Monday, December 17, 2007

Gone Surfing

Went surfing today - xcellent!

We had an ex-pro sufer instructor - Marcello from Brazil who lived up to the name of the EZRide Surf School. Compared to my last experience, this was so much easier!

Sunny skies, plenty of breaking waves for the locals and learners to share, and a gorgeous beach - the perfect day. We paddled out and started catching waves right away. I managed to stand up and actually surf a couple times : )

Of course E did better, but its my blog, so all of the photos Im posting are of me. Sorry for the lack of apostrophes, but this is a French keyboard. Tomorrow were off to the Keys for some diving. We managed to miss the big snowstorm that hit the Northeast Sunday - we got out just in time. No shoveling here, just sun.

Sorry - no photos yet - the connection here is too slow.

Monday, December 10, 2007

In Search Of

When I open my Yahoo! mail, sometimes I check the top searches to see how much or how little I have in common with the majority of Yahoo users. It's rare that I've ever searched for anything on the top search list. Usually I've at least heard of everything on the list, but today the #1 item threw me:

Top Searches
Elin Nordegren
Magna Carta
Eva Mendes
GPS Systems
Mormonism
Barry Bonds
Barbara Walters
Dolly Parton
Weather

Who is Elin Nordegren? I thought he must be some important political leader.. oh she's a Swedish model best known for being married to Tiger Woods. Right. Way more information than I needed.

My only search of the day? Spring roll recipe. yum.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I Just Pulled a Dodi

: )

I treated myself to a piece of original art sold on etsy.com

It's a 6x6 acrylic of a girl holding hands with a purple monster. Titled 'Friends Forever'
I love it, and can't wait to hang it on the wall of my office : )

It's by the creator of will write for chocolate and inkygirl

Monday, November 26, 2007

Karen's picks

To me, being asked for a book recommendation is an honour. Someone trusts ME to suggest a book worthy of her precious free time. I don't trust many people to recommend books - they have to REALLY sell a book to me before I'll take a chance on frittering away my precious free time on depressing "I am woman, hear me complain" stories or feeling like a moron because I can't keep the intricate plot developments of historical fiction straight.

So, when a friend e-mailed me with this request, I gave it some thought:
"I keep forgetting to ask you if you have any good books to lend me. I am looking for something light and fun to read. ... I think the last book I read was The
Kite Runner. Good but not as good as I had heard it would be...maybe too
much build up."

I'd hardly call the Kite Runner light and fun. I liked it, but light? not so much.

Here is what I'm lending her:


The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Kinsella is best known for her Shopaholic books, but I prefer her stand-alone stories.



Lady Luck's Map of Vegas by Barbara Samuel

A little heavier, but quirky. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book.




Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

This was over-hyped to me by the time I read it, but if I don't play it up too much, I think my friend will enjoy it.



A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
Another quirky pick. A series of vignettes about the author's life growing up in small-town Indiana. Easy, funny.


What would you recommend as light and fun?

I was amazed at the number of books on my shelf that I've read but don't consider good enough to recommend. Might be time for a serious purge.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No US Thanksgiving or Black Friday for me

I already did the turkey with family thing in October for Canadian Thanksgiving. I will be working Thursday - it's not a day off up here!

We have snow. Not enough to xc ski on yet... unfortunately I never did get around to raking the leaves...

People keep asking me if I am going to "black Friday" With the strong CDN dollar, its becoming a competitive event - going to New Hampshire with its low sales tax is hardcore. Managing to be over the border for 48 hours requires planning. People are stunned when I tell them you couldn't pay me to go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. To me it would be one of the circles of hell.

On a side note, would it be immoral to put expired Boost (one of those liquid energy drinks) in a food bag for the needy? We eat expired food all the time, but E is sick of Boost because he is forced to drink tons of it when on expeditions, and I don't really need any calorie 'boosting' thank you very much. So it will eventually end up in the garbage. Better to go to the needy? I tried some about a month ago and it's still good...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This made me cry

I am probably the last person to hear about this guy (I take that back, when I showed E, he didn't know so I was at least 2nd to last)



I thought it was fake, but when I checked around, apparently not!
more info/updates: http://www.paulpottsopera.org/index.html

my source: pub rants

Monday, November 12, 2007

Progress

Yes, I've been working on FiMyNoMo. I went with E to the cottage and I fired up the laptop each time he went into the woods. It's tougher to gauge progress editing than with straight word count, but here are the parameters I'm tracking:
hours: 11
new pages written: 25
pages edited: 74

Still a long way to go, but I did learn that even in one hour I can make a lot of progress.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

New FiNyNoMo logo



E rocks!

I gave him the basic instructions for the participant and 'tracker' images, although I don't think I put "dull" as my starting point...

So far, so good. I am still not at what I would call a solid D1 -- all characters consistent (no unnamed, no multiple personalities), all transitions in place, all blanks filled in. Last weekend I managed to add 18 pages. Not a bad start.

Finish or perish!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

NaNoWriMo-less

I'm sad not to be part of National Novel Writing Month this year. Instead I'm trying to motivate myself to FinishMyNovel this Month.

E is supposed to make me a FiMyNoMo logo and progress bars, but he's got a 5-mile long to-do list, and spent last Saturday repainting the hood of my car, so I will have to be patient. So far, I've logged 1 hour/20 pages of revision. I have no idea why I'm so hesitant/reluctant/scared to work on this book. I suppose it's a fear of failure thing, but I still need to do a lot more before I'd consider the effort a failure. At this point it would be pure giving up, and I'm not a quitter.

So, the butt glue has been applied. I'm logging my hours, and I've set goals. Apparently I fall into the group of people who are motivated by achievement (as opposed to power or people).

Wish me luck, and if you see me out doing something other than working on my book, send me home.

Side note: total Halloween candies consumed: 4. not bad. : )

Update:
Created Temporary logo - hideous. Cannot figure out how to manipulate text in Jasc Pro, let alone add images.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

You've got the SHINE, boy!

For me, Halloween = the last day before NaNoWriMo, or in my case this year FiMyNoMo.

I hope Dodi has finished her nephew's 3-headed costume.

I am on the fence about buying candy to hand out. Will kids actually show up? We never actually see kids in the neighbourhood, but they might avoid our house out of fear of E year-round the way the cats do.

I'll probably buy a few bags, and force E to lock it in the gun locker as soon as we've decided that no kids are going to show. Otherwise I will eat it all and sink into a depressive funk on Nov.1 - bad start to the month.

In honour of Halloween, we watched The Shining last Friday (we yuppied it up with sushi and sake, but it was still scary). If anyone knows of a scarier movie, bring it on. Danny on the big wheel with the noise of carpet/no carpet freaks me out every time. Kubrick was a freaking genius. Nicholson was also amazing.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

The perfect kickoff to FiMyNoMo.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Feeling Like Forrest

Excellent Information R/evolution. video

found via Ed

How many people watching it have no idea what the card catalog is?
I barely used a computer in university - I typed my papers. My younger sister had a Commodore 64 when she arrived at university her Freshman year.

I worked in desktop publishing with the first version of Quark, and helped develop first generation web sites.

The technology revolution has been playing in the background while the rest of life's events have been taking place: moving, changing jobs, changing relationships, repeatedly gaining and losing 15 lbs.

I can appreciate the significance of the Internet, home computers, and computer technology in some respects. However, I think everyone who has been involved from the start is too close to see the big picture. What has started? Is this the beginning of something amazing or horrifying?

All I can hope is that I've helped make a positive contribution.

Now back to our regular discussion of moldy bread and gravel shoveling....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Waste Not, Want Not

alternate title: Dumpster Diving, Anyone?

In this weekend's Gazette somewhere in the middle of the inane blathering about what Gazette employees are watching on television (note to the editors: FIND SOME ACTUAL NEWS), I was introduced to 'Freegans' - people who are so against the waste in our society that they get their food by dumpster diving. They don't do it because they can't afford food - the person in the Gazette article (sorry - I tried to find a link in the Gazette online archives, but Freegan turned up 0 results...) had a tidy sum in the bank. Freegans dumpster dive to make a statement about how gross it is of us to waste so much food.

While I agree that it is gross of our society to be so wasteful, I don't think I could do the dumpster diving thing. Am I a pampered, spoiled Westerner? I will grab odd things people have put on the curb on trash day (wood, furniture, etc.) , but not food.

I make an effort to not order more than I can eat - I'll split a meal with someone or take the leftovers home. At home I really try to not throw food out, but with two people, stuff inevitably goes bad. I started composting this year so at least the rotting fruit and vegetables don't go to waste.

Am I missing something? Are the rest of you dumpster diving and I'm the only fool actually buying new bagels? They're probably all dropped on the floor and sneezed on before they're bagged and sold in the store anyway...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

How's the Book Going?

The dreaded question.

YOU guess the answer.

This weekend, I

-Started reading Volume I of the Children of Violence series by Doris Lessing (I wanted to read the Golden Notebook, but it was already checked out of the library)

-Shoveled more gravel, this time mixed with clay-like dirt

-Made turkey soup with actual turkey carcass broth

-Did freelance writing (paying) work to support my growing online shopping habit

-Found the new must-have dishes I must have online

-went to the hardware store to color-correct the gallon of salmon-color workout room floor paint that E bought from a chip I selected (I swear the chip didn't look salmony)

Looking over this list, NONE of it should be more important than getting my book done. grrr.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Using My Powers for Good Instead of Evil

I have an active imagination.

It's incredibly useful when I'm trying to think of a snappy headline.

It's horribly limiting when I'm trying to reach a little higher on a rock climbing route or fall asleep in a relaxed state.

I have a well-honed ability to run "what-if?" scenarios through my head at lightning speed.
I can imagine all the spectacular ways I could fall - oh sure, there's a mat, but the corner of that mat is all worn down, what if I fall on the corner? What if I fall exactly where the 2 mats meet? I'll literally slip through the crack and crack myself in 2 - no thank you.

At night I worry incessantly about things that might happen. It's INSANE.
I have been trying to teach myself to imagine positive things. While no good can come from worrying, there is a whole creative visualization industry behind the idea that if you THINK it, it's practically real.

While I'm not sure about thinking money will fall from the sky and then waiting for it to happen, I do think it's better to be positive than negative. I'm trying.. trying...

But what if?

aaargh

Must picture myself as successful published author who is worry-free, relaxed, and a risk-taking rock climber

Hey - when I look at it that way, the author part seems much more achievable than the rest of the sentence!

: )

Saturday, September 29, 2007

When E is away, Karen will pay

As you all know, it's duck hunting season. Right. If you're like me, you're envisioning classic Daffy Duck/Elmer Fudd Loony Tunes episodes. However, to some people, it's a lifestyle. E dressed all in camo, packed a giant bag full of boots and crap, grabbed a box of Heineken, and left this morning (I took photos, but they disappeared off my CF card --?)

Left unsupervised for less than an hour, I signed a lawn care contract because I've had it with our DogPatch lawn. E says no one cares about the lawn, and we'll just keep mowing down the weeds, but I care. This is the first time I've lived in a house with a private lawn since I was a kid and I don't want it to be a big weed patch. I am officially in charge of grounds, and at first I enjoyed the challenge of trying to get the grass to grow, but I quickly discovered that I much prefer perusing flower catalogues to pulling dandelions and inspecting brown patches for grubs.

The contract is 1/3 of the price I was expecting the guy to quote, and if they get the job done, it will be well worth it. I know E will be against paying for lawn care because to him, everyone is working on projects during all waking hours, so why not add lawn care to the list? To me, it's worth paying someone to deal with the lawn so I can freaking relax and spend a Saturday reading a book without having to avert my eyes and feel depressed and embarrassed every time I look at our lawn.

The company I chose appears to be on the 'up and up' despite their bizarre logo:



What IS that thing? It looks like those weird animated films made in the '60s. DUUUDE- got WEED? I'm hoping their insane Peter Pan butterfly man can get the grubs out, eliminate weeds and make our lawn presentable. I wonder if their workers dress like that...

P.S. There are laws in Quebec about what kind of pesticide you can use - there is no "Chem Lawn" available - methods have to be environmentally friendly. We have the strictest laws in North America. I am 100% for these laws, but I also want a nice lawn - stay tuned for the follow-up next year.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Finally, a Book List I Can Relate To

Or, Finally A Book List To Which I Can Relate

(proving that yes, I know the rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition, and choosing to break it because it makes clunky headlines)

Whenever I look at one of those Top 100 books for college graduates/intelligent people/ everyone who is anyone, not only have I not read most of the books on the list, I have no desire to. (again with the preposition ending! kids- don't try this in school)

I just found a book list that includes books I've read, loved and want to read!
The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000
link found via SBWLTB

In honor of banned books week, September 29-Oct 6, I invite you to scan the list and your TBR pile and read the first match you have, or better yet, go out and buy the most intriguing book off the list.

2007 Banned Books Week: Ahoy! Treasure Your Freedom to Read and Get Hooked on a Banned Book

I've already read 5 of the top 10; 22 total. I have The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood kicking around in hardcover - to be rebellious, I'll read it next. Forget motorcycles and pool boys, give me a stack of banned books - try and pry them out of my hands, I dare you!

Seriously, though- who are the idiots complaining about these books? Oh, right, the same people who voted in the last election... sigh.

Let's be thankful we were not raised or educated by these morons and support banned books.

update: (after posting I did more research)
The above sources are for the US. Here is a link about censorship in Canada, with its own list of challenged books and magazines.
Freedom to Read week in Canada is Feb 24-March 1. Makes sense - that time of year is almost guaranteed to be crappy weather - perfect for staying in and reading : )
The differences between the Canadian and American lists are interesting. For example, the Bible is on the Canadian list for exposing homosexuals to hatred and ridicule.
I've only read 5 books on the Canadian list.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Summer isn't over

It's been gorgeous and sunny all week - I refuse to accept that it's past Labor Day. Here are a few snaps from our week of vacation:

Me working on my book - YES!




Spelunking



Friday, August 31, 2007

I've been Simpsonized!


Fun! Upload a picture and get Simpsonized : )
Luckily they let you tweak it a bit - my first attempt turned out like Patty and Selma - aaah!

Thanks for the link, Diana.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Apparently the moon revolves around me

I am not a morning person.

I require 2 mugs of coffee-like substance within hours of waking in order to get moving (preferably cappucino or latte, but I'll drink the watery crap that comes out of a machine at the gas station in desperate situations)

This morning I woke up at 4:30 and I was WIDE AWAKE

I hadn't gone to bed any earlier or started any new wellness regime - I have no explanation other than the lunar eclipse

must see eclipse....

All I really saw was a reddish glow, but apparently the celestial beings wanted me up and in attendance, so I was there.

I thought it was sorta cool and ok maybe a little creepy, but I think that E howling at me all day is a little over the top.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Motivated monkey

Saturday I sent E off to the cottage solo - I gave the vague excuse of having work, etc. but once he left I realized that I didn't actually need to work, and what I really wanted to do was go to Chapters for a book signing by local author Sheila Kindellan-Sheehan. I haven't read her books, but they sounded good and I love to meet authors in person. Particularly female authors, and even better - ones who live nearby.

She was sitting at a table with friends and family wearing t-shirts that had her latest book cover on them. I know it sounds incredibly dorky, but to me having your friends and family wearing t-shirts with your latest book cover on them is the pinnacle of success.

I grabbed a copy of each of her 4 books to be signed and felt my hands shake as I reached the front of the line. I am completely awestruck by published authors. She was exceptionally nice and even gracefully managed the etiquette breach by the moron behind me who was talking to her while I was at the table - DUDE - wait your freaking turn!!

I started reading the first book, The Sands Motel and so far so good - it's fun because it's about snowbirds (Quebecers who winter in Florida) and I actually 'get' the references: St Viateur bagels, Double Hook book shop, Trudeau airport, etc.

Later that afternoon, I dusted off my book, re-wrote the beginning and didn't realize what time it was until E. called at 10 p.m.
What? Who? It's what time? Wow.

E. says to send him away more often if that's what it takes for me to finish, but I think his being gone was just coincidental. I've often had time to myself that I didn't spend working on my book.

It was the t-shirts that motivated me.

Remember the monkey on the bicycle from the game "The Incredible Machine?"
He only starts pedaling when a screen is pulled to reveal a banana dangling in front of him.
I'm the monkey in front of my keyboard. I start typing furiously when I see a picture of my book cover on a t-shirt.

I've searched for an image of the monkey/bicycle/banana but can't find it - he seems to have been replaced by a baboon on a treadmill - now that's just silly. If anyone has the monkey please send it to me - I must have the motivated monkey : )

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sim Lessons

“My friends hate me, I can’t pay my bills, the place is a mess and I’m really tired…” No, I’m not having a breakdown, I’m talking about my “Sim” character. Go ahead– sigh, roll your eyes – that’s exactly how I felt about computer games since I “outgrew” them about 20 years ago. Then one day an XBox® appeared in the living room and I started playing The Sims™ Bustin’ Out. This “silly” game has driven the “balance your life” lesson home to me in a way that no book or article has ever done.

In the game, you need to keep your Sim in a good mood by keeping 8 motives in balance: Hunger, Hygiene, Energy, Social, Comfort, Bladder (when you gotta go, you gotta go), Fun, and Room. From the instruction guide: “Sims are happiest in clean, well-lit homes with nice furnishings… All work and no play is a sure way to grump out your Sim... Keep your Sim in the social swing by making friends and developing strong relationships with fellow Sims.”

While keeping all of these life aspects in balance, my Sim is also building a career. Going to work in a good mood helps him get ahead. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? I thought so too and started playing similarly to how I live my life: my Sim always made it to work, but tried cutting corners on housekeeping and didn’t make much of an effort to maintain relationships. He quickly became grumpy and I really had to work to figure out how to get the fun level to go from red to green. The night he peed on the floor twice and started a kitchen fire was a definite low, but now I’ve figured out that he needs to spend more time out of his house visiting friends to be happy.

Although I’ve only been playing the game a short while, I already find myself mentally checking my own motives: hmm, the house looks ok and my hair looks great, but I haven’t talked to S in a while, and E and I need a night out. A few phone calls later and my relationship level is out of the red and into the green. Thanks to my Sim, I’m finally “getting” it: mood is a function of balancing how you spend your time, and fun doesn’t just happen ¬- you have to make the effort and take the time for it. The game has much more to it including levels and options I haven’t started to explore yet, but it will have to wait. I’m going out with friends tonight.


How does the Real Me measure up against My Sim?
My Sim
Real Me

Will pee on the floor if bathroom needs aren’t met
Does NOT pee on the floor

Will refuse to do something "not fun" if the fun meter is too low to avoid being too grumpy.
Will force myself to do what I’m “supposed to do” regardless of fun, and then be extremely crabby.

Leaves important mail lying all over the house
Uhh, I do that too sometimes.

Tries to compensate for lack of sleep with coffee
I’m trying not to do that as often

full disclosure: I wrote this a while ago, but it still holds true...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On a clutter bender

I'm trying to check myself into organizational rehab but all I've managed to do so far is spread the mess out the door and down the hallway under the guise of 'filing' and allow myself to get thrown completely off-track by 4-ring binders and 3-hole punch inserts - what the?

I've thrown a tiny bit away and wasted waaay too much time trying to determine what is/isn't recyclable.

In other news, I told E I need a breakeroo tonight - he replied that he thought we took a breakeroo last night - we went to the Simpsons movie. Compared to re-wiring an engine, I suppose that going to a movie is a breakeroo, but compared to lying immobile on the porch reading a book, going out to a movie is big excitement.

If you've ever played The Sims, picture my character stamping her feet on the ground cursing SimSpeak until allowed to slack on the recliner chair. I'm at code red. E is more like the mad scientist character - only happy when on the verge of causing major destruction. As long as it doesn't disturb my slackitude I'm okay with that.

Do I need to keep Staples mail telling me I didn't qualify for any reward dollars? is it recyclable? does it require shredding? grrr. I'm ready to take a flame-thrower to this whole mess.

clean up update
found: one metallic green notebook with a matching metallic green pen that I forgot I had. yess! I knew I'd find something worthwhile eventually : )

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Fish tank feng shui



Look at my snap-tacular super-clean fish tank featuring a new Flinstones-esque hut made of freshly-picked stones from the majestic shores of Lake Erie!

I can feel the positive feng shui flowing just looking at it.

What does a fish tank have to do with feng shui? I'm not sure - the feng shui information available on the Internet is sketchy at best, contradictory and blatantly product promoting at worst. I boiled down my ten minutes of research to this: a dirty fish tank is the root of any and all money trouble you might think was caused by underestimating the amount of tax you owe and needing to replace your car engine unexpectedly. Cleaning your fish tank will magically cure your money trouble with no additional work required on your part.

Ahh - I can sense the greenbacks heading my way.

So, yes - I need to be working overtime to earn more money but would prefer to let the fish tank do the work. Let's hope that a combination of both will do the trick.

p.s. I couldn't get the 'red eye' function to eliminate 'white eye' on the fish.
p.p.s. E actually helped me clean the fish tank even after listening to my inane feng shui reasoning. I think he just wanted to design the new stone hut.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Model of Efficiency, as usual

PILES of work to do now that I'm back from vaca. Priority #1?
Harry Potter personality quiz:


Find out your Harry Potter personality at LiquidGeneration!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

DON'T TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS !

That's me shouting HP5-style - I just finished re-reading Order of the Phoenix. I burned through it really quickly the first time to get to the end, so it was nice to slow down and enjoy reading it the second time through. I just picked up HP 6 to read for the second time and have been negotiating time chunks to read. Why negotiating? Because E and I are completely booked up through mid-August. He's agreed to do all driving and not complain while I sit in the passenger seat and read. I've got to finish HP7 before meeting the family for vacation because I will either hear spoilers or be left out of any and all HP conversations. Plan A was to spend this weekend reading the whole thing, but friends from Vermont invited us to go on a 2-day bike tour, and it IS summer after all,... so I will be picking my copy of HP up on SUNDAY - very late, and then reading next week and en route to the family vacation.

I have no idea who lives or dies or if Snape is good or evil. I don't like to try to figure things out before because either way it would be disappointing. I want to be surprised. My only hope is that we see more of Fred and George Weasley and that there is an ending that makes sense. I heart the twins.

I am a little homesick about HP7 - for HP6 I was with ksl, Dodi and the boys and we had a great time at Barnes and Noble midnight madness - the best part was we waited in line for hours, then stopped at a grocery store on the way home only to find a table heaped with HP6 and no lineup.

This time I will just be running into Chapters to grab my copy 2 DAYS after it is released. Not so fun. Maybe E will dress up in a cape and HP glasses.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Edge=good

"If you don’t feel that you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, then probably what you are doing isn’t very vital. If you don’t feel like you are writing somewhat over your head, why do it? If you don’t have some doubt of your authority to tell this story, then you are not trying to tell enough."

-John Irving

found on Pick the Brain

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Big One

The most fun thing about E is that he pushes you past the edge - it's as if all most of us can see is a flat world and somehow he can see further. He's good at convincing other people that the world is actually round and then for those who are willing to go with him to see, he proves it over and over again.

One of his friends recently returned from a year in New Zealand and was pushing E to name the next "Big One" A big one is BIG - one of those 'things I want to achieve before I die'. The ones you can't do in an afternoon - they require commitment, training, focus and seeing past your flat world.

E's friend just put together these clips of their last Big One - summiting Mt. Aconcagua. While mountain climbing is not my big one, this video still inspires me because it all relates.

Preparation - instead of training, running, hiking, carrying packs, learning about the area, first aid, another language, mountain rescue, avalanche awareness, I need to write every day, learn the craft, revise, stay aware of the industry, stay focused. They managed to prepare while working full time jobs, keeping relationships, friendships and family ties strong and raising the funds to make the trip. Not easy.

Focusing on what you control and preparing but not worrying about what you can't. What if there's bad weather? What if the altitude gives me a cerebral edema? What if there's an avalanche? What if the market for the kind of book I'm writing bottoms out? What if I can't find an agent? What if no publisher will buy my book? Doesn't matter. Prepare the best you can and take your shot. It's the only way to get there.

My big one looms. I'm about to get much more ruthless with my time and attention. I can just see the curve beyond my flat world...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Dahling I love you, but give me Park Avenue





Cottage life sounds so idyllic - drive up in your Lexus and sip lattes on the veranda. The reality is scooping rotting organic matter out from the bottom of the lake to stop the proliferation of algae and rotting organic matter stink. I spent most of the weekend in chest waders (not to be confused with hip waders) - oh so glamorous.

We did manage to finish the concrete footing for a friend's dock - well, E did while I sat on a rock fishing and actually caught a small-mouth bass. No one could believe I actually caught something. Apparently my frog-drag technique wasn't so amateurish after all.

Our dock is now extended much further out into the lake so we'll have more sun and less bugs. Of course we won't have a chance to get back there to enjoy it until mid-August. grr.

When was the last time you spent a weekend in waders? I'm not sure how this will ever play in to novel fodder, but you never know.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thanks to TomTom Ken, I'm never lost

If you asked me how the Internet has greatly improved my life I would say e-mail communication and MAPQUEST. Mapquest has saved me countless hours of frustration and humiliation getting lost and asking for the same directions over and over. However, Mapquest does have its drawbacks - I have to re-copy the instructions huge in Sharpie and tape them to the dashboard for quick reference while driving. AND if I have to stray from the directions for any reason - traffic, exit closed, whatever - I'm finished.

E has saved me from all of this. He HATED my 'paper taped to the dashboard' system and constantly re-explained how to navigate L'Acadie to get to MEC (I'm 2/3 successfully getting there on my own). He just bought me my own TomTom. It's a portable GPS that you can carry with you (downtown!) or place on the dashboard of your car. You enter your destination address, and TomTom uses GPS and North American maps to figure out where you are and how you should get to where you're going. The voice of your choice tells you when to start moving over for a turn, gives you advance warning of turns and tells you what the next turn will be. I selected Ken - English-Australia because he sounds so calm and he uses funny words like 'motorway.'

If you stray from the directions - miss an exit or decide you don't want to take a congested highway, the TomTom will pick up the directions from wherever you are and map out a new route. Since the voice keeps you informed, you don't have to look at it, but it is easy to see with a quick glance how far you are from the next turn. I can't tell you how stressful it used to be getting trapped in traffic, scared to stray from the directions, knowing I would get hopelessly lost. TomTom has eased all of that stress. I can now exit anywhere and I'm never lost. For anyone who doesn't naturally have one an 'internal direction beacon' I strongly recommend a TomTom - much cheaper than dealing with the harmful effects of that constant stress on your body.

I'm buying one for ksl! She's the one who showed me the mapquest/sharpie system - I think she's ready for an upgrade : )

Weekend plans: fishing, pouring concrete for a dock, then chain-sawing two trees 'up north' and planting cedars. I am part of the work crew doing these projects and I get the impression I will be the only female. I have no interest in pouring concrete, but apparently there is a job involving hip waders that might be mine. I'll let you know how all of this goes. Hip Waders! excellent.

Upcoming: Next week I will be hosting a Go Green party promoting Shaklee Get Clean products. No, this is not my new job - I'm doing it to help reduce waste and dumping toxins into the environment. Yes, I realize that industry is responsible for the majority of the problem, but if we start at home the effects will ripple out. Shaklee cleaners work - I've tried many and wasted a lot of money so I am saving others the same trouble. And the packaging has puppies and butterflies on it - always a bonus :)
Don't trust me? Here's Oprah raving about Shaklee

Monday, July 02, 2007

Mid-point 2007

Back from the race - feeling a little ragged. Race went well except for the start of the kayak leg - had some trouble getting into my kayak. Let's just leave it at that.

Have to work today - feeling sorry for myself. Bought Divisadero and stated reading it. Don't love it yet, but it's going fast and keeping me entertained. No quotation marks in the text, yet I can tell what's being said. how odd. Wish I could spend the day on the back porch reading...

Mid-year analysis: need to spend more time on the book, focus on stretching to avoid further pain/injury while working out. otherwise, it's all good : )

Friday, June 29, 2007

Triathlon training

Remember the duathlon I WON in my age division last year? That race is happening again this Sunday. I will be on a relay team doing the running and kayaking, and my teammate D will bike. E will be doing the complete triathlon for the first time: run, bike, kayak.

Here's how we've been training:

K: took kayak out of storage, rinsed off dirt, went paddling once while somewhat hungover after a party. Spent 2 hours shopping for a new paddle which E said was the same as my old paddle. E returned it and bought me a different paddle. Will be racing with an untested paddle.
Increased my runs from 0x/week to 2x/week, but my knee still blows out if I increase my pace from a shuffle.
Should be interesting.

E:
Also went paddling once while slightly hung over after a party. Decided his bike needed to be red, not grey. Disassembled the entire bike less than one week before the race. Ran out of a discontinued 'cherry red pearl' paint which required 3 Canadian Tire store inventories to replenish. Bike is now painted red and back together (after several late nights in the shed) and needs a final road testing.

As you can see, we're taking this very seriously. E is actually a little freaked out about competing in the triathlon - he doesn't do well when confronted with the possibility of being at the back of the pack. I'm sure the red bike will help.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Karen, Lorelai and Rory WIN!

Thank you everyone who contributed to the Take Down Eric fund.
He went through all the stages when I started pulling ahead:
disbelief - wait a minute - how did you raise over $200 in one day?
anger - hey, you scammed my e-mail list, and my friends and co-workers are sponsoring the Gilmore fest!
acceptance - ok, ok , it's for a good cause

I ended up raising $937 and E raised just over $700
The team raised over $10,000 and it looks like the event will reach its goal of $365,000.


As for my individual race time, well, let's just say I'll need to find another 10K to hit my target. Between not training due to quad/knee issues and general poison ivy misery, I wasn't in the best 10K shape. It was also stinking hot that morning. I'm looking for another race to do at the end of August.

Friday, June 15, 2007

GILMORE FANS UNITE!


I'm in the final push to win our bet: If I raise more funds, then Eric has to watch a Gilmore Girls marathon. If he wins, then I have to do an orienteering race this fall.

Let's go Gilmore!

Right now, I've raised $827, and he has $690, but there's still one more day and anything can happen. Let's make sure the Giilmore Girls win. I know Lorelai and Rory wouldn't be caught dead running, but I'm sure they'd prefer the idea of spending a day slacking on the couch over bumbling around lost in the woods!

This Saturday I will be participating in the 25th annual Step Up for
the Children with Standard Life 10 K run to benefit the Foundation for
Research into Children's Diseases. It's a wonderful cause which
supports four pediatric research centres: Centre hospitalier
universitaire Sainte-Justine, The Montreal Children's Hospital, Centre
hospitalier universitaire de Québec and Centre hospitalier universitaire
de Sherbrooke.


Please sponsor me by clicking here.
Secure online donations can be made with a credit card and an electronic
tax receipt will be sent via email within minutes.

In celebration of our community's children and their families, thank you
in advance for your generous support - together we can make a
difference, one step at a time.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Poison Ivy : (

GRRR.

Itchy oozing rashes on both of my wrists just below where my gardening gloves were. This is the first time I can remember having poison ivy or oak or whatever and it's not fun. I have to stay hepped up on Benadryl or else all I can think about is the itchiness. We must have PI somewhere in the yard - I did a lot of clearing around the edges of the fence and under trees. Thankfully I was wearing gardening gloves. I can't even imagine what this would be like if I was sans gloves.

Friday, May 25, 2007

High-functioning Manic Depressive?

In the immortal words of Jimi Hendrix,
"Manic depression is touching my soul
I know what I want but I just dont know
How to, go about gettin it"

Is there such a thing as being a high-functioning manic depressive? I either seem to have zero energy to the point where watering flowers requires all the focus I can muster to brimming with enthusiasm and feeling like I won't have enough time to accomplish everything I want to do.

E says it's just allergies, and being outside is putting me to sleep. Maybe it's the poppy I planted.

What have I been up to? Lots of freelance work - I increased my output for May to 150% to help pay my tax bill and car repair bill from April. I am almost back in the black - at least close enough that I can relax.

Reading: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I love this book. I NEVER describe books as well-written - to me that is usually code for boring and overly descriptive, but this book is beautifully written. It weaves opera with kidnapping and explores a cast of non-cliche characters so well, I'm sure they all exist. I almost finished it last night, but decided to save the last bit for today.

Recently bookmarked: Pick the Brain. Thanks to Ed for this one. Interesting explorations on self-education, motivation and decision-making. Here's a sample of PTB philosophy on writing something worth reading:
"Absorb fresh ideas and sublime style by reading old books, written by masters of language. Then take these ideas and pretend you invented them. You’ll be hailed as a prophet."
The movie industry does that constantly.

Must take my manic self outside for a run before it hits 31 (C) today. Thats 88 (F) for those south of the border.

On my to-do list: upload photos to flicr. Watch this space for poppy blooms, my Dad on the climbing wall and more....

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Maximum Distraction

My parents came to visit last weekend, so my Dad finally met the infamous E. They went to visit battlefield sites where the Americans TRIED to invade Canada while Mom and I focused on gardening shows and the Ottawa Tulip Festival. Very Mars/Venus. The visit was fun, but I'm beat now. I've only been running once in the last 10 days, and E is lording it over me that he is ahead in fund-raising. I still have a few sources to hit, so I'm hoping I can still out-manoeuvre him.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Help me beat E!



In June I will be participating in the 'Step Up for the Children' 10K run fund-raiser for the Foundation for Research into Children's Diseases. E is the team captain, so my participation is mandatory. As you know, E is not human, and will run the race in some ridiculously fast time which I have no chance of beating. He will also send one lame e-mail the day before the race and somehow magically manage to raise tons of money. Sometimes he can be really irritating.
Please help me out-fund-raise him!

If you're inclined to give donations to worthy causes, this is a good one and I am actively (so to speak) requesting donations. To sponsor me, click here. Tax receipts are provided via e-mail.

My reason for doing this isn't just to beat E. One of my three main goals for this year is to get into 10K shape which for me means being able to roll out of bed and run a 10K race in less than 60 minutes on a whim. That isn't a fast pace, but it does represent a good level of fitness for me.

I already did one 10K in March and finished in 1:04:31. I've increased my training and dropped a few lbs so I'm hoping I can break 1:00 in the next race in June. Last year I ran it in 1:06:26. It's a fun race for a good cause, and an opportunity to squish E like a bug. Help me!

Update:
Thanks Dorse and Dodi! I'm well on my way to crushing E under my strappy sandals : )

I think if E loses he should have to spend a weekend slacking, watching a movie/tv series marathon of my choice.

If I lose, well, it will just be sad.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Can't complain, but...

I will anyway. It's all good, just insanely busy. I have enough freelance work either billed or 'in the pipeline' to pay for car repairs and the extra tax I wasn't counting on owing, so that's good, but it's been hours and hours of work for many clients.

AND it's finally gorgeous out!! So I want to be outside fighting dandelions and planting. Since I will be out of my financial hole as soon as payments catch up with my invoices, I will be able to do some planting this year. I had E draw a proper sketch with specs so I can plant at will.

The book, ah yes the book. Weeellll..... sadly it has taken a back burner. Since it doesn't pay the bills I can't write chapters instead of completing work that pays. I know the book needs to be prioritized... let me get my car back and I'll take it from there.

Being a writer interests me, being a starving artist does not.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Veg reward points

One of the fun things about visiting ksl & the gang is seeing how the kids are being taught life skills, a la "Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarden" - the types of things we often forget as adults.

Ksl's newest scheme in development was the 'points system' for everyone in the family - you earn points for things like doing homework, cleaning up, etc, then need to spend points for privileges like tv. Trash tv costs more points than pbs-type tv.

I like that system, and was talking to E about implementing it here - I'd like it because it would allow me to be guilt-free when I've officially 'earned' the right to veg and watch Gilmore Girls season 2 for the 4th time. Unfortunately E is 'Johnny Project', and for him, vegging is a punishment, so his points system will have to be more of a trucker's log - after he's racked up so many project points, he must take a mandatory veg break.

I still have to work out the details of the system, but I'm confident it will either work swimmingly or I'll be begging E to trade points with me so I can veg more.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Blame it on biorhythyms

Whenever everything I touch seems to go wrong, I like to check my biorhythms. I know it's kind of like praying to pagan gods during an eclipse, but for whatever reason, believing that there is something controlling this mess is comforting.
According to my chart for today, it's a miracle I even got out of bed. My Intellectual, Emotional, and Wisdom states are all in the crapper right now.

Light examples of my current state: could not speak properly yesterday. Ordered a 'whole wheat tomato' instead of a 'whole wheat bagel' at Tim Hortons yesterday, and it took a while to clear up the confusion

More serious example: I think the accountant I used to prepare my taxes and E's taxes was incompetent. Still sorting this mess out.

I am trying to look for the silver lining, but I just want to curl up under a cozy duvet and not think about it.

Oh, and I broke E's snappy labelmaker (the nice Brother P-Touch kind, not the cheap 70's kind) when I was trying to do filing in my office.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Home again

When I found out Friday that my car wouldn't be ready again(!) and I'd be waiting until at least today, maybe longer, I sunk into a pit of despair. Gran Dorse kept trying to entice me off the ledge:

GD: "It's sunny and warm - you can go running outside!"
me: "don't want to"

GD: " I made dark chocolate brownies"
me: " grrr"

GD: "I can see if we have enough frequent flyer points for E to visit for the weekend"
me: "ok"

As it turned out, E was too busy and important to fly out Saturday even if GD did have enough points, so she lent me her snappy red vehicle and I made it back. GD & Boba will drive the friggin' Civic back if they ever manage to track down all the unique gaskets, sprockets and hoozits required to make a Honda run.

While it has been lovely to see E, it has been less-than-lovely to deal with 3 weeks of neglected misc - specifically taxes. Bad news from my accountant - I owe more than he estimated. great.

So I am digging change out of GD's car cushions hoping to scrape together enough to keep myself out of debtor's prison.

On the plus side, my tulips are starting to sprout : )

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Am I a Mean Boss or an Understanding Boss?

Ok, so my car engine blew up - could happen to anyone. But gone for 2 weeks!! Isn't that a bit much? Yes, yes, I'm working over the Internet, but I'm only doing jobs I'd already committed to - I am not drumming up new work, following up on outstanding invoices or doing any marketing/promotion.

I am thrashing back and forth between
understanding boss: 'it's a stressful situation and you should cut yourself some slack'
to
mean boss: 'get on with it and quit whining - you're lucky you have the kind of job that allows you to be gone so long - take advantage and get as much done as possible.'

On the plus side, I'm in a good workout groove - The local Y here is excellent - I've been swimming twice and spinning twice. The instructor for this morning's spinning class was, let's say 'nearing retirement age', and she kicked my a**!! That was humbling. The Pilates class led by a soft-spoken granola girl left me feeling like I'd been punched in the stomach for an hour. Apparently I NEED these workouts.

I've been wearing the same pair of jeans over and over, and finally today I found another pair for $7.50 on the red dot clearance rack at Peebles. If your engine ever blows up and you've eaten a bunch of pizza and frosted cookies and you don't want to buy any nice pants at your current weight, but you need another pair of pants until you can get home, I recommend Peebles.

BTW I have stopped eating pizza and frosted cookies. I might still be snacking on chocolate easter eggs and Hershey's truffle kisses, but they're small and slow me down with all the unwrapping.

'it's ok, you'll get back on track when you're home'

'quit making excuses, a**clown. life is tough. deal with it.'

I'm coming unglued. I miss E.

Monday, April 09, 2007

I spent Easter discussing religion in McDonalds

Sunday, 4 p.m.

Me: “Is it fixable?”

Mechanic: “How much do you like your car?”

Not good.


Earlier Sunday, approx. 2:15 p.m.

As I pop in disc 5 of an audio book that I’m not crazy about, but is keeping me occupied on my drive from Illinois to Ohio, I hear rattling. I turn off the CD and hear louder rattling. I try to notice what is causing it – no engine lights are on, temperature is ok. Pressing the gas pedal makes it worse but even with my foot off the gas, the noise isn’t good.

I calm my rising panic by telling myself that sometimes really bad noises are more noise than trouble. Unfortunately my calm is short-lived when something goes POP!, the oil light and battery light go on, smoke pours out from under the car, and I’m forced to roll over to the shoulder. On the Interstate. Great.

I pull out my cell phone, get my CAA card and put my ‘in case of emergency’ plan to work. While I wait to get a signal and try to not think about how much ‘roaming’ is going to cost me, some guy turns up out of nowhere. He’s pointing to my engine. Does he think I don’t know my car has broken down or is he Ted Bundy junior? Where did he come from anyway? I don’t see a car anywhere nearby. From the rattle and smoke, I doubt that he can help. I motion to my cell phone and wave my CAA card. He mouths “It’s on fire,” and points to my engine.

I don’t think Bundy ever used the car on fire excuse so I take my chances and get out of my car. I say “It’s on fire?"

He tells me he saw fire under my car, but now it appears to be out.

I’m suspicious of this good Samaritan (too many after-school specials and that creepy Kurt Russel Breakdown movie) but I notice that I’ve got a good six inches and ten pound on this guy, so I try to look as surly as possible and hope he doesn’t see me as a victim. Just when I finally connect to AAA, two state troopers pull up.

Thank you, truck drivers.

The troopers send the ‘concerned citizen’ on his way, help me explain to AAA where exactly I am – Howe Indiana at the mile 115 marker - and then let me warm up in a cruiser, but not with my purse – that had to go in the trunk in case I had a gun.

4:15 pm

Since my car will obviously not be fixed anytime soon, if ever, I need a plan b.

Plan b is to have my Dad pick me up somewhere recognizable, easy to find, where I can wait in comfort and safety.

McDonalds.

There is ALWAYS a McDonalds nearby, and of course, there is one just off the Interstate where we can easily direct my dad and where I can sit safely to wait.

I admit to being all over the anti-McDonald’s bandwagon – I watched SuperSize me in horror and straightened up in my upright position on my sky-high horse.

“I don’t eat at McDonalds” I’d proudly state when the buzz from the movie first came out.

Right now I am overjoyed to be eating in McDonalds. Compared to sitting underdressed (didn’t expect it to SNOW on Easter!) in my non-functioning car on the side of the highway, a well-lit, warm, safe McDonalds is nirvana. The excellent coffee is a bonus.

I luck out at this particular McDonalds in LaGrange Indiana – the back room with a big flat screen TV makes me feel less lost, alone and stranded. The world news helps keep my looming carless state in perspective.

7:30

I move to the front to watch for my Dad, who is supposed to be there any minute to pick me up.

7:31

Grizzled psycho: “THEY say the world is billions of years old but I don't believe it. Evolution – pshaw. Who do they think created it all?”
Apparently the question is directed at me. I've never actually seen anyone who didn't believe in evolution in person before. He really fits the cliche of a nutcase, but I don't want to give up my Dad-watching vantage point or lug my 3 bags around again, so I stay put and decide to character-study a living, breathing creationist lunatic.

15 minutes later, his rants about gays, lesbians, sinners and non-believers is wearing thin. He's SUCH a cliche that he's completely useless to me character-wise – fraying collar on a flannel shirt, stooped shoulders, unshaven, wild-eyed, ranting nonsense. Totally useless – nothing unique or interesting about him, just a run-of the mill nutbar.

Dad finally shows up, looks at the religious wacko, looks at me, chuckes and says, “I have to go to the bathroom” and walks away LEAVING ME WITH THE NUTBAR!

Thanks a lot.

I spend another eternity learning about how I can get my own subscription to 'The Daily Bread' when Dad finally reappears and we go to the car.

What a day.

Monday

The broken-down car saga continues. It looks like I'll be here for the rest of the week at least trying to either get it fixed (engines aren't cheap) or scrapping it and getting a ride back.

I miss E.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Zombie Romance

Already done:

Source: IMDB :From the land that spawned probably the most zombie films to this date, ranging in quality from excellent to exremely dull, comes one film that rises above nearly all the rest. DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE (aka CEMETERY MAN) is that film, and if you haven't seen it yet, you are seriously missing out. The story is about lonely cemetery attendant Francesco (Rupert Everett (!?) in one of his very early roles)and his mute, Igor-like assistant Gnaghi. Every seven days, the dead rise from their graves (for no real apparent reason...) and it is Francesco and Gnaghi's job to dispatch them. The 2 live a pretty solitary existence until a mysterious woman comes along and into Francesco's life. Cut to the chase- Francesco and the woman have sex on her newly buried husband's grave, and when he returns from the dead, everything goes haywire from there...

DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE is several films rolled into one...zombie gore film, dark comedy, romance story - similar in some ways to perhaps DEADALIVE (not nearly as silly or gory), but this is a hard film to make a comparison on. It really is it's own unique experience and should definitely be viewed by anyone into horror/zombie films. Again, one of my all-time zombie favorites...Highly Recommended 9/10

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Small smile today

It sounds silly, but I get a thrill when I receive an e-mail from someone who wants me to 'professionally rewrite' their text. Even better when I dig into the details, Google their credentials, and discover that it's a genuine, interesting project.

This is what it's all about.

: )

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Finite vs Infinite

I seem to be struggling with the concept that there really only are so many hours in the day, and only so many hours in which a person can do the same thing. I ended up on writing strike Saturday, opting to clean the fish tank for 3 hours. The tank is depressing and dank when dirty, and truly beautiful and a pleasure to look at when it's clean and sparkling.

Then we had the winner of the Alex contest over for dinner. E and I ended up drinking quite a bit of Rioja and ice wine and staying up too late considering we were doing a 10K race Sunday morning. DOH. The race went well, especially considering the alcohol loading and sleep deprivation the night before. E finished in 44 min, I finished in 1h04, which is faster than my 10K time at the end of last year - bodes well for breaking the 1h barrier this year.

In writing news, I'm a bit overextended right now, and mildly frazzled. Compound that with trying desperately to find tax deductions for '06, preparing for this weekend's novel writing conference and trying to find time to visit ksl and the gang, and I feel like I need 3 of me to keep going. I'm sure it will all magically work itself out.

right?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Don't Tell my Visor I'm Blogging

Of all the things I expected to struggle with in my freelancing career, time management wasn't one of them. I have ALWAYS been able to get more done than was expected of me at any job, and I figured I'd keep using the same system to get things done in my home office.

No can do.

No, I do not sleep in or watch soaps. I am showered and at my desk by 8 a.m. every morning. The only time I ever watched t.v. during the day was after I had root canal. I am putting in the hours, but the blocks of time are disappearing and I'm not 100% happy with the net results. I do run 'home' errands during the day: grocery shopping, laundry, post office, etc. and I work out during the day about twice per week. I do this because it takes up much less time during the day and is overall more efficient. Still, I need to be aware of those hours and plan for those hours.

The plan was to do freelance work when that work was available and to do book work when there was no freelance work available. Excellent plan, except for the fact that I PANIC if I go for a week without anyone calling me. I can't relax and take advantage of the downtime to work on my book. Instead, I scramble making phone calls, working on promotional post cards, putting in 'face time' at various client offices. Invariably the following week I'll be inundated with calls, but still the next time famine hits I re-panic.

Time for some serious time management. One of the members of a networking group I belong to (see panic above) is a professional organizer. He came in to my home office and helped me set it up so I can function more efficiently. He is pro-Covey, but he didn't insist on that system - he allowed me to dust off the Handspring Visor my mother (way more technologically advanced than I am!) gave me years ago and start using it to plan my time according to my goals. In the first week of following his system I managed to carve out 5 hours of book time. I slept better, felt less anxiety and was 100% happier about my day. This week I fell off the wagon a little - I kept moving my 'book' time. Still, I have hope for this process. Seeing my time blocks spelled out is making a huge difference. If I want to blog more often, I need to schedule some time to do it. Simple as that.

Having the entire day available to self-manage in order to meet monetary and personal goals is an incredible opportunity, but also an incredible responsibility. There is no corporation to blame for wasting your time. If my time gets wasted, the spotlight of blame goes on me and I don't like it.

Uh-oh - I am 12 minutes into my next time block. Maybe I should rig the Visor to a stun gun and shock myself every time I'm working on the wrong thing...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Confessions of a Bookaholic

I waited in line from 6:30 p.m. until 8:15 p.m. last night so that Sophie Kinsella could sign my copies of Can You Keep a Secret? and Undomestic Goddess. Chapters was pushing for sales of Shopaholic & Baby, but I stopped reading Shopaholic after the &Sister book.

Since the lineup was so insane, SK didn't have time to do any kind of talk, which was a bit disappointing. I think I would have rather heard her say something than get my books signed. Standing in line wasn't all bad, though. Chick lit fans central! The consensus was that the Shopaholic & Sister book was an aberration - no one is sure what she was thinking with that one.

For me the whole experience was motivating -- like meeting someone who just climbed Everest when your goal is to climb Everest. Not sure it's necessary to have that person sign your crmpons though...

Where was E during all of this? Chatting about chick lit while waiting in line of course.
Or he was taking a martial arts class from Peter the florist/martial arts instructor. Leave it to E to find a florist who also sells martial arts weapons and gives classes. Peter has the whole relationship covered: the early days - flowers galore, then post-living together when both people start stockpiling weapons he really makes a profit.

So I am inspired and motivated from meeting the Shopaholic creator. She actually seemed human - no special writer headgear or wiring. I need to get a picture of the event and PhotoShop my head on her body sitting next to a table of books. I also need to not lounge around reading Undomestic Goddess, but focus on writing my friggin book. Hopefully Sophie Kinsella will soon be putting off writing Shopaholic on Vacation because she's lounging around reading my book.

: )

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Go Alex!

Here he is. Hopefully he is training other squirrels to do the same.

Exploiting E

He has no problem with it. In fact, he almost seemed to have fun with it.

Unfortunately, the E/Zombie fans are not really my target chick lit women's fiction audience. Unless... A zombie romance? Paranormal romance is huge right now, but vampires are on the verge of being overdone. Hmm zombie romance... zombie romance... all I can come up with is a scenario where all the guys turn into zombies and the chicks don't even notice. Not enough there for a plot. Must work on it.

I like Mac's rant on the "powerful woman" myth. I didn't realize the extent of the Ripley effect until I read this:

"A little bit of history for you: The "powerful woman" myth was born in pop culture in 1986, in the persona of Ellen Ripley. I make that 21 years. Our species has stood in it's present form for roughly 35,000 years. (NOT counting Neanderthal, and Cro Magnon before that) So I make this out to be .06% of the time. For the remaining 99.94% of our existence, men have been taking care of business just fine.

Mysteriously, up until the night before "Aliens" made it's theatrical debut in 1986 women still seemed to trip and fall while fleeing monsters, or zombies. However, the next morning, the myth of the strong female character was born, and they were able singly-handedly defeat a colony of horrible aliens, while men cowered, and whimpered in corners. (Hey, what's that whirring sound? Sounds like...Charles Darwin, spinning in his grave!)

Naw, dude... Chicks don't think about how to defend the homestead against zombies. They're still too busy gathering."

For the record, I receive TONS of zombie-related e-mail. There must be a reason... zombie romance... zombie romance....

Friday, March 02, 2007

Fecalmatter wins!

Winning entry:
Squirrels are like water, they'll take the path of least resistance. I would have created a corridor of obstacles leading to the nearest exit to the outdoors, opened the outside door, then the fireplace door.

Mac almost won, which is scary, considering his psychotic rant about Alex causing a nuclear holocaust.

Plan A was for E to throw a pillowcase over Alex, grab him and chuck him out the front door. When E opened the fireplace door, Alex jumped up onto an interior ledge in the fireplace, forcing us to move on to plan B.

Plan B (which was the backup plan in case plan A went haywire): set up barricades using old political posters on corrugated cardboard (good to know they have some use), making a path straight from the fireplace to the front door.

So, E got behind the barricade, opened the fireplace door and used a fireplace poker to 'encourage' Alex to get off the ledge and out of the fireplace.



This is when Plan B almost went to plan C - Mayhem:
Alex ran out of the fireplace and jumped on top of the fireplace poker stand, preparing to leap up on to the mantle or on my head. Luckily, E grabbed a long box of matches from the mantle and used it to 'encourage' Alex to jump off the poker stand, into the barricaded hallway and out the door. Alex bolted outside and so far hasn't caused nuclear meltdown, but might have been run over by a car within minutes.

I prefer to think that I saw him hopping along the back fence, happily looking for birdseed in the feeder.

Thanks to everyone for participating.

Fecalmatter, I'll be contacting you to arrange a time to award you your prize.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Guns, grenades or peanut butter?


Alex is gone. Read the post "Alex the Squirrel" below for the story behind the squirrel in the fireplace.


E 'handled' the situation. Note that E has access to a lot of weapons and ammo and was looking for a way to stay entertained while home on a sick day, so any of the scenarios shown below is within the realm of possibility.

What happened to Alex?












Enter your guess in the Mercenary or Merciful Contest by posting a comment. Tell whether you think Alex was killed or set free, and then explain how you think it was accomplished. The actual scenario may or may not be depicted in the photos above. If you enter the actual answer, you'll win! The actual prize is TBD, but your real reward will be glory and recognition. Contest closes 9:00 a.m. on Friday, March 2, 2007.
In case of a tie, the winner will be chosen from a random draw of the correct entries. If there are no correct entries, the winner will be chosen by a random draw from the correct entries for the "killed" or "set free" portion of the answer.
Karen, Alex, and E are not eligible to participate in the contest.

Alex the Squirrel


Walking through the living room this morning, I glanced at the fireplace and saw two eyes looking back at me. Through some navigational error, excess of curiousity or lack of coordination, a squirrel managed to land in the fireplace and survive. Other than a sooty nose, the squirrel seems to be ok.

Me: "There's a squirrel in the fireplace"
E: (Eyes not open/ still sleeping) "Light a fire under it."
Me: "Can't we somehow get it outside alive?"
E: "Work on that plan while I get more sleep"
update/clarification: E is struck down with a plague-like cold and is home trying (unsuccessfully) to rest. He is normally not snoozing late on Friday morning.

Later, when E is more rested, and we're sitting on the couch looking at Alex (In lieu of coming up with a workable plan, I named the squirrel hoping to personalize him/her, increasing his/her odds of survival)
E: "It's like a mammal aquarium"
Me: Noting that Alex is crammed in a corner, not moving "It's a boring mammal aquarium"
E: "Yah. We need to add hornets or something"

Later, after I've convinced myself he was kidding
Me: "So what's your plan, seriously?"
E: "Smoke bomb"
Me: "Isn't there any way to not kill Alex?"
E: "I could put on two layers of fleece and gloves and try to grab it - depends how skittish it is. Knock on the fireplace door to see if it runs around"
Me: (Sad that E is referring to Alex as 'it', but happy that he didn't suggest that I put on 2 layers of fleece and gloves) --after jiggling the fireplace door latch--"Alex is just sitting there blinking."

E:"It can't be very smart - it probably wouldn't even survive outside. Too bad it didn't go down the other way. It would have been incinerated"
Me: "Maybe Alex is VERY smart, but Alex's friends said to go on the roof and Alex isn't coordinated and Alex slipped."
E - sighing.
Me - sighing.

Alex's fate is still unknown, but I'm afraid if I leave E down there too long unsupervised, Alex will 'disappear'

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I prefer my romance unscheduled, thank you very much

Yes, yes, E and I celebrated Valentine's Day - romantic dinner for two, lovely bottle of wine, and the romantic movie Quick Change (ok, not romantic, but funny). But honestly, this is a busy week, and VDay didn't exactly fall at an ideal time. There have been other evenings when we've had much more time to linger over dinner, chatting and letting the evening pass by.

I was more touched by what E did the day before VDay. I've been whining and complaining about diet and exercise for pretty much all of February. This is normal for this tme of year, but as my jeans get tighter and I still can't get motivated to stop snacking and work out more, I get increasingly crabby and E gets to listen to it. Instead of telling me to snap out of it and get on with the eat better/exercise more program that we all know works, he went out of his way to go to the bookstore to pick up two women's fitness magazines for me. He pointed out specific articles he thought I would like and let me curl up to read them. The fact that he listens and is supportive of whatever it is I'm trying to do means much more to me than a handful of overpriced dead roses on a manufactured romance day.

I think we'll have time for a nice, long, no-rush dinner sometime in March...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

HUMOR: Adapting to change

Watch Introducing the Book on YouTube


Also funny: March of the Librarians

Productivity: low
At least I'm laughing, not whining

No disgruntled poets, please!

Tonight I am going to meet a group of 'Montreal Writers.' I found this group via meetups.com in my never-ending quest to find critique partners who are not my friends or family. We'll see how this goes. My last foray into critique groups resulted in me quitting due to the less-than-useful suggestions from the over-abundance of self-proclaimed unappreciated, misunderstood poets in the group.

So far, tonight's group has two strikes against it:
one - the host is charging $10 per person. For what? Wine and hors d'oevres. Great. Apparently we need to be liquored up to read each other's work
two - writers tend to not be particularly social, which means we'll all stand around feeling uncomfortable wishing we were at home, alone, reading.

However, I'm going. I will do my best to conjure up 'outgoing Karen' and see how it goes. I promise to not rip the head off the first disgruntled poet who sneers at my commercial women's fiction, but if there is more than one in the group I won't be held responsible for my actions.

Coming soon: winter camping 07 pictures. I need to finish some freelance work before monkeying around with flickr but I should have time tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pandalerium, indeed

Now we get to name the pandas??!!!
I adore #12,

but #13 is pretty funny showing his booty to the camera.


Must think of panda names, panda names...

BTW getting tons of work done on my book. heh heh

Monday, January 29, 2007

Panda Therapy

I was feeling anxious about making a tough decision when I saw photos of the baby pandas. They're so freaking cute I felt cheered up immediately.

Tough decision? Putting book #1 aside to focus on book #2. I've been going around about this decision for months. It's difficult to be sure that I'm not just stopping because I'm tired of book #1 in the final stages. No, I'm sure that's not it - I gave it a nice long break and even had a fresh angle that would have improved some trouble spots. I honestly think it might just be my 'learning' book. It's painful to not do anything with it but file it away, but I believe my time will be better spent moving book #2 forward. Book #2 has a fresher angle, is better organized and tighter (thanks to me learning the hard way) and I think it has a better chance of hitting the mark I'm aiming for and being something I'm proud to have my name on instead of hiding behind Chiete Nickerson.

So there it is. Next deadline: March 30 - conference in MA and a chance to pitch the book to an agent. Time to get cracking.

Oh, and I also need to lose 15 lbs and get in shape to run a 1/2 marathon by the end of April.

Feeling anxious, must go look at pandas,... ahhhhhh. : )

Friday, January 26, 2007

As bad as it looks


See more Mt-Washington photos in my flickr set. Don't worry - there are only 10 this time! I was too cold and miserable to snap lots of photos.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

On the plus side, I didn't need my avalanche kit

Mt. Washington was insanely cold, even for Mt. Washington: -70 with wind chill. The wind was 100 mph with 135 mph gusts. I made it as far as Harvard Cabin, which involved slugging uphill for 1 1/2 hours wearing a 5 lb boot on each foot plus layers of high-tech winter gear. I had a 37 lb backpack on for about 100 ft until E's friend "Speedy" took it to help pick up our pace a little. It was still pretty miserable. Even when we got to the cabin to stop, I had been working so hard I started sweating, which was BAD because then I was wet and then I got cold and started shivering. It took me another hour sitting in front of the fire in the cabin with 2 layers of down coats on to get warm. Brutal.
So, all was not well. E and his friend went climbing further and picked me up on their way back. I made it back down and felt better after the Chinese buffet and a couple of margaritas.
Sunday we set out to go climbing again, but I bailed at the last minute and spent the day reading "Dating Dead Men." Coincidentally, E is being exceptionally nice to me.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Graphic and disturbing? Sounds like a good read

Yesterday was Anne Bronte's birthday. I only discovered this because today, Fits told me about listening to the daily trivia and poem on Writer's Almanac.

From yesterday's Writer's Almanac:

"It's the birthday of Anne Brontë, (books by this author) born in Yorkshire (1820). Anne Brontë has been remembered primarily as the third Brontë sister. She was meek and more religious-minded than Charlotte or Emily, and little is known about her life compared to the lives of her sisters. But she was a writer, just as they were. Her first novel was Agnes Grey (1847), based on her experience as a governess. It didn't get much attention, but her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848), was an immediate success. The heroine, Helen Huntingdon, leaves her husband to protect their young son from his influence. She supports herself and her son by painting while living in hiding. In doing so, she violates social conventions and English law. At the time, a married woman had no independent legal existence apart from her husband.

In the second printing of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë responded to critics who said her portrayal of the husband was graphic and disturbing. She wrote, "Is it better to reveal the snares and pitfalls of life to the young and thoughtless traveller, or to cover them with branches and flowers? O Reader! if there were less of this delicate concealment of facts — this whispering "Peace, peace," when there is no peace, there would be less of sin and misery to the young of both sexes who are left to wring their bitter knowledge from experience."


Why haven't I read this book yet?


I am working on my synopsis and mustering the courage to boldly go where E insists we go ice climbing this weekend: Mount Washington. Hopefully between his ability and my ineptness we will make it to the top. O Reader! wish me luck.

me: "when I called the equipment rental guy for my viper axes and avalanche kit (!) he asked where we were going, and when I told him he said 'WHOA!'"
E: "he's just jealous"

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Popularity Contest

From the NYT Book section : a contest for an as-yet unpublished book that will be voted on over the Internet. Winner gets published. Seems a little desperate. Talk about a long shot. Hmm, maybe I'll give it a second look....

Current book status: flailing between fixing up and sending out book #1 or scrapping book #1 and focusing on book #2. Every time I decide to just fix #1 up so I can move on, I feel overwhelmed. Today is the day - do or die. Note that I am up at 5 a.m. for some unknown reason.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Tart by Jody Gehrman

Just finished reading Tart by Jody Gehrman. If you like chick lit, I recommend it. The main character is quirky and the writing is quick and funny. There are a couple of predictable pieces you need to ignore: the hot motorcycle-riding surfer guy and the classic misunderstanding, but otherwise, it's and original, light, fun read.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Sounds good to me

I didn't set any specific 2007 resolutions because I have a lot going on and I'm extremely happy with my life, so I'd like to keep moving forward with the freelancing, book writing, and increased sports and leisure. Last year had enough change and upheaval for me.

I asked E what his resolutions are. He told me without missing a beat:
"Laugh more and eat more ice cream."

Can't beat that.

: )

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Top chick lit books

I still have a hard time describing 'chick lit' to people who ask. I do not want to ditch the CL tag and use 'women's fiction' because to me, 'women's fiction' is a depressing tale of death, abuse and woe. Prove me wrong by recommending something that breaks the mold!

Trashionista listed their top 10 chick lit, and I haven't even read everything on the list. Of the ones I have read, I didn't love them all...

10-Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell
Never read it, but loved the TV show. It's on my TBR list.

9-Thirtynothing by Lisa Jewell
Never read it, never heard of it.

8-The Nanny Diariesby Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin

I'm not into the whole mom-lit thing, so I'm not sure this would be for me. Not on my TBR pile.

7-The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

Also never read this one - I'm beginning to wonder if I know ANYTHING about chick lit. I did enjoy the movie.

6-High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Finally something I've read. Love Nick Hornby, but is this chick lit?


5-Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

I've only read 2 Jennifer Crusie books: Bet Me and ummm, something else. Neither are on my favorites list, but "Don't Look Down" is on my TBR pile.

4-In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

The Only J. Weiner book I've read is Good In Bed. It was extremely hyped by the time I read it and I didn't love it. sorry.

3-The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

I thought the first book was called Confessions of a Shopaholic--? I did read it and enjoy it, but I preferred "Can You keep a Secret" by Sophie Kinsella.

2 Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes

Finally, one I agree with. Yes!

1-Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

I agree - v. v. funny. Definitely my #1

So - what would I add to my 'best chick lit' list?
The Girlfriend Curse and the Accidental Virgin by Valerie Frankel
Tales of A Drama Queen, Hand Me Down and True Lies of a Drama Queen by Lee Nichols
I also liked Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.