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Kitchen Organization & Irony

If I were to sum up this past weekend in one word, it would be: “whew”. I’m tired. I was almost happy to be back at work today, except my muscles had more time to try to stiffen up as I sat at my desk. I used quite a few this weekend that I haven’t used in quite a long time. A couple trips up the stairs and back down plus morning yoga seemed to keep the stiffness down a bit though.

Saturday I had a good time book shopping with a friend met on Facebook, and then the work began. We loaded up our two couches, took ’em out to the dump, and then it was off to the furniture store to pick up our new sectional. Back to the house, I vacuumed while hubby freed the new furniture from its packaging, and then we hauled everything in, put it together, and man…it’s a very nice sectional. Not too big, looks great, plenty of room for me and both dogs, and room enough for the rare guest too.

Hubby took a shower and headed out for a night with his brother, and I set out to clean off/out the refrigerator for our next project: fixing a leak in the water line that popped up and ruined the kitchen floor a week and a half ago. I cleaned off old appliances and such that had been living on top the fridge – just tossed ’em, since I don’t need them or they didn’t work any longer. Dusted, took off the magnets, cleaned all the old food out, and…decided to go ahead and replace the water inlet valve, which we suspected was the leaking culprit. I was on a roll…didn’t feel like waiting for hubby to help on Sunday.

I replaced the valve, turned the water back on, and…turned out there was a pinhole leak in the water line. Dammit. Taped up the leak, pushed the fridge back, and called it good for the night (around 10pm).

A good deal of Sunday was taken up with going out to get the new line, snaking it up with the old line, not having the right connector fittings (so another trip to the store for hubby), and then finally getting it fixed late in the afternoon. After that, I finally got to my normal weekend chores – vacuuming, garbage duty, recycling, laundry, and grocery shopping (which I normally do Saturday afternoons now, but I didn’t want to fill the fridge again until we were done moving it around).

I’ve been thinking a lot about my kitchen lately (I tend to do that when stuff breaks and/or doesn’t work like it should), and wanting to make a few changes with how things are organized. So cleaning out the fridge/freezer this weekend was a good start, and also a good way to really take stock of my counters and how I want to rearrange them to accommodate the appliances I need/use.

Cleaning off the top of the fridge also gave me storage for appliances I use, but only once a week or less – like my yogurt maker. I’ll use it tonight, and then it will sit again for a couple of weeks, so instead of having it in front of my crockpots (in the way), I’ll put it on top the fridge between uses. It’s one of those things I have no problem actually reaching for when I need it. Same with extra pitchers/etc for my Ninja blender (that I mostly use for smoothies). Right now, they tend to “float” on the crockpot trio just because I’m out of cupboard space. Those can live up on the fridge as well.

I’ve ordered a smaller microwave, which may or may not end up being a mistake, but I’m tired of the huge one we have taking up 2/3 of the countertop where it lives. It’s a beast, and we’ve been getting occasional “door not closed” errors on the display, so it’s time to replace it anyway, but the one I ordered is half the size and wattage (only 700watts!), so…we’ll see. The new one is much cuter – a retro look, and it will leave enough room on that counter for my dehydrator, which currently lives by the stove. Then the few cookbooks I refer to on occasion can move to that tiny counter, leaving room on the other side of the stove for the toaster oven I want to get later in the month.

I don’t use the microwave for cooking, only defrosting/reheating. I’m hoping this smaller one will do the job. It does have excellent reviews. And I’m hoping to eventually use the toaster oven more than the microwave or larger oven. At least until I can buy a new convection oven, maybe even one with two separate cooking zones…because I love kitchen gadgets just as much as I love other electronics, and because there are only two of us, so it’s not like I need a whole lot of space to make dinner most nights, and it would be nice not to heat up an entire large oven for just a single pan of veggies (or 3 slices of toast on the weekend).

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.

I need a new oven (one burner on my stovetop doesn’t work, and the oven itself doesn’t heat evenly), and I’d like a new fridge, but those are going to have to wait awhile. Crazy how much appliances cost, isn’t it?

I’m always looking for ways to make my little galley kitchen more efficient…and I freely admit I have too much stuff packed into it already. But, I use it daily, and use most of the appliances I have on a very regular basis, so it’s not like I’m just collecting a lot of stuff I don’t use. Aside from baking dishes. Because I rarely bake (calories!), but when I do need them, at least I have them.

I’d also really like to keep a running inventory of the fridge, freezer, pantry, and deep freeze, in hopes of using things up on a more regular basis (instead of buying too much and wasting food). Alas, that’s a project I’ve been trying to get going for years, and still haven’t managed. But maybe this next weekend I’ll be able to finally get a good inventory entered into an app of some sort. I’m taking this coming Friday off work, and the plan is to give the pantry and deep freeze the same “clean it out” treatment I just gave the fridge. Which would be a good time for inventory…if I were so inclined….

Better efficiency and inventory of course doesn’t just mean better food management. It makes it easier to cook and eat healthier. Which makes it easy to manage weight and stay healthier overall.

Ironic thing number one this past week: We switched to whole grain breads in order to be healthier with our carbs. Neither of us have ever particularly cared for the taste, but I did find some that are at least passably palatable.

The irony is, for years I’ve been struggling with how to keep bread from molding without keeping it in the fridge. Apparently, whole grain bread keeps better than white – not one roll or bun molded last week in the breadbox on the counter. So apparently, healthier is actually heartier, in the case of bread at least. Who knew?

Ironic thing number two is that all weekend, my SHealth app was pestering me because I “wasn’t as active” over the weekend as I normally am on weekdays. The truth is, I was far, far more active, but I tend not to put my cell in my pocket when I’m doing things like…moving couches, cleaning out and moving refrigerators, pulling new water lines, vacuuming, laundry, etc. I mean…why would I have my cell in my pocket for all that, when it could get lost or broken or whatever? Duh.

In any case, new couch – check. Working refrigerator – check. Plan for the kitchen this weekend – check.

Energy/motivation to get all this stuff done…well, let’s wait and see what I’ve got by Friday.

Of Couches & Habits & Things That Are Old

A week ago last Saturday, I ordered a new couch (sofa, whatever). I like couches. Recliners never seem to fit me well, and I like being able to have my dogs laying with me when they want to. A good couch and ottoman are my “necessities” for comfort in the living room.

When we got married and moved into this house nearly 13 yrs ago, we bought a couch and loveseat, but we each had a bunch of other furniture to “merge” as well. So the couch got put downstairs in the “TV/Workout room” (where it still resides) the loveseat was mine, and we had a couple of extra chairs in the living room. The one chair that survived all those years is my reclining armchair, which my parents bought for me when I first moved out of their house. I love it, and now it’s my “reading chair” in the office.

The thing about a loveseat is, there’s really only room for me and one dog. Or one dog stretched out. It was never really an issue before, because I had dogs that never really wanted to be on the couch at the same time, or were only up there together when I wasn’t so they could look out the window. Now I have two dogs who would both be happy cuddling with me on the couch in the evenings…and who get jealous of each other if one is up and the other is not.

So, I decided a sectional would both solve that problem and make the room look a little more “put together” than the mis-matched pieces we’ve had for all these years. Hubby still has his recliner, of course (needs a new one, actually…soon), and we got an old worn out couch free from one of the neighbors last month just to make sure having a sectional wouldn’t make the room look weird/too small. When the new sectional couch comes in, both my old loveseat and that old couch will head to the dump. It’s pretty exciting, really, considering how long we tend to keep furniture. I can’t wait until it gets here…later this week, perhaps?

In other news, breaking my scrolling habit has been…difficult. I need to refine the times I’m allowed to to scroll, because the times I set just really aren’t working for actual interaction, and part of the goal is to be productive while I’m online – not just on Facebook, but on Instagram and Twitter too. I need to set aside time when I can scroll *and participate*, not just scroll. The scrolling is the time-wasting part. So that will be this week’s goal – to find the best time to do that.

As for the “Things That Are Old” part of the title, well, it’s my husband’s birthday today, and he’s 11 yrs older than I am, which makes him “Old(TM)”. LOL And I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind him occasionally throughout the day/year. Because that’s what good wives do. Or what this one does, anyways.

I love older men – I always have, and this one especially (of course). Happy 53rd to the most important man in my life. Like a puerh tea-cake, you’re aging to perfection!

Poem-A-Day Challenge: Week 4 (Final!)

Whew! National Poetry Month is over, and while it was a good learning and habit-forming experience, I have to say, I’m glad it’s over. Of course I didn’t do this alone – Carol R. Ward also wrote a poem every day in April, and she wrote a different form every day as well. It’s her fault I did this, if you recall correctly. I can’t decide if I owe her lunch or she owes me, at this point…but I can say with confidence that we’re both glad to be done.

Without further ado, the last week’s worth of poems, for your perusal, amusement, and/or heavy sighs/groans (it’s okay – they’re drafts – you think I’m not groaning at some of these too?):

Saturday, 4/22: The Storm

Sometimes you see the dark clouds forming,
sometimes you don’t.
Sometimes there’s a sputter, a drizzle, a warning,
sometimes the downpour just starts.

It feels cosmic, the uncanny knack
of catching you unaware.
One moment you’re settled, content, relaxed,
the next you’re gasping for air.

The eye is a tease, a time to rest,
or prepare for
whatever darkness is coming up next.
If you can catch your breath.

The storm is alive, a powerful call,
to survive everyday,
It lives, it breathes, it mocks us all,
whose plans have gone astray.

Sunday, 4/23: The Big Question

Why does “bad” exist?
asked the boy one day
to a woman he thought of as wise.
Why can’t we all just be good?
he mused, as they sat there and
looked at the sky.

Without bad there’s no good,
she answered, staring up
into the blue.
Without bad it would all just be same,
she mused, and I’m not quite
sure what we would do.

Think of how happy we’d be,
he said. No more murder
or theft or fear.
Think of the things we could do,
he mused, without worry of
how they’ll appear.

Life doesn’t work quite that way,
she said. Consider the
basics of earth.
Life must have balance or
cease, she mused. Without
sadness there is no mirth.

Bad gives us choice, a decision,
she said. It gives us the
freedom to choose.
Bad gives us contrast and balance,
she mused. Without that, the
earth would collapse.

So bad is good?
the boy asked, resignation
accenting his voice.
So what do we do,
the boy mused to himself.
How do we keep ourselves sane?

Look at the sky and clouds,
she said. Keep an eye
on what’s healthy and good.
Look inward and choose to
be good, she mused. Be the
balance to “bad” everyday.

Monday, 4/24: Nesting Crows

Through the nearly naked branches
they flit and wobble and jump.
Little black revelers on a hunting party
for the perfect, breakable twig.

They laugh and flap and carry on,
flying off now and again.
One perfect stick is all three of them need
to celebrate a suitable win.

Tuesday, 4/25: Eleven Things

I see you standing there
judging me silently.
What is it this time?
My lack of forced smile,
my bare face,
my disregard for titles and accomplishments?

Maybe it’s my tattoos, but
that seems so cliche.
My non-designer clothes,
my metal-filled ears?
Or just my
general distain for the endless small-talk loop.

I laugh too loud,
or not enough,
snicker at all the
wrong things but
I just take
everything far too serious, too literal, too thoughtful.

I know where I
fall short, why I
don’t fit in, how I
could change.
But I am who I am. Like who I am. Just gotta be me.

Wednesday, 4/26: Tick-Tock

Tick-tock, tick-tock,
I stare, and type, and stare some more.
Backspace is a fickle friend.

Tick-tock, tick-tock,
I rush to get ready for work and more.
Showers are a friendly devil.

Tick-tock, tick-tock,
I work and think and work some more.
Money is a devilish master.

Tick-tock, tick-tock,
I always end up racing the clock.
Perhaps I should stop.

Thursday, 4/27: Relief

Days like this I
long to be
up on a mountain,
under the trees.

Perched atop a
bold old rock,
watching a meadow,
maybe a fox.

Smelling the earth,
feeling the breeze,
hearing the waterfall
just through the leaves.

It’s peaceful here,
though nature is loud.
My soul finds peace in
the absence of crowds.

When darkness falls
and stars shine bright,
I’ll lay in the meadow
and drink in the night.

Friday, 4/28: Red & The Wolf

You’re a good granddaughter, going out
in the cool evening air,
basket of fresh baked breads in hand,
maybe a pie or two.

Your red cloak is bright against brown
bark, a beacon
of aid as you travel the well worn path
under the forest trees.

It’s quieter tonight — no birdsong
or insect buzzing.
The hair on your arms rises, the beat of
your heart quickens.

You drop your basket at the sight of
claw marks on the door.
You rush inside, a red streak that
matches grandmother’s blood.

He growls low, the wolf you thought
beautiful in the forest.
He waits half-under the flowery nightgown your
mother made, torn and stained.

It’s too late to run, you know. You
close your eyes
as he moves near, rotten, copper-tinged breath
hot on your face.

Your red cloak flutters to the floor,
shredded
as the huntsman approaches.
Is there life after death for you?

Saturday, 4/29: Through a Dog’s Eye

Sittin’ in the backyard,
squirrel up a pine tree,
being really quiet so
the little dude don’t see me.

Chompin’ on some tall grass,
actin’ all casual.
Sneakin’ in the garden ‘cause
it’s no place for an animal.

Maybe we’ll go walkin’ later
but I’m kinda lazy so…
might pretend to go along
and dig my heels in half-way home.

Layin’ on the patio,
see a kitty-cat go by.
Gotta chase him outta here,
kiss that furry tail goodbye!

Sittin’ in the backyard,
squirrel up a pine tree…

Sunday, 4/30: Poem 30

One month of poems,
thirty days in all,
a challenge,
a dare,
a siren’s grave call.

Poems about feathers,
of silence and noise,
of nature
and nurture,
of sorrows and joys.

A change in perspective,
new focus each day,
more words,
new skills,
better habits for May.

The poetry challenge
is done now, it’s true,
pen down,
notebook closed,
‘til once more it calls you.

*****************************************************

Did you write any poetry this month? Better yet – did you read any?

Priorities & Forced Balance

Last week wasn’t nearly as bad as the week before in general, which is kind of odd since work was decidedly difficult. The difference is, I dealt with it much better, and while I didn’t stay caught up all the time, I did prioritize a lot better. It’s amazing how much just setting solid priorities can alleviate so much stress – and allow us to get more done than we might otherwise.

The poetry challenge was especially “challenging” this past week, but I managed to end Saturday caught up for the week (I’m behind a poem again as of right now, but I’ll catch up tonight). Poetry is all about “flow” and ironically, fitting it into my schedule has been exactly that. Looking for the proper flow, so I can slot it into each day at some point.

I think I mentioned that I was trying to use some of my nightly knitting/crochet/TV time to catch some of the overflow, and my body told me very quickly that it was just not going to happen. My eyes went downhill again, my brain refused to work, and pretty much every night sitting there with the computer on my lap, I eventually just gave up and shut it while I finished my hour-long TV show.

Incidentally, we’ve been watching Iron Fist and Wynonna Earp on Netflix. Iron Fist is entertaining, but I highly, highly recommend Wynonna Earp. So, so good!

In any case, that hour is very necessary down-time, and my body & brain were quick to correct me when I tried to use it for work. So…it would appear that time is just as sacrosanct as my writing time. This week, I’ll get the knitting back out while watching TV.

My neck is healing, but very slowly, and I’m kind of to the point where it feels like it just needs gentle stretching and then to build up the muscle around that nerve to protect it from being pinched again. I have to be careful, as it still won’t really “work” at several angles, but I’ve started doing light weight training in my shoulders/arms again. We’ll see how that goes, but hopefully it will be helpful. Stupid neck.

In any case, my writing output increased again last week, and no matter how much this poetry thing stresses me out, I am *loving* what it’s doing as far as just getting me back in the daily writing habit. That right there was worth the cost of the workshop (though I’m obviously learning so much more…).

And for those who have been following along weekly – yes, my taxes are done and will be in the mail on April 18th. I’m not efiling because I owe the feds money, and they can just wait for my check to get there, thank you very much. This coming Friday night, I’m adding some dedicated bookkeeping time to my weekly business hours.

I’ve been thinking lately of pulling a couple of shelved drafts out and reworking them for publication. The basic plot is sound enough, but they need revision/additions to work. I do believe that might be something to work on after poetry month is over. I’m excited at the prospect, and I hate revising with a passion. So there’s gotta be something there, right? We’ll see.

Serial story chapter coming Friday, and another week’s worth of poems Saturday. Stay tuned!

A Really Good Day & Retirement Goals

I had some vacation time to either use or lose by the end of the month, so last Friday I played hooky from work. It was a fun and productive day, and I found myself wishing I could have more days like that, which is pretty odd for me with vacation days (I often end up wasting them).

I went to the archery range first, and…well, I didn’t do so well with the targets *and* ended up making my shoulder sore, which means my form was way, way off. I’m blaming it on the fact that it was morning, and I don’t generally do much of anything well in the mornings (aside from sleeping, anyway). It was still a lot of fun though, and nice not to have to worry too much about what time it was. In fact, I didn’t put my watch on once last Friday.

After that, I hit the tattoo shop (Ghosts of Grace Tattoo Collective), and while my tattoo artist wasn’t in yet, the new piercer was. I ordered some expensive but really high quality titanium bars for my industrial piercing (which will take four weeks to get in, so I’m glad I got them ordered now), which I’ve been wanting to do for awhile (I have rather small ears, so the shorter bars I need are hard to find online or off). Once those come in, Nicole can custom color them for me, which will be great fun, and I can get some matching sets of bars/hoops/curved bars for my various gauged piercings.

While I waited for Andrew to get in, I ran over to the grocery store to buy some frozen cut green beans for the dogs (I use them as treats, and we were out). It amused me to just buy the one bag of frozen veggies with cash. Apparently people don’t do that often, because the cashier looked at me a little strange. She could have asked, and I would have solved the mystery for her, but she didn’t, so she’ll just have to wonder…

Then back to the tattoo shop (we’re talking maybe three blocks away here, so not a long trip) to chat with Andrew and schedule my next session for late April. A reward for getting my taxes done (not that we ever get any money back to spend – we break even most years). He seemed excited to continue working up on my sort of Victorian skull cameo/lace arm, and I’m really excited to see what he comes up with for the upper half. It’s odd to think that in a few months, I’ll have a full tattoo sleeve (two to three more sessions). It’s an odd thing, to look at a blank piece of skin and know that soon, it will bear a piece of permanent artwork and will never be truly “bare” again. I absolutely want it, but it’s still sort of an odd thing to really wrap your brain around.

After that, I headed home, had lunch with my husband and walked the dogs. And then while the dogs napped, I sat down with my laptop in our nice quiet house (construction down the street notwithstanding), and worked on a short story until it was time to feed the dogs and make dinner. I really enjoyed writing that story. I was in the zone, and it was flowing, and while it needs some clean-up work, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. You can read the draft version (under  one of my pseudonyms) on the BSB blog, if you’d like.

It was a really good day.

This is something like what I imagine retirement to be like. Wake up slow, maybe run some errands (or work on some household stuff), have lunch, get out and walk the dogs, and then sit and write for a few hours before dinner. Glorious!

When I was in high school, I always wanted to be in college, and I took a lot of time for granted. When I got to college, I just wanted to get out because I was working three, sometimes four jobs to pay my way through and taking several classes every semester. I barely slept, ate on the run, and could not *wait* to have a normal, 9-5 job where I could just go home in the evenings and crash.

Now I have my 9-6 job, I have my evenings for dinner, hobbies, working out and even a little writing, but I’m greedy. I want more time to be “mine” again. And that won’t happen until I’ve paid my dues and finally reach the golden age of retirement.

It’s good to have long-term goals, don’t you think?

Until then, I’ll try to have as many of these “really good days” as possible. I mean, I like my job, don’t get me wrong. But finally being able to set my own schedule is my “Eleanor” (or unicorn, if you prefer).

Hand in hand with that, I need to remember that while having a stockpile of vacation days is good, it’s kind of like collecting nice dishes and then only using them on special occasions. If you have something, you may as well use and enjoy it, rather than waiting for some special event or date.

More random vacation days, perhaps?

Post-Concert Late Night Musings

This will be quickish, because as the title says, it’s a late, post-concert (Adelita’s Way) Sunday night (nearly 1am), and this is the last thing I’m doing while drinking a cup of tea before bed.

It’s been a kind of chaotic/abnormal weekend, and I’m going to pay for it first thing tomorrow when I have to drag a laundry basket up from the basement so my husband has socks to wear to work. I still have another load of laundry in the washer that I’ll transfer to the dryer after work tomorrow night, and I need to take the garbage out too. The consequences of not getting household chores done over the weekend. *sigh*

I spent a good chunk of Saturday writing for the weekly BSB prompt story, and my little fairy tale turned out very well, methinks. Naturally, there are other things I should have been doing with that time (like the load of laundry I’ll have to dry tomorrow night), but it was fun to just sit and write most of the day.

Sunday I was just lazy…so I have no excuse. And we went to the concert tonight, which was okay, but the sound really wasn’t good. They really need to turn the volume down in smaller venues like the one we were at – it was so loud you can hear everything…including the feedback and monitor buzzing and all that, and it’s just a total assault on the ears so you can’t actually hear anything in the chaos. I’m glad we didn’t pay much for those tickets.

We did find a spot in the back to sit down briefly, and while people watching, I made a few observations:

  •  I still don’t have any clue why people want sparkly things on their butts. Nor do I think that would be comfortable to sit on.
  • Louis Vuitton looks awkward at a rock concert.
  • Youngsters don’t seem to care how the music sounds, as long as they can drink and dance
  • I’m not 20 anymore, and neither is my husband. We did okay, but between my still-kinked neck (pinched nerve) and his gout flare-up, we were quite the pair.

Now, it’s time to get some sleep…largely due to that last observation. You know. Adults, work, etc. Mundane, but pays the bills so I can do fun things like buy my first archery bow on Tuesday.

I hope your weekend was far more exciting (and less painful) than mine!

Mental Flotsam

Lots of things going on in my head lately – I’m still dealing with the mental “fallout” of that whole midlife crisis thing I’ve recently
crawled out of. I’m still not ready to do a full-blown blog on that, but I will say that it’s been a real roller coaster, and as enlightening and…liberating, I guess, as it’s been, I hope I don’t have to go through another one anytime soon. I go through self-assessment periods every decade or so, where I’m just not happy with…”whatever” in my life and need to make some adjustments, but this…this was different. This was more of a total re-examination of all the major life decisions I’ve ever made (and some of the minor ones too), which causes some major cognitive dissonance that has to be worked through before one can move forward. It’s unsettling and uncomfortable and now that I’m on the tail-end looking back, I can totally see how some people end up hitting the “reset” button completely during this time in life (which a rather large percentage of us go through whether we want to or not). Weird, wild, and wacky stuff.

In any case, there are other things on my mind these days too, including:

  • Archery – I *loved* my first time on the range last week, and will have to post more about it later. Suffice it to say, I liked it well enough that I’m going back to the shooting range this week, and hopefully once a week after that as well. I’m planning on buying a bow kit and arrows, and taking a few lessons. It’s been awhile since I’ve been that drawn to something out of the house!
  • Love Triangles – I was surfing TV channels Sunday night, and got sucked into an episode of “Victoria” on PBS Masterpiece Theater. Ended up watching two episodes, and the relationships therein really got me to thinking about love triangles in fiction and real life, and how there always is one, whether we’re aware or not. It’s fascinating and uncomfortable, and I’d like to explore that phenomenon more.
  • My neck – which is kinked up again. Stupid thing. Or stupid drivers who rear-ended me twice in as many years. I never had problems with my neck before those…
  • BSB Advertising/marketing, and how effective it is/isn’t. Also, getting the documents together for that to do my taxes. Ugh.
  • The ring in my rook piercing, which I want changed out for a bar that will be so much less of a pain to deal with, because it won’t stick out at all like the ring does.
  • The drones in Warhawk, the James Rollins book I’m reading. Yikes!
  • New crochet/knitting patterns I want to try out, now that I’ve finished the dog sweater I was working on.

Never a dull moment, eh?

What’s on your mind lately? Care to share?

People, Piercings, Painting and Sleep

Last week felt like a long week. Not that much went “wrong”, per se…it was just crazy busy and chaotic. Didn’t help that the week before I’d spent 5 blissful days in my own little “bubble”, and then last week had to jump back into being around *people* all day, every day. Kind of a shock to the system.

A lot of things moved forward though, which is kind of exciting, and this next week is going to be a very busy, people-y week as well. Such is life, I suppose. Unless one were to decide to go be a mountain person and get snowed in for several months out of every year. Sadly, I’m too lazy to be that person. I suppose it would be a good way to tap into those latent survival skills in a big hurry, eh?

In any case, Saturday after I paid yet another bill and went to the comic shop (had a gift cert from Christmas!), I went to my friendly local piercer, Becky Smith with Cin City Tattoo & Piercing. I give you her full name/shop because I like her, and I like the fact that she’s super quick, and no-nonsense, but will also talk jewelry and piercing placement all day. She’s also got some really nice tattoos…

In any case, I told her I wanted my rook pierced, and a helix piercing, and what I was planning to wear in them, jewelry-wise (curved barbell in the rook, ear cuff in the helix eventually but starting with just a stud). She talked me into hoops for the initial healing of both (couple of months), and while I wasn’t fond of the hoop in my rook to start with, it’s growing on me. She pointed out that the hoop would be easier to sleep with in my helix, and she was right, which is why she’s the expert, of course. Though I do have a “donut pillow” to sleep on that keeps my ear off the pillow and pressure off my piercings. Nifty little invention, that.

After I had those done, the hubby and I headed off to a local art studio (Candi’s Art & Party Studio), and took a Bob Ross painting class. Hubby really likes to paint, and of course we love Bob Ross, so that was fun. Much harder than it looks (painting is definitely not my forte), but it’s not something I’m dying to get good at. We were just having a good time and trying something new. It’s good to stretch your creative side into something you don’t normally do once in awhile.

When my mother saw the post about it on Facebook, she was crazy-curious about if we were taking a long class, and didn’t know I was interested in painting, etc. My mother, the perfectionist. She doesn’t do anything without the end goal being to perfect whatever it is she’s doing. I had to explain to her that it was just a one-off thing, and I really don’t have an interest in painting as a hobby. That’s a pretty foreign concept to her, but she was definitely more enthusiastic about that than she normally is about new piercings/tattoos, so there’s that.

As for my new writing plan, it went…okay. There will be more on that on the writing blog tomorrow (I know, I said that last week and obviously lied, but it’s happening this week), but I’m going to have to shift my long-term goals a bit because I just can’t make what I thought was going to work, work as far as writing time goes. Ce’st la vie, though. Live, learn and keep moving forward. I’m over the pouting, and ready to just keep swimming. Or writing, in this case.

One of the disappointing things is – I need more sleep than I used to, which means I need to get to bed half an hour earlier, which cuts into my already short writing time. I resent that more than I can tell you – the need to sleep when I could be doing other things I want to get done. But sleep is so tied into our health and mental/physical wellness…it’s just smarter, I think, to listen to the old(er) body and give it what it needs. *sigh*

And now, it’s that time, so off to bed I go. May your week be productive, but in the most fun way possible!

Uncomfortable Epiphanies

I had a rather uncomfortable realization last week. One of those epiphanies when you realize that you just wasted (well, not wasted, exactly, but only if you tilt your head a bit and squint) a huge chunk of time working toward something you really don’t want, and never did, if you’re completely honest with yourself (and everyone else, which is another kind of discomfort altogether).

A few years back, I’m sure I mentioned that a friend asked if I’d be interested in writing a children’s series for his new small press. I really thought long and hard about it, and in the end I said yes, because while I really had no interest in writing a children’s book, I thought it would be a new challenge, a way to grow as a writer, and to be perfectly honest, I thought it might be a way to finally make money writing without having to do all the publishing and advertising work myself.

I wrote the book, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, for many reasons. I went through and edited it a little, and sent it off to the publisher, and since I’d planned a series for my young characters, I tried to start the next book. And it was still so very hard…often I couldn’t force myself to write at all. I worked on other things, but only half-heartedly, and then a whole bunch of stuff went wrong in my personal life and I stopped writing altogether.

Finally, a year after I sent the book off, I pulled it from the publisher (it still wasn’t published). I told myself it was because the process was taking too long, and because not having control was driving me nuts, but I think the truth is I was relieved it wasn’t published yet, and wanted to take back control, though I wasn’t sure exactly why at that point.

I told myself I’d polish it up, expand it a bit, and release it for Christmas, meanwhile getting that second book done. But the second book still isn’t done, and last week when I thought about going back and writing the expansions the first book needs and getting it ready to publish….that’s when it hit me.

I don’t want to publish a children’s book. I don’t want it to bomb, I don’t want it to do well, I just…don’t want to be a children’s author.

I know someone out there is probably thinking, “Hey – what’s wrong with writing children’s books?!” And there’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Nothing at all, and I think good children’s writers are vitally important and needed in society. It’s just not what I, personally, want to do or be.

And I knew that deep down when my friend asked the first time, and I should have just said, “Thanks for the opportunity, but not my thing.” I’d just turned down several other offers for different writing projects with the same basic phrase, and I think that’s part of why I said “yes” this time…I was just tired of saying no. And I was chasing money/fame too, which is never a good reason to write anything, in my opinion/experience.

So. Here I am a few years later with one finished draft I have no intention of publishing, another draft started in that series that will also go nowhere, and nothing new published under any of my various pen names in all that time. Not a great spot to be in for a writer. Kind of depressing, honestly, especially when I think of what I could have been working on, and could have had done and published by now. C’est la vie, I suppose. Thank goodness I don’t actually rely on writing for living income, or I’d have been screwed a long time ago.

In any case, now that I’ve finally admitted this to myself (and all of you), I’m taking a little break from writing (or trying to write) and working on proofreading/publishing a couple of books that I didn’t write (which is always more fun). Once I have those all set, I’ll get back to work writing what I love – romantic suspense and horror, with the occasional erotic short tossed in for variety. I still like the series concept I had for the kid’s books, so I’d like to revisit/rewrite that with a more adult cast and romantic suspense theme…a project I’m actually pretty excited about. Who knows? Maybe I’ll start working on that after I’ve finished the suspense/horror (not sure what it will end up as, honestly – I’m not far enough into it just yet) draft I’m working on now.

No where to go from here except up…or forward, at least. But I know what I want, and I’m back on the right track. That’s what matters.

Odds n’ Ends

Oh look! Another odd week on the horizon. Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the States, so we work Mon-Weds, have Thursday off, and I’ll work Friday too. Which is fine…I actually like working Black Friday, because everyone else is either out shopping, or blurry-eyed from getting up early to shop before work. Either way, it tends to be a quiet work day, and a good one for getting things done.

Thursday should actually be a pretty quiet day too, since the hubby and I aren’t expected at my brother-in-law’s until around 5pm. Which is nice, because I spent a good couple hours this weekend cleaning off part of the dining room table specifically so I could explore a haunted-dollhouse-by-mail that I subscribed to back in October. There are five boxes/mailings total, and I have four, only one of which I’ve opened so far. So while I have some publishing-related things to do that day as well, I fully intend to open the rest of those boxes and start figuring out the mystery in miniature contained therein.

In entertainment news – we finally watched the movie Spectre this weekend, and it was everything a Bond movie is supposed to be, of course. I’m bummed that Daniel Craig doesn’t want the part anymore, but I can understand too. I wonder who will take up the mantle now?

I also finished Season 2 of Vikings this weekend, and man…I tell you what. I finished the 8th episode while doing my nails Saturday night/early Sunday morning, and then Sunday evening I blew off a few things to watch the last couple episodes because I just *had* to know how that storyline was going to resolve. Ugh! I’m glad it ended the way it did, and next weekend I’l start on Season 3.

We’re working our way through the third season of Penny Dreadful as well, and man…that show is seriously intense. I love it. It’s a crazy ride, and just when I think it’s getting predictable, it takes another twist. Excellent writing, in my opinion.

I mentioned last week that I was going to start limiting my social media “scrolling” time…and toward the end of last week, I actually did. And it made a pretty big difference in my productivity (she says, surprising exactly no one). I got more done, I stayed more focused, and I realized just how addicted I am to simply watching people. Clearly, I missed my calling as a sociologist/anthropologist, eh? Alas, I need to quell the addiction, but it has served me well as far as understanding people in general.

Along with limiting screen time, I also picked up the paper planner again. And along with scheduling out my priorities and loosely scheduling my day in the morning before work, I also started writing a short synopsis of where I left off in whatever draft I plan to work on later that night. So all day long, my subconscious is chewing on that, and when I finally sit down to write at night, I have a good idea of where the story’s going next, and better yet, I’m excited to write it because it’s been in the back of my mind all day. I’ve only done it twice so far, but both times had the same result. I’m hoping to keep that up this next week…seems like an incredibly easy and useful “mental manipulation” to have in my personal toolbox…

I’m not 100% back up to speed just yet, but I feel like I’m finally on an upswing. Here’s hoping momentum continues in that direction…