I’ve never been what you’d call a single-tasker

January 4, 2023 @ 5:14 pm | Filed under:

 

It’s a wet, blustery day and I don’t have anything in particular to say. But I never let that stop me in the olden (blog) times, did I? Ha.

Here’s one thing: you can help me continue my easy-peasy image selection method by tossing out some random keyword suggestions. I’ll type them into my WP media library and see what pops up. Here, let’s try rain and wind.

two raincoats, one green, one yellow, drying over a shower door

Aw, this picture gives me a smile. It’s from our first spring in Portland. My youngest kids’ first time needing raincoats! When we moved into this house—a block and a half from Klickitat Street—practically the first thing I did was buy Huck a Henry-Huggins-yellow rain slicker. 😄

Wind didn’t bring up anything terribly windy…just a lot of pretty windows.

Well, my new Dart is underway, I finally wrestled some tax info into shape for the accountant, and I did a bunch of admin chores. Scott & some of the kids are watching an Iron Man movie. I think I’m going to take the rest of the afternoon off and do some prep for some stitching projects. I’ve found that it works well for me to immerse in the planning/cutting/choosing stages for several projects at once, and then I stick everything for each project in a different bin, and that way I can reach for whatever kind of stitching I’m in the mood for. Right now I have: a needlepainting project (begun last fall? summer? but idle for months); a saeksilnubi project (begun even longer ago); a hoop meant just for noodling around and trying things out; a really fun hoop based on Tove Jansson’s Little My illustrations (Rilla’s helping with the design of that one); and a long-in-progress piece I designed myself. Oh, and when all I feel like doing is hemstitching (by hand, which I was surprised to discover I adore doing—having believed Jo March for decades that it was a detestable activity), I work on a long-term project (what am I saying, they’re all long term): hemming big squares of linen to use as gift-wrapping cloths. I only got a few made in time for Christmas this year, but I’m determined to switch over from paper completely.

So that’s plenty to keep me busy for weeks (months) to come, and now I’m wondering why I thought I needed to prep anything new? I guess it’s that I have this cozy flannel I want to make pajama pants out of. Handsewn, if possible, because that’s the only kind of sewing I really like. The machine treats me with the disdain of a cat. If it could knock the scissors onto the floor, it totally would.

Well, I also have the book Melanie recommended the other day, A Ghost in the Throat, on audio, so I suppose I could put that on and work on one of the million projects already sitting beside me. I’m so glad we had this little talk! 😊

Tuesday Scrivenings

January 3, 2023 @ 2:09 pm | Filed under:
Screenshot from Moonrise Kingdom with five color dots below

Moonrise Kingdom screenshot from Wes Anderson Palettes

What’s on deck for you today? I’m trying to get my head back into work mode. I’ll be diving into a new Dart (the young middle-grade literature & mechanics guides I write for Brave Writer), this time for the April book, Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey, a wonderful short novel by Erin Entrada Kelly, whose work I love. I’ve written almost all of the Darts and a lot of the Arrow guides, over the years. They’re challenging to write but it’s really enjoyable work—getting to dig into other authors’ books and talk about what they’re doing with language. I love the playful vibe and the chance to share my enthusiasm for the fantastic books my editor, Dawn Smith, chooses each year.

I write my Darts in Scrivener, so that’s today’s work: setting up the new draft. After almost six years of working on Brave Writer guides, I must say my Scrivener template is a thing of beauty. 😉 My appreciation of Scrivener as a writing tool has only grown over the years. Its learning curve is on the steep side, but there are great tutorials, and once you know how to use its features, it’s incredibly flexible. I do most of my writing in it: novels (the corkboard view that lets you move scenes around is something I couldn’t live without); blog post drafts (although, oddly, not this one); stitching project notes; interstitial journaling; even some planning.

One day last summer, for my own amusement, I googled “Wes Anderson palettes” and sure enough, there’s a Tumblr for that. I found two palettes I loved and used them as starting points to create my own array of preset colors for my labels and files. Because the prettier the workspace is, the more time I want to spend in it.

I’m working on a new novel at the moment, and it, too, lives in Scrivener. I’m able to stash lots of research and reference photos there, and character notes, plot notes, anything really.

One of the best things about working in this platform is that it lives outside my browser. It’s completely separate from the internet. I mean, I can link to things that would open in a browser, but with Scrivener I could work completely offline, if I wanted to.

(I will never want to. It automatically backs up to my Dropbox, and I wouldn’t like writing without that security net. But I could, is what I’m saying.)

P.S. I said I wasn’t going to bother with book links, and I’m mostly not going to? Sort of? This may sound silly, but I miss the way a title shows up in red when I turn it into a link. So maybe sometimes, when I feel like it, I’ll grab a Bookshop.org link. I dunno. I’m figuring it out as I go along. I suppose where I landed the other day was that I intend to eliminate unnecessary busywork. And what feels like busywork is going to change from day to day. Today, I wanted pretty.

Bore da, draig

January 2, 2023 @ 4:27 pm | Filed under:
A partially eaten star-shaped sugar cookie decorated

A Welsh-flag-inspired cookie, courtesy of Rose. It was delicious.

 

Yesterday I mentioned how impressed I am with the Say Something In language courses. In my (yikes) decades of homeschooling, I’ve tried just about every language-learning program on the market at some point or another. A lot of them are good! Some are great, even. But nothing has ever made a new language click for me so rapidly the way SSi Welsh has.

Okay, I said for me. None of my kids have used it—yet. Huck is learning Spanish on Duolingo, and that’s one of a small handful of languages the SSi program offers. I, too, would like to move my Spanish past the tiny smattering of phrases I currently know, so my plan is to see if Huck is interested in working through Say Something in Spanish with me next year. But not yet! I want to complete the Welsh course first.

So much to say. First: why Welsh? The pat answer is that I enjoy trying small doses of new languages on Duolingo, and in the very first Welsh lesson, they teach you to say, “Good morning, dragon.” Needless to say, that had me at hello. But there’s a deeper answer—only it took a while for me to register it.

One of my earliest school memories is my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Vinson, teaching our class the vowels: A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y—and sometimes W.

When I moved to a new school a year or two later, that lesson ran me into trouble. My new teacher was baffled by my inclusion of W in the list. I insisted, because Mrs. Vinson had said so! Mrs. Wiseman begged to differ, somewhat exasperatedly.

Several years later, I learned that W is a vowel in Welsh. With this knowledge, the puzzle shifted: why had a teacher in a tiny private school in south Georgia taught her kindergarteners a Welsh vowel? It must have been some kind of whimsical impulse, or maybe she (like me, actually) had Welsh ancestry—who knows?

Fast forward to the present. I’d been glued to my Duolingo Welsh and SSiW lessons for a couple of months before the Mrs. Vinson connection occurred to me. Actually, it was Scott who pinpointed the link. It’s lovely having someone who knows all your stories.

Well, here I am 114 days later, as captivated as I was the first time Duolingo nudged me to say Bore da, draig! Menyw dw i. It seems W-as-vowel has been waiting for me this whole time.

A few weeks into the Duolingo course, I had lots of questions about the grammar. Duolingo is great for helping you absorb a ton of vocabulary pretty quickly, but it seldom explains why things fit together the way they do. Some googling led me to Say Something In. It’s a really different kind of program—an emphasis on learning to hear and speak the language rather than to read it. (Which works especially well for Welsh, because Colloquial Welsh and Literary Welsh are quite different. Both Duolingo and SSiWelsh teach the former—the standardized written and spoken form of the language sometimes called Modern Standard Welsh.)

SSi’s learn-by-speaking approach is Pimsleurish, I suppose? But better, in my view (here I’m comparing Pimsleur German from years ago to SSi Welsh now). The lessons are all audio, and quite challenging, in a really exciting, lively way. I absolutely love it. It has become my primary means of learning, with Duolingo now serving as a daily supplement. I do like to see the words, so that’s what I like Duolingo for; I’m a visual learner and it really helps me remember a word if I know how to spell it. If I bump into a seeming discrepancy between the two programs, I reach for Gareth King’s Modern Welsh and he helps me understand what’s going on.

The Say Something In courses can be worked through at your own pace, but you have the option of a weekly rhythm with encouraging emails heralding each new lesson. There’s an enthusiastic community who hold lots of live conversation-practice sessions. I haven’t attended one of those yet, but I do plan to. I’m keeping up pretty well with the weekly lesson pace; each audio lesson is around half an hour, and you can do it all at once or in smaller chunks.

It’s sort of a playing-with-Legos approach to language (i.e. a very natural immersion approach), where you learn a few words and start building quite complex sentences with them right away. By the end of Lesson 1 I could state quite honestly: Dw i’n mynd i drio dysgu siarad CymraegI’m going to try to learn to speak Welsh. Last night the lesson had me talking about how the old woman had better try to understand the young man, if she can remember how to say what she wants to say. And believe me, I had a little bit of trouble remembering how to say all of that—but I did it!

Besides Spanish, Dutch, and Welsh (with, by the way, options for lesssons in the dialects of North or South Wales), Say Something In offers Cornish and Manx. Manx! The historical language of the Isle of Mann. A Celtic language whose last native speaker died in 1974.

Which, come to think of it, would have been right around the time Mrs. Vinson was teaching me my vowels.

W and all.

Two days in a row!

January 1, 2023 @ 3:20 pm | Filed under: ,
Photo of an African violet in bloom

I typed “January” into my media library and this African violet from several years back is what popped up. Today’s windowsill looks much the same.

Updated to add audio again! Like yesterday, I recorded this in one gulp on my phone. It’ll have hiccups, but if I start trying to polish it up, I’ll never be able to stick with this. Thanks for understanding!

 

Oh my goodness, what a delight to wake up to so many comments from old blog-world friends! I really really want to get in the habit of dashing off a quick post every day, probably around lunchtime, because otherwise I’ll start doing the thing where a half-written draft takes on too much weight and I never come back to it.

I am terribly fond of containers. I used to have such a good one for blogging—the necessarily short transition from mom hat to writer hat. If I spent too long on a post, I’d lose my window for writing, and I had pretty intense book deadlines when I started this blog (and a lot of bairns) so I didn’t have any windows to spare.

My day still falls pretty neatly into a mom focus and a work focus, but the rhythms are quite different now that I’m only homeschooling Huck and Rilla—who, if you’ve lost track—are now both in their teens, and now that I do a lot of freelance work in addition to writing my own books. I’m prone to catapulting straight from lesson time into work brain without taking a breather. (Or else I dip into social media and take too long a breather!)

Well, I’ll try this midday container for blogging and see how it goes. My friend Chris O’Donnell—who has been blogging longer than anyone I know—made me laugh on Facebook this morning with his New Year’s Eve post: Happy “I will write more on my blog and less on social media next year” night to all who celebrate. Ha! I can’t deny that that shoe fits!

Okay, SO. As I read your comments, a slew of replies and post ideas rolodexed through my brain. I made a list. I made several lists. This is so energizing! Thanks, seriously, for jumping right back into conversation here. You made my day.

Question: if I reply to a comment, do you see it? I used to have an option for readers to get comment replies by email, but I feel like that stopped working a long time ago. Just curious.

My gravatar isn’t working, either! But some of yours are. I mean, I logged into my gravatar account and it still appears to be linked to this one, but the pic doesn’t show up.

Well, that’s cosmetic and not all that important. I promise I’ll stop being 100% metabloggy soon. But, you know, first you have to tune up the jalopy before you can take it for a spin! 😄

I liked, yesterday, that I landed on the idea that our old blog conversations were like letters from friends. They didn’t always feel that way, but they often did—chatty glimpses of life in someone else’s world. I’ve always loved a good epistolary tome! I remember so happily the leap of the heart at seeing a friend’s particular handwriting in the mail, and that’s how it felt when your names popped up here yesterday.

All righty. Lunch is over and I’m ready to get back to the household-reset that is my much beloved New Year’s Day tradition. I did the files this morning and now I want to tackle some bookshelves. And it’s sunny today! In Portland, in January! I think Scott & I will take a walk after he finishes chopping an onion for the black-eyed peas.

I’ve already overhauled my studio for the season, and I’m half giddy over the enticing rows on the little built-in shelves next to my writing chair: a shelf for poetry, one for fiction and nonfiction (currently reading or at the front of the queue), and one for embroidery and art books. Heaven. The two books delighting me most at the moment are Padraig O’Tuama’s perfectly wonderful Poetry Unbound (which I forgot I’d preordered until it arrived—on my birthday!) and Gareth King’s Modern Welsh: A Comprehensive Grammar. It sounds funny to say I’m enthralled by a grammar book, but I am! Both for the clarity he brings to the concepts I’ve learned in three months of study on Duolingo and Say Something in Welsh, and for his descriptivist approach to language, which is so in keeping with my own approach and the vibe of the Brave Writer programs I write for.

How about you? What’s your first New Year’s read?

(Cybils Award finalist lists are out today, if you’re in search of ideas.)

I want to say more about the Say Something In courses soon—I’m wildly enthusiastic, and if you or your kids are studying Welsh, Spanish, or Dutch, you should check them out—and more, too, about Readwise and some of the things you mentioned in the comments. And Moominmamma, that post has been percolating for a while.

So much to talk about, once I start talking.

Well, I said I wanted to dash off a post and I have, in the sense that I wrote it rapidly and haven’t gone back to polish anything at all—but I didn’t promise it would be a short one. I’m not a novelist for nothing. 😉

I always feel like blogging on New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2022 @ 4:15 pm | Filed under: , , ,

Updated to add: I made a quick and (in keeping with the topic) totally unedited audio recording of this post, if you’d prefer to listen. I just used the voice notes app on my phone, and to close up some longish pauses, I selected the “skip silences” option, which has pros and cons. It’s good enough for now.

 

Am I doing the math right? It’s about to be 2023, and I started my blog in Jan. 2005—so: it’s about to turn 18? Holy cats.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reflection about this blog and all the other places I’ve engaged in online discourse. I’m holding most of that reflection close to the vest for now, but what I can say is that my line of thought this past year has been heavily focused on the way this blog used to support my writing life, and the ways my pattern has shifted over the years.

One thing I’ve been keenly aware of is that navigating multiple platforms—necessary at times, for good reasons—has often left me feeling scattered, digitally speaking, unsure what to put where. My Patreon (in addition to paying off the hefty medical bills of 2017) was meant to cover the overhead costs of Bonny Glen. In practice, though, I found myself constantly waffling over what to post where. Here or there or social or where?

During the pandemic years, the decision fatigue—bane of my existence—has had a dampening effect on my writing process overall. I’ve begun, and left in drafts, dozens, possibly hundreds of posts. Blog, Patreon, newsletter, Medium, Instagram. As my old Astoria landlord used to say: It’s too much! It’s too much!

Another major factor in diminished blogging was the end of Feedburner’s posts-by-email function. Some of you will remember when I tried a substitute, with unfortunate (ad-icky) results. Absent that feature, and with social networks playing algorithm games with us all the time, readers have to actually go to a blog to see if there’s a new post. A few readers still use an aggregator, like Feedly, but not many. (I do have extremely high hopes for Reader, though—a new offering from Readwise, which became my favorite platform of 2022.)

Substack has perks as a platform, but—like Patreon—much of its content lives behind a paywall, and as a reader I thoroughly grok the impossibility of paying for individual subscriptions to a whole bunch of Substacks. Medium, at least, offers access to all paywalled posts for about the same monthly cost as a single Substack sub. But getting any kind of visibility on Medium is a whole nother challenge, a boring one.

And it’s all—aha, here I’m getting to the heart of it—work. It takes time. A lot, lot, lot of time. But this blog was never intended to steal time from writing my books—it was meant to support my work. I’ve written often about the role it has played in my reading/writing/thinking/mothering life, and that’s part of the more recent reflections I’m holding close for now.

What I will say is this:

Over the past several years, I’ve experimented with half a dozen strategies for refocusing my blog habits. Nothing succeeded at beating back the scatter factor. So in September, I tried something new. I put my Patreon on pause and dialed back on all forms of posting. No newsletter, not much action here on the blog, very little social media activity. I needed the break.

But privately, I was trying to restore the practice of daily blog-style writing—capturing my thoughts about what I was reading, watching, experiencing. And now, with lots of things bubbling behind the scenes, I’m ready to return to posting. But posting within some self-imposed parameters.

1. Since work and family responsibilities tend to come in intense waves, keeping to a regular posting schedule has been difficult-to-impossible for me. For that reason, and to mitigate the scatter factor, I’m keeping my Patreon on pause indefinitely. I’ll miss the egg money, but right now it’s more important that my blog is a delicious respite from work rather than another kind of job.

2. I’m not going to bother with affiliate links anymore either. I switched from Amazon to Bookshop.org a while ago, but (much as I love Bookshop) that creates even more work. (Amazon’s tools are faster, basically.) I may leave affiliate portal links in my sidebar, but I’m not going to take the extra time to grab specific book links any more.

3. Photos: another form of busywork. What I’ve been doing this past year is just entering loosely related keywords into my WordPress media library and choosing one of the old pics that pops up. I may also take advantage of Readwise’s lovely quote graphics because they require only a quick tap.

4. Similarly, I’m not going to bother much with design. My WordPress has a built-in analysis feature that loves to scold me for using too many words/too few keywords/too few subheadings/too few images/too complex a vocabulary. To which I say: Pffffttthhhht! See, what I’ve learned is: subheadings make a piece of writing feel like an essay or article, not an old-school chatty blog post, not an even-older-school letter from a friend. And essays and articles, while a form of writing I love to read and sometimes write, are not what I’m turning up in this space for. I need a place for shoes-off, hair-down writing. Warty writing, even.

5. How to let people know there’s something new! Last year I planned to round up posts in a monthly newsletter. This required both a) posts and b) sending a monthly newsletter. I did not much of either. What I think I’ll try instead is just sending a newsletter whenever I have three or four posts to share. No fixed schedule. You can sign up for my newsletter here, if you’d like.

6. And finally, as for posts themselves—the heart of this endeavor. There again, no pressures, no expectations. Just thinking out loud about what I’m reading and doing, as of old—but without any of the busywork that has often made it feel like a job. (Sending a quick newsletter isn’t arduous if it’s just to say—like Tonia Peckover or Three Ravenshere’s something new I wrote.)

So that’s what I’m thinking about my digital writing life as 2022 rolls to a close.

This year, I stopped wearing a Fitbit because I was weary of feeling like I hadn’t taken “enough” steps yet. I stopped caring about streaks in everything except Duolingo. (I’m learning Welsh, and I’ve been obsessed for [checks notes] 112 days.) I think I’ve logged barely half of my year’s reading at Goodreads—another intensely busyworky site, if you care about certain fiddly details. I’m sick of metrics. I keep thinking about that bit in A Ring of Endless Light where Vicky’s younger sister, Suzy, is more or less volunteering at a bait shop (something like that), and she comes home every day and flops into a chair with melodramatic fatigue, and the rest of the family is like, well if it’s so exhausting, why are you doing this totally voluntary thing? How about you just…don’t?

Here’s to walking away from the bait shop, friends, if that’s what you feel like doing. Here’s to a year of rest and restoration for all of us. Here’s to reading what you feel like reading, and deleting what you feel like deleting, and writing like your best friend is going to college on the other side of the country in 1989.

In the course of writing this post, I’ve thought of about six other things I want to write about. Which is, of course, the reason I blog in the first place.

Under the weather

July 25, 2022 @ 2:28 pm | Filed under: ,

…is where I’ve been. Literally, kind of: May & June allergy season kicked off a pretty brutal adventure with asthma—same as every year, but worse this time. Last week the doctor changed up my asthma & allergy meds and I’m much improved. Still coughing but the shortness of breath & crushing fatigue are diminishing. I can wipe down the kitchen or take a shower without getting winded, which is huge.

I’ve been keeping up with my client work, but my own writing bore the brunt of the fatigue. Creative battery totally drained. This week, as I begin to feel lots better, I’m working to reset my creative practice and good habits. Taking it slow, though!

I’ve been dialed waaaay back on social media, too—which is a good thing? But this blog fell silent too, and I’ve missed capturing thoughts and adventures here. And I’m aching to be back in a fertile groove with my book.

Image of a hobbit hole in Minecraft. Blue doors, brown wood frame, overhanging leaves. I love it so much.

So much for what I haven’t done; how about what I have?

Lots of Minecraft, with kids and without. We have a Realm where we can all play together and I had fun building a whole village of medieval-style houses for us to live in. In my own world, I’ve got a pretty little Hobbiton going. Mellow and satisfying, and certainly creative in its way.

Read Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte. I’ve followed his blog for ages and I really like his “CODE” process (Capture, Organize, Distill, Express) for navigating all the reading I do constantly, on many fronts, and finding connections and throughlines in the ideas I’ve captured, and writing about them to assimilate and synthesize that knowledge. Basically it’s a name for what I did on this blog in its first twelve years—gathered thoughts about my reading, noted connections, worked out my ideas about whatever topics were gripping me. Somewhere along the line I shifted to doing that work more on paper than on the blog—also a nourishing practice but it eradicated some vital steps in the Organize, Distill, and Express parts of the process. It’s so hard to find anything I jotted down in one of the dozens of paper notebooks I’ve filled over the years. Which makes distilling the ideas difficult, which makes expressing them a longer and less serendipitous process. So my big takeaway from Forte’s book was to:

Revisit the ways I’m capturing information and ideas. I’ve used Evernote for at least a decade, for stashing away everything of interest I encounter on the internet. So this past month, I tidied up my notebooks and reorganized with Forte’s Second Brain (digital brain) “PARA” structure in mind: Projects, Areas of Interest, Resources, Archive. Now, personally I find a lot of overlap between Areas and Resources, so my system is different from Forte’s. Which tweaking he encourages, of course! But if your Capture tool has a robust search engine (and Evernote has one of the best), how you organize your notes is of less importance, because you can always surface what you need via search.

Of course I’m still writing in notebooks. Pen and paper does spark a different kind of fertile, creative thought. So I’m making it a practice to read over my scribbles at least weekly and move anything of use or interest into Evernote. Sometimes I type things up (a helpful practice for zero drafts of poems) and other times I just take a picture. Evernote’s search can even deal with handwriting! This practice is another way of leaning into the “Second Brain” concept—recognizing that we live in an information-overload age and it isn’t possible to hold it all in one’s own (first) brain anymore. There’s a lot of peace in trusting you’ll find what you need in your archive. And, I mean, so many of us homeschooling blogger types experienced the magic of the Distill and Express parts of the process in the enthusiastic discourse that led to such good writing & experiences in those days.

—Even in my fatigued state, the thrill I get from trying out a new app or platform has been as intense as ever. Over the past year or two, I’ve tested lots of notetaking and project-planning apps (a slew of Capture tools, basically). Notion, Roam Research, Logseq, Mem, Sunsuma—these are all excellent projects with unique structures and uses. You’ll find diehard fans of each one. In the end, though (ha—there is never a true end to this experimentation), I determined that Evernote makes the most sense for me. I like its looks, its functionality, and its amazing integration. For task tracking and timeblocking, I use Todoist, and I’ve been really happy with my setup there for a long time. The other two apps I lean on constantly, with gratitude for the role they play, are Readwise and Momentum Dash. The former catches all my Kindle highlights, article quotes, and any passages I’ve marked in print books & sent (via photo) to the app; and it sends all these juicy bits of good stuff to Evernote where I can…search them whenever I want. And Momentum Dash is a nice focusing element in my browser. When you open a new tab, you get a nice clean screen with a beautiful photo—no Google distractions. You can add habit tracking across the top if you wish, plus other tidbits like the weather. And you can customize tab sets to make it easier to stay focused on a particular type of work. For example, I have one set that opens all the tabs I need to do my social media job for Low Bar Chorale. Another one opens only what I need for daily planning. It’s an elegant little browser extension that went a long way toward cutting down drifting and getting sucked into feeds, or having Twitter open all day.

(P.S. That Todoist link is an affiliate link—I rely on the app so much I signed up for their referral program. If you’re interested in how I use it to keep track of homeschooling, housework, medical admin, client work, and creative projects, I’m happy to rave about my system anytime.)

—Since May, I’ve written the first three (!) Brave Writer Darts of the current year’s lineup. Am at work on the fourth, for Pam Muñoz Ryan’s lovely novel Solimar, now.

—I’ve worked a little bit on a long-term project to create a resource for Oregon families with a kid making the shift from child disability services to adult services. I documented the almost-a-year-long process we navigated for my son, and I was stunned to discover the road map/timeline/checklist I yearned for doesn’t exist. So I’m making one to share. Slow but steady progress.

—As for stitching, I’ve mostly been mending socks and jeans. My embroidery projects have been on idle.

—And (since this got long!) one last thing I’ve been reading and enjoying immensely: A. R. Moxon’s post series called “Unpacking LOST. I’m a major LOST fan, have watched the whole run at least six times, plus twice more chronologically. Moxon’s take on the show is brilliant and riveting, and each time a new installment drops, it makes my day.

Hope summer is treating you well, friends. Let’s catch up!

Readaloud tomorrow at Brave Writer Summer Camp

July 18, 2022 @ 9:33 am | Filed under:

Brave Writer Summer Camp logo

I’m excited to be part of Brave Writer’s Summer Camp event tomorrow, Tuesday July 19! I’ll be doing a live readaloud for kids at 1pm Eastern time. Always fun! Here’s the scoop from Julie Bogart:

Brave Writer Summer Camp ⛺️ is coming to a phone 📱 or computer 🖥 screen near you! It’s a day long set of webinars and is a highlight of every summer around here!

Fun, helpful, and FREE: as in no moola, no pocket change, no bicentennial quarters!

The Brave Writer staff and I are spending a day teaching you all things homeschool and Brave Writer for FREE while giving your kids delightful activities to do so you can concentrate.

We offer a product discount code to LIVE attendees (Aussies and Kiwis, contact customer service if you can’t be awake during those hours).

SESSIONS Eastern Time
🔴 11 AM – Online Classes: Writing is the Key to Learning Any Subject (Kirsten Merryman)

🟠 12 PM – Brave Learner Home: The Resources and Community You Need (Julie Bogart)

🟡 1 PM – For Kids! Author Melissa Wiley Reads Aloud! (Melissa Wiley)

🟢 2 PM – Brave Writer Products: Unlocking Learning Through Literature (Dawn Smith)

🔵 3 PM – Raising Brave Learners and Critical Thinkers (Julie Bogart)

🟣 Register: bravewriter.com/summer-camp

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Bananas deal at Creativebug right now

May 17, 2022 @ 4:00 pm | Filed under:

1 year for $10!

Creativebug remains my favorite place to dip into art and stitching classes. They’ve got a pretty incredible deal right now: a year’s subscription for $10! Membership gets you access to the entire library of classes, including the new lineup. I’ve got my eye on Joy Ting’s Color Play: A Daily Practice in Watercolor and Colored Pencil, and Courtney Cerruti’s Creative Correspondence class sounds fun too.

If you decide to give Creativebug a try, you can see some of my own handiwork in my friend Rebecca Ringquist’s Schoolhouse Sampler: A Daily Embroidery Practice class!

(Affiliate links)

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The moody month of May

May 3, 2022 @ 8:44 am | Filed under: ,

photo of a gray house with a bright red garage door, and blossoming trees under a gray sky

Good grief, it’s been two months since my last post. I did start several (in the seventeen-plus years I’ve been blogging here, I’ve amassed a truly ridiculous number of unpublished drafts. Over seven hundred of them. I mean.) but I kept butting into that wall I face when I want to capture some funny or beautiful moment—the larger context, the grimness of that larger context. The state of the world. I’m resisting the urge right now to write that distressing litany (war, plague, corruption, oppression, fires, dying oceans, dying soils, melting ice—the list we’re all carrying around all the time.

I’ll read a poem that shoots through me, or something amusing will happen during our lessons, or I’ll see a neighbor’s cat stalking a scrub jay, the jay perfectly aware of the crouching, intensely focused predator, cocking its head this way and that, hopping a little, flaunting its total confidence in its power of flight; and I’ll want to come here and record the thing so I don’t lose it. Even capturing in a notebook as I often do doesn’t insure against loss: I’ve filled so many, many notebooks. And they don’t have rapid search engines.

But the urge to begin with a disclaimer—exactly this kind of disclaimer—burns up all the energy I had for writing the post.

Can I just issue the disclaimer once and move on? Everything is terrible, but also a lot of things are beautiful and I want to remember them?

Well. Here I am, in May, a month I love. On the East Coast I loved it for the explosion of blossoming trees; but here in Portland that begins in April and is winding down by now. We’ve had cherry blossoms & tulip magnolias & flowering plum; now it’s dogwood time, and rhododendrons and azaleas. What I love most about Portland’s May is the light: especially in the evenings after rain, when the light lasts and lasts, and the clouds are shot through with it, backlit, illuminated, and it’s like there is light in the air, or the air is made of particles of light. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen, anywhere else.

pink roses blooming against a cloudy sky

Soon, unless it starts pouring, Huck and I will go out for a walk. Last night, Scott and I were returning home from a long walk and encountered a pair of mallards splashing in a large pool of water on Beech—a cross-street in our neighborhood badly in need of repairs. Blocks and blocks of puddles and potholes. Puddles large enough to attract waterfowl, it seems! Oh, the gorgeous sleek green head of the male duck.

And of course I can’t think of mallards without remembering one of the funniest moments of my whole parenting/homeschooling life: the time someone at the park yelled “Duck!”

…A bunch of kids were playing ball not far away. Suddenly a cry rang out: “DUCK!” Every person in the vicinity ducked out of the way of the large ball hurtling toward our group. Except my kids. All three of them (there were only three at the time) LOOKED UP AT THE SKY. I kid you not. “Where?” cried Jane. “Is it a mallard?”

How happy am I that I wrote that story down at the time? 2006, it was. Sixteen years later, still so funny.