Friday, September 19, 2014

Mark's John Thing™ Gift

Mark came back from visiting his family on the East Coast.  One of his brothers lives near Monticello, and when this adjustable magnifier was spotted in the gift shop, the response was "That's totally a John Thing."  

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a John Thing™ this wins because it's

  • got moving parts
  • optical
  • shiny
  • raison d'être is interactive 
  • has a historical connection 
  • got a Jules Verne feel to it
  • the sort of thing you'd find at Café John
  • a good prop for a savant character in a play

And, most importantly, it's a love gift.  

Journal: Writing Under the Stars

I dreamed I was talking with an amalgam of some older women I know, and they were telling me a list of mutual friends who had died.  I would ask, "Oh, and how's so-and-so doing?" and one or the other of them would say, "Oh, don't you know; they died just last month."

This morning I managed to wake up a half hour early and get my brain working on the latest story.  In the half hour or so of dosing, I came up with something that would further the manuscript along and hopped out of bed to write it.  The crescent moon was next to Jupiter, and in the southeast sky stood Orion and Taurus; the Pleiades were in the zenith.

I decided to work outside under the stars. Being wrapped in blankets and quilts keeps me seated and typing; and if the family wakes up extra early it's less intrusive than when I'm sitting in The Burridge Chair  

Project: OTP Story
Word Count:   500 to 700 words and some editing in about 90 minutes.

I was cringing to "Newsies" -- I have a low tolerance for what I perceive as power chord ballad after power chord ballad, the shouting, and the broken English and accents, which then get lodged in my head -- when Mark accused me of  liking similarly repetitive and inane music.  "It's like the samovar calling the kettle black."

Workout:  160 cal / 120 minutes + various weight clinking.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sept 18 Journal: There Will Be Cats

Workout:  150 cal / 13 minutes on the rowing machine.  Usual weight clinking routine.  Tried some inclined triceps reps, but I'm not sure I did them the right way.

Project:  OTP "Property" Contest
Word Count:  about 200 new words, lots of editing.

Not the world's most productive morning, I think.  I got up a little after 5, but I wasn't properly awake until a little before 6.  Editing always feels like it takes longer than it should, and since I'm not creating new words, it feels like I'm just dinking around with text.  The story is following traditional folktale structures and I need to mix it up a bit.  

I sat inside, in the Grandpa Burridge Chair, figuring out tea placement and negotiating with Smokey where he would sit while I write (he becomes a bit of a pest the closer it gets to his 7 AM breakfast); as soon as he figures out, "Oh, the taller human is writing" his routine will be to go perch on top of the CD rack and play vulture and pounce on Mark when Mark wakes up. But today he kept batting my legs to try to get my attention.  

Some days the words flow more than others I guess.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Egyptian Bedtime Fanfair

Yesterday I ate something for breakfast that upset my stomach.  So after Wordos I had some soda to try to calm it and ended up staying up later than I should have.  The result was that, predictably, I slept in until 6:40.

Project:  Dream Journalling:  400 words in about 20 minutes.

Several dreams last night.  The most fun image was when the Queen of Egypt, dressed in a fabulous wrap around dress of blue with raptor wing feather motifs, retired for the night.  Standing in the hallway to her bedchamber was a line of about twenty women with curving horns with great wide bells playing a fanfare.  Behind the horn chorus, the wall showed a painted frieze of women with shields (or else horns), the main pattern being an Egyptian red circle, with a wide black rim, repeating with each painted woman.   Later, the dream involved a two-foot-wide blue crystal ball the Royal Egyptian family used for scrying -- my point of view changed to someone looking out of the watery depths of the crystal at them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dream: Train and Sand

Project:  OTP Story
Word Count:  500 words in about 50 minutes.

Project:  Dream Journaling
Word Count:  700 words in about 50 minutes.

Vaguely unpleasant dream last night (I'm guessing that between the cat and a slightly unsettle stomach, I defaulted to the floating anxiety dream format).  It started out as a Dr. Who dream and there was lots of being chased and chased off in it.  The most interesting image was a steam locomotive which was chugging across the sky without any rails, and a glass goblet that filled up (don't ask me from where) with sand.  When the goblet filled completely, it exploded in glimmery, shimmery, slow motion and teleported the protagonists elsewhere.

Even though this wasn't the cheeriest of dreams, I wrote it down in an effort to encourage my dream recall to improve.  I'm also hoping that if I take the time to write my dreams down, I'll have more pleasant, fun, and magical dreams (instead of ones filled with unfocused menace, labyrinths, and (missed) airplanes).

Monday, September 15, 2014

Renaissance Weekend

This was a slowish weekend for us.  Saturday was a rest day, we didn't go much of anywhere or schedule any events.   I used the time to write in my Writer's Closet and Mark worked on his bonsai.  

Sunday, all of us were going to go to the Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire, but Mark wasn't feeling so well, so he stayed home.  I hadn't been to the faire in about three years.  It was a little strange going to it as a civilian, mostly because I usually travel in the late afternoon and the road looked different.  The fair was fun, and I saw many old friends.  What I like most about the faire are things like dancing, playing chess, and the string and recorder music.  OK, and the belly dancers.   

From the writing journal:  

Project:  OTP Challenge (OMG, I can't believe this almost slipped under the radar.)
Word count: 650 words in about an hour.

Project:  Cyborg Fairy Tale
Word Count:  about an hour's worth of editing in Scrivener.

Project:  Marketing.
Got a rejection, visited Duotrope and caught up some other rejections.  Went to my personal backup story tracker and entered data into mailcall db.  Edited Urban Fantasy Magazine bio to include links.  About 40 minutes.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Food of Life

I need to photograph my weight clinking workout sheet.

I've been hitting the gym four about six weeks.  After a couple of lost pounds, my weight seems to be staying the same.  I think some of my fat rolls have diminished, so I'm hoping that the muscles that are appearing on my arms account for the weight.  The rowing machine continues to be fun, and the digital readout suggests that my normal pull rate has gone up from about 550 cal/hour to about 650 cal/hour.

The only down-side to the increase in exercise is that I'm having weird food cravings.  Last week, I wandered through the store silently asking the food, ala Starhawk, "Is this the Food of Life?"  I think the Food of Life had salt and fat.  Or maybe protein, although it wasn't the bacon calling me.  I settled on piccante gorgonzola, which was a spicy mistake; I really wanted dolce gorgonzola.  Except, I think that was wrong, as well.  Eating is approaching a C.S. Lewis "Discarded Image" endeavor because after the feast I don't feel satisfied.

Oh well, I guess I'll stick with the celery and peanut butter.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Auroras, Princesses, and Writing

Last night Mark suggested that we go out at try to see any Aurora Borealis.  Arthur had misheard us, and thought we were going to some place called the "Aurora Bora Palace."  This led to a few jokes involving Madonna's Erotica album (by which time Arthur had fallen asleep, and presumably didn't hear).  

We drove North about 20 miles.  As soon as we got past the airport, the sky became much darker.  We saw the constellation Cassiopeia, and the Big and Little Dippers, but no aurora.  The lake we thought we'd park by was too dark for us to find, so after driving along various back roads, and heading out on 99E, we finally pulled off the road and a few feet onto a field.  The Milky Way was out and bright, but there was no aurora.  Mark was uncomfortable parking on the edge of a farmer's field, so we only stayed about five minutes and then wound our way to I-5 and back home.

Mark got up twice during the night, but didn't see any aurora.  I got up at 5:30ish, and also didn't see any aurora.  While my tea was brewing, I did manage to watch the ISS fly through Orion and past Jupiter.  I wrote outside under the stars and the moon until the family awoke, at which point I moved into the writer's closet. 

Before I went to bed, I set up the tea and wrote a few opening lines for the file that I'd work on in the morning (today).  This story is a little challenging, because it's taking some more erotic turns than I originally thought it would.  I almost got stuck, but I wrote "What are you afraid of?", then had one of the characters address the question, and managed to move beyond it.  I shouldn't be surprised the story is getting a little sexy/gritty, given that  I'm trying to write a story that hits most of the points made in "Fairytale Queens" which spent a chapter or two on the queen's reproductive role as a engine of dynasty.   My story is also about identity and agency, so I need to sit back and bring out those aspects more so that it doesn't turn into mere titillating eye candy with narrative bits thrown in.

The other difficulty writing it is that the fairy tale voice is out of vogue, and generates critiques of passive vote and narrative summary.  Also, I have to make sure that I break out of the fairy tale habit of reinforcing patriarchal values (a princess only has worth as a producer of male heirs).

In terms of process, journalling my writing has brought home how little I actually write.  I thought I was spending more time, but between not jumping out of bed at 5AM, stumbling around with tea and set-up, it's usually 5:30 or 5:45 when I start typing words.  I'll take the hours when I can, but if I really want to get two hours of writing in a day, that means setting things up before hand, getting up at 4:45 in order to be wrting at 5, and writng quietly before the family wakes up.  No e-mail, FB or Girl Genius.  I also need about 8 hours of sleep; if I stay up too late (past 9PM) it's a heck of a lot harder to get up, and I spend the first hour just waking up.  

Critique:  about 80 minutes.

Project:  Cyber Fairy Tale
Word Count 1350 words plus editing in about three hours + some not well tracked editing 

Workout:  150 calories in about 13 minutes, plus the full clinking weights routine.  Plus I did some back stretches on a pool floatie thing.   I'm pretty sure this yesterday was the first time I've experienced "See Tarzan, Hear Jane" at the gym where it hasn't been me (well, at least for me the Jane part).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Call of Portland

We just learned that some friends of ours who have lived in Eugene for the last fifteen years are moving away to Portland.  It's job related and we're sad to see them go, because we do things with them; they're nice, intelligent, dynamic people; and .

I'm hoping we'll be able to stay in touch.  Portland is about a two hour drive away, and the saying in Eugene is "water only flows down-hill," meaning it's typical for Eugene friends to visit Portland friends, but not the other way around.  It seems we've a lot of friends who've recently moved to Portland.

Mark and I sometimes think of moving to Portland, and the discussion usually goes something like, "The great thing with Portland/Eugene is that it's a large/small urban center/college town.   The problem with Portland/Eugene is that it's a large/small urban center/college town."  

From a professional writing standpoint, Portland has the advantage of being the seat of SFWA, and going to OryCon would be a zillion times easier.   Going to Seattle for Clarion events wouldn't have a five and a half hour car ride associated with it, either.  I'd miss the Eugene Wordos, though.

From a personal standpoint, and looking ahead, when my parents get older, visiting and caring for them them in Corvallis will be easier to do from Eugene than doing so from Portland.  (Pause to imagine complicated elder care arrangements and co-habitations...) 

Ah well.   On a completely different front, my hair has developed a fan base on campus.

Project:  Cyborg Fairytail
Word Count:  about 300 new words plus editing over an hour

Workout:  about 150 calories in 12 minutes, plus clanking machines.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sept 10 Journal

Project:  Cyber Fairy Tale
Word count:  500 words in an hour

This morning I wrote out on the deck underneath Sirius, Orion, Taurus and the Pleades.  The sky was clear and black, and the moon dimmed the lesser stars, which made the constellations clearer.  As I wrote, the sky became greyer, then a pale turquois.  My neighbor woke up and clattered pots around in her kitchen.   And then the previous night's merriment asserted itself and I rested on the couch.

Last night's portmanteau:  pumpkininity

Workout:  Yesterday was a rest day.  As it progressed, it became apparent that I had done my lateral pull-downs too quickly (or something) Monday, as my trapezoids and (I think) deltoids were sore.  So now I'm not sure how much of yesterday's soreness was the morning clouds.

I dreamed I was sky diving ... sort of.  It was more of a class than an actual dive, although at one point, I was floating about under canopy as if I were driving a car.  

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Humidity, Joints, and Non-Productivity

Arg.  I woke up at 4 AM -- I think my shoulder might have woken me, as it was cold and achey.   I should have popped out of bed and started to write.  I think next time I will.  Woke back up again at 5AM, stumbled into the living room, and promptly collapsed on the couch.  I felt tired and a little sore, and wondered if I'd worked out a little too hard the previous day.

I  proceded to have a dream about Perter Capaldi's replacement as the ten an a halfth Doctor, who was kind of a jerk.  The dream was set in a kind of cabin in the woods, which was supposed to have been cleaned by sub-letters, but wasn't exactly.   I had some sort of conversation about scheduling last minute work with someone while floating down a combination of a river and Oak Creek Drive in Corvallis.

At 6:30, I managed to haul myself off of the couch, opened the front to let Smokey in, and into the kitchen to start some tea.  While the water heated up, I went outside and looked at the sky.  The clear sky the moon had shone in last night was gone, replaced by steel grey clouds and patches of turquois.     While I'm glad for the autumnal weather, the tightness in my joints now had an explaination.

Then, working on a critique, I managed to make a silly mistake with file versions.  

So I'm calling this morning's productivity a bust.  CRITIQUING:  10 minutes of straightening out files.

Monday, September 08, 2014

There Will Be Cats

I managed to get up at more-or-less 5AM.   The previous night, in a rare fit of planning, I laid out my kettle, tea and spoons so I didn't have to wander about the kitchen, blearily reminding myself what steps to follow to brew tea.

This morning,  I was being a bit of a wuss and I decided that it was too dark, cold and chilly to write outside -- so I wrote inside.   It didn't quite go as I had planned.

I've recently become the owner of a Morris chair that once belonged to my grandfather.  I've always dreamed of owning it.  Its arms are exactly the right length, and if I had any complaint about it at all, it's that the legs are a little lower than I would normally like.  Every time I sit in it it feels like I'm sitting in the captain's chair on the Enterprise.  Unfortunately, while it's a wonderful chair to read in, it's not so great for writing:  there's no good place to rest the keyboard, and I don't have a properly placed tray or table to prop up my mobile device.

I also didn't count on the cat.  Smokey thinks the chair is his chair, too; so I spent some time either typing with a cat resting on my left forearm or convincing him to not jump up on my lap.  By the end of the session, I'd curled to the left to better see what I was editing, and he settled for sitting Sphinx-like on the right arm rest.

Edited for about 70 minutes (out of 90).  Firmed up a scene.  The intro suffers from "driving to the plot," and I need to bring the conflict in sooner.  I'm pretty sure I'n not engaging in too much Tolkien Sclerosis.

Continuing on the Smokey Front:  He decided to perform one of his super-sonic charges through the house and zoomed from our bedroom, through the living room, across the breakfast nook, and outside onto the deck.  The fact that the screen door to the deck was closed was, apparently, a small impediment--and we now have a new cat door.

Workout: Various stations.  150 cal / 12 minutes on the rowing machine.  Judging from various indicators, the most obvious how swimming felt Sunday, I'm fairly happy with the results I'm seeing.  I don't seem to be losing any weight, so I'm assuming some of my new muscle mass is off-setting fat loss.

Sunday, September 07, 2014


Editing:  about 45 minutes.  Moved text around from a Very Very Rough Draft to a Not Quite As Rough Draft.  About 2200

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Work Journal


Christmas holiday craft project:  3 hours.  Finished up design in Inkscape, imported it into Blender, tweaked it into 3 dimensions, then exported it to Shapeways.  Had to tweak and re-tweak the design to thicken walls and make the object 4 inches across -- but still, as an object, the $17.00 price tag to produce it kind of makes it prohibitively expensive.  I'd secretly planned to maybe sell these things in the Holiday Market, but the mark-up would probably price me out of any sales.  I'm beginning to understand why most of the decorations I'm seeing are made out of very thin plastic instead of ceramic material.   I might be able to bump the price down to $10 or lower by embossing instead of having raised ridges.

Mark has voice his opinion on spending lots of money to 3D print pretty useless things on Shapeways.... so I might have to be satisfied with porting the design to a paper cutter and having a papercraft gift.

Writing:  30 minutes and about 350 words. 

Work-out:  About an hour.   Did the row machine (170 cal / 15 mintus) and various upper body machines.  My trapiziod muscles and upper right shoulder are twitchy, so I was extra careful with the things that used deltoids.


More writing:  90 minutes and 1150 words.  Very rough stuff.  Now onto editing.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Writing Journal

At some point, Mark got up and let Smokey out of the house (I'm not sure if he was tossed out or not), and I had mostly uninterupted sleep.   Managed to get up at 5:05AM.  I dreamed ... something, but I can't recall it other than it was more pleasant that the previous night's dream.  I'll need to keep a pad and pencil handy since it seems my recall has gotten out of practice.

About 700 new unedited words for a photo prompt story in about an hour's time, bringing the total to a little over 1400 words of a Very Very Rough Draft.   And a very open outline.

On the time management front, the little app I downloaded is nice, but the free version only allows for tracking two projects... which makes it good for tracking generic things, like writing or critiquing; but not so good for tracking many projects.  You get what you pay for.. and I will look around see about maybe just using a log book (which I bought a while back for tracking writing anyway).  

On the fitness front, I'm trying to decide if my right shoulder is simply tight or if my deltoid or my tricept or whatever that tendon running over the top of the scapula is called is stressed.  The gym seems nice, although I almost did have to run screaming from the place when the stero started playing Rod Stewart.  That's really the only downside of the place: inscessant 60's and 70's music.  One of these days I'm going to get in trouble because someone's going to ask me to stop singing along or else a particularly funny song is going to come on (like yesterday) and I'll have to keep from laughting so hard that I drop a free weight on my foot.

However, about six or seven weeks into the whole clinking weights thing, I'm (and more importantly, Mark is) seeing results in terms of increased muscle mass.  I'm still waiting for my metabolism to point out to my muscles that there's this little resovoir of paunch that it needs to consume, and I have a feeling that it would disappear more quickly if I drank more water and less soda.