There’s Still Time

As I was looking through my folder of draft posts today, I found this old list. It ought to have been published earlier this year, but I never finished it. Everything on it still sounds like a good goal, so here it is.

To Do in 2018

  1. Finish sorting and dealing with the stacks of paper that have accumulated in my bedroom and office.
  2. Bring bags of old clothing and toys to the donation store. They’re all set aside already. They just need to be taken to the place.
  3. Finish the novel. I haven’t been working on it, and it’s getting more and more distant in my mind. Not good.
  4. Hang up the pictures that are leaning against the wall.
  5. Put pictures in the frames that are sitting empty.
  6. Sort through my wardrobe. Discard what I don’t want. Buy what I need.
  7. Sign the kids up for music lessons.
  8. Sign up for an awesome, once-in-a-lifetime vacation for the family. It’s a pricey endeavor, but we’ve earned it.
  9. Make final decisions of my piano repertoire and make recordings of me playing it all. I can’t continue to play at this level for much longer, so I want to be able to look back and be proud of what I accomplished.
  10. Figure out how to use my new camera and start taking pictures.
  11. Broaden my hiking horizons. There are so many places in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to explore.
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Writing and Playing

Dear Kids,

Here are some stories about you.

You have always loved communicating with handwritten notes. You leave them all over the house. Recently I found ones that said “Can we play Minecraft togotor?” and “Will we be nis?”

Livia is wonderfully dramatic. One day she was playing with a flashlight. She suddenly turned to me and said, “Do you think this is a good ending?” Then she put the flashlight beam under her chin so that she looked scary, and she said in her raspiest voice, “And the lights went out!”

The school makes a big deal out of the Hundredth Day of School. As part of this year’s celebration, the principal called 100 parents to tell them positive stories about their children. I was one of the lucky parents to receive such a call. She read these comments from Marshall’s teacher: “Marshall has grown since the beginning of the year. His writing has improved. Everyone likes to hear his insightful comments about science.”

One day I asked you to write a paragraph about what you had done at school that day. Marshall wrote, “Today I got Fun on the Run (that’s a school lunch with a soft pretzel and yogurt). Then I played with some Story Cubes, and finally I investigated what the size of a wheel on a cart does to its motion.” His writing really has improved. Way to go, Marshall!

Speaking of Story Cubes, I didn’t know that you could play with them at school. We have some here, too, but we call them “Punishment Dice.”  To play Punishment Dice, you roll the cubes, then you use the pictures on them to make up stories about amazing adventures and/or how you’d like to punish your family. Isn’t that terrible? But you get such a kick out of it! I like the game, too, and you usually invite me on your amazing adventures rather than punish me.

I love joining you on your amazing adventures and being part of your everyday lives.

Love,

Mom

Posted in Dear Livia, Dear Marshall | 1 Comment

SITY: Tom Turkey

Yesterday morning, as the children were getting ready for school, a pair of wild turkeys visited our yard. The birds were such a distraction that I’m still surprised the kids didn’t miss the bus. Sure, we’ve seen turkeys here before, but this was the first time we ever got to see a tom turkey with his feathers in full display. He strutted around the yard while the other turkey, presumably a female, snacked on something in the grass. He put on quite the show. (Sorry for the picture quality, though. I didn’t want to scare him off, so the first two pictures were taken from behind a closed window and at a distance.)

Tom Turkey strutting in the yard.

Fan-tastic display!

The kids needed to get to the bus stop, so eventually we had to open the door and go outside. The turkeys took that as their cue to leave. They moved fast. They were already in the woods by the time I was able to take a picture.

The turkeys return to the woods.

 

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Mother’s Day 2018

Sunday was Mother’s Day. I am fortunate to have both mother and mother-in-law to celebrate. First we went to my in-laws’ house to wish my mother in-law a happy day. Later, I called my mom and had a nice chat with her.

I am also fortunate to be a mother. My kids made the best gifts for me. From Livia, I got a wonderful bookmark (which she made at school), two small pieces of art, and this awesome poster.

She also made a card for me. She wrote,

Dear Mom, Thank you for going to Great Wolf Lodge with me. Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for Love! Thank you for everything. I like doing fun stuff with you. I like it when we do Creativity Club. I like you and I hope you like me! I love you! Love, Livia

From Marshall, I got a marigold and this great portrait.

In this picture, he colored my shirt green, because green is my favorite color. He also put little green bees and yellow flowers around the border, because he knows how much I like finding green bees on dandelions in the yard. The red hearts and smiley faces are self-explanatory. 🙂

It was another great Mother’s Day!

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Three Times Happy

I got my car back last Monday. I am thrilled to have my freedom again. I also have two other reasons to be happy about it.

  1. Just days before, our mechanic had informed us that the replacement part didn’t fix the problem. That meant that our two supposed “experts” had both misdiagnosed the problem. Geez. Even worse, someone (presumably one of the two) had done some damage while they were poking around. So, not only was my car still not drivable, but it was no longer worth fixing, and we had just spent hundreds for nothing. But then our luck changed unexpectedly. Since the car wasn’t drivable, we didn’t pick it up right away, and on a slow day the mechanic had nothing better to do than to puzzle over the mystery of why it wasn’t working. He eventually found the cause and was able to fix it. So the bad news was turned to good news, and everyone was happy.
  2. My car tax bill arrived the next day. It was amazingly low! I’m not sure exactly how many hundreds we’re saving by not buying a new car, but it takes some of the sting out of the repair bill. Plus, Rhode Island is in the process of phasing out the car tax. That means we’ll be able to save hundreds more if we can delay buying a new car for a few more years. Fingers crossed!
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Yesterday & Today

  • Yesterday I was convinced that I would find my first tick of the season, and I did. Maybe I’d had that same thought every day since spring began, but this time I was right. It was a relief, in a way, to finally see one. Now ticks are not scary phantoms but real problems that can be dealt with. Alas for the tick, I couldn’t just let it go, because then it’d bite someone or something else. So I squashed it with a rock on the driveway. I don’t like to kill anything, ticks included, but I have to admit to a certain amount of satisfaction in having made sure that it will never bite again.
  • The kids are excited about the Mother’s Day gifts that they made at school earlier this week. Marshall was hiding his behind other things when he got off the bus yesterday. After he got inside, he hid the gift in his father’s office, and now I’m not allowed to go in there. Livia wanted to give me her gift early. She complained about having to wait, but I held firm—no gifts until Sunday!
  • Last night, I sliced off the very tip of my left middle finger while halving a dinner roll. That’s the downside of having a really sharp bread knife, I guess. Now I’ve got a Band-Aid on the end of my finger. It causes me to hold that finger separate from the rest. I’ve been inadvertently giving my husband and kids the finger all day!
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Ten Things I Hate About Writing

  1. Having a good idea doesn’t guarantee that a whole story is going to flow steadily from your pen. The idea is the easy part. Figuring out where it goes and then illuminating the path for readers to follow is the hard part.
  2. You can pour your soul onto the page, give it all you’ve got, but that doesn’t guarantee anyone will like it. It doesn’t even guarantee anyone will read it.
  3. Punctuation and grammar are tricky. Even verb tenses become complicated when you get deep into storytelling. And don’t get me started on commas. Commas are always throwing themselves into places they don’t belong and running away from the places they do. The more I write, the more I find little language puzzles that I don’t know how to solve.
  4. The words themselves are tricky. They have extra meanings up their sleeves. Sometimes I write something and think it means one thing. Then I look at it later and realize that it could be taken in a completely different (and sometimes opposite) way.
  5. Mood, too, is tricky. Trying to set a scary or romantic mood, for example—perilous! And you’d better think twice before you publish something “funny,” especially if it’s sarcastic. Sarcasm rarely plays. When you write sarcastically, you think you’re just poking fun but, more often than not, you’re just being a jerk.
  6. Writing is a lonely undertaking. You’re in it alone. No one can help you. You struggle, but no one else seems to understand how difficult it is. You will never get enough sympathy, or credit.
  7. And yet you need other people, because how else can you get feedback? Every piece of writing for which I’ve gotten feedback has been improved by it. It’s unfair that you have to work so hard all by yourself, but then you’re totally dependent on other people.
  8. Nothing I write is ever going to be as good as I wanted it to be.
  9. Writing takes discipline. Discipline is not something I have in great supply.
  10. What I really want is to read my stories, not write them. It’s not that I’m lazy. I’d just prefer to discover the story for the first time in its finished state, rather than having to piece it together myself, word by bloody word.
Posted in Crazy Me, Writing | 2 Comments

SITY: Contrasts

As I was outside photographing spring flowers, I kept smelling pine. Eventually I realized that it was our old Christmas tree and wreaths, which had been thrown off to the side of the yard to await permanent disposal. That sharp piney smell was in strong contrast to the perfume of spring flowers. The dead pine’s orange color also made an interesting contrast for the bright yellow of a dandelion.

Dandelion on a Dead Pine

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The Soundtrack to My Life

I often use music to block out distractions as I write, but it has to be the kind of music that won’t itself be a distraction. That means that it can’t have any words. When writing Morning Pages and blog posts, I usually listen to classical music, such as Debussy’s La Mer. When writing for my novel, I favor spacey electronic music. The Interstellar soundtrack is just about perfect.

I tend to stick with what works, so La Mer are Interstellar are what I’ve been listening to for weeks. I don’t mind hearing the same music over and over, as long as it’s good music. The more I listen to it, the less distracting it is.

The only problem is that it tends to get lodged in my brain. Now, no matter what I’m doing, the music is playing in my head. So La Mer and Interstellar have become the soundtrack to my life. I’m always either adrift on the sea or floating into outer space.

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If I Tolle You Once, I Tolle You Twice

Have you ever noticed that once you discover a new word or concept, suddenly you find it all over the place? It’s as if it’s trying to prove its importance, or to cement itself into your memory, or perhaps even to mock your former ignorance of it. In any event, this sudden commonness of a previously unknown thing has happened time and again, and not just to me. I’ve heard others remark on this phenomenon, too.

It happened to me again just a few weeks ago. In the course of my work, I came across the word TOLLE. I had no idea what it was, so I looked it up. It was a reference to Eckhart Tolle, an author of spiritual self-help books. Tolle seemed to be fairly well known, but not quite a household name. I had no choice but to remove the word, but it took a lot of work. That’s probably why I remember it so well. I might have been a little annoyed with Eckhart Tolle.

A few days later, I was reading a Wikipedia article about a different person. That person turned out to be an adherent of Eckhart Tolle’s philosophies. Later, I was reading an article about meditation in Rhode Island Monthly, and whose name should come up again but Eckhart Tolle’s? Then yesterday I found his name in my very own Inspiration Notebook. I had cut-and-pasted an Eckhart Tolle quote into my book without taking note of the name.

So, for anyone else who had never heard of Eckhart Tolle, he’s the guy who said this:

Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now. And that’s a revelation for some people: to realize that your life is only ever now.

I haven’t studied up on him, so I’m certainly not advocating him or his philosophies as a whole. However, the quote above does speak to me. I believe that the Now is all we have. For me, and perhaps also for you, the Now now includes a new name.

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