Getting in Shape

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Decorative arrangements I created for a daughter’s wedding.

The summer season is here and Ed and I have been preparing for our adventure in Yellowstone, which will include living out of our travel trailer for almost two weeks. Five of those days will be in one spot and joined by family. Preparations have included getting his truck detailed (super cleaned inside and out) and having racks installed so we can take our bikes and kayaks.

The weather has been good for outdoor activities which means we’ve been riding our bikes and kayaking. This past weekend Arkkade had her maiden voyage with me as I paddled my kayak around the lake for almost an hour. She seemed to like it though she didn’t settle in one place and her moving from side-to-side, front and back, added to the rocking motion but fortunately the lake was very calm.

Ed’s also been getting our yard into shape by cutting back years of thick overgrowth and renting a tractor to move rocks and pull out roots so he can have an easy to maintain lawn. This was fun for me to watch as it reminded me of when we first moved here (in 1998) and he rented a bobcat to clear overgrowth, move rocks to frame garden areas, and dig a duck pond. Now that was all being cleared because our lifestyle has changed.

I’ve also been getting a few of my writing projects into shape and it’s rather awesome that this is now my primary work. It used to be that I scheduled in writing and reading time around my other activities, now I’m searching for activities as a break from writing. Fortunately I remembered today that I used to have fun with potted plant arrangements when the weather wasn’t good for outdoor stuff. There were a few years when it was like a mini rain-forest inside my home but then I was traveling too much. As plants died or found new homes I switched to only silk flowers. Then I got too busy with writing projects and grand-babies to even notice the dust on my silk flowers. I just hosed off a bunch of those and will create something new with them.

All the getting ready busyness will settle soon and we’ll take off on our adventure, after which we should be in great shape for lots more summer activities.

Question Answered

Tall Ship in Coos BayWe had a great Mother’s Day in summer like sunshine at our weekend place. The grandsons rode dirt bikes and the six year old was undamaged by his spill through a barbed wire fence into a small stagnant pond. His mom had stopped to caution him on the turn so got to watch – which she said was like watching it happen in slow motion.

The massage I had yesterday was devoted to my neck, shoulders and hands so I’m feeling pretty good again. I’ve been taking care of writerly business stuff and now am ready to return to a novel in process. There was really no doubt which one to give my attention but I like when a nudge from the universe give me a “Yep, on the right track” message.

Paty Jager posted the above picture on Facebook with the  caption, “Spending our anniversary in Coos Bay and this drifts by our hotel.”  That’s my Yep, as Coos Bay is one of the main settings of the novel I set aside last month. Now the storyboard is again set up and binders and books are spread across the dining room table.

Trips and Twists

Ed and I have recently been taking lots of short trips around Oregon, with our Jack Russel Terrorist, Arkkade. She is great with our grandchildren, though she’s not yet acclimated to all the other dogs around us.  She seems more content with us as “her people” and is revealing that she was trained to have manners. We’re learning how to communicate with her via consistent hand signals. This is good because we’ll be hosting the annual meeting with our airplane association, taking a multifamily trip to Yellowstone, and giving our kitchen a face-lift, all before the 4th of July.  Fun times!

I was settling into a new routine for crafting romance novels, and I even increased my online activities during March. Our spring has been long and mild so Ed was focused on trimming trees and clearing overgrowth. Then we heard the news that close friends had lost their son. We’ve been neighbors for 17 years, both at our home and our weekend place on the lake. We kayak and trail ride together.

We knew their youngest son more through them, and heard of his adventures fighting forest fires by jumping out of airplanes, and then deep-sea diving. Finally he found a less extreme passion, and was three weeks to graduation as a biochemist, when he died in an accident. Yet, our connection to this young man was even closer than we realized when one of the men from our daughter’s bridal party was also one of the speakers at the Celebration of His Life the day before Easter.

This is one of life’s twists that ripples through many, for a long time. As soon as I heard the news I didn’t want to believe it and immediately walked to their home, and learned it was true, and was able to perform at least one task to help them that day. Then I came home and packed away my romance novel projects for a few days.

When I was ready to work on a novel again I pulled out an old one, one that was a bit too personal, one that I had chosen to maybe never revisit again. It was both grueling and inspiring, as it made me revisit not only my personal past but my journey as a writer. And I stuck with editing it all the way to The End. I’m not happy with the ending but it’s now readable and I’m willing to submit it for objective feedback.

Tyler Easter yard decoSome of us have stories that we know so well, because we lived them, that we cannot view them with any objectivity. Like my friend, who in those days between learning her son was dead until after the private burial, told me how thankful she was that she had kept a journal about her son his whole life. And she was the final speaker at the Celebration of His Life because it was the first time she’d ever gotten the last word with him.

It’s a beautiful spring

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Ed and our dog with Kaedence and Robert, the youngest two of our grandchildren that inspired the name for Arkkade.

Our spring in Oregon has been very slow blooming. We had some wonderful warm days in the beginning of March and everything started to bud, but then the temps cooled. All the flowering bushes and trees have been colorful for weeks and only now are petals starting to fall. The green leaves on our oaks, maples, and cherry trees are also growing slowly. It’s been fascinating to watch and everything looks really healthy. My dogwoods are loaded with blossoms like they haven’t been for years.

This slow spring is reflecting how I am developing my new career as a romance novelist. I recently met Mary Buckham [again] and highly recommend her power plotting method and adore the new craft book about active settings.  It’s fun developing my writing process for these and future novels as it’s very different from the way I used to structure my writing time in the past.

We have a multifamily vacation to Yellowstone planned for this summer and all the details for that are finally confirmed. This is what I am using as my project deadline because even a creative process works better with a goal in sight. And there’s plenty of time to savor spring and play with babies.

Visions and what’s next

Arkkade-Mary face 31515At least once a year, or when I feel some type of change is pending in my life journey, I take the time for deep meditations with intent for guidance. This is no different than annual medical checkups – which I recommend. In my family we have as many scientists and medical professionals as we have esoteric practitioners; there are also teachers and writers and musicians, and all sorts of business professionals.

During 2005 – 2008, my annual life journey check-ups were with an awesome spiritual teacher-life counselor. Being able to review those readings years later are super fascinating. There was so much laughing on the 2008 CD! Laughter? During a life counseling session? Yes. There was also the assurance that I had the skills to counsel myself. As an aspiring romance novelist, and mother to four of the most amazing women on planet earth, being my own life counselor meant I could READ BOOKS.

Ahh, Nirvana.

In 2007 I started my own annual-checkup-deep meditation process. My intention was for insight regarding my future and chosen life purpose. And I did have a vision. It was short but very clear. I saw myself walking across a stage, thanking someone, then taking my place at a podium before a large audience in an auditorium. And it felt good. But that’s where the vision ended with no insight into what I would present, or why I was an authority on my topic. The clarity of the vision wouldn’t fade, and no other insight was forthcoming, so I accepted that public speaking was in my future.

A few months later I enrolled in the local community college. Public speaking was only one of my classes. I haven’t experienced that vision yet but I have done lots more public speaking and workshops in recent years. Last year I had another one of those clear visions. There was a whole lot going on in my life as I tend to be involved in more than one project, or agenda, at a time. So I was really surprised to have a very clear vision of myself in a long coat, wearing a hat, walking a small white dog. Everything else was very misty and surreal except this vision of me from behind, walking into the mist with this little white dog. It had to be a metaphor.

I’m very comfortable with visions being metaphors or similes.

There were so many dogs around me, one daughter has three and the other has two – and these are the homes where I was spending my time as granny-nanny. Plus, in Chinese Astrology the animal image for Ed is a dog. I’m a pig. I also knew that Ed needed a new dog. I also missed my Amber, a golden retriever, who left our family in 2006. Two weeks after we brought Arkkade home, when it was time to take her for a walk, it was a rainy day as is common in Oregon during the winter.

I opened the coat closet and instead of the hooded jacket I usually wore I noticed the old rain coat I had since we lived in New Jersey during the 1990’s. I put it on and saw a hat I had bought a few months earlier. I’ve never been a hat person but I had been shopping with my friend Gina a few months earlier,  and we went into this cool hat shop…

I was well into the misty fog of our heavily treed dead-end-road when I realized I was living that mist-enshrouded vision. Arkkade was unaffected as I stopped to laugh – she just settled into the overgrowth at the side of the gravel road and took a poop.

Little points

k & rkd 006 - croppedOur Jack Russell Terrier has been with us for two months now and my grammy nanny days are done as Kaedence went to her new preschool today. Her mom posted a picture of her ready for her first day on Facebook, then the next post was a tribute to Leonard Nimoy’s passing. Since I practically know the script for every Star Trek episode; and most of the movies, and most of the Next Generation series, I really had a “passing of an era” feeling this morn.

Ed is in Cleveland’s frigid climate for a while. His brother is having long term medical treatments so Ed cleared his schedule to be there for his family so everyone can rest a little easier.  He said Lake Erie is frozen and he could probably walk (or ice skate) to Canada. The snow piles on the side of the roads compare to Mt. Hood roads during ski season, though it hasn’t started yet this winter.

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They are adorable and worth every long day and strained muscle I endured.

My astrology forecast for March stated I should hibernate for the first half of the month. That is my plan, sort of, as I have set up my storyboards around the dining room and spread all my binders across the table. Once I get in the groove I should make substantial progress on at least two novels. Ed used to travel extensively for work but it’s been a few years and it is strange at how quiet the house is today.

Welcome to the Year of the Sheep!

Imagining Literature

My love of reading began with Science Fiction and Fantasy novels and were one of the reasons I had no dream of being a writer as a child. I could not imagine building a whole world but have always loved experiencing other planets; and dimensions, and times, and species, and… This love as a reader has never faded and I am thrilled that this form of storytelling is finally being valued as literature.

Some of Ursala K. Le Guin’s quotes in her speech are stellar.

I rejoice in accepting it and sharing it with all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long, my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction, writers of the imagination. Who, for the last fifty years watched the beautiful awards go to the so called realists.

Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of art.

Books are not just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art.

We will need writers who can remember freedom.

Ursula included some very pointed comments regarding the business of authorship and publishing in her acceptance speech and I applauded them as if I was in the room.

Fabulous February

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Kaedence – March of 2014

Spring will come to the northern hemisphere in about six weeks, not because a groundhog shadow matters but because that’s when spring happens. I saw a fun photo on Facebook that stated: “Only in America do we accept weather predictions from a rodent but deny climate change evidence from scientists.”  (This quip had thousands of Shares and Likes, and lots of comments.)

This is my first week of no more scheduled grammy-nanny time. They are no longer babies, they are now active beyond my abilities to keep up with one, or two. I loved it, I’m glad I did it, I’m a little sad too – they grow so fast! I will now just be an occasional babysitter, as needed. And my knees and shoulders are pleased, well, they are recovering. Yes, I talk to my joints as they tend to interfere with my actions when my activities, diet, and sleep schedule are inconsistent, as they have been for over a year.

I’ve had a few Mercury Retro glitches but none worth explaining. The moon is full in a clear sky tonight and I was able to read my astrological forecast for February. There’s all kinds of buzz in astrology sites about the new energy but no one is sure what to call it and I really don’t need it labeled. I just feel pleased.

I’m pleased that I can look at the past two years and check off some big life accomplishments, and I’m still standing. I’m pleased that the huge upheavals and extensive challenges during recent years are now stories to tell. And, the world still hasn’t ended as predicted for 2012.

February used to be THE Winter Blues month. I’m anticipating fabulous days.

What I’m Doing Now

what I remember Most 350I’ve been reading books, this weeks choice was Cathy Lamb and I read both Julia’s Chocolates and her latest What I Remember Most.  I highly recommend her books for the stories and the writing style! Eventually I intend to read all her novels but two in one week was almost binge reading. I read A Different Kind of Normal when I first met Cathy two years ago.

I’ve been getting to know our new little dog. Ed and I have taken excursions with her locally, and to the coast for an overnight. She’s great in the car and is starting to socialize and behave better now that she’s been part of our family for a few weeks. She makes sure I take a brisk 20 minute walk at least twice a day, and she’s a really good snuggler.

My grammy-nanny days became only two days a week, since the holidays, and I really needed to rest. These grandchildren are both toddlers now and will be moving into a more structured and interactive day care schedule soon. I will then become the on-call grammy and I am looking forward to me days and weeks, taking more short trips, and making my novels the priority of my time and energy.

The change in awareness from being an aspiring novelist, for years, to now being published really has been a big deal for me. It’s funny that I have counseled others about this shift, yet now I really get how disorientating (and thrilling!) it is to autograph my book. The way I approach my writing is different and more professional now too.

Anticipating my “new life” as a full-time writer I’ve also been researching some of the social media options. I have always kept my Facebook activities rather exclusive to family and friends but wondered if there was some value to taking that up a notch like many of my friends who have author pages. I’m not sure if it is good or not, but I recently added a lot of sites to my Facebook news feed and it has been fascinating to be able to see how many people feel entitled to profess their opinions so aggressively! Some people are downright nasty and others seem woefully ignorant. I’ve remained an observer and am extremely cautious about even clicking the “like” button.

I understand that digital media and online communication is here to stay but it’s still in its infancy. Controversy has always been a great way to grow an audience when someone has an agenda to promote. But what I’m seeing is a lot of belligerence and belief bashing.

I was recently reminded that it is only two years since we dodged the 12/20/2012 apocalyptic event to end the world. Now it’s as if a whole lot of people are trying to create some new high drama fear factor. Or maybe there are many people who really do believe that their way is the right way and they are also educated enough in the art of debate to impress and garner disciples online.

I started blogging in 2009 and have stayed true to my original intent to use the personal journal style for my posts, most of the time. (I do enjoy posting webbit tours.) Now I am content to continue that style here as I begin year six of my online activity. What I do elsewhere is often part of this story.

Happy New Year

Sherri & Janelle on New Years Eve 2014

Sherri & Janelle on New Years Eve

2015 has begun and I’ve read a few articles forecasting the energy of the stars and numerical changes to the date. I’ll just sum it up… during the next six to eight weeks we’ll be galloping through the final days of the Year of the Horse and eventually trot into the Year of the Green Wooden Sheep-Ram-Goat.

Even though the calendar New Year begins on January 1st, the energy change from the Horse to the Sheep will occur between February 4th and February 19th(apparently it takes a while to slow down a racing Horse into a slow trot of a Sheep!)

2015 is a year of Peace, Art, Tranquility and Harmonious Co-existence.

My knees are looking forward to trotting around meadows.

My grammy nanny days are fewer and more random now so I can  focus on creating structure for my writing time. I was delightfully surprised by the reactions of my family when I gifted them with autographed copies of my novel. It was a humbling feeling that they were so thrilled with such a simple gift. I also got a warm and fuzzy feeling that they are glad I’m finally getting deep into the next books with characters they’ve already met.
Puppy eye fixI wanted to add simple daily exercise to my days but I hate gyms and using machines. I prefer classes like Zumba and Dancersize but those are only available at certain times and days, and may only run for a few weeks. Instead, we visited the Oregon Human Society and returned with Arkkade (pronounced as Our Kady). She’s two years old, a Jack Russel mix with soft hair. She only weighs twelve pounds and curls into our laps nicely. Her name includes the initials of our grandchildren; Robert, Kaedence, Kiernan, and Devon.
 Arkkade takes me for a walk twice a day, even when it’s a bit rainy.
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