Archive for the ‘Assorted and Sundry’ Category

2018 week one

January 7, 2018 @ 12:27 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Books

The first week of the year has slipped away. Slipped? Flown? Hmm, neither is accurate. It was a full week, an intense week of long phone calls dealing with IEP issues and other challenges we’re facing with S’s school. (Further affirming my belief that being an engaged school parent is every bit as time-consuming as homeschooling, if not more so. I remember when people used to be shocked when I made that argument. Homeschooling my other kids may be the least stressful thing I do, and the least demanding in terms of time and mental energy. The ratio is tipped so much farther in favor of joy and delight than pretty much anything else I do. But that’s a topic for another post.)

I’ve made some concrete changes in the past several weeks, in an attempt to reclaim lost bits of time and rebuild good habits that have crumbled rather a lot during this past tumultuous year. Had to start with myself, of course. In early December I began writing three pages first thing every morning, before I pick up my phone or even get out of bed. Three pages, longhand in an 8 1/2 x 11″ spiral notebook. I’ve been afraid to talk about it lest that somehow kill the habit before it gelled. But it’s been over a month now and I think I can make myself keep going. I’ve only missed one day so far—Christmas morning has its own particular demands. 🙂 Scott’s a big help, cheering me on, not minding the light popping on at 6:30 a.m. when it’s still deep dark here.

My daily nature walks with Huck and Rilla disappeared during the holidays—in large part because the cold air is making me cough. An allergy/asthma thing, quite annoying. I miss walking, both with the kids and with Scott—a habit we practiced for many years in San Diego but haven’t found space for here yet. I mean, I know we haven’t been here all that long and I wasn’t exactly up to walking for a while there. But the thing with habits is that we form them one way if we aren’t forming them another. And right now Scott and I have the habit of not walking. I loved our old sunset walks, and the early-morning walks before those. I’m looking for the right corner of the day to tuck them back into.

I’ve been examining my social media habits too. I enjoyed Chris O’Donnell’s post about reasons to blog more in 2018. He raises some excellent points. This time last year I was determined to return to daily blogging a la 2005, and I kept it up pretty well for a while. And then…life intervened. So much life! But…here I go again, the earnest attempt.

(Other blogging friends did a better job of keeping up the old posting rhythms. They’re in the sidebar under “Blogging Like It’s 2005.”)

***

Movies watched this week: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
TV: Parks & Rec rewatch

I read quite a lot this past week. I think I always do, during the first week of the year, because the blank space in my sidebar booklog bugs me. Didn’t sketch much. Hoping to kick that habit back into place this week.

I asked the following question on Facebook and wound up with a nice fat list of suggestions for my TBR pile:

What are your reading plans for this year?

(If you’re a reading planner. If not, what’s in your pile right now?)

Hogmanay checklist

December 31, 2017 @ 8:04 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

Instagram 2017 #bestnine

House: reasonably clean

Sidebar: stripped down and ready for a new year’s booklist

Last Patreon post of the year: published

Rose Cottage: on the nightstand

TBR list: massive

Cybils finalists: to be announced first thing on New Year’s Day

Finn Family Moomintroll issue of the Arrow: wending its way to subscribers tomorrow

Inbox: empty!!

Bird feeders: filled

Children: noisy

Heart: full

Happy New Year, friends.

Fresh Starts

December 28, 2017 @ 5:08 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

Inbox Zero

Yesterday was all about tying up the loose ends of my reading life in order to start the year with a clean slate. I looked over everything I’m in the middle of—so many books!—and decided, after some reflection, to take Penny’s advice from the comments and dive into the old favorites calling my name in that stack, or some very like them. Ever since I read Thornyhold, I’ve been hankering after The Scent of Water and Wise Child. And Lesley mentioned Miss Read…and I happened upon a description of Mary Stewart’s Rose Cottage that sounds even more enchanting than her Thornyhold. Impatiently waiting for the library copy to arrive…

(It occurs to me Thornyhold also has something of the flavor of Linnets and Valerians, which I’ve not reread in a few years…)

Anyway! That was yesterday’s Old Year Week work. Today I turned my sights to correspondence and (gulp) answered emails dating as far back as 2016. Mortifying but true. Snail mail correspondence is next, and feels like a luxury, not a chore. I’m still working this week, but at greatly reduced hours, and, well, after the year I’ve had, that feels like heaven.

It’s funny—I woke up this morning thinking: Right. I’m going to grant myself amnesty at the end of the year. Anything (non work-related, and work includes my Patreon) hanging unfinished—email, DMs, comment replies, reading plans, household chores, book reviews—all of it gets swept away at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and I will start afresh. And then immediately upon having cut myself this break, I began answering messages I should have replied to (wanted to reply to!) more than a year ago. By noon, I was all caught up. Why did I let it pile up in the first place? Answering was a pleasure—as soon as I gave myself permission not to.

Tomorrow I want to spend some time making High Tide plans for January. I’ll try to share those here. I say try to because I’ve learned not to make promises unless absolutely necessary. Curve balls happen and then I feel guilty. 🙂 But I miss, miss, miss this poor old blog and I’m trying (trying!) to restore some lost habits.

Related to that, I’ve been (again! perpetually!) pondering what, if any, changes I want to make in my social media habits this year. I visit Twitter maybe once a day now, almost out of a sense of obligation: I follow smart thinkers and feel a duty to check in on the day’s social and political commentary. But I can only manage it in small doses. I went almost totally silent on Facebook this fall…popping in occasionally when that same sense of duty propelled me to activism. Which I know is the opposite approach of many (most) of my friends, who have resolved not to bring activism or politics to Facebook. Sometimes my conscience says: you have to talk about this, so I try (try!) to listen. But I logged out of FB on my phone and tucked the app into a folder where it isn’t staring me in the face. I deleted all the games off my phone and unsubscribed from all but a handful of merchant newsletters. The few I kept are for small shops whose owners write thoughtful articles instead of spamming you with sale ads. ::shudder:: Ads bring out the Grinch in me: Oh the noise, noise, noise, noise!

Instagram remains a pleasant haven, a place to smile over friends’ family photos and adventures, and to enjoy glimpses of charming artwork or people’s book piles. Wisteria and Sunshine is a nourishing virtual retreat, like visiting Thornyhold or Juniper’s cottage; and there’s a small creative community I’m part of that is a daily delight. Mostly, though, I’ve wandered away from community discourse…which isn’t very like me, but I’ve had so much work on my plate, and I think I needed some breathing-in time. I’m feeling the wind change, though. I love turning the page to a new year. Always have.

Saturday fun

December 4, 2017 @ 9:00 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Family, Family Adventures, Photos

On Saturday we went to a pop-up sale for one of our favorite artists, Lisa Congdon. You’ve heard me rave about her Creativebug classes and her art, which makes me happy. She was selling items from her Etsy shop at Collage, that store with the giant wall of washi tape. I ventured out in the rain with four of the kids to do some Christmas shopping at Lisa’s sale.

Rilla, who has taken several of Lisa’s Creativebug classes* with me, was so excited to meet her. Wish I’d gotten a better picture! She also made a furry friend. Equal levels of excitement, I would say.

Afterward we did some window shopping on Alberta Ave. and then inhaled some truffle fries at Big Little Burger while we wait for Scott and Huck to pick us up. Rose and Beanie hung around for root beer floats and more window shopping. A birthday present or two may have been acquired. ’Tis that season, too, for us.

*affiliate link

 

 

Tuesday

November 14, 2017 @ 8:34 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

It is Tuesday, right? I keep getting calls to shift appointments around (IEP, audiology, the usual) and it has me discombobulated.

***

The Glass Castle just hit my Overdrive account. Is that what I want right now? Can you believe I’ve never read it?

***

My new hobby is doing dramatic readings of posts from the Nextdoor app. I’m recording them and texting them to my friend Lisa. I feel like I might have found my true calling at last. 😉

***

These are the podcasts I listen to regularly, ranked from never-miss-an-episode to catch-’em-when-I-can:
Pod Save America
Lovett or Leave It
The West Wing Weekly
Pod Save the People
Pod Save the World
Happier With Gretchen Rubin
Out of Line With Caroline Lee

I also like to save up Bravewriter podcast episodes until I have a bunch, and then binge on them when I have a busy-hands project to do.

***

The stars of our daily nature walks this week are moss and mushrooms. The puddles keep Huck happy while Rilla and I ooh and ah over the fungi.

P.S. thanks for the book suggestions on yesterday’s post. Keep ’em coming! I’m chairing Cybils YA Fiction this year ***but not reading on the panel*** and it hit me that that’s why I feel book-drifty. I’m using to being buried under stacks of novels this time of year.

Monday

November 13, 2017 @ 8:41 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

My morning view is changing. From the reading chair in my studio I look out upon my backyard neighbor’s roof, and my next-door neighbors’ trees. This photo was taken on October 25th or 26th. Two weeks later, the trees on the right and the ones behind that chimney are bare. The robins that hopped in and out of that big magnolia on the left all day long seem to have moved to warmer quarters. I was surprised by how long they stuck around!

I worked a lot this weekend, so this morning I feel like I could use…a weekend. 😉 Instead, we have a full day in store: an audiology appointment for S, and then some lesson time with Huck and Rilla, and then I have another issue of The Arrow to wrap up.

But I feel like the major task I want to accomplish today is deciding what book to read. My option paralysis has hit again, something awful. I’ve read about twenty beginnings since the last book I finished. It’s maddening. I think what I’m wanting at the moment is a book both absorbing and stirring, with humor and local dramas…like Guernsey Literary Society or Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Maybe I’ll just reread The Blue Castle for the four thousandth time while I make up my mind on something new.

I’m not ready to let you go, October

October 30, 2017 @ 7:56 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

I don’t have time to write, which is exactly why I’m writing. I don’t want to let too much time pass with silence in this space. I’ve realized one of the reasons I lean on Instagram is because I can do it in bed—last thing at night, or early in the morning, lying there cozy under my quilt, playing with photos. It’s relaxing. But the WordPress phone app works just as well as Instagram. I don’t know why it never occurs to me to blog from there. I guess because I think of blogging as long-form, even though that’s totally ahistorical.

Anyway, here I am. I’m working really, really long days, these days. Have to make up for time missed during my illness. Thank goodness for our high-tide mornings. Homeschooling is the fun part of my day. We’re reading Comet in Moominland (still! begun in San Diego!), taking loooong nature walks (oh these trees!), and reading Lewis & Clark, Paddle-to-the-Sea, and a lot of poetry. Beanie and I are supposed to be starting a big Shakespeare project this week, but I’m behind on the reading. 😉

A fun thing: I held my first live monthly Q&A session this afternoon for my Patreon subscribers! We talked about what tidal homeschooling looks like with teens, books about the craft of writing, and I answered a question about Martha and Charlotte books. I also shared a stack of picture books we’ll be reading tomorrow for Halloween, and I finished up with a piece of advice about encouraging creativity. If you are interested in tuning into these monthly chats (either live or in replay), they’re available to all subscribers to my Patreon at the $3/month-or-more level.

Become a Patron!

Happening here and there

October 16, 2017 @ 7:35 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

What’s happening…

on my Instagram: I’ve been sharing glimpses of our daily homeschooling adventures on the feed and in my IG Stories. Been playing a bit with Live Stories, too. Need to decide if I’m going to archive/upload them somewhere, since they disappear after 24 hours.

on my Patreon: in this week’s subscriber-only post, I shared the most important piece of advice I give my writing students.

…in my backyard: the hydrangeas are stunning, and the hedge is beginning to turn red. Summer, meet fall.

…on my nightstand: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, the December Arrow selection.

…on our speakers: The Girl Who Drank the Moon audiobook.

…in my inbox: Naomi Bulger’s “The Most Beautiful Letter You Have Ever Written e-course, which starts today. I’m pretty excited. Naomi’s work is lovely and her gentle, thoughtful approach resonates with me. I think you can still join the class, if you’re interested. (Affiliate link.)

…in my sketchbook: mostly rough pencil sketches of flowers, lately. Not as much of anything as I would like. I’m a bit buried under work, now that my radiation vacation is over. (Hahaha I slay myself. It was the exact opposite of a vacation. It was…not my favorite experience ever.)

(That reminds me: I shared these photos on IG but not here. If anything deserves to make the permanent archive, it’s this moment that Scott captured on the day of my final treatment. When you walk out of the radiation room for the last time, the staff is waiting with confetti, cheers, and a ‘diploma.’ I had no idea this was coming, so the celebration caught me by surprise.)


The next couple of weeks were pretty rough (side effects lag behind treatment, so my burn didn’t get ugly until a few days after I was finished), but hitting this milestone wonderful. And now, three weeks later, I’m feeling pretty good. Not quite my old self? But getting there.

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Tuesday

October 3, 2017 @ 5:12 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

I’m starting to feel better, for real. For the first time in weeks, I felt up to a nature walk with Huck and Rilla. Sure, we only went around the block, but after weeks of radiation fatigue, that felt like a really big deal. We wanted to see if the giant conifers at the end of our block are Douglas firs. They aren’t! But we found one in a neighbor’s yard one block over. And then another, and another. The cones are quite distinctive, with little upward-pointing bracts between the scales. Our pinecone collection is growing. Big excitement for my SoCal chaparral kids.

In one of the firs, we spotted a Northern flicker directly overhead. We watched him until our necks ached, then hurried home because Rilla needed to paint him before she burst. We know flickers pretty well through my parents, who have a nesting box with webcam in their backyard. Wee ugly baby birds every spring—very cool. So it was extra exciting to encounter one in our new neighborhood.

Northern flicker by Rilla

These days I find I dread opening tabs in the morning. The news has been unremittingly awful for so long. I’ve fallen quiet on most of the platforms I used to be chatty on. Facebook and Twitter have become outlets for activism (which annoys some friends, but I can’t help it; I can’t not try). Only on Instagram do I shut all of that out. I worry, sometimes, about sharing happy and peaceful photos over there, or here, when there are so many horrors unfolding everywhere. But I need it, I need that space for celebrating the good. And since Instagram is a stream platform where the feed, hosted and controlled by another entity, scrolls away and could disappear altogether some day, as platforms do, I’m compelled to bring those memories over here too, where I can keep them safe. Thus the repost of the thoughts above, which I shared on IG yesterday.

I find I’m using IG Stories more often, too, to show quick glimpses of our day-in-progress. I got a sweet note from a reader yesterday who mentioned that she appreciated the window into our homeschooling days. I know how she feels; I love those peeks into other households. IG Stories disappear after 24 hours, and although my online urge is always toward preservation and archiving, I like the transitory nature of those photo and video snippets. It feels like sharing just enough, not too much.

I started this post this morning, and now it’s dinnertime and I’ve forgotten where I was going with it. Ah, well. Back to the salt mines. (Rilla got curious about that phrase yesterday and we spent twenty minutes watching videos about actual salt mines. Because of course we did!)