Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Forward 2011 (Part II)

Yesterday I talked about some of my goals for writing in 2011. Today I'm going to talk about another area I want, and need, to focus on in 2011.


This is more important than my writing goals, because we're talking about my health. It's also much more personal, and therefore much more difficult for me to discuss. But as I said, I'm hoping that posting about my goals here will help me stay more accountable and focused.

I have spent most of my life overweight. I was a chubby kid, and in high school I was 10-15 lbs overweight. I pretty much ate whatever I wanted, but I also danced 15-20 hours a week, so that helped keep my weight down somewhat. When I went to college, I continued to eat whatever I wanted, but I was no longer dancing, so the weight started to pile on and stayed there. I would make short term attempts to eat healthier and exercise, but they never lasted more than a month or so.

In 1999 I decided it was time to try again, and I went and joined Weight Watchers. I was motivated this time, as I was dating Rob, and while we weren't yet engaged, we had discussed marriage and I didn't want to be a fat bride. Once I set my mind to something, I can generally do it, I just have to want to put forth the effort. In 1999, I did, and by the time I got married in June 2000 I was down to a healthy weight and looked and felt great. I kept it off for a couple of years, but by 2002, it was starting to creep back on, and I was doing nothing about it. I had changed my lifestyle, as far as food and exercise, to lose the weight, but I didn't maintain the changes over time. So here I am again, back where I started, where I swore I would never be again, and a few pounds heavier to boot.

My sister is getting married in May, and I am the Matron of Honor. I know I can't lose all of the weight I need to lose to get to a healthy weight before then, but I can lose some of it. I have also been having some issues with my back, which are thankfully unrelated to my weight, but back surgery is somewhere in my future. I don't know if it will be this year or next, or maybe even several years down the road, but I'm sure my recovery will be easier with less weight to worry about. I need to do this for my health in general, but I'm hoping that these will also give me a little extra motivation to stick to it this time.

I know I have emotional issues with food. I use food for comfort, stress relief, and reward alike. I am also realistic about what changes I can make in my eating habits that can be maintained. I am lazy by nature when it comes to exercise, however, I know that when I exercise regularly, I tend to eat healthier, so exercise has to be part of the plan.

I'm not going to use a specific plan this time. Weight Watchers has recently changed their points system and I don't care for the new program. I also know that finding time to get to a meeting, with the way my work schedule is going to be, and the distance the meeting center now is from my office is unrealistic, and if I can't make a meeting, I tend to give myself too much leeway for a couple of days. I am however going to use some of the tricks and tools I learned from Weight Watchers the first go round, and I'm going to use an online support forum as well as this blog to keep me accountable.

Goal - Eat healthier and keep a food journal. Yes, I know the "eat healthier" part is vague and difficult to actually measure, but by keeping the food journal I'll be able to determine whether I'm actually succeeding in eating mostly healthy foods. I don't plan to track points exactly, nor do I plan to keep track of all the calories, fat, fiber, carbs, etc. I will focus on things like eating more fruits and vegetables, eating lower-fat, drinking more water and less diet soda, etc. I will write down everything I eat, and also any thoughts or feelings related to what I'm eating. Did I eat that candy bar because I was stressed or bored, etc.

Goal - Exercise regularly. Again, somewhat vague, but that's because this will be an evolving goal and what is "regular" will change. I have an appointment with my orthopedist next week, and I need to discuss with him what specific exercises I can do without risking further back damage. After that discussion, I'm going to set some specific exercise goals for the next month. I'm pretty sure from previous discussions that walking will be o.k., but I don't know what will be acceptable as far as other types of exercise such as hand weights, etc. I plan to increase the amount of exercise over time. So while my goal for the first month might be to walk 30 minutes 3 times a week, the second month might be 5 times a week, or still 3 times a week, but for 45 minutes. This is something I need to sit down and spend a little more time on planning. I will create a written plan, on at least a monthly basis, and will keep track of my exercise.

Goal - Track my weight and measurements. This might seem obvious, but I want to make it a goal, because if I don't I'll have a tendency not to weigh myself for a couple of weeks and I lose focus. I will weigh myself every Monday morning, and I will keep track on a chart of what I have lost (or gained). I may also post my gains and loses here, although I won't be telling you my actual weight anytime soon. I will also take my measurements and re-measure the first Monday of every month.

I plan to "officially" start with my weight and tracking on Monday, January 3, 2011. Since I will weigh myself on Mondays, a week will be Monday through Sunday for these goals.

As I mentioned before, this is a difficult issue for me to talk about. I know what I need to do to lose the weight, I just have to do it. If you have any great healthy recipes for me to try, or have found a new, fun way to exercise, or something of that nature, please feel free to share. I'm open to comments in general as well. But honestly, what I don't want to hear about are specific diet plans, such as Atkins or south beach, the grapefruit diet, the no bread diet, or how I should go vegetarian or vegan or whatever. I am looking to make changes to my eating and exercise habits that I can maintain to continue to live a healthy lifestyle after I've lost the weight. I cannot eat low carb or vegetarian the rest of my life, it's just not going to happen. I will never completely give up pizza, I will just eat less of it and less often. So please just restrain yourself from commenting if all you have to offer is to tell me about the great vitamin drink you have in place of 2 meals a day….not going to happen!

I don't plan on turning this into a weight loss blog either. I will definitely be talking some about my efforts at weight loss, but it will not dominate every post, I promise.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Looking Forward 2011 (Part I)

I don't make New Year's resolutions per se, but I do try to use the beginning of the new year as a time to think about and choose some areas of my life that I'd like to focus on or make improvements in as the new year progresses, and set some attainable, measureable goals in those areas.

I've started thinking some about what those will be in 2011, and while some of them will stay private, there are a couple I want to post about here, for two reasons. First, they're areas of my life that I will probably post about a good bit, and second, by putting my goals out here it will help me stay more accountable to myself just knowing that others know what I'm trying to achieve.

You can probably guess the first one….WRITING

After a dedicated couple of months this fall, my writing has been sadly almost nonexistent for the past 6 weeks or so. There are a lot of excuses for this, mainly that I have been focused on other things, but it basically boils down to the fact that I have not made the time to write.

Nanowrimo turned into basically Nanothing this year. I just didn't have a clear idea of where my story was going and got frustrated with it and gave up. I haven't given up on the story itself, but it will need to be rethought and researched more before it's replanned and any more writing occurs on that idea. I've decided that rather than trying to just write a novel, even a basic rough draft of one, I should focus more on getting in the habit of writing and improving my writing skills. If an idea for another novel should strike me fully formed I'm not saying I won't start writing on it, but I'm not going to make a novel my goal for the year, rather I'm going to work on smaller writing projects and smaller goals.

Goal - Make time to write at least 30 minutes every single day. Until August 1, 2011, this can include writing in my personal journal, writing a blog post, doing a writing exercise, or just writing whatever comes to me at the time. The point is, I have to write it, not just compose it in my head while driving or laying in bed. After August 1, 2011, writing in my personal journal no longer counts towards the 30 minutes. Hopefully by that point I will be more in the habit of writing and won't be as stymied on what to write about other than the minutia of my day. Also, by that time of the year, work will be less crazy and I should have more time in general to write in my personal journal and do other writing as well. There will definitely be times the first half of the year when all my brain will be able to do is relate the minutia of my day, if that, so in order to meet this goal, some days my personal journal will have to count.

Goal - Do a blog post 3 times a week. For purposes of this goal, a week is Sunday through Saturday. Some of the posts might be short, and might be along the lines of "work is so crazy right now I don't have time to think", and you might see a lot more weekend posts than weekday posts, but I think this is doable, and if I meet this, then that covers at least 3 days a week of my 30 minute/day goal.

Goal - At least once a week, do a writing exercise. Again, Sunday through Saturday is a week. By writing exercise, I mean either: 1) taking a writing prompt and spending some time writing something and doing at least some editing and crafting of the writing, or 2) doing an exercise from one of the writing sites, books, magazines, etc. that is designed to work on a particular area of writing, such as plot, character development, dialogue, etc.

Goal - Actually keep track of whether I'm meeting these goals. I will create a document or calendar or something that tracks when I do each of these so that I can see whether I'm meeting the goals.

That's it for today, more tomorrow.

Looking Back - 2010

The holiday season has been very busy this year, and not just because of the holidays. All of 2010 was pretty busy for us, and as we start to look forward to 2011, I thought I would do a little recap of some of the major events of 2010 in our family. For those of you related to me, it will be a walk down memory lane, and for those few of you reading this who are not related to me, perhaps it will give a little more background and insight into me and my life.

Our son, Logan, joined the Army in late 2009 and graduated from basic training in February 2010. He was at Ft. Jackson, SC for basic, so fortunately we were able to drive down for the weekend for his graduation, as were my parents and Rob's (previously mentioned as "my husband") parents. It was a busy weekend, with a few headaches because of the vast number of people on base for the weekend's festivities, and the nasty, rainy, weather which forced the ceremonies indoors and created some confusion, but overall we were glad to be there. We're very proud that he has chosen to serve in the Army. After basic, Logan was off to Ft. Huachuca, Arizona for his AIT (Advanced Individual Training), which is essentially his specific job training.

After Logan's graduation, most of the next couple of months were relatively uneventful. The only real item of note is that around this time, after a long search, I finally found a knitting group that clicked. It may seem silly, but I had visited a couple of groups and guilds over the fall, looking for a group of fellow knitters to meet with regularly, and while they were all welcoming, none of them seemed quite the right fit. I've been on Ravelry for a couple of years and at one time had contacted the few people on that site that live in Sanford to see if they wanted to try to get together. We were unsuccessful in arranging anything that suited everyone's schedule, but one of the ladies I had contacted previously contacted me again early this year and asked if I wanted to meet up sometime. Since we both live in Sanford, but work in Raleigh, we met one night after work and then went to a guild meeting I had been attending some. We hit it off pretty well, so she invited me to the knitting group she attends regularly, and that's the group that finally clicked. It's a mixed group of people, ages, and professions, but I feel at home there and that I can be myself and they love to knit like I do!

In May, we were off to Boone to see our daughter, Carey, graduate from Appalachian State University. It was a fun weekend with my parents and Rob's parents. We stayed at a nice little hotel in Blowing Rock within walking distance of downtown Blowing Rock. The owners were very friendly, and it was nice to be able to walk downtown without having to find a place to park. It was a much colder weekend than we had expected for May, but other than that, and the fact that my father wasn't feeling very well, we had a good time.

In June, Rob and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. We're not big on the actual celebration part, but we did spend a nice Saturday together visiting several NC wineries, and we brought home quite a bit of good wine to prove it!

Logan came home for 2 weeks in June between finishing AIT and reporting to his duty station at Ft. Bliss, TX. We had friends and family over to see him one Saturday while he was here and also surprised him with a visit from his grandmother that lives in Michigan.

On July 9th, my brother and his wife had their 3rd daughter. Like her two older sisters, she's a beautiful baby. She has to be the happiest, most cheerful baby I've ever been around. She rarely cries or gets fussy, and is content for just about anyone to hold her, or to just sit in her carrier or swing and watch what's going on. Also in July, Logan surprised us all with the announcement that he had gotten engaged. He was only 18 and had only known his fiancé for a few months, so we were very surprised, and a little concerned, but he seemed to know that she is the one for him. At the time, he said the wedding would be a couple of years away.

In August, we celebrated my parents' 70th birthday and 44th wedding anniversary with a family dinner at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill. This turned out to be an eventful weekend. My sister and her boyfriend came in from San Francisco for the weekend, and he proposed to her on Friday on the main quad on the campus of UNC. My father, my sister, and I are all alumni of UNC and we are a definite UNC family, so it meant a lot to her that he would recognize that in his proposal. We had a great time at dinner and it was nice to hang out with my sister a bit, since we don't see each other that often.

Rob and I took a trip to the North Georgia mountains in mid-September. As I am enthralled with knitting, Rob is equally entranced by wood turning, so we went for a wood turning symposium. An entire weekend of talks and demonstrations on turning wood on a lathe. I attended a few of the sessions, but otherwise enjoyed some quiet time knitting and wandering around North Georgia a bit. And of course, I visited the local yarn shop! We stayed at Unicoi State Park, where the symposium was held. The closest town was Helen, GA, which is a small town that looks like a German alpine village. Touristy to the extreme, but fun to walk around for a bit. Rob learned a lot, we saw some really great and creative turned items, and it was a nice relaxing weekend.

In early November, Carey and her boyfriend came to spend a weekend with us here in Sanford. We had an enjoyable weekend just hanging out, and after they left I realized that it was the first time she had come home that it felt like having adult house guests for the weekend rather than a college student crashing at the house. It's nice to begin to develop an adult relationship with your children and not have to play the parent role all the time. Thanksgiving was spent at Rob's parents' home near Charlotte. My parents came down and had Thanksgiving dinner with us, and we had a good time.

The holidays snuck up on me this year. I had a lot going on with work and before I knew it, it was almost Christmas. But before we got to Christmas, we had another big event. Logan got married on December 19th. They had a small ceremony in Fayetteville, NC. She made a beautiful bride, and he was very handsome in his Class A uniform. We were glad that most of the family, including Logan's grandmother, aunt and uncle from Michigan were able to attend. They are young, but they seem committed to each other and committed to dealing with the ups and downs that marriage may bring. We hope that they will have a long happy life together. Unfortunately, Logan only had a few days leave, so was not able to stay through Christmas. He had to head back to Ft. Bliss, but he's in the process of getting all the paperwork filed and finding them an apartment off-base, and she plans to move out to TX in mid-January, so hopefully they won't be separated for much longer.

Due to everything going on, and the fact that I wasn't hosting this year, I didn't "do" Christmas this year the way I usually do. I did a minimal amount of decorating, and didn't even put up a tree. I had a small ceramic lighted tree on the bar in the dining room and put up my outside lights and that was about it. I also didn't do as much baking, since my house wasn't going to be full of guests to eat it all. I did make a few favorites and took some to the neighbors as usual. I didn't even send out Christmas cards, as I just couldn't find the time to sit down and write them all. (However, if you usually receive a Christmas card from me, don't despair, you will most likely receive an edited version of this post in a New Year's letter!)

We had a white Christmas!!!! We spent Christmas at my parents' house this year and really enjoyed it. My sister and her fiancé came in from CA. We went to Reidsville on Christmas Eve. Carey met us there and we hung out Friday with my parents and my sister and her fiancé. Friday afternoon the girls went and had manicures and pedicures, while the boys went to help Dad pick out and install a flat screen TV for Mom's Christmas present. I think Dad really wanted it as much as he wanted to get it for Mom, but I think they will both enjoy it. And for my techie husband, who also can't stand to just sit around without doing anything, it gave him something to do for a while. Christmas Day, while we were waiting for my brother and his family to get there, it started snowing. And kept on snowing. We had a nice Christmas dinner and some social time, including snowman building by my nieces, father and sister's fiancé. By the time Rob, Carey and I left around 5:30, Reidsville had close to a couple of inches of snow and it was still snowing hard. But by the time we got just south of Greensboro, 30 miles away, it was only rain.

But we didn't miss the snow here in Sanford, we just had to wait a little longer. It started here around midnight Saturday night and snowed all day Sunday off and on. Overall we ended up with 5-6 inches. That's quite a bit of snow for the sandhills of NC in general, and especially this early in the year. We had a lazy day Sunday, just hanging out reading and knitting and watching the snow, and other than a 2 hour power outage Sunday morning all was well.

Well, I believe I have probably written more than enough for one post, but at least I posted something! Tomorrow I start looking forward to 2011.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mountain Longing

I love the mountains.

I had to go to Asheville this week for a meeting, and like every time I visit the NC mountains, I was struck by how much I really want to live there. I'm not sure why I enjoy the mountains so much. I enjoy going to the beach, but I would never want to actually live at the beach. But I would move to the mountains in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, unless I find some other source of income than the legal profession, it's not a realistic possibility until I retire. Sure, there are legal jobs in the NC mountains, but I would do almost anything to avoid going back into private practice, so that severely limits my options.

It doesn't stop me from dreaming and hoping though. Every time my husband and I take a trip to the western part of the state, we spend some time looking at smaller towns in whatever area we happen to be visiting. Ideally, we'd like to buy some land and put a trailer, or something we could spend weekends in, on the land and slowly do the necessary improvements needed to get the land ready to build our retirement home. It's still a dream at this point though.

The downside to my visit to Asheville this time was that I tripped over a folded up floor mat & slammed my head into a metal door handle. I'm fine, but I have a small cut on my left eyebrow that bled like a stuck pig for a while, and my eyelid and under my eye were a lovely shade of purplish red that is now starting to turn yellow. I told my husband he was lucky I was out of town when it happened, and that I have witnesses, otherwise people would think he did it.

The incident didn't change my desire to live in the mountains though…someday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I didn't mean to go a week without posting. I kept thinking about posting, but just kept coming up with other things to do instead.

It's been a busy, awkward week or so at work. We have 4 new employees that I'm largely responsible for coordinating some training for, and on top of that, this week they are literally moving the walls in my office, so I've been working on my laptop out of the library, the windowless conference room, or wherever I can find to plug in & have a phone nearby. Today is a holiday & tomorrow I'm going to be working from home. Monday, they are supposed to be done and between meetings on Monday and Tuesday I will have to move everything to my new (smaller) office and get everything set back up so they know where to run my computer and phone cables. Wednesday & Thursday I will be in Asheville for a meeting, and then Friday I will be out of the office as well for another meeting. So next week will be just as crazy as this one.

Our daughter and her boyfriend were here over the weekend. We really enjoyed having them here. She's 22 years old, and while she's been sort of "grown-up" for some time, this was probably the first time it truly felt like having adult house guests for the weekend, rather than a college student sleeping here for the weekend while she hung out with her friends. It also helps that we like the young man she's currently dating, and he didn't seem to mind hanging out here with us and helping my husband work on cars.

What I haven't done over the past week really, is do any writing. I'm still sitting at 4,375 words on my Nano novel. I haven't given up on it, I just haven't been able to get my thoughts together to actually work on it. I may work on it some later tonight, but even if I don't, I do plan to put in some definite time on it this weekend and see if I can't get the creative part of my brain in gear again.

I hope to be back posting again before another week passes, but meanwhile, today is Veteran's Day, so be sure to thank any veterans you happen to encounter!


Thursday, November 4, 2010


Well, day 3 of NaNoWriMo, and I'm struggling. I'm up to 3,923 words, but it's been hard going so far.

When I did this in 2004, I had a good idea of my storyline and once I got started I always seemed to know where the story would go next. Not that the writing was necessarily good, but I was able to write it. Maybe it's because that was a more general, women's fiction, type story and this time I'm trying a mystery, but it's not flowing right now. I realized in brainstorming before this month that a mystery definitely takes more planning and thought, but I didn't want to plan too much out and lose momentum when it actually came time to write. As a result, I'm now acutely aware that there are a lot of things I haven't thought out at all.

I didn't even write last night because I just couldn't figure out where to go next. Today, I decided that I just needed to write, so I've been writing whatever scene pops into my head. I have an idea of some of the events that need to happen, but I'm lacking in how to get from event to event. There's some logic in what I've written so far, but definitely a lot of gaps that will have to be filled at some point.

I'm hoping that by just getting the things I have thought about out, it will bring some clarity to the rest of the story & I'll figure out where I'm going. If nothing else, I may write 50,000 words of disjointed ideas that I can eventually cull something useful from to start again from scratch.

I'm frustrated, but I'm not giving up….I'm writing.

Monday, November 1, 2010

And So It Begins….

It's finally November 1 here, and that means NaNoWriMo has officially begun!

I'm finding it a little slow going to start, but I just got started tonight and I've done 500+ words in just an hour or so. The average per day needed to get 50,000 done in 30 days is 1,667 words per day, so I won't get there today, but I'm confident that as I get a little further into my story I'll be able to make it up.  UPDATE: Got a little more writing in than I had planned and got to 1,937 for the day, so at least I hit the minimum.

The Nano website has been lagged out since yesterday. Too many people trying to hit it at once I suppose, but hopefully it will even out a bit once the excitement of starting has passed.

I'm going to try to keep posting here at least every couple of days, and I will make an effort not to talk only about how well my novel is (or isn't) going, but if I don't appear for a couple of days, you know why. Also, my daughter and her boyfriend are coming for the weekend, so I need to get as much written between now and then as I can.

So the adventure begins, and hopefully a mystery will emerge from my efforts.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Waxing Rhapsodic

There's a hidden treasure in the North Carolina mountains. You have to drive just about as far west as you can go, towards Murphy, but just before you get that far if you take a little jaunt south, you'll find Brasstown, NC.

Brasstown isn't really much of a town. There's a post office and a few other buildings. The small country store with a couple of gas pumps is called Clay's Corner and is the self proclaimed Opossum Capital of the World.

But turn onto Brasstown Road next to Clay's Corner and you enter a fascinating little piece of the world called the John C. Campbell Folk School. If you are a crafter, musician, dancer, or storyteller, you enter heaven. Even if you're not, you might be before you leave, because the Folk School was started in 1925 for the express purpose of keeping the traditional folk arts alive and well in a non-competitive, community oriented environment. Browse the Folk School catalog and you will find a wide variety of classes. Wood working, knitting, calligraphy, blacksmithing, quilting, writing, and the list goes on and on.

My husband, a wood worker, was told about the Folk School about two years ago, and immediately wanted to attend a class there. He was originally looking at a class in May of 2009, but as soon as I found out about it I wanted to go too, and I couldn't take the needed time off work in May. So we made a deal. If he would wait to go when I could go too, we'd pick the week we went based on when the class he wanted was offered, because I was positive I could find something I wanted to take. The class he wanted was offered again in November 2009, so we started planning.

I initially was hoping to take a knitting or spinning class, but since the class offerings vary each week there wasn't one being offered the same week as my husband's class. I considered taking a class in Italic calligraphy, since I do calligraphy, but am completely self-taught, however a writing class was being offered and I was still talking about writing a lot, but actually doing very little writing, so I signed up for the writing class in hopes of writing motivation. We couldn't wait to go, but it was only January. 

We went to the Folk School in November 2009, completely psyched about the classes we had signed up to take, and we weren't disappointed at all. The classes were fabulous. What we were totally unprepared for was the rest of the experience.

The Folk School is a community. The students that come to the school range in age from 18 to 80's+, are from all over the country and the world, and during the week that you are there, they are your community, and you will never want to leave. You will live together, eat together, learn together, dance, laugh and sing together, and you will have the time of your life.

Forget fancy hotel rooms, the accommodations are mostly houses that have been donated to the school or bought over time and converted into rooms. Some have private baths in the room, some have baths shared between 2 or 3 rooms, and there is also some dormitory style housing with hall baths upstairs in the main building. They are nothing spectacular, but they are clean and decent, and if you don't stay on campus, you will miss a huge part of the experience.

The meals are at set times and served family style. When the bell rings, everyone lines up outside the dining hall and files in, grabs something to drink & finds a seat. In many ways it's like being at camp as a kid, except you don't have to sit with your bunkmates, and the food is actually GOOD. They encourage you to sit with different people each meal and, while by the end of the week you will have found a couple of people you tend to sit with regularly, it's really fun to sit with new people and hear where they're from and why they came and what they're learning. If you have special dietary needs or preferences, they are very good at accommodating those as well. They always have a vegetarian option and they will also prepare diabetic, gluten free, and I'm sure other options if you let them know before you come that you will need those. I'm a very picky eater & there was only one meal that I really did not like, but they had plenty of fresh fruit and a salad bar, so I didn't go hungry.

Classes are scheduled for 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon, but since the classes are so hands-on, most instructors will open the classrooms in the evening as well if you want to come in and work on your project. As a member of the writing class, I could work wherever I took my laptop (not required by the way, one of the students in my class was in her 80's and did everything in long hand), but my husband went back to the woodturning studio almost every night.

If you don't want to do class work in the evening you will certainly not be bored. They had contra dancing (similar to square dancing) one evening which was a blast. There are concerts, poetry readings, and demonstrations by instructors of some of the classes being taught that week, that you can attend. Or you can always find someone just hanging out in the living room of Keith House (the main building), which also happens to be the only place you can really get internet access. But you know what? We both took our laptops, and cell phones, and if it weren't for the fact that I was using my laptop for my writing class, I don't think I would have touched it all week. The cell phone reception is very spotty up there, but there are places you can get a signal if you need it.

If you're an early riser, which I am definitely NOT, they have something called Morning Song every morning, which is usually someone singing or telling stories. It's very mellow and laid back and actually a very nice start to the day. I even dragged myself out of bed most mornings to attend.

I could go on and on about our wonderful experience at the Folk School, and how we cannot wait to go back, although it will probably be a few years before we are able to return. I could find something to take every week for a year, and never lose interest, but unfortunately I haven't buckled down and written a best-selling novel yet, so I still have to work the day job. But I have probably written more than enough for anyone to expect in one entry, so while I may not be done talking about the John C. Campbell Folk School on this blog, I'll stop for now.

But go check out their website and start planning your next vacation!  While you're there, you can visit Mouse Towne, but that's another post.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Truck

I got in my car this morning to go to work. When I turned the key in the ignition, instead of the nice low throaty growl of the V8, I got "click, click, click, click, rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" and all the lights flashing on the dashboard. I called my husband at work & described the sound to him & he thought it might be the starter, but of course he wouldn't be able to tell until he looked at it.

I live an hour away from where I work, so calling a coworker to come get me wasn't an option, and my husband works an hour away in the opposite direction, so there was no point in his coming home either. So that left the motorcycle and the truck as transportation for my daily commute.

The motorcycle really wasn't a viable solution because 1) it was raining, and 2) I haven't ridden enough recently to be comfortable riding it to work through all the traffic I encounter. So that left the truck.

When I say truck, I mean TRUCK. The Truck is a full-sized Chevy 3500 long-bed with dual rear axles. It's also getting a little crappy, but it sits parked most of the time and we mainly use it to haul stuff, so it's sufficient for its purposes. The battery tends to drain if you leave it sitting for a while, but my husband, handy man that he is, has installed a knife switch so it's easy to disconnect the battery.

I don't mind driving The Truck at all, even though I have to drive with a pillow behind my back because the back of the bench seat won't adjust straight up enough for me to see over the steering wheel, and even though the AC doesn't work and it was 80 today so I had to drive with the windows half open. Driving large vehicles doesn't bother me. A few years ago my daily driver was a Ford Expedition, and when we used to off-road a lot, I drove the Ford F350 dually quad-cab we had at the time towing a 32 foot gooseneck trailer, with 2 lifted Jeeps on it, through Washington, D.C. traffic. The key to driving large vehicles is learning to use your side view mirrors A LOT and remembering you're driving a large vehicle when making turns, changing lanes and stopping. No, I don't mind driving The Truck at all, but parking The Truck at my office today was a royal pain in my ass.

I have an assigned parking space in an underground parking deck. The Truck would fit into the deck, but it wouldn't fit into my parking space because it's too long, and it's a dually. There is some on street parking by permit, so when I got to work I went and got a permit to park on the street for the day. Except there was no where to park that would accommodate The Truck. There was half a block of empty street right in front of my building, but that's reserved for certain personages, of which I am definitely not one, even though none of them were actually there. There was another empty half a block on one side of another street, so I parked there, got all my stuff out, disconnected the battery, (because the last thing I needed was to come out at the end of the day and find The Truck wouldn't start) and was walking toward my office building when one of the parking guys came out to tell me I couldn't park on THAT side of that street. I threw my stuff back in The Truck, reconnected the battery, and began the search for somewhere to park The Truck. A few trips around the block yielded nothing, but finally, after 20 minutes or so the gods smiled and someone who either had a large vehicle, or was one of those people who feels the need to leave 5 feet between the cars front and back, must have left while I was circling, and I found a space. I should have known better than to leave at lunchtime, but I did, and repeated the circling process when I returned, and finally located enough room to once again park The Truck.

All in all, not a big deal and really just a minor inconvenience in my day, but I got home tonight and my husband told me my car just had a dead battery, and I felt a little stupid for not realizing that it was something I could have taken care of this morning.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blue Ridge Fall

Fall is my favorite time of year.

I love….

The cool mornings, that turn into warm, but not hot, sunny days, and then into cooler evenings. Especially the "football weather" evenings when it's cold enough to wear a turtleneck and a sweater, but not need a coat.

The smells of campfires and burning leaves.

The colors of the leaves changing as they desperately hang on to tree limbs before beginning their descent.

One of the most beautiful places to view the changes of nature in the fall is the Blue Ridge Parkway, so since I can't think of anything else to write about at the moment, I'll leave you with some pictures I took on the Parkway a couple of years ago.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I've decided to do NaNoWriMo again this year. I last participated in 2004, and I actually wrote a little over 50,000 words on a women's fiction type novel. I haven't really gone back and read what I wrote, so I don't know if it's any good or total crap.

Nano is good for just forcing you to write and get words on paper, without editing or worrying about whether it's really any good. My biggest problem in writing creatively is turning off my internal editor. I tend to try to edit as I write. This is probably due to the writing I do at work, which is often under a deadline, so editing as I go is necessary in many cases. But with creative writing, it's usually better for me to just get the ideas out and then go back and weed through and refine.

I'm going to try a mystery this year, so I've been doing some brainstorming and trying to come up with the basic plot, characters, etc. I thought I had come up with a good basic premise, but I was really struggling with making the story go past a certain point and beginning to worry that I would get 20,000 or so words in and it would hit a dead end. In trying to rethink some things and come up with new ideas yesterday, I started switching some characters around within the basic plot and hit on something I think will work better.

My previous killer is now the one that gets killed. Amazingly, this is making things mesh in my mind much better. Most of the motives and general storyline I had already come up with will still work, just with a different killer, and a lot more suspects. In my previous version there was too much of a disconnect between the person who got killed and the rest of the story. In fact, that person is no longer really even in the story.

The hardest part in planning for Nano right now, is that I want to start writing some of the scenes I've imagined in my head. To stay "true" to Nano, I'm not supposed to start writing until November 1. Some of the fun and probably a good bit of the momentum is in doing this with all the other people participating, so I'm being good for now and just making notes. I'm trying to really think through my characters and come up with a good basic outline for the plot, in hopes that once I start writing I won't hit a point where I don't know what to say next. And I'm entertaining myself by coming up with character names that I would never hang on any child of mine. How would you like to have been named Andromeda?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Going Public

A recent article in Writer's Digest, titled "How to Lose Blog Traffic and Alienate Readers", tells me that I shouldn't just write about whatever comes to mind. Apparently, I should have a "focus area" for my blog, and shouldn't write about random things outside of that focus area. I don't think I have one of those.

On the other hand, I don't have any readers to alienate either. No one's expecting to read any certain type of post from me, because no one's reading my posts. That's my fault, since I haven't actually told anyone this blog exists, which brings me to the real issue.

It's one thing to put this out on the internet, and know that someone, somewhere MIGHT read it. It's a whole different, heart pounding type of anxiety, thing to think that someone I KNOW might read it. What if my writing sucks? What if I'm not interesting, funny, controversial, or insert favorite adjective here, enough?

But if I'm going to write, I'm going to have to let someone else read what I write eventually, so I think it's probably time to go public. I'm going to start small though, my husband (Hi Honey!) and some family members, and I might put it in my profile on some boards I frequent. We'll see from there.

As for that focus area I should have, for now the focus is ME, and whatever portion of my life I choose to talk about, or whatever thought lodges itself in my mind as a good topic for a post. I can tell you that I will not talk about work in anything other than a general sense, because I like my job and I need my job, and that also means that I will not discuss politics or any politically charged issue, but for now, anything else is still possible. That may change over time, as I figure out what I'm really doing here.

So, if you're reading this…be kind.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What I'm Reading

For several years I kept a list of all the books I read.  For some reason, I didn't start one this year.  I want to keep one for 2011, so I decided to go ahead & start one now for the rest of 2010.  The post below this one contains the beginning of the list, but I've linked it on the sidebar as well.  I've added the few books I remember I've read already this month.  You'll probably notice as time goes on, that I tend to find an author I like & then read everything they've written.  So you will often see a string of books all by the same author.   Lately I've been making my way through Laura Lippman, although I have to say I think I enjoyed her earlier novels more than I'm enjoying her more recent ones.  None has been bad enough yet to not actually finish though.

I've really been trying to cut back on purchasing books, so I've been using the library more.  I rarely re-read books and there are very few authors that I will buy any longer in hardback.  Stephen King and Margaret Maron are the two that I still buy in hardback, because they are the two I really want to keep, and that I do re-read from time to time.

Most of what I read these days is mystery/suspense or women's fiction, but you will also see some fantasy novels and popular literary novels.  I go through periods where I read non-fiction as well, mostly civil war and WWII history.

2010 Reading List

A list of books I've read.  Starting this a little late in the year, but want to get in the habit for the new year.

October (8+)
The Last Place by Laura Lippman
No Good Deeds by Laura Lippman
Another Thing to Fall by Laura Lippman
Home at Rose Cottage by Sherryl Woods
Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman
Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs
To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman

November (7)
The Lacemakers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri
A Slender Thread by Katharine Davis
Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron
Summer Brides: The Borrowed Bride\A Bridge to Dreams\Sister of the Bride by Susan Wiggs, Sherryl Woods, Susan Mallery
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
Waking Up In Dixie by Haywood Smith
Cross Roads by Fern Michaels

December (15)
Return to Rose Cottage by Sherryl Woods
Signs in the Blood by Vicki Lane
Art's Blood by Vicki Lane
Patterns in the Sand by Sally Goldenbaum
Deja Vu by Fern Michaels
The Christmas Clock by Kat Martin
Holiday Magic by Fern Michaels, Cathy Lamb, Mary Carter and Terri DuLong
The Night Killer by Beverly Connor
Moon Spinners by Sally Goldenbaum
Dust to Dust by Beverly Connor
Old Wounds by Vicki Lane
In A Dark Season by Vicki Lane
The Confession by John Grisham
Exit the Rainmaker by Jonathan Coleman
A Holiday Yarn by Sally Goldenbaum

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Yarn Obsession

I learned to knit, at camp, somewhere around 4th grade. My grandmother taught me to crochet before she died when I was in 6th grade. I had no real interest in either craft at the time. My mother was the one that made sure I took knitting at camp, and learning to crochet was just something to spend time doing with my grandmother as she wasted away from cancer. Although I have done counted crossstitch most of my life, I promptly forgot how to knit & crochet.
A few years ago, I decided I wanted to learn again. I went to a big box craft store & bought I Taught Myself to Crochet and I Taught Myself Knitting. Amazingly enough, it all came back to me relatively quickly. Still, it was just a casual hobby. I made a couple of fun fur scarves. Then I decided to crochet my sister an afghan for her birthday a few years ago. However, I seriously underestimated how long it would take. I worked on it off & on for a few months, then I broke my hand (another story for another day) and couldn't work on it for several months. It was almost a year later before I picked it up again. She finally got that afghan in August 2008, about 2 1/2 years after I started it!

In July of 2008, things changed. I found Ravelry and I became obsessed! So many yarns, so many projects to do! My yarn stash has grown and continues to multiply. I've become addicted to knitting lace and learning new techniques. My list of projects I want to do keeps growing, so much so that I have a hard time deciding what to work on next. I've been having fun though, and the only thing it's really hurt is my pocketbook!

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Am A Writer

I've always been a reader.

I've always wanted to be a writer.

I can't remember not being able to read. I don't recall learning the alphabet, or struggling to sound out words, it just seems like the knowledge was always there. I was the kid that had to be forced to go outside because my nose was in a book, the kid that read under the covers when I should have been asleep. I still am I guess. Even now, a good book will keep me from doing things I should be doing, and keep me up until the wee hours of the morning. I almost always have a book with me, and have been known to read while waiting in line, or even while waiting on a stoplight to change.

I've always dabbled in writing. The first thing I really remember writing creatively was a play. It was something about a troll that lived behind a hill, and I think I even got some friends together to make a cardboard "hill" and produced my masterpiece in my parents' garage. I've kept a journal sporadically over the years, but never with any consistency, and I was a great letter writer in junior high and high school. Somewhere in the room over my parents' garage there are still several shoe boxes filled with letters from friends I made at camps and almost every note I passed in school. But I've never considered myself a writer. It was just something I wanted to do….someday.

Over the past few years, I've thought about writing more, but I still haven't done much about it. Several years ago I found NaNoWriMo, and I got all excited and motivated, and even cranked out a 50,000+ word novel in the month of November. I've never even gone back and re-read it. Last fall, my husband and I went to the John C. Campbell Folk School. (Great place, and probably something I should write about another time.) I took a writing class and love it, but since then haven't done anything other than think more about writing. I seem to always be waiting for the "muse" to strike. I read, I think of ways I might change the story I'm reading, I even read about writing, and I have scraps of paper all over the place with character and story ideas, but I don't actually write.

I've come to a stunningly original realization lately. A writer is someone who writes.

I may never be paid for writing, but I can be a writer. So this is my beginning. 

I am a writer.