’m So Glad!

My worm composter arrived yesterday morning. Yesterday afternoon, the worms themselves arrived, neatly bagged, then boxed and delivered into my mailbox! Now, the composter is assembled, and the worms are making themselves happy after their trip from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm in PA to north central FL. I’m sure they had quite a shock going from whatever temps PA had, to the upper 80s we’ve been having of late!

Nonetheless, they’ve quit seeking an escape and have settled nicely into the wet coir-and-shredded paper base. Their first light meal is scraps from the previous night’s beets along with mixed used tea leaves and coffee grounds. I’m hoping that they consider it gourmet treats and start digesting it quickly–I can’t wait to start using worm compost on my plants!

Why worm composting? Well, we don’t really freeze here, not for long enough to kill bugs. And, while I was using the neighborhood community garden, each time I went to the compost stack, roaches scattered. I could hear them, not just see them fleeing! It just grossed me out. Our yard is pretty small, so any composter I could get would be close enough to the house to be an attraction to bugs…and you can guess where that goes all too quickly. No way. Uh-uh. I don’t want roaches in my home.

I’ve been depressed about this for some time. We go through quite a bit of compostable material every week, once we return from the farmers’ market–peels, carrot tops, mushroom stems, etc. All that stuff just going to waste, instead of feeding my gardens, made me want to cry.  Then it just dawned on me–I could do worm composting without drawing bugs inside!

I haven’t figured out where it’s going to sit yet; this is still a work-in-progress, and it will probably change with the seasons. For now, I’m keeping it close so I can keep an eye on the worms’ adaptation to their home, making sure they survive, thrive, and begin to feed as expected. With any luck, soon you’ll see me taking piles of gorgeous compost out and feeding my plants worm tea!

Worms are in my kitchen, and yes, I’m very, very excited!