Thankful Thursday: friendly NaNo nudge edition

Today I’m thankful for critique partner and friend, Laura Perdew, who encouraged me to try NaNoWriMo this year. I’m positive I wouldn’t even have considered fast-drafting if she hadn’t suggested NaNo as the cure for my exceedingly slooow outlining and drafting of this new project.

Today is the halfway point for NaNo and here’s what I’ve accomplished thus far:

I’m more than halfway to my target of 52,169 words for November (I’d already written 2,169 words and didn’t want to “cheat” on achieving 50,000 words in 30 days so included them in my final draft target). I am thrilled. Absolutely over the moon with my progress. Hooray! Etc.  🙂

It’s amazing what I can accomplish once I banish my internal editor to a corner with tape over her mouth.

Thankful Thursday: critique partner edition

Last night I met with my critique group (Writing Roosters) which always results in renewed energy and inspiration. What was different about last night’s experience is that I came home with a whole new game plan for my work-in-progress. A kinda scary yet exhilerating plan!

Laura Perdew and I were talking before the others arrived and after describing where I was at in my new project (outlining, figuring out stuff, writing VERY VERY slowly), she suggested I do NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month takes place in November and participants set a goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve never done it before (although back in the glory days of LiveJournal I used to participate in writer Jo Knowles’s modified JoNoWriMo+1.5 which ran September 15-November 30).

Normally, I’m not a proponent of banging out a whole bunch of words in a short time because I know how easily I can get off track. Fast-drafting can also lead to SLOW revising as I struggle to make sense of the “story” I created. However, I think I can get myself set by November 1 so that I have a strong outline and characterization in place before writing this book. I realize that part of the reason for the SLOW writing on this project thus far is due to me second-guessing every other word. I need to give myself permission to get the story down as outlined and then revise from there.

So. Today I’m grateful for my critique partner’s kick in the butt.

I’m in for NaNoWriMo. Anyone else participating this year?

Visiting Denver Botanic Gardens

Today I met a friend at the Denver Botanic Gardens. She has a membership and treated me (for the umpteenth time) to a guest pass. Here’s one of the dazzling flower and plant displays at the entrance:

There were many plants I recognized and many more I did not. For instance, what is this?

In my photo file I labeled it “Poky Plant,” but I’m nearly 100% sure that’s not the right name.

Then there’s the Dragon Arum otherwise known as Dracunculus vulgaris. When I showed this photo to Zebu he said the exact same thing my friend had remarked: “Dracunculus vulgaris is a Harry Potter spell.”

It was a lovely couple hours at the gardens and now I’m back home in front of my computer, getting psyched up to tackle my revisions. 

May my thoughts stay still longer than the water spiders in that last photo.

Loki’s doppelganger

A couple weeks ago a visiting friend (who’d recently suffered a head injury) asked if we had two black cats after seeing one in our backyard. After checking to make sure our indoor-only Loki was still inside, I assured the friend we had only one black cat. And, I thought to myself, “You’re seeing things, my friend.”

Last night I discovered he was right and I was wrong.

I’d just gone to bed when I realized I’d forgotten to close the black-out shade behind the curtain. I pushed back the curtain to do so and saw a dark shape against the window. I almost wet myself. Then the dark shape was gone and I thought maybe I was seeing things. But Zippy turned on the outside lights and there under the evergreen shrubs was a black cat with green eyes. The spitting image of Loki.

I owe Kaden an apology.

Group plank

This afternoon I was hanging out in the basement with Zebu, Wildebeest, and Wildebeest’s friend, Kyle. We were sitting on the carpeted floor before Wildebeest and Kyle left to play soccer. When Wildebeest started doing stretches, I asked if he’d done his daily plank yet because I hadn’t done mine. He replied that he hadn’t and begrudgingly agreed to do one then. I hollered upstairs for Zippy to come join us and he (also begrudgingly) came downstairs.

Wildebeest set the timer on his phone and turned up some music as the three of us got in the planking position. Then Kyle joined us.  Zebu, feeling the peer pressure, set down his container of mixed nuts and assumed the position. (Emma and Marcel were also in attendance although their planking form was suspect.)

Verdict? Group planks are more fun than solitary planks. Maybe next time we’ll up the ante and try building a human plank tower.

We all scream for ice cream

I’ve spent the day cleaning my writing room and am getting close to being done. I have a definite “paper problem” and hold on to all sorts of unnecessary stuff which means it’s a relief when I find an expired coupon because . . . EASY DECISION!

I unearthed one gem, though. On the surface, it doesn’t appear to be anything special:

I was getting ready to put it in the donation pile when I turned to the last page.
Apparently, Zebu’s one and only favorite rhyme was:
Ice crem smis crem

Makes perfect rhyming sense to me and, in fact, Zebu and Zippy both immediately decoded the inventive spelling when I showed it to them.

(This reminded me of years ago when a friend was plotting a weekend getaway for the two of us and I reminded her of my responsibility to my young kids. Her reply? “Kids, schmids.”)

For Savannah

In a few minutes, I’m heading to a memorial. I’ve spent the past half-hour trying to find the words to express what I’m feeling and all I’ve managed is this:

Savannah, you are loved.

Monday, Monday

Spent the entire day with my friend as she received her first “spa” (aka chemo) infusion treatment. We’re outta here in another 30 minutes.

Whew. I’m feeling whupped, which reminds me how exhausted Zippy was after I labored for 26 hours to bring Zebu into the world. I’ve teased him over the years for being more tired than me.

Today, I get it.

Thankful Thursday

I’ve kept a gratitude journal on and off for a number of years, but am currently in an off phase. I hope to resume my bedtime ritual of listing five things I’m grateful for, but in the meanwhile:

Today I am grateful . . .

  • my sister helped me feel more at peace about a friend’s death.
  • my critique group gifted me another week to finish the draft of my work-in-progress and that
  • I am, indeed, making progress on that work.
  • I enjoyed a calm, non-aggressive walk in the warm sunshine with Emma, even though we passed other dogs.
  • I completed my four-minute plank despite learning the hard way that Led Zeppelin’s Four Sticks is absolutely not a good motivational song. Nope, not even close.

Thanks for the memories

Today’s been a difficult day.

I’ve had no energy and stayed in my jammies until 2:30 when I dragged myself off the couch so I could walk Emma and get some sun. Despite the sunshine and blue sky, I felt weepy as we walked, and kept tearing up. And then it hit me: January 23rd…Scott’s birthday. My childhood friend should be making a wish on his candles and eating cake, except that he died almost exactly twenty-five years ago.

Oddly enough, figuring out why I was feeling so down improved my mood. (Well, that plus the sunshine and exercise.) Because then I started remembering. Odd conversations about olive loaf and Salsa Rio Doritos; Scott’s old blue Pinto; the St. Patrick’s Day we spent together; his English class demonstration in which he taught us how to keep score in bowling, but became confused and had to step back from the board to figure out exactly out where the score had gone wrong; the Sears catalog poses he’d do for me whenever I asked; singing Victor Banana songs together; laughing until we cried. Laughing some more.

Here’s the photo I keep on my desk:

Scott’s smiling.
And now I am, too.

Happy birthday, friend.

Honoring Michelle

Today Zippy and I went to Berry Patch Farms in Brighton, Colorado.

Michelle’s mother and sisters arranged to have a bench and stone placed there in her memory, seeing as it was one of Michelle’s favorite places to visit with her young daughter.

 

At the top of the stone is a quote from Michelle: “Now this is what a strawberry should taste like.”

Note: the rooster windchime on the tree was there before Michelle’s bench. Can you say SERENDIPITY?

On their frequent visits to the farm with the old red barn, Michelle and her daughter would watch the chickens and roosters.

They’d pick berries together and take home bouquets of cut flowers.

Today, Michelle’s mother, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, and friends gathered in her memory. For the past two weeks or so, the weather has been uncharacteristically cold and rainy, but today the sun was shining in a blue, blue sky. The morning was lovely, and I suspect Michelle pulled some strings to make it so.

It was bittersweet being at the farm without Michelle, but here I am warming her cheery red bench along with three of the Writing Roosters, the critique group she lobbied to include me in its membership. Michelle’s generosity lives on.

Jenn Bertman, Tracy Abell, Jen Simms, Laura Perdew (Vanessa Appleby & Claudia Mills were unable to attend)

Get your ball out of the gutter

This week’s date night was Zippy’s choice. He chose bowling.

Here he is tonight, displaying his inscribed “Willie” ball.  Our friend Willie gave it to Zippy years ago after left-handed Zippy told Willie he really liked bowling with the right-handed ball.

We bowled two games and they were both pretty bad. On the up side, we got a few strikes. On the down side, we threw gutter balls. Oh, and there were also ugly rental shoes.

All in all, it was a pretty good date.

Walking toward clarity

It’s been a murky day filled with emotions, confusion, and an overall sense of TIRED. But I finally succumbed to cute Emma the Dog’s wriggling reminder that it was time for our daily walk, and went out to do just that.

Movement plus a smiling, happy dog by my side brought clarity to the day.

I’m feeling so much better. Today, Dog is most definitely this woman’s best friend.

Strike one, strike two…

Emma and I just took a walk to deliver some stuff to one of Wildebeest’s friends. (Friend is driving south to see Wildebeest tomorrow, and so can deliver the $5 North Face backpack I scored for him at a garage sale yesterday.)

Because I hadn’t yet walked Emma today, I figured it was a great way to accomplish two tasks at once. I also thought she’d appreciate walking through some different neighborhoods where she could smell new odors.

I guess she liked it well enough. For a while, anyway.

This is the second time Emma’s gone on a sit-down strike.  She had plenty of water and a rest at the friend’s house, so I don’t feel too bad for her. Especially since just minutes after this picture was taken, she went nuts at a dog behind a fence.

 

Koi: further proof that orange can be beautiful**

Writer-friend Sarah and I went to the Botanic Gardens on Sunday. She has a membership plus a special key fob that allowed us in the side gate to the gardens. We walked and talked through the gardens, pausing on the little deck to gaze at the colorful koi. Bonus: the dark one in the lower left of the photo has delightful whiskers, and I highly recommend clicking on the photo to enlarge.

We didn’t feed them (nor have I witnessed anyone feeding them during any of my visits), but that didn’t stop the koi from gathering below the deck and puckering their lips in anticipation.

** My ongoing project to reclaim the color orange, helping me remember that it can be a thing of beauty and not just a hideous spray tan in the White House.