Ruminations on Priorities & Sewing

I’ve been re-examining my priorities lately…for about the 70-billionth time. I generally do that when I really want to do something I’m not currently doing, and have no time to “work it in”. But I live in hope that some day, I’ll list out all the stuff I want to do and magically have time to do every last bit of it. Preferably with a reasonable amount of proficiency.

Gotta love a good fantasy, eh?

I also tend to reevaluate when I want to make sure that the things I’m making a priority really are important enough to keep the spot they currently hold. Writing is actually one of those things I’m constantly questioning. I haven’t published anything in two years (or more), I’m never quite sure if what I’m writing is something I want to publish, and I often wonder if I really should be spending so much time and money on something that isn’t really doing much for me in return.

Aside from…you know…providing a creative outlet that keeps me from going all nutty and such.

In any case, bringing home another antique typewriter last weekend was just a plain enjoyable event, because I have no real intention of actually using it. I just love to have old typewriters around, and have that little nostalgic piece of history to look and marvel at. I find them inspiring.

But buying the antique sewing machine sent me into another mental frenzy of “how am I going to fit restoring and using this lovely piece of equipment into my already packed schedule?” If it were already in good shape and all I had to do was use it or not, that would be one thing…I can accept it as an antique piece to enjoy and maybe use “sometimes”. But I can’t just leave it in the condition it’s in. It really needs to be shined up and oiled and brought back to something lovely. I *want* to do that.

And of course having a sewing machine in the house that actually works (albeit needs some work, but it does work currently) makes me want to do some craft projects that require a sewing machine. I’ve had a couple of sewing machines in the past, but always cheap, portable, electric models that required me to clean off space to work, near a plug-in, and put up with noise, and try to keep up with the machine as it outpaces my brain by a mile…needless to say, I gave both of them away. This one…this one is virtually silent. The speed is more easily controllable. It has its own table (that looks really nice as a piece of furniture), and needs no electricity. Unlike those other machines…this is a machine I actually *want* to use.

Of course I can’t really even start restoring it (aside from washing the casing) until I order a few inexpensive parts and some oil. I’ll do that tonight (today is payday – yay!). So next weekend, I’ll have what I need to work on it…but it will also be one of the busiest weekends of the year for us, with two Halloween events and then my husband flying out for a work trip and me trying to finish up props for the yard and candy bags for the kids.

Ah, Halloween. Our favorite holiday, and my poor husband will be stuck at a conference and on a plane for much of the actual day/evening. Which is just all sorts of wrong, really. But, we’ll look forward to next year.

Anyways…I will make time for the sewing machine restoration, even if just in bits and pieces. And eventually, I’ll figure out how to make time for the small sewing projects I have in mind. It seems like something important enough to make time for…because of the impact it will have not just on my life, but on the lives of my family when I make things for them.

And I’ll continue to make time for reading and writing, because it’s good for me mentally. And crocheting/knitting, because it’s good for me to get away from the screen and do something with my hands. Weaving will also make its way into the rotation.

My stamp collection is just going to sit for awhile…I just don’t have time to put any kind of meaningful work into it. The jigsaw puzzle on the table is probably going back in the box un-solved. Social media…well, that’s just going to have to be minimalistic too. Because in the evenings after I eat and walk the dogs and before I sit down to write, I need some time to just chill…away from all screens except the TV. That’s my crochet/knitting time, and it’s time when I don’t have to be social, chatting, talking, using my brain and straining my eyes. I’ve been slipping back into that more lately, setting the yarn aside for my laptop, and while I stay more connected to people that way, I lose the time I need to just wind down and be inside my own head for awhile. And that’s an important thing to protect.

Priorities are important. And knowing when to put things aside is important too. I think I’m starting to get better at identifying what I need to make a priority at this point in my life, and what can wait until later. Which is a very good, freeing thing.

Old Stuff, Basketballs & Book-Moving Report

Last week was kind of crazy, and this past weekend even moreso. My tattoo touch-up on Thursday initiated a thrift store stop that I normally wouldn’t have made and a dog-walk at a non-normal time, both of which ended up with odd outcomes. Funny how small decisions can make such a big impact, isn’t it?

At the thrift shop, I bought some clothes to rough-up for the skeleton bride in our 13th Anniversary Halloween display (which is why I stopped in, so mission accomplished). I also bought a few pieces of clothing for myself, and then looked around the shop as one does. One thing I saw was an older sewing machine – like, much older. I was curious at the time, but I don’t sew, and couldn’t really get to the cabinet for a good view, and figured I didn’t have room for something like that anyway. So I left.

Later that afternoon, I took the dogs for an early walk (since I was home early), and we walked by a couple sitting out on the curb enjoying the fall day. They had a leather basketball with them (one belonging to one of their kids, playing nearby), and Murphy decided to start playing with it. I warned them that he’d ruin it, but they kept rolling it back to him, because they found his antics most entertaining. They couldn’t believe it when he punctured the outside leather and was able to pick it up and carry it…

We chatted for a bit, and since the ball was all slobbery by that time, they told me he should just take it home. I really didn’t have a good way to carry it, but Murphy would not leave it at that point, so I tucked it under my recently tattooed arm, and prayed we didn’t run into any loose dogs on the way back, since I couldn’t easily control both leashes with one hand (we didn’t, thank goodness).

So, Murphy got himself a basketball simply by amusing a couple while we were out walking. Silly dog.

That night, I thought about that sewing machine I’d seen earlier. I have sort of a “thing” with manual machinery…I am fascinated by it. I love that it requires no electricity to work, and that ultimately, one can figure out how it works and repair it to keep running indefinitely given enough time. Understand, I love electricity and how much it enriches our lives, but there’s just something about a hand/foot driven machine that is incredibly cool and inspiring to me.

In any case, while searching images for a machine like the one I’d seen in the thrift shop, I fell down the internet rabbit hole of vintage sewing machines – treadle machines, to be specific. And while I couldn’t remember the one I’d seen having a hand wheel of any sort, I became completely entranced with the history of sewing machines and treadle machine restoration and use. I read and watched videos and learned everything I could in a small amount of time about them.

I mentioned to my husband the next night that I’d become fascinated with them, and not half an hour later, he showed me an ad on Craigslist for an old treadle sewing machine that someone locally was selling. Taking that as implied approval of the purchase, I emailed the lady to see if it was still available, and then proceeded to look up that particular sewing machine and read everything I could find about it, including a scan of the original instruction manual.

This is probably as good a place as any to mention that while he was looking through the antiques section on Craigslist, he also found and pointed out to me an old LC typewriter that was available for sale. I love antique typewriters, and emailed that guy to see if it was available too.

After that, my husband quit telling me about cool stuff on Craigslist. 🙂

In any case, long story shorter, that treadle sewing machine (a “Free No 5” model) is now in my living room waiting to be restored with some sewing machine oil and elbow grease, and yes, it does work. The typewriter is also in my living room (the counterpart to my old portable Royal typewriter) where I can stare lovingly at it every day (it works too, but the spacebar is cracked/needs replacing, and it could use a new ribbon).

Then there are new bookshelves, too. Saturday morning, I started cleaning off the bookshelves in my office and piled all the books in stacks on my living room floor. All except my antique/vintage books, which went on the dining room table, and my stamp collection, which got piled in my writing chair.

Sunday I took the bookcases out of the office and put them in the driveway, and hubby installed the new bookcases he built in the office. They are big and bold and amazing…I love them so much. They still need trim, which will happen next weekend, and also drawers for the bottom cabinets, which will happen as he has time. But I put most of the books back Sunday night, and just need to move the antiques/vintage volumes back sometime this week. No, I didn’t inventory anything. No time! Will that project ever get done? Maybe, maybe not. Not in the near future, for sure.

So…crazy busy four days or so, but filled with so much groovy-ness that I don’t even mind being way behind on pretty much everything. I’ll catch up next weekend. And then start on the Halloween decorations…

Holidays, Book Inventory, Sleep, & Tattoos

Today is a federal holiday, which means I am not at work. Call it Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day as you like (or Thanksgiving in Canada – Happy Turkey Day, Canadian peeps!) – I’m happy enough to stay home either way.

I have some editing I want to get done…on paper, no less. So that will take up part of the day. I need to catch up on the food prep I didn’t get done this past weekend too. Breakfast burrioes, yogurt & dog treats all need to be made.

I also want to start inventorying the books in my office bookcases. I have three tall bookshelves at the moment, but my husband is building me a really nice wall unit that will have four bookcases on top of four sets of drawers below, and in the middle (two on each side) a charging station/small desk area where the new printer and all chargable devices will sit to juice up.

I’d like to put all of the books into an inventory program I bought for that specific purpose, and moving them to new shelves seems like a good time to reorganize and clean out the copies I don’t want any longer. It’ll take me longer than a day, so might as well get started while I have a little extra time. I need to clean off all the little knick-knacks that accumulate in front of the books too (just me? Really?), and find another place for my porcelain doll collection (currently on top of the old bookshelves). Some of that is on the agenda for today as well. I can’t sit all day, but I can’t be in constant motion, either, so having different tasks will satisfy that need for variety.

On sleeping: as it turns out, getting more sleep does leave me clearer-headed. Unfortunately, it does not make me want to move any faster late at night when I should be extricating myself from the couch/cuddling dogs to get the kitchen cleaned up and get to my office to write.

But, new habits and routines take time, so this week, I’ll just plug along trying to stick to the same routine. Hopefully it’ll click eventually if I just keep going. I did okay getting to sleep on time for the first few days, but by the end of the week, I was reading later and sleeping later and not hitting my targets, or feeling rested. It’s been hard to stay asleep too – I’ve been waking up earlier (at my “old normal” time), and then going back to sleep. Though this morning I woke up closer to the “new normal” time, so…progress?

At least I’m getting more sleep than I was, so hopefully it’ll turn into more deep sleep one of these days.

I did get some new words in on my novel drafts last week, and bought a new printer so I can edit on paper. This week’s writing update is over on the writing blog, if you’re interested in more details on that.

And I stopped at the tattoo shop this past Saturday to show my artist how the smoke-filler in my sleeve turned out, and he wants to add some more (I was hoping he would). So I have an appointment for Thursday at 1pm. Can’t wait to see how it looks after this next session! I think the extra filler will really make it look more “complete”.

After that heals, I’ll get a video/pictures of the whole thing. And then we can discuss the different pieces/parts, and how they ended up plotting the backstory of the novel I’ll be working on starting next month, for those who might be interested.

Now it’s time to make another cup of tea, throw open the blinds, wave my husband off to work and get going on the first editing session for today…

Sleep, Health, & Difficult Choices

Last week I read an article in The Guardian about a neuroscientist and his two decades of studying sleep. The salient points of the article (for me) include a drop of 70% in your cancer-fighting killer cells and a much greater risk of Alzheimer and Dementia for those who consistently get too little sleep. That, and the fact that the less you sleep on a consistent basis, the less capacity your brain has to perform the “scrubbing” operations it needs to in order to keep your brain clear of amyloid deposits. And you can’t ever get that capacity back. It just keeps getting worse.

Will science eventually figure out some way to scrub out those deposits and restore our “brain-cleaning” abilites? Maybe. I dare say that if they do though, it’ll come with trade-offs in the form of side effects that are potentially as harmful, which is how most medicine often ends up working. Thing is, they might not too, or maybe not in time for me personally to benefit from it.

In any case, better to prevent as many health problems as possible, rather than count on medical science to “save” us later, methinks.

I’ve been getting 4.5 hours of sleep per night for…well, several years, at least. According to the article, anything less than 7 hours is considered sleep-deprived, and your brain doesn’t even start that deep cleaning until you’re in the last part of the 4th consecutive sleep cycle (so, the end of 6 hours). 7.5 hours would be 5 sleep cycles, which is optimal for brain health, so the article suggests.

How much damage have I already done? Hard to say…but probably a lot. When I read the article, I decided I needed to take action immediately – as in, that very night.

It took me longer than I care to admit to figure out how to rearrange my evening and morning schedules so I could still have some writing time, and yet get 6 hours of sleep. Those of you who already sleep 6 or 8 hours are probably wondering why it’s so difficult, but both my mornings and evenings are on a very tight schedule, and in between is the workday. I only really have an hour every evening of “free time”, which I spend watching TV with my husband. Everything else is scheduled by default, from dinner to dog walking to cleaning the kitchen at night and dog care/getting ready for work in the morning.

We all have priorities, of course, and I’ve chosen to make health a big one of mine. So things like cooking dinner (from scratch) 4-5 nights a week, walking the dogs (which is also one of my workouts) and ten minutes of yoga every morning are important to me, and need to stay priorities. Spending that time with my husband is too. Which means the only negotiable thing left is…writing. And I only had an hour every evening and half an hour in the morning scheduled for that.

One full sleep cycle.

So, I started looking at everything I do and trying to figure out how to make it tighter. More efficient. I managed to consolidate some things into little snippets of quarter hours here and there between other things. I banked on the fact that sleeping more would enable me to get going faster in the mornings so I wouldn’t need the time I normally do just to “wake my brain up” (20 minutes). I banked on the fact that more sleep would equal more motivation, and stacked my schedule tighter. And I figured out how I could get to sleep by 12:30am (to bed earlier…12:30 is the time I have to be asleep by) and get up at 6:30am most days and still have an hour of writing time most nights. Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays are all anomalies…I’ll have to shorten my writing time on Monday night to get up earlier to make the Tues staff meeting (have to be at work an hour earlier than normal). Friday nights are normally my “business hours” for publishing, and now those have to be cut short by a couple of hours due to needing to sleep 6 full hours before I get up to feed the dogs, and I’ll have to figure something out for Saturday nights too, since that’s my manicure night and I’m normally up very late (sometimes 4am).

Making the decision to sleep for 6 hours is hard for me on a lot of levels, but one of those is that late at night, when everyone else is sleeping and the house is quiet is my favorite time of “day”. I’m an introvert, and I need time alone, and that’s really the only time I can be guaranteed that no one will need anything from me for hours at a time. Friday and Saturday nights when I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning, by myself, just getting stuff done or doing things specifically for me…it’s a very relaxing, rejuvenating time. Giving that up is difficult, and stressful. I’ll need to figure out how to get some of that “me time” back when everyone is awake. But if that were easy, I’d have done it quite awhile ago.

And of course I need to figure out how to get the business-y stuff I was doing late Friday nights done at other times, and how to get my manicure done in less time so I can get to bed earlier on Sat nights. Both are still works in progress. I tried finishing up marketing/promo stuff this past Saturday morning after I got up (since I was up earlier due to the new sleep schedule), but just getting up earlier doesn’t make me more able to function in the morning – I’m still a night person, and my brain still doesn’t really “work” before 9 or 10am – no amount of sleep is going to help that. Those are hard-wired parts of my personality, so it’ll take some time to work the weekend schedule around the dogs and husband and everything else so I can still keep up with bookkeeping and marketing and all the other non-writing book-related tasks that need to be done. I failed this Saturday night/Sunday morning, and was up until 4am again. I still got 6 hours of sleep, but it wasn’t consecutive – there was a half-hour “up” time in the middle to feed the dogs and let them out. But now I have a whole week to figure out how to get my Saturday nights more consolidated.

Of course next Saturday night we’re going to a concert. And a couple weeks after that, a masquerade party for Halloween. So Saturdays might be my downfall for awhile. Hopefully getting more sleep every other night of the week will offset those. I’ve read various articles on Alzheimer’s studies that say preliminary findings indicate that coconut oil and curry (turmeric, cumin) can help remove those amyloid blockages as well, and I make turmeric paste for the dogs occasionally (turmeric, coconut oil, black pepper & water), so perhaps I’ll make sure to get some turmeric milk or curry in here and there throughout the week too. I do love curry…

I should mention that this past Weds, Thurs and Friday were some of the most clear-headed days I can remember having in a long time. Good focus both at work and later at home, no brain fog, I didn’t need that extra 20 minutes in the morning just to get my brain to function…it was a definite improvement on all levels. So while I can certainly “function” on 4.5 hours of sleep, I’m operating on a serious mental deficit there that I didn’t even recognize in myself until I made the change and paid attention. Kind of scary, when you think about it.

So, more sleep is the name of the game at the moment. Here’s to getting more zzzz’s in our lives (or mine, at least)…

Maintenance, Literature & Fall Excitement

Taking apart a dryer at 9:30pm on a Sunday night is not my idea of fun. I mean, yes, I did leave the little door/trap open while I cleaned off the screen, and yes, that little booklet to tell how to use the new detergent shouldn’t have been so precariously perched on top of a mountain of mis-matched sock singles, but still.

Our house is older but not super old, built in the 1950’s. It has some issues, like all older houses do. This past Saturday we had the plumbing guys in to snake out the floor drain in the basement, because it was to the point where I was flooding a corner of the basement every time I did laundry. What would have taken us at least a couple hours took him less than an hour, and he said it was nothing we could have prevented – just rusty old pipes. Which kind of made me wonder (but not for too long, because I didn’t want the headache it was bringing on) if the pipes would eventually rust out completely. And if they do, what the heck do we do then? I mean, these are under the basement floor, going out under the foundation and under a two-foot thick patio that the previous owner poured…

Yeah. Not going to think about that this morning either. Our electrical really needs to be redone too, but at least all that is above the foundation. We have a bathroom to fix and remodel, the other bathroom needs some upgrades (yes, needs), the kitchen floor needs to be replaced, and we’d like to put gas fireplaces into the wood burning ones at some point as well. So, lots to do. But it’ll be worth it, eventually.

Last week one of my goals was to make more time for reading. And I did. I’m still working on Tami Hoag’s The Bitter Season – for some reason, the book just isn’t doing it for me, but I’m half-through so might as well finish it. I also read The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie, which really did resonate strongly with me (love her books anyway). Then I started The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, which is written in a much more literary style – very high-level prose with the occasional word I have to look up the meaning of. I don’t read a lot of “literature”, mainly because it takes more time and concentration to delve into, and while it’s almost always worth the effort, I don’t always have the energy or time to spend on such involved reading. I’ve been wanting to read this one for awhile now though, so I’ll keep working through it a little at a time. Lovely writing, for sure, and an intriguing story right from the first page.

The other notable thing I did last week was buy a bunch of tickets. Friday was payday, and I bought tickets to a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party this coming Saturday at our local Moss Mansion, and then more tickets to their haunted theater show on Oct. 27th just before midnight. Another set of tickets to the Highly Suspect concert on Oct. 7th, and yet more tickets to the Yellowstone Art Museum’s annual Masquerade Party.

So that’s our entertainment sorted for this next month, which is all very exciting. Of course one can’t go to a masquerade without a costume, so hubby and I thought about it, and decided to go as Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. My riding hood costume and jewelry is ordered and he’s got a suit coming and a mask picked out. He’ll be a very dapper wolf indeed, methinks…no full fur suit or makeup, because he has to fly out on a business trip at 6am the next morning and removing makeup/spirit gum/etc would be a nightmare between leaving the party and getting to the airport at 4am.

Many fun things to look forward to in October…exciting!

For now…it’s Monday, so back to the week-day grind…

Credit Monitoring, Fingerless Gloves & Lottery

Do you monitor your credit? I haven’t for a long time, mostly because I know Experian has my file messed up, and they pretty much refused to fix it last time I contacted them about it. It’s incredibly frustrating because my maiden name is essentially the same as my dad’s name (James/Jamie), which means even when I contact creditors to have them tell Experian that a line of credit isn’t mine, they get confused too due to the name thing. The last two times I applied for a home loan, I had to write and collect a bunch of letters from my dad and to Experian in order to prove that the lines of credit that are his aren’t mine, and vice versa. It’s insanely annoying.

Enter the great Equifax hack of…well, last spring, I guess. No, I didn’t go look to see if I was affected…I mean, I think it’s safe to assume that my data is out there in the ether. I’m still a bit shocked that they cared so little about security as to ignore three warnings and also failed to update their system with prompt patching (mostly because I’m a database admin, and I am completely paranoid/anal about doing whatever’s necessary to keep the data I’m responsible for safe). But then I think about the customer “service” I’ve received from them in the past, and I’m not so shocked anymore.

In any case, the leading suggestion for keeping your data safe is to freeze your credit report accounts and keep them frozen until/unless you need to apply for credit. Which is something I can’t do, because of the mess with my dad’s records being mixed up with mine. Until/unless that gets fixed, freezing my account could freeze his, and vice versa, and getting it unfrozen could be…well, practically impossible. It’s not worth the risk, and that means no using companies like LifeLock, etc either (since that’s basically what they do for their “protection” services.

But, I have signed up for a free credit monitoring account with Credit Sesame (highly recommended, pulls from all three credit reporting companies, doesn’t lock credit accounts), and I’ll probably spring for one of the lowest monthly tiers for a monthly credit report from all three companies. Just to keep a better eye on things than I do now (which is pretty much ignoring it as much as possible).

Heck, maybe it’ll be good motivation to get some credit paid down. If nothing else just to have more money to pay for the credit monitoring. *sigh*

Aside from that, it was back to work last week, and predicatably my writing output took a bit of a header. But it’s all good, because I started using my very low-tech Alphasmart Neo for all of my late-night writing sessions, and I have to say, I wish I’d done that sooner. So much easier to focus – I started a new story, worked on a different short story, and I’m excited about what I might be able to get done using that method going forward. Focus is good. Focus is everything when it comes to writing.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about crochet/knitting lately, and how I’d love to get back to that on a regular basis. Last week the weather turned cold pretty suddenly as a cold front came through, and I took my fingerless gloves to work. They helped a little, but not a lot because they’re thin. And then I thought about the absolutely gorgeous, soft, fuzzy yarn I bought last weekend, and how warm and cozy that would be for fingerless gloves, and now I’m really wanting to make a pair (or several, in different colors) for the office when it’s cold (so, always).

So that’s a project I want to start this week. I should be able to work on those during the hour in the evenings I watch TV with hubby. As long as I use a somewhat simple pattern, anyways. Though I kind of want to try crochet cables, and that would be a nice, small project to learn them on.

I’ve been thinking about my stamp collection lately too, and my comic books, and my to-be-read pile.

Retirement is only…what…25 yrs away?

I should probably start buying lottery tickets again.

New Habits & Vacation Success

So you know that thing where you’re on vacation, and you think that you should get your normal chores done early so you don’t have to rush around all crazy-like doing them on Sunday to be ready for the work week like normal?

Yeah. I did actually *think* that. I just didn’t actually do it. And we played on Saturday (local home improvement show, grand opening for a new local yarn shop), so all I did then was my normal grocery shopping. Well, that, and I realized that when I was setting up my shiny new Note 8 last week, the one thing I forgot to backup for restoration was my Grocery Tracker app. Read: complete brain for the kitchen, pantry and grocery store so I don’t have to even remember what might need to go on the list – it’s all in a master list that I can refer to when making the actual list, which reminds me of what to check as well as what I might need (if that makes any sense).

In any case, my point is, without the grocery part of my digital brain, I made three (yes, three) trips to various stores this weekend. See how disorganized and inefficient I can be when my carefully curated systems fall apart? Scary, I know. I’ve started rebuilding my grocery list, so next weekend shouldn’t be nearly so disorganized. I hope.

In any case, that’s my extremely long-winded explanation for why this post is a day late. I’m actually writing it on my AlphaSmart Neo during what would normally be my late writing time – it’s nearly midnight Mon/Tues. The weekend got away from me, and I had to use this morning’s writing time to get the BSB weekly post up. So here I am, in my cozy armchair in the office, sparing my sore eyes and trying to start a habit of typing over here instead of on my laptop at my desk. Too much shiny distractive-ness over there. Though the glare of the light in here off the Neo’s rather reflective screen isn’t wonderful, but it’s far easier on my eyes than backlighting. I’d get one of those newfangled typewriters with the e-ink screen, but I hear they don’t have a back button/arrow. That isn’t gonna work for me. I need to be able to fix minor spelling mistakes as I go. It’s important.

In any case, this is the plan for the near future. For my late night writing sessions (which tend to be sidetracked rather quickly), I’m going to grab the Neo and park in my armchair for at least half an hour. I should probably set an alarm so I get to bed at a reasonable hour. Or at least reasonable enough that I can function at work the next day. I think that will probably work much better than trying to write amidst the distractions of email, facebook, etc. Heck, it already is! Far, far easier on the eyes, too.

Last week was the best vacation I’ve had yet. I finished a draft that I really wanted to get done, did a lot of writing, and pretty much just didn’t worry about too much else. I had housework-type stuff that I wanted to get done, but I didn’t, and I really don’t even feel bad about it. It’ll all get done eventually, and I spent my vacation doing what I wanted to do, rather than what I felt needed to be done, and it was structured but loose enough that I could have a lot of wiggle-room. I played with the dogs, read comic books, set up the new cell not just for organization, but for writing and editing too, and slept in (but not too long) every day.

I even made it to the archery range, and shot pretty well considering all the times I’ve missed lately.

Most importantly, I got enough writing done that I feel more “in control” of that area of my life again…like I can handle it and make progress again, instead of spinning my wheels like I sort of was. Which takes a lot of the stress I was putting on myself off. It feels good.

It’s late – I just transferred this to the laptop, and now I need to hit “publish” and then hit the hay so I have a chance of making it to work on time tomorrow (early on Tuesdays – staff meeting).

Hooray for vacations! And yay for good paying, stable jobs, too. 😉

13/20, Rich Food & Plans

Thirteen years – that’s how long my husband and I have been married as of yesterday. A very nice number, if I do say so myself. Also kind of fun considering we started dating twenty years ago this coming Halloween. I’m not sure whether or not we’ll get to do a big Halloween display this year, due to the potential for hubby having to work, but if we can, maybe we should do a “test your luck” theme of sorts…mirrors that break when you walk by, ladders to walk under, black cats crossing paths, etc.

As for our anniversary…it feels like I’ve been with my husband forever, and also like no time has passed at all. Which is exactly how it should be, methinks.

We went out to dinner to celebrate, as people do. And I haven’t had gastric issues as bad as I did last night in too many years to remember. Wow. Thank goodness for ginger ale (the real stuff, with actual ginger, not the “light ginger flavored corn syrup” version). It could have been much worse (and was headed that direction) without it.

I’m sure the food was fine, it’s just I’m not used to eating such rich food, since that’s not what I cook. And honestly, it’s becoming really hard to get a good chicken-fried steak here in town. They’re fried in weird oils, smothered with far too much gravy, and are far bigger than they need to be. Give me a small steak breaded and cooked up in butter, then topped with a *circumspect amount* of white gravy (not an ocean-full, thanks), and I’ll be happy as a clam.

I think the last place I had really good chicken fried steak was at JB’s before they closed down. There’s a Starbucks in that space now (depressing). *sigh*

In any case, I’m better this morning, thank goodness, and planning out the next four days of my vacation. I kind of slacked off yesterday even though I wasn’t planning to, but there’s still plenty of time left in the week.

Today is all about “obligatory” weekly writing…the serial chapter for Friday, the two writing prompt pieces (short story and poem) for BSB, and I’d like to get something done for my buddy Carol’s writing prompt this month. If I can get all that done, and a read through on one of two drafts I’d like to revise while I’m home, I’ll consider it a very productive day.

Of course my new Galaxy Note 8 is scheduled to be delivered sometime today. Which will be distracting, to say the least. I’m really excited to get it and get it set up though, after the whole Note 7 debacle last fall. But it will take awhile to transfer my files/photos/etc over, so not really an excuse not to get my writing projects done.

And because I can’t sit all day (well, I could, but it’s not good for anyone to do that), I’m going to start cleaning off the third counter in my kitchen as well. The other two have been cleaned and rearranged several times in the last month with the new appliances, and if I can get this third one done, that will be a huge organizational help. So I’ll be working on that around writing projects this week.

Tomorrow I want to do revisions on one of those drafts plus some planning for the next book I want to write, Thursday more revisions plus some writing on a different draft in progress, and Friday finish up whatever revisions I’ve got in progress, plus another chapter for the serial novel so I’m a week ahead again (novel idea, I know!).

It’s gonna be a good week…and a nice break from the norm! Now, another cup of tea…and then it’s time to write!

Movin’ Along, Vacation Time & Essential Oils

So…how about that eclipse?! After hearing stories about what those in the path of totality saw, I kind of wish I’d made the drive (only a few hours), but we did have around 94% coverage here, and I have to say, it was fun going up on the roof of our building to watch, and seeing everyone else on rooftops and the top floors of parking garages all checking out the sky in the late morning hours. It felt very…unified, and given all the issues and divisiveness (*ahem*) our country has been dealing with lately, it was a welcome break to hear everyone talking about one subject that we could all agree on and enjoy together.

As for the rest of the week, I got both my new microwave and toaster oven Monday and Thursday, respectively, and they’re both in and working great. My kitchen looks better than it has in years, and I just have one more counter to clean/reorganize before I’ll be done with that huge job for awhile. That will have to wait a week – I was pretty lazy this past weekend, and got very little done.

My analog/low digital plans for writing last week never happened, and as a result, I ended the week far behind and really frustrated with myself. I was up too late pretty much every night getting distracted by everything but writing (installing the new appliances/cleaning counters, online shopping/bill-paying, researching things that should have been left for later, etc). It was…ridiculous, really. My brain was jumping all over the place, and instead of reigning it in, I just went right along for the ride. Stupid.

Part of this is work-related, and without going into too much detail, I need to manage my…uh…”introvert needs” better. Too much interaction with people throughout the day without any way to balance it with quiet time leaves my head in a bad state, and until I get that quiet time it stays unbalanced and affects my focus and mood and a whole bunch of other things. I need to figure out how to make sure I get the recovery time I need from having to be social at work (taking my breaks instead of spending them at my desk is probably a good place to start), so I’ll be working on that this week.

And of course part of it is just my own discipline issues. I’ll work on that again this week as well.

I’ve requested this next Friday off, and the whole week after Labor Day. I need a vacation, and that’s one of the few weeks this fall where my being gone shouldn’t affect too much (if anything) at work.

I plan on doing a lot of writing/editing next week, with some minimal housework to break up the sitting times. But mostly, just spending time alone, doing what I want to do for awhile. I think that will be incredibly helpful/restorative.

I’ve also been doing some research on essential oils, and how to use them for both mental focus and relaxation. I use them in my face creams already, and the occasional lotion attempt, so I’m not a complete stranger to them (chamomile and valerian root are great for skin issues & relaxation). Murphy-dog has been using essential oils for his anxiety since he was with his foster family, and it’s pretty amazing how much his mood changes depending on whether he’s had his sprays for the day or not. I wanted to get some for his leg (to hopefully help with healing), and while I was looking up which ones would be safe, useful for that, etc, I also found information on some oils that might help my own focus/alertness at night. I did one experiment last week with surprisingly good results (honestly, I really didn’t expect it to), so I’ll be plugging in one of my many unused diffusers in my home office this week, and diffusing peppermint, lavendar and frankincense at night – that seems to work surprisingly well for keeping my head where it needs to be, and keeping my mind from wandering.

Yes, it could still be a placeabo effect, but really, does it matter? I think not…whatever works. I’m totally willing to psych myself out if it means I get more words in/more progress on my drafts. I’ll post an update after I get the starter bottles I ordered, and have experimented with them a bit for those who might be interested.

No, I didn’t buy into an MLM company or anything like that. Just a small company focused on selling high quality oils at a reasonable price. Sometimes smaller is better/more consciencious.

In any case, busy week, but I have four days of work this week and then…vacation!

Vacation is good. 🙂

The Eclipse, More Kitchen Organization & Writing Discipline

Got your glasses, film, or cardboard viewer ready? Or your favorite internet/TV channel for viewing things like, say, a solar eclipse?

I’m lucky enough to live in the path of this year’s eclipse – we’ll get 93% coverage here, which is pretty darn close to total. I do have a pair of clip-on eclipse viewing glasses that are so dark you can’t see a single thing through them except the sun (seriously – you couldn’t walk around with them on…you’re blind) – they’re in my desk at work so I can catch the view out the window (or take a break) at the darkest point. It will last through my lunch hour, so I’ll be able to sneak peeks here at home as well…should be much more fun than your average Monday.

I was really young when the last eclipse passed over our place here…just three or four. But I actually do remember my mom making a pinhole viewer out of a cardboard box so we could watch it, and it was absolutely fascinating to me.

In other news, I spent a lot of time working on my kitchen this weekend. Cleaning, rearranging, planning how to rearrange a few other things on my countertop to accomodate a toaster oven (which I’ve never had, but really want), and just moving things around to make things more efficient.

I think I have a working plan, but we’ll see. My new microwave should be here today or tomorrow, and I’m apprehensive because it’s so much lower wattage than my current one. But it looks so much nicer (goin’ retro, baby!), it takes up a lot less space, and as long as it will heat up leftovers/lunches and defrost meat, that’s really all I need it for. Fingers crossed!

I get paid tomorrow, and I’m planning to order the new toaster oven then. I found an inexpensive one with really good reviews with a retro look that will be much more fun than the normal boring white or black box, so I’ll order that, and wait anxiously until it gets here (hooray Amazon Prime!).

I also found an app this weekend that I’m pretty excited about – Grocery Tracker. I’ve been wanting to keep better track not just of what I need, but of what I have in the pantry, plus have a way to automatically take things out of the pantry when I use them and put them back on the grocery list. This app will do all of that, from menu planning to inventory (of the fridge, both freezers and the pantry) to automated grocery lists. It’s incredibly robust, so there is a learning curve, but I didn’t find it difficult to get started with at all (and the barcode scanner works very well too – less data entry is good!). I spent a fair amount of time taking inventory of food I have in the house this weekend, but it’ll be worth it in the long run (and once something’s in the database, it doesn’t have to be added again, just scanned, so much easier).

In other news, I’m updating my writing blog again, so if you’re interested in what I’m working on, head over there for this week’s post. The new writing schedule is working out…okay. Not perfect, but that’s mostly because I’m so tired late at night and easily distracted. I think this week I’ll either write by hand late nights, or use my Alphasmart Neo, just to avoid internet-distraction & wasting time.

It’s all about discipline, really, and when I’m tired, I have none (or very little, anyway). Which leads to being more tired because I stay up later, get less sleep, and do the same cycle the next day. So this week, analog/low-digital writing options for late nights, and getting to bed on time. Fingers crossed…