7 Quick Takes (Vol. 13): Life is working. Even though it’s Work.

So, to follow-up after that peaceful, grateful post about Rest, I realized it’s been a long time since I made a list of the stuff I’m engaged in. When it turned out to be seven distinct items, and I realized it was Friday, I knew I needed to jump back to Jen’s 7 Quick Takes Friday this week.

Here’s my “life activity list” the list in roughly the order of time consumed:

~ 1 ~

Managing the food.

It still feels weird to say this takes the most time.

I think this is because– judging by our stories: novels, movies, anecdotes among friends– food is invisible.  It just happens. I wish I lived in that sort of house/body. But I don’t.)

~ 2 ~

Managing the household and extras

Technically this ties back into the food, since food makes dishes.

Basically anything I have to wash clean or put away, along with the animals and outdoor work.

Now that the snow’s melted I am discovering all sorts of new work…

And honestly, it’s a toss-up about whether #1 or #2 takes more time.

~ 3 ~

Teaching the kids.

Reading, writing and arithmetic are the emphasis, but we also read novels along with books of science, history and whatever else strikes our fancy.

As I have more energy I also hope to do more management-training (items from the previous categories).  Currently I do most of that stuff because the *extra* required to get someone else into doing certain jobs is the extra I don’t have.

~ 4 ~

On-line Stuff.

Reading and writing and listening to music on-line (YouTube). Keeping up with some TV shows on Hulu (Castle, Bones, and Body of Proof).

~ 5 ~

Off-Line Stuff

Reading and writing and listening to music not-on-line.

My current goal is to swap these last two categories in terms of time.

I’ve had a surge of progress on my 2010 NaNo novel, and taken on a reading challenge that has forced me to look hard at what and why I read. I hope it will inform what I write.

~ 6 ~

Fiber work

On the edges of my life (and usually away from home).

I have the knitting I do a couple hours every Sunday morning (during the sermon and Sunday school), and the hand-spinning I do when I’m going to be semi-on-display. Continue reading »

7 Quick-Takes (Vol. 9)

~ ~ 1 ~ ~

Last time I “taked” I felt wobbly about specializing.

This week  I embraced the gift it is.

All my life I’ve felt pulled between all the things I love and all the things I do well, and it was only recently I released most of them to consciously focus on writing as my first (extra-curricular) priority.

On Tuesday I lived a day that reminded me of the turmoil I used to live in my trying to do everything.  It was energizing and exciting… and nothing got done in my home.  My children played more with other people than with me.  Okay for a day, but I wouldn’t want to live this way.


I am so thankful for the opportunity God provided to let the other things go.

~ ~ 2 ~ ~

Fertility in fiction.  You ever wonder why there isn’t any?

I played with the idea of a closer-to-natural fertility in my novel.

That is, I sat down with my time line and two major families then calculated how many children they ought to have with normal health in a pre-birth-control era.  This quickly became overwhelming by sheer numbers and I turned evil-god and gave one family a bad marriage and the other miscarriages.

They still ended up with 5 and 7 births, respectively, but it was good practice in understanding why so many stories center around 1- and 2- children families.  I no longer am certain those choices strictly reflect a lower view of large families.  Rather, I see it as an example of something most novelists wrestle with–simplicity enough not to drown.

~ ~ 3 ~ ~

Does anybody here remember Colby? This is the sort of music I grew up on.

At my mom’s yesterday I played the record for my kids.  The “computer” elements have not aged well, but the music and the clear communication of foundational messages is still *solid*.  The music caught my emotional memory in ways I never expected, and reminded me of how much I wished I could play piano– I can’t think of another way one person can teach two-part harmony.

The sweet two-part harmonies are the exact thing I want to teach my kids and their Sunday school class.  If you ever hear of this being re-issued on CD, let me know.  I have some scruples about giving away copies of recordings, so I haven’t done that, but I wish I could get “Make a joyful noise” into every home in our little church.

~ ~ 4 ~ ~

Tonight I’ll be going to a “ladies’ retreat.”  I’ll be overnight away from home, sans kids, husband and novel.

*What* am I going to do with myself???

Is it too much to hope that I’ll get good sleep?

~ ~ 5 ~ ~

I’m considering joining Weight Watchers.  I have several friends who’ve spoken well of it and the structure it provides.

My resistance comes from the cost and the reality that I– in theory at least– already know what to do, so paying someone to *watch* me do it seems weird.  It makes me think of what my mom says about those who have that gastric-bypass surgery: “If they can change the way they eat afterward, why not before?” (I’ve been told reasons, but they’re pretty gross)

~ ~ 6 ~ ~

I haven’t been reading much since I started this last revision, but on one level I see this as a basic defense.  For me, reading (beyond the recreation and enjoyment of it) is to gather input and ideas for my own work.  At this exact moment I am not in a conscious idea-gathering stage and don’t want to be distracted from the “basic clean-up” I’m working on completing.

Honestly, if there is some huge structural flaw, or major twist or revision that needs to be worked in, I am not in a mental/emotional state to apply it, so I’d rather not increase my awareness just now.  I’ll re-engage after I send this out.

~ ~ 7 ~ ~

I have a stack of “animal-transformation” novels I’m working my way through (in the not-this-minute sense).  Also found an interesting book  called The Beast and the Blond with a chapter about animal transformations and the difference between males and females with the affliction.

All sorts of assumptions and discussions about the differences between male and female troubles and attitudes.

Fascinating stuff this.  To me.

For more 7 Quick Takes visit Jen’s Conversion Diary

Other 7 Quick Takes on Untangling Tales

7 Quick Takes for the New Year

~ ~ 1 ~ ~

Looks like it’s going to be another chilly entry into the new year: -30° and colder since two days after Christmas, and a bunch of highs near -40° through at least next Monday.

Anybody whose been complaining about your winter weather can be reminded now: It could be worse.

I’ve lived here most of my life, am very content indoors and we rarely have much wind on these cold days– So “it could be worse” even for me.

For example, this could (and has!) happen(ed) during a week when Jay had to drive to work each morning.  Thankfully he has this week off and we can hibernate if we so choose.

And the best part is a week of this and I’ll have no qualms about bringing in all the bedbuggy stuff still outside.  (Jay says he does, though, so I’m not sure what will happen.)

~ ~ 2 ~ ~

My “big” resolution, or goal, or… whatever you want to call it:

Nothing new this year.  Not even books– used or new.

This means not starting any new projects in 2009.

By contrast, in 2008, with an already-full life, I

The natural result of “nothing new” is no recreational buying.  No buying “on spec” (my gift shelf is well-stocked, my kids’ grow-into boxes ready, my homeschool books boxed and waiting.), and maybe even no buying without a list.

That last detail’s going to take more thought.

It means finishing the projects and books I’ve started (and bought to start), and training my mind to think first of what I have– even before the Library or other borrowing– because this isn’t first about saving money.  It’s about re-training my thinking.   The purpose of the exercise is to shift my thinking from “outward” and “exploring” to being more home- and contentment-centered.  Satisfied.

I have told myself I can buy books this year once/if I finish what I’ve already bought, but considering I’ve glutted myself a bit in the last two weeks, leading up to this challenge, that is even less likely to happen than is was last year when I tried the first time.

It is sobering to re-read that post and know my goal is exactly the same a year later.  But I also know that I made choices that led to discarding the effort, so (Lord willing) I’ll make a more purposed attempt this time around.

The first thing is to not go into a bookstore– because I *will* find something I’d like to buy (Yesterday I made sure to empty my B&N gift card and buy the one book left to complete the last of 2008’s series’ collecting).  The rest I guess I’ll figure out as I go along.

~ ~ 3 ~ ~

I just introduced the idea of “chore charts” to the kids yesterday, and made one for myself as well.

Since I felt it would be either overwhelming or depressing to actually list everything I must do, I just made a 3-point chart for me:

  • Read Bible
  • Exercise
  • Brush dog

I like having such a short list to look at; especially since I sometimes make serious to-do lists on the side.  My three little stickers at the end of the day feel so fulfilling I have no questions about why this works for children.

~ ~ 4 ~ ~

Starting the book Opening Your Child’s Spiritual Windows tonight raised a lot of questions in my mind.  Most about the nature of my relationship with my children.

Slantwise about the legitimacy of my writing and my desire to read so much YA fiction this year.  I (mentally) compared Fire Arrow with OYCSW and can see the value so much clearer in the second.

But unless I feel the call to write being withdrawn (which I haven’t) I have to assume they both are important.  Not because I expect FA to change my life (as OYCSW might) but because I need to be faithful to develop the skills God has called me to build.

~ ~ 5 ~ ~

I forget now where, but recently I read someone who insisted the way you become a better writer is 50% by writing and 50%  by reading.

Thinking on the implications of this I determined to keep it “before my eyes” (hence my massive reading goals).  I want to keep this in mind, because if I let my approach to the craft slip too much into writing alone (however important I know that practice to be) I fear I’ll fall into an underlying arrogance; that I might imagine I can improve simply from within, without external input.

And that goes against everything I say I believe.

~ ~ 6 ~ ~

My reading list– all books (though not all the books) that I have waiting on my shelves– is in my new right-hand column.

I have a new page listing what I’ve finished, what I’m reading, and a few thoughts on each as I go along

No reviews here, and no spoiler-warnings either: just the notes I want to keep for myself, and they won’t be spoilers for me.  Consider yourself duly (dully?) warned.

~ ~ 7 ~ ~

I *love* my new blog template.  It’s set up with all the changeable options (fonts, colors, widths) in an actual menu, so I don’t have to go digging though the style sheet to find them.

Anyone who’s tried to wiggle their own template details will understand when I say:

Absolute *delight* to work with.

More 7 Quick Takes at Jen’s place.

Seven Quick Takes (Vol. 3)

Again, from Jen’s idea.

~ ~ 1 ~ ~

Jay’s talking about wanting a pellet-burning stove.  I’m asking where it will go.

I’m asking for a double bed with drawers.  It will take up less room (in our little room) than the queen-sized bed (we never use all that space anyway), and let us get rid of at least one dresser.

Both changes will make more room for book cases ;)  Eventually.

~ ~ 2 ~ ~

The cast list was sent out last week, and my name was by “doting mother,” which comes just before a list of “my” seven children (a boy, three girls and my own three kids).  This might have seemed really cool, except just a couple days before Jay had fielded a call while I was out, inviting me to play “the matron.”

Leaving aside the self-image rearrangement that I looked more like a “matron” than a lady (hmmm?) the description of the role he was given created some questions that have yet to be cleared up.

  • The role was described as comic relief
    • I’ve never actually done “comic relief” before.  My humor is more about situational stuff and wordplay.  It would be a new thing to learn.
  • Am I the “doting mother” or the “matron” who’s constantly dumping her seven kids on Cinderella (highlighting her helpless plight)?
    • The compatibility of the two alludes me
  • What is the behavior of these 7 children?
    • I have yet to see a comedy where the children behave properly
    • I e-mailed the director and said I would be willing to herd 7 children, but not 7 brats (I suppose that was horrid, but it’s true.)
    • I’ve often thought that more intimidating than unruliness (and less-frequently explored, perhaps because it’s more complex) is the “perfectly behaved” children who are positively devious and make their digs by cunning rather than brute-brattyness.
      • This possibility actually creeps me out more than spiders.  Or at least as much.

~ ~ 3 ~ ~

I have my latest project (with Christmas for the deadline): dollhouse dolls.

I was so excited to see Barbara Curtis‘s post about the hugely discounted M&D dollhouse that I bought it the same day (it’s still going for under-retail now, but then it was $47.99, I think).  Local retailers ended up being out of the little dolls, so now I am in the process of making little flexible family members to live in said house.

It may even turn into an “entrepreneurial opportunity” as one owner of a sold-out shop emphatically affirmed her store would be very happy to offer locally made dolls.

(We’ll see how interested I am after I finish our own bundle)

~ ~ 4 ~ ~

I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday, considering all the delicious ways to spend a gift card, and the oddest thing happened as I cruised the section of the children’s department where I read the most.

I felt a claustrophobic tightening in my chest.  Just standing and looking at books was making me dizzy, and not in a good way.

This I’ve noticed only once before: when perusing the Lloyd Alexander section in my local library.  Dude’s got a gobzillion books out!

I can only suppose the feeling is a goulash of emotions: anticipation (someday I’ll be there), anxiety (when will that be?  When will I be done?), overwhelmed-ness (at the prolific-ness of other writers), and maybe even jealousy (at the freedom they seem to have in order to be prolific…)

I had to make myself be still and pray, waiting for God settle my mind and emotions before I could finish looking for the book I wanted that day.

Unreal, but making me again thankful I have a God who’s bigger than my emotions.

~ ~ 5 ~ ~

Once that was over I propped myself in one of the cushy chairs by their circular fireplace and worked some more on the timeline of my novel.  I had two distinct packages emerge in the process, and solved a squished-time dilemma (I’ve needed an extra day and just found where it belonged).

So, I have to give Jay’s fireplace idea some credence.  There’s a lot to be said for watching the flames.  It’s like a shower for your brain.  At least for me, having something visual and real, but inconcrete, was very useful.

~ ~ 6 ~ ~

I’ve decided I like to eat too much for weights or Pilates to be enough exercise.

Not that I eat a lot (I imagine I’ve got that under control) I just like, a lot, to eat.  And the stuff I want to eat, that I’ve been eating, has maintained me 13-lbs above my target weight (trust me when I say my target is not unrealistic, or even low, for my height).

The trick, as with all exercise, is finding something sustainable.

Free weights and Pilates are doable because I can take from books and do them in my living room.  The walking with my dog has been put on-hold because sub-zero walks are far from the motivating delight “normal” walks are.

I’ve considered a step, as I like the space requirements and exercising to music, but I’ve not taken the plunge yet.

We did see one in the same place Jay noticed a pull-up bar he wanted, so we may end up getting both together.  Maybe for a new-year’s project.

~ ~ 7 ~ ~

After looking yesterday at all three furniture stores in-town, Jay decided he wants to build the bed frame himself.

His goal is to get the main support and frame built this weekend (so we can buy a mattress and get our bed off the floor) and to design it so that a later-constructed set of drawers may be slid under it whenever they are completed.

This was the design we liked best out of what we saw, only most of these drawers were simple “friction” drawers, where you needed to drag a wooden box out of a wooden hole.

Jay knows he can do better than that, though he/we might not even have bothered, truly, if it weren’t for the exorbitant cost of new furniture.  If I’m paying over a thousand dollars for an item (we’re pushing a house-payment here!) I expect to get *exactly* what I need.

I suppose we could be considered unreasonable consumers.  But there you are: Jay will take on a project, same as me, when he knows he can do it as well, or better, then what is otherwise available.

So the bed will come before the fireplace– but I expect the next time we’ve saved some house money the fireplace will be next.