Variety News: July 12, 2021

On My Mind
I was reading about sleep again this past week, and how important it is to get six hours at the very minimum. There were also a few articles out about four day work weeks, and Iceland’s experience/experiments with that. The articles go hand-in-hand, methinks, because when I think about getting six hours of sleep a night, and also getting in all the exercise I need to stay physically healthy, and my work schedule, and eating healthy (which generally takes longer than eating unhealthily, at least if you want a varied diet)…I could literally spend every waking minute that I’m not at work trying to maintain my current level of health (not even getting healthier, just maintaining).

That includes very little housework too – mostly just eating, working out, general physical maintenance tasks (lotion, hydration, eye care, dental care, etc), and then cleaning the kitchen from making food all day.

A four-day work week (not four ten-hour days, but four eight-hour days) would leave us with so much more time to take care of ourselves, run necessary errands and have some extra time to just “relax”. Its no wonder that Iceland saw some serious benefits to that work schedule change – including happier, less-stressed workers.

We Americans put far too much strain on ourselves with this whole work-worship culture. It’s not healthy, and it’s not actually making us any richer, healthier or happier. So why on earth do we keep doing it this way? It’s stupid.

Growing
The Hydrangeas are blooming, and so is my big peace rose! Beautiful.


Eating
I have a bad habit of buying things like watermelon and letting them sit on the counter indefinitely. So last week when there was a huge watermelon in my way on the stove, and I asked myself where I should move it, my more sarcastic self came back with, “You could just cut it up and…you know…eat it.”

My sarcastic self is often smarter than my normal self. And she was right. So I cut it up, and we’ve been eating a lot of watermelon this week (even the dogs have gotten their share). It’s good! I should do that more often in the summer.

Playing
My Grandma was in town staying with my parents for a few weeks recently, and the hubby and I went over last Saturday to play Scrabble. I’ve been playing Scrabble with my mom and Grandma since I was old enough to spell. I never win, so I don’t even try – I just enjoy the mental challenge of trying to find spots to use letters.

Bling & Things
Every since I started growing my hair out, I’ve had some issues with buying hair stuff and earrings (as in, I do too much of both). Last week, I told myself I needed to slow it down. Limit it to once a month and a set budget.

Shortly after, I ordered several more pairs of earrings from my local Paparazzi dealer. *sigh* Needless to say, I need more practice at the whole self-discipline thing.


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Variety News – July 5, 2021

On My Mind
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about patience. Mostly how I have so much less now than I used to. I don’t think that’s a good thing, and I think it would benefit me greatly to cultivate that again…I’m not sure what to call it. Life skill? Talent? Virtue?

Whatever you want to call it, life is a much happier, less stressful place when I’m content to live in the moment, and wait for what will eventually come. It goes hand-in-hand with impulse control, which is something else I really need to reign in again, specifically when it comes to spending. *sigh*

What am I so impatient about? Mostly being able to write full-time, and my hair (both the color and the length). But reigning in the little things – the impulse purchases, etc are equally important to get under control. So both daily things, and long-term goals. Fortunately, I have a plan for each of them that should help me re-focus my perspective on the journey, rather than the endgame. I think that will be very beneficial overall, from a mental health perspective.

Growing
Look! We have a couple of ripe cherry tomatoes! Let the Season of Tomatoes with Everything begin!

Watching
We’re watching the final season of Bosch on Amazon. Anyone else watching? The acting seems…well, not as good as it should be, IMO.

Reading
I found this rather interesting – How to Slow Time Down (Lifehacker)
https://lifehacker.com/how-to-make-time-slow-down-1847212162
Perspective really is everything, it seems. And this explains why my life is mostly just a blur in my memory. I’m not sure if I’m concerned about that or not, honestly.

Bling & Things
A few weeks ago, I bought an adorable little red/white/blue Flexi with a heart from Lilla Rose for some Independence Day hair bling. In the space of time between when I ordered it and when I wanted to wear it though, the side layers of my hair grew out enough that the extra small size doesn’t work for a half-up anymore, so it’s too small. I may be able to use the Flexi for other styles later when my hair is longer overall (and I can do more with smaller bits), but for this year, it’s consigned to the drawer. It was a nice thought, anyways (and I would have ordered a size up, but they were sold out, and at the time, the xs size was still working for me).

In any case, it is a very nice piece of seasonal hair bling. Maybe they’ll have them again next year and I can get the larger size then.

Post Round-up
The Writer’s Desk (last updated: 7/3/21 )
Leash Candy (last updated: 7/4/21)


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Variety News, June 28, 2021

On My Mind
I’ve been thinking about a couple of things lately – hair (still, yes, I know), and writing (which is nearly always on my mind in one sense or another).

Specifically regarding my hair, I’ve been thinking about how much more “me” I feel now that it’s getting longer than I ever did with the pixie cut. Which is apparently sacrilege considering the consensus from other people has been and still seems to be that I’m more attractive with the pixie cut/shorter hair, but regardless, I feel like…the longer hair is more representative of who I really “am” inside, if that makes sense.

I sort of get the disappointment from others – the shorter cuts make me (I’d almost say they do this for most people, honestly) look more outgoing and approachable, people will instinctively respond well to that. With longer hair, I look less outgoing and more reserved, which is more representative of my true nature. It’s difficult to explain, but I do/am noticing the difference in how people treat me initially (or just in a passing interaction). It’s a little odd, but I’m okay with it. And I do put my hair up (now that I can) when I need to be/be seen as that more outgoing person from the start. The difference now is, I can let it back down again. I have options, and that’s what I’ve been missing.

Check out the writing blog for my recent thoughts on that subject (linked below). It seems as though this summer is the “year of reversion/reclamation” for more than just my hair.

Growing
We may not be loving the heat, but our tomatoes sure are! I’m not actually sure how we’re going to find all the fruit in this jungle….

Eating
One of my weaknesses is Crumbl Cookies. They’re big, they’re yummy, they don’t contain high fructose corn syrup (so I can eat them without getting stuffy). Last week, they had two total winners – the Lemon Poppy Seed and the Dark Dream, which is basically a brownie in cookie form. If they come around again, I’d highly recommend getting one (or more) of each. They are…phenomenal.

Playing
I picked up my Nintendo Switch again this week, and played some Animal Crossing a few nights. Unfortunately, my eyes started bugging me again after the second night. *sigh* So that’s going to have to be a once or twice weekly thing at most, because I’m not going to ruin my eyesight for video games. I don’t know why it doesn’t bother me to play games on my phone, but it does on the switch (the switch screen is much bigger), but…it’s definitely different.

Speaking of mobile games…Bidoof is being spotlighted in Pokemon Go for a few days. And you can catch a shiny one, with a few moves it doesn’t normally have, like Shadow Ball and Hyper Beam.

Bidoof is basically a beaver. So the goal is to catch a shiny beaver that can throw Shadow Balls and Hyper Beams. If that doesn’t amuse you…well…it should. 😀

Watching
We’ve been watching old episodes of Jag lately, and it really is a great show, but it’s also really interesting to watch those older shows and notice not only how misogynistic the whole culture is, but how they are generally aware of it even as they perpetuate it. Even hubby’s been commenting on it, and it really underscores how far we’ve come from how things used to be. Things are always generally improving, and I think we forget that sometimes when we’re stressing over how bad they are now. They were worse, even just twenty years ago. It’s important to see and note the progress we’ve made, I think.

Post Round-up
The Writer’s Desk (last updated: 6/26/2021)


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Variety News: June 21, 2021

On My Mind
Last week, I had a goal to make an eye doctor appointment on Monday. I haven’t managed to get it done yet, so that’s how last week went. I did manage to get my hair into a french braid though, which is a game-changer when it comes to this next phase of the grow-out period.

I really need to get the eye appointment made though, and an appointment for Athena to get a broken tooth taken out too. Those are top of the list this week. Why are the simplest goals sometimes the hardest to complete?

Making
We didn’t “make” it so much as put it back together, but our patio swing is usable again! We took it apart this spring to paint and re-cover, and finally got it back together this weekend. It’s so nice having a place to sit and watch the dogs in the yard. Slowly but surely, things are coming together back there.

Growing
Last weekend, we finally added some annuals to the pots out front for a bit more color while our new plants grow in. Oranges, yellows and purples are the “it” colors this year, and while they’re kind of sparse at the moment, I think they’ll look very bright and cheerful once they mature.

Eating
The best thing I ate last week was a thick bone-in pork chop with fresh spinach penne on the side. I try to eat local whenever I can, and everything in that meal except the mushrooms were locally grown/made. And it was all *delish*. The perfect end to a very busy week.

The Thin Mint Blizzard from Dairy Queen mid-week wasn’t all that bad either…just sayin’.

Bling & Things
I mentioned I can get my hair in a French braid now, and one of my favorite hair accessories at the moment is a bow barrette with a small snood attached. I got a pack of 6 in different colors from Amazon, and they are the *perfect* accessory for that hairstyle for work. The satin bow is elegant and classy, and the snood keeps the short, unkempt ends all tucked up and neat.

I also keep forgetting that I have some fancy bobby pins I could use to keep the straggly side hairs up. I’ve just been using regular bobby pins (from Lilla Rose – they are the *best*, hands down…very strong hold) and trying to keep them hidden under hair sections, but there’s no reason I couldn’t use something with a fancy flower/bow on on the end, or pearls along the length just for a little extra “pop”, right?

Post Round-up
The Writer’s Desk – My notes on writing and progress reports (last updated Sat, 6/19/21)


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Variety News, June 14, 2021

On My Mind
It’s been a very weird week. Seems like everyday, something odd happened, either out of order, or out of place, or something that threw me off my game. I had one ultra-productive day wherein I followed my list, got nearly everything on it done, and felt really good when it was all over.

One.

I want more of those days. More days when I get up, get busy, and random stuff doesn’t happen to derail my whole plan. I know it’s not practical to expect because “life is change”, but that’s what would really make me happy long-term. Maybe this week I can get two really productive days? One can only hope.

Growing
Last weekend, hubby filled the second raised bed in the backyard, and I went to my mom’s to pick up strawberry and cucumber plants, and to my sister’s to dig some rhubarb plants she didn’t want anymore. Planted them all up, and they’re already growing! It looks like we’ll have some strawberries already this year – yum! We have baby cherry tomatoes too. I don’t love the heat, but our tomato plants sure do.

Eating
I splurged on a small pack of fresh sugar-snap peas last week, and you know what? They really are the perfect snack. Sweet and crunchy, I grab one nearly every time I open the fridge (so no, there aren’t any left for salads). They go perfectly with carrot slices.

No, I’m not being sarcastic. Try it. Get a bowl of sugar snap peas and carrot slices, and see if that doesn’t completely hit the spot on a hot summer day. Bliss!

Bling & Things
I got a great pair of earrings this week. They’re made of a dark, African hardwood, with abalone inlays shaped like question marks (pics on my Instagram feed). They’re big and bold and on the day I wore them, I really needed a pick-me-up, and all day I was just happy seeing those earrings dangling by my neck. It’s amazing how a good piece of jewelry can make your whole day better.

Post Round-Up (news on other things in my sphere)
The Writer’s Desk – My notes on writing and progress reports (last updated Sat, 6/12/21)


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Back to Variety

On My Mind
‘Tis the season of change, again. Seems like we’ve had a lot of those in the past year or so. Just when we get comfortable with whatever changed, everything changes again. I don’t do well with such things – I’m programmed for routines, but I like to think I’m keeping up as well as I can. Still, all things considered, I’m ready for some routine sameness for awhile. A long while, preferably.

In the spirit of constant change though, I’m trying a new format for the blog again. Will it stay? Will it change? We shall see! Either way, thanks again for reading. I’m trying to get back to my “variety pages” roots.

Make It
I haven’t really made anything lately, because…big puppy = crafting stuff all put away. But the general temperature of the office I work in for the day job has been pretty frosty lately, and has me wanting some warm fingerless gloves for typing. I may well dig out some yarn and a crochet hook this week, considering the dogs are now crated during the day, and it’s safe to figure out where I hid all of that.

Eat It
I have rhubarb and peaches in my fridge this week. I’m thinking about boiling the rhubarb with sugar water (cranberry-style), and then adding some sliced peaches right at the end. Seems like that would be good either on top of or underneath a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Play It
Pokemon Go community day was this last week, and Gible was the Monster of the Hour(s)! I played for only a couple of hours (things to do on a Sunday, dang it), but got two shiny Gibles, one of which I traded to my hubby for another shiny Gible. We were lucky friends, so that gave us each a shiny lucky Gible with pretty darn good IVs. It was a good day.

I haven’t been playing much Animal Crossing lately. I fired it up once last week, but that was it. Might try just once a week for that. I love it, it’s relaxing, but…I have other things I want to do in the evenings too. So we’ll see.

Bling & Things
Forgive me wallet, for I have ordered more hair things. Specifically, flexi’s from Lillarose, and barrettes from Amazon. I can finally pull my hair back (it requires pins and a lot of hair spray, but I can, and that’s the important part), so I’ve been celebrating/keeping myself motivated to let it grow and wait to cut the color out. Buying bling, especially things that will look really nice with the new silver hair color, is a good/fun way to do that, if somewhat more expensive than it would be to just keep it cut/dyed. Pics when I get them!

My nail polish this week is named Daredevil. I’ll eventually get pics up, but it’s a very pretty green holo polish that is definitely making me feel more “daring”.

Post Round-up
If you deduced from this heading that I’m going to try keeping up with multiple blogs again, you’d be right. I don’t have that new content up just yet, so no links this week, but that’s the plan. Stay tuned!


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Working & Training

There’s been a lot of things going on lately, and my brain doesn’t deal well with the distractions like it used to. I used to be very good at compartmentalizing things, but my focus is definitely lacking, which makes sticking to goals and routines difficult. Not impossible, but much harder than it used to be, and I find myself struggling to do the things I want to do now, even if I carve out the time specifically for them.

But, it’s spring, and spring is a time of renewal and motivation for me. The weather’s usually mild which motivates me to work in the yard (though this year even that is heavily fluctuating – we’re supposed to hit the high 90’s later in the week, and it’s barely June…very, very odd). And I generally renew my business license, which motivates me not only to write, but to get my oft-neglected business affairs in order. Things like bookkeeping and sales and new covers/blurbs.

So when I paid my business license fee last week, I got that jolt of motivation, and during Friday night’s “business hours”, I started downloading sales reports. I wanted to import them into TrackerBox, which is the program I’d been using to aggregate sales data, but alas, it hasn’t been updated for the new Amazon spreadsheets yet (which are very difficult to come by, unfortunately). I thought maybe it was time to upgrade programs, so I went looking at what was available for writers, and…nothing out there does what I want it to, which is to upload sales reports from all the venues I sell through.

So naturally, at two in the morning, I decided the only thing to do would be to build my own database. After all, that’s what I do for the day job, and I have plenty of knowledge/expertise in that area. A lot of authors use spreadsheets, but I hate spreadsheets, and I don’t want to do all that entry manually. I downloaded the database platform I’m most familiar with (SQL Server), and started building the database I want Saturday night. I may switch it to something more portable if I ever decide to create a pretty front end for it, but for now, this should suit my purposes nicely. Once I finish it, that is.

I also signed up for Holly Lisle’s Summer of Writing, which starts June 1st (today!), and includes a free Flash Fiction class I think I’m going to enjoy. I have a bunch of Flash I want to get written, so that should serve my purposes nicely, and hopefully I can get back in the habit of daily writing with homework to complete. I also have several Teachable classes already paid for that I need to take. Much to learn and I need to get writing again.

My spring motivation tends to wane fairly quickly…so it’s a “strike while the iron is hot” sort of situation. But if I can create some new habits early in, and stick to them, I have a much better chance of success. Fingers crossed!


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Hitting Reset

It’s been a few weeks, hasn’t it? Things have been a bit crazy, to put it mildly. A quick run-down, for anyone who doesn’t follow me on social media:

– Got my second covid shot and immediately got a norovirus the same day, so that was super-fun. I was sick for a week, couldn’t eat for a good 24 hours, and couldn’t eat anything substantial for the next five days after. Good times. Bonus: I have no idea if I had side-effects from the shot or not.

– My dishwasher broke, and is still broken. I finally got an appointment to have someone look at it…Tuesday. Have I mentioned I hate, hate, hate doing dishes by hand?

– I broke my 100 daily words for 100 days streak when I was sick, and with the dishwasher being broke, I haven’t picked it back up because my writing time is late at night after the kitchen is clean, and the kitchen takes me twice as long as it used to now.

– I got my hair cut for the first time in a year, and that was a far better experience than I’d hoped for. I like the new stylist, she was very thoughtful and careful with how she cut my hair given my grow-out goals, and I can let it grow for the next six months now and it should grow out very nicely.

So. Lots going on. Ironically, I feel a lot better overall since the norovirus/full-body-purge…some other health issues I was having seem to have magically gone away/fixed themselves since, which is actually pretty awesome. So much so that I’m considering doing a planned 24 hour fast every so often, just to sort of “reset” my physical systems. Gotta do a little reading up first, but it seems like it might be a good idea. Anything that keeps my body running smoother as I get older is on the table, as far as I’m concerned.

I am getting somewhat faster at doing the dishes (and eating out an extra night or two per week), and my writing issue is more of a “pouting” issue, so there’s really no reason I can’t sit down and whip out 100 words and still get to bed on time, other than attitude. So, I need to give myself a stern talking-to, and get my butt back to writing. I have a very nifty new planner that’s basically just habit tracking for writers, and it actually makes me want to write so I have something to record daily. Whatever works, right?

As for my hair…I’ve got some new routines forming due to both the longer length and the silver growing out. I watch YouTubers who are growing out their gray hair too (judge all you want – everyone likes company when embarking on a new adventure), and one of them mentioned that something she wished she knew before growing her gray out was that makeup will get in your white hair, and you can *see* it (because…white), and you can’t get it out. So you have to put your hair back when you’re doing your makeup, which is something that never crossed my mind, but makes total sense to me. So I’m changing up my routine since I do already have a lot of white right up near my face. I used to shower, then do my hair, then do my makeup (and my hair would often get in the way, because it’s “poofy” when I blow it out). I’m switching it up, and after a shower, wrapping my hair in a hair towel (women and long-haired men, have you discovered hair towels yet? If not, do!), go do my makeup and get dressed, and then do my hair last. Voila! No makeup in my white hair. It’s the little things…

Also, the new cut has taken away the worst of the “flips” at the end of my layers that forced me to take a shower and wash my hair daily for work, so I could tame those silly flips with the blow dryer. Now, I find that my hair just flattens out a bit on the second day after a shower, so I can skip the shower and hair wash every other day, which is far better for my scalp, my hair *and* my skin! Huzzah! I celebrated by ordering a flat iron and a heat-resistant mat for the bathroom counter, so on days I don’t need to shower, I can either straighten or curl my hair (or leave it alone) as I feel like it. It’s a new era, which is awesome, and exactly what I was hoping for. So yay!

In other news, we’re back to yardwork again, and I tell you what – nothing gets those muscles screaming again like shoveling a bunch of wheelbarrows and buckets of dirt to fill garden beds and pots. I am *sore* today, I tell you what. But we got a bunch of tomatoes planted this past Saturday, and I moved my hardy geranium into the brick planter in the front of our house. It’s a start.

In any case, things are slowly getting back on track *again* (though the to-do list is longer than ever), and with any luck, they’ll stay that way for awhile this time. One can only hope, eh?


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Hair Down to There…Or Not?

Longer and frosted!

It’s been almost a year since my last haircut, and a little over two months since I decided to let the dye grow out and embrace my natural white/black/silver color(s). The top layers are *finally* getting long enough that I can pull most of my hair back in a ponytail if I’m not leaving the house now (a tiny, messy one that still needs bobby pins for side/back support), and the sides are just shy of being long enough to pull back out of my face (which is why the bobby pin thing isn’t such a good option…they’re too long to pin back, and too short not to).

No, I’m not a pigtail girl. I think I have one picture of myself as a child in pigtails, but aside from Harley Quinn cosplay, you won’t see me rocking those anytime soon. There’s a line.

I could probably do two braids, but I’ve never really done that either – it’s normally just one down the back of my head. Maybe I should try the double. See if the sides are long enough to reach.

In any case, now I have a bit of a quandary. It’s been a long haul growing all these layers out, and I will probably make a hair appointment for sometime in May. I’ll definitely be getting a trim, and probably keeping some layers but not all. The quandary I have is…should I just cut my hair back into a pixie cut to get rid of the dye all at once and then spend the next year growing the length back out from there?

Or should I just get a trim, keep my hair shoulder-length for awhile until the natural color catches up, and then continue growing it out to my mid-back “goal length”?

It’s a thinker. On the one hand, it would be nice to just be done with the color all at once, and then I wouldn’t have to worry about that “demarcation line” where the white/natural color meets the dyed color.

Look at that black stripe – cool!

On the other hand, there is still a lot of “color” in my natural patchwork of shades (the black is a bit surprising, since I’ve never actually had natural black hair before). I’m fairly positive I’ll like it just fine longer, but the multi-color/patchwork thing sometimes doesn’t work so well in a super-short style, IMO.

Plus I’d have to deal with a whole ‘nuther year of growing out short layers of hair. It’s doable, but really pretty annoying some days.

As of now, the white on top (I call it my “frosting”) doesn’t bug me all that much. And since I wear bangs, my face will be framed with the natural colors in just another month or two no matter what length the back is. Maybe I’ll just get a trim this time, and then if it’s bugging me in a couple months, I’ll chop it off, otherwise, just another trim.

Rinse, repeat.


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Springy Spring

Daytime view of the yard – can’t wait until it grows in!

The front yard landscaping is done! Huzzah! We’ll spend the next several years paying for it, but it looks great, and is very low maintenance, which was the main goal. The neighbors have had favorable comments so far. But we haven’t put our pink metal flamingos out yet. Who doesn’t love pink flamingos, right?

Yes, we are going to be “those” neighbors – the ones with the beautiful landscaping broken up by all manner of kitschy lawn art. Pretty *and* fun, all in one spot.

Nighttime view – skeleton tree!

I need gnomes now. Ones that scream when you pick them up. There has to be a way, right?

Needless to say, with the front yard done (or as done as it can be until the last frost date, which here is May 15th), we’ve turned our attention to the back yard. We have much to do and very little time to do it in – our spring motivation wears off very quickly once temperatures are above 80 or so for any length of time. We’ve started refinishing the old patio swing with a new coat of paint (we ran out – need to get more soon), and I have new cushions/covers for it that I bought two years ago just hanging in the basement waiting to be put on.

We have a new gazebo in boxes in our driveway to be assembled on the patio, which will give us some much-needed shade back there when the sun is frying everything for hours on end. Before we can put that up, we need to disassemble and remove a shed we have sitting on the patio at the moment.

I started a project to raise the two rose beds just off the patio a couple years ago. I need to finish that project, replace some roses, and spread out the plants with better spacing.

We ordered some new veggie bed kits with compost towers in the center to help with feeding. They’re also sitting in the driveway, and we need to assemble them and get those filled (before May, hopefully!).

And we need to rake and overseed the backyard again, to continue our weed abatement/grass revitalization project. Eventually we’ll probably have all that just ripped out and redone, but for now, we’ll just take care of it as well as possible. And maybe this year I’ll finally get the hang of using the hose-based liquid fertilizer spreader for using the organic fertilizer I get from the company that picks up our compose each week. It doesn’t seem like rocket science, but apparently it kind of is.

By mid-June (at the latest), I’ll be sick of yardwork and outdoor projects (I’m not really a “play outside” kinda girl). So it’s important to get as much done early as possible.

Crate training…with treats!

Inside, we’ve been rearranging furniture to accommodate a couple of wire dog crates for our little four-legged hoodlums. Because sometimes it’s just too hard to be good. Especially for younger pups who are still very impulse-driven and eat everything. Including things that might harm them. And things that cost a fair chunk of change to replace. *sigh* I’m not sure if we’ll be able to crate them while we’re gone or not yet – they’re still getting the hang of the whole “sit quietly in the crate” thing. But we’ll see. It’s good training, no matter what happens.

Last but not least, I’ve instituted a writing goal for myself, to hopefully get that habit ingrained again. One hundred words a day for one hundred days. That’s the goal. Ironically, I had five days down, and then missed Sunday so I could get this blog done and posted. So, I’m starting over (again) at zero. I’ve ordered some word count stickers and black certificate covers to post them in, so that each day I’ll have a record of whether I hit 100, or went higher. It’ll be fun, as long as I don’t start over too often. There’s really no reason to – 100 words takes very little time (five minutes or less when I’m on a roll).

So, busy busy around here. At least until it gets hot, and staying inside to write is the only thing I actually *want* to do. 😉


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