Monday, December 15, 2008

Favorite Things

I put up my first Christmas tree in Parrot Island! This is the first December we're here more than we're gone. For decor, E had a giant Clark Griswold-esque ball of lights, a couple of M&M characters that attach to the lights and glow, and one box of white ornaments. Hmmm, we may need to supplement our selection. I bought a couple of the JUMBO ornaments that seem to be 'in' for 2008, but I can't bring myself to buy pastel tree ornaments - what's up with the Martha Stewart Easter Color Scheme?

We also have an odd selection of holiday music: the complete John Denver & the Muppets, the Barenaked Ladies, plus a couple of AC/DC tunes like Mistress for Christmas, and AC/DC's own very special version of "My Favorite Things" - that's a must-hear if you don't have it, but you might not want to play it in front of kids old enough to repeat lyrics.

My Favorite Things include watching A Charlie Brown Christmas (uncut, no commercials) the creepy Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol, Bad Santa, Sound of Music, and Christmas Story.

If anyone has a good recipe for shortbread that involves a base layer, jam, and then a top part that allows the jam to show through, please send it to me - apparently it's one of E's favorite things.

Has everyone decked their halls?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Everything will be ok

I wish I were a better writer. If I were then I could explain the churning mix of emotions I've been experiencing over the past weeks. Unfortunately, I can't. Plus, it wouldn't be right to focus on pain and sorrow when I should be remembering the times we laughed and enjoyed life:
- the time she dug up a huge flower bed, and helped me shop for and plant perennials in the front yard.
- the time she told me, "You know you don't have to do everything he says" (meaning E)
- the time she found a pair of my lacy undies somewhere in the house and looped them over the stair post
- the time we cracked into the liquor cabinet to pull out the fancy liquors after a nice dinner together. We all had way more that we intended because we had to keep sampling them all.
- "pas de panache" (you had to be there)
- a Floridian Christmas 2007-- "your parents are NOT at Hooters" (they were)
While I selfishly wish I could have enjoyed more time with her, I'm happy we did open up those fancy liquors and take that trip down south last winter.
Right now I'm still in the pain, sorrow and grief phase, but I will pull it together - out of respect for her strength and ability to always see the bright side (even if it was to admire a sunset from a hospital room window) and in order to be a buoy, not an anchor for E.

E's mom passed away last Wednesday, Nov 26, and the funeral was yesterday. He's doing as well as can be expected, but it's tough. She was an incredible person who lived a full life.

She will be missed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today, I have not

taken a shower
emptied the dishwasher
cleaned up from breakfast
made muffins
gone running
surfed the internet
done any contract writing

I have made excellent progress on my book.

It's all about balance.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I recently read (technically 'listened' to the audio book while driving) and enjoyed The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. It's a memoir of growing up in poverty, but it's not a depressing 'woe-is-me' sob story. She doesn't ask for sympathy - she uses her perspective as a child, and the perspective changes as she gets older. I usually do not like these kind of stories, but she's a fantastic writer, so I DO recommend it.

On my TBR list: Looking For Alaska, American Wife.
On my TRR list: A Town Like Alice

I am looking for well-written books with a strong plot, but that are character-driven. No mysteries, adventure tales or crime stories. Preferably with a female lead character. 3rd person multiple POV.

Any and all suggestions welcome.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Way to go, Mom!

Ohio went blue thanks in part to the tireless campaign efforts of my mother. She's been devoting all her time - not just her spare time - to the Obama campaign. When I was at my most pessimistic about how the majority of Americans would likely vote, she never lost faith and told me about all the people who had never voted, but would vote in this campaign now that they finally had a candidate. I'm glad you were right, Mom!

I am overjoyed at the results, and I am embarrassed to admit that the only support I gave was monetary. I had completely lost faith after the last election.

Thank you to all the Obama supporters and campaign volunteers - thanks to you we once again have hope.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Go Obama!

This photo was taken in Stonetown Zanzibar this fall.

The world is watching!! Please do the right thing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I just got back from hearing author Louise Penny talk at a local library, and I am officially out of my whiny funk.

LP had writer's block for years - whenever someone asked her how the book was going she cringed as she LIED and said 'fine.' ouch - I'm right there.

Luckily for me she shared some lessons learned:
1) add structure to your day - schedule writing time
2) set attainable goals - don't think about writing a book, think about writing 1,000 words or a page
I KNOW this, but I guess I needed to hear it AGAIN - just like Kili - step by step - pole pole
3) Don't let your critic do the writing - send her away

I can do this.

Oh, and the BEST part of the night? I WON a draw for one of her books !! I LOVE free books : )

Oh, and the EVEN BETTER part? She signed it specifically for me after hugging me when I confessed to suffering from a paralyzing fear of writing.
Here's what she wrote:
For Karen,
My sister in writing - one K a day - that's all. And send the critic out of the room!
Louise Penny


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Where is Julius when I need him?

One of the most rewarding parts of climbing and summitting Mt. Kilimanjaro was the necessity of single-minded focus. All I had to do was put one foot in front of the other. All the mental clutter - fear, fatigue, what if, maybe I..- had to be shut down completely. Step, breathe, step breathe - even though we moved slowly, we made progress camp by camp all the way to the top.

Ideally I'd be able to tell you that I stood at the summit feeling the enormity of what I'd accomplished and realizing a deep connection to Africa where we all trace our roots, and that I had a life-altering epiphany about achieving goals, prioritizing and realizing what's important in life.

Unfortunately, now that I've been back for two weeks, recovered from jet lag, laundry done and climbing equipment in storage, everything else is the same. I'm right back where I was when I left - working evenings and weekends and wondering if I'll ever collect the thousands of outstanding dollars clients owe me. Obviously I'm doing something wrong. Ideally I'd be able to say NO more often and spend more time working on my book. If people aren't going to pay me anyway, why do I even bother doing the work?

I wish Julius - my guide from Kili - was here. He showed the way, set the pace and every so often he'd stop, turn back and ask, "Sawa, Karen?" (ok?) I'd answer Ndio (yes) or hapana (no). Julius and E would help me fix anything that wasn't ndio so we could get back on track.

goal: finish that freaking book. steps: write, breathe

I'm on my own for this one.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

I'm on it

Excellent book progress. I have not found a way to time-travel, but I'm getting it done. Ever since I named my anxiety "JoJo" she/he/it has disappeared. I'm sure JoJo will be back, but now I'm ready.

On the training front, I'm on week 4 of upper body/core and ab strengthening via P90X - I hate it, but I love it, so Bring it. (insider joke for any P90X'ers out there)
Why? Because I hurt my back twice this year, so obviously I need some core strengthening.

We're off to freaking Mt Washington again, and I'm pretty sure E tricked me into it. We were supposed to go to Franconia, but through some odd twist of events completely out of E's control (so he claims) we HAVE to go to Mt Washington. GRRRR

Quick reminder of my last trip to Mt Washington with E: click here and scroll down to "As bad as it looks."

That Mt Washington experience also prompted one of the best K/E difference explanations ever, courtesy of an anonymous commenter (Sgt. Yahoo):

"Remember: E*** is only happy when he's straining against the envelope. He's also had years and years to develop the mental and physical stamina to get him right to the edge, where the fragile grip of life gives way to the brittle touch of death. -70? Howling winds? I doubt he saw it that way;

What he saw was a dark, hooded figure looming on the ice wall, beckoning to him with a crooked finger, the promise of secret knowledge gained only at the terrible cost of life wagered, and this drove him mad to test his limits and he hacked his way up that wall with his Sasquatch ice picks and cratered the wall with his Ice Fang boots until he got to the summit and looked around and wondered where, in all the excitement, his babe had gone.

Why, she was nice and snuggling around a toasty fire, popping mini-egg rolls and reading about long-haired, barbarian men, with arms like tree trunks and pects like tank armor, who carry their women off to tropical paradises where the women give way to worshiping their hero, usually at their feet, where the moment is invariably captured by a passing artist forever on an easel.

VERY different views on what makes a relaxing weekend I think."

I DO like mini egg rolls, and yet here I go again with freaking Rock CruncherX boots.
Apparently I'm Charlie Brown with Lucy and the football. AARGH

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm going for a Cheetah approach

Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called by the Masai "Ngàje Ngài," the House of God. Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.

Ernest Hemingway, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," first published in Esquire (August 1936)

I don't particularly care for that short story. Too bitter for my taste. Yes, yes I get the leopard and hyena symbolism - yes, he's a genius, but still TSK is not my favourite of his stories.

In the third installment of my apparent fascination with Hemingway, I will soon be off to another of "his" places: Mt Kilimanjaro. I won't be hunting big game, but I will be climbing the mountain while there are still a few small bits of glacier left, going on safari during Wildebeest migration season, and then off to Zanzibar where E and I are having trouble deciding exactly what we want to do - we've already overshot our budget, so Zanzibar is suffering. We'll definitely make an effort to go diving - the Indian Ocean! It's supposed to be gorgeous and shark-infested.

I have all of my shots and we're more or less ready to go. I'm all about training and shopping - like the cheetah I want to look good and look like I could outrun a predator if necessary, thus making it unnecessary and allowing me to spend my days lounging and sunning myself.

What? oh, riight.. that book I'm writing when I'm not working to pay for fancy vacations, training for fancy vacations or on a fancy vacation. Um, well, I've set a goal for myself to finish it using some magical time expansion method before leaving for Tanzania. I want to be able to start something new for NaNoWriMo 2008. Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro will seem easy in comparison...

E. is also training in part by winning the Laurentian Rogaine this past Saturday. Even after somehow incorrectly mixing his electrolyte-replacement drink, making it undrinkable and making him nauseous, dehydrated and suffering for the last 4 hours of the 8-hour race, he and Speedy still won. Freaking E.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Chick lit is alive and kicking

I'm happy to report that rumors of the death of chick lit have been highly exaggerated. Our group had a great time discussing Something Borrowed and trying to define the Chick Lit genre. My definition is 'modern, non-depressing women's fiction that's like reading a friend's diary' There was some heated debate about whether Jane Austen would be considered CL - in my opinion YES, but not to others. Even though she's not modern now, when she wrote it, she was contemporary.

We struggled with the fact that most chick lit ends up happily ever after - i.e. she gets the guy, but we all agreed that we do not like the message 'a woman needs a man.' We kept coming back to that problem, and we finally agreed that a CL heroine must first reach a place where she has discovered/accepted/reinvented herself and would be fine on her own - she is NOT in need of rescue. As a strong, independent woman she then finds her love interest and as equal partners they have a happy ever after ending. We tried to think of a CL book where she ends up alone in the end, but came up blank - is there one?

As for my contribution, I somehow managed to change the organizer's mind about "Something Borrowed" She loved the book before the meeting, but changed her mind about liking the heroine Rachel after I pointed out how spineless she was, and how much stronger her friend Hilary was. She pointed out some of the Darcy/Rachel friendship parts that I had missed, so I now have a better understanding of their relationship.

Bottom line - I had a great time and I'm looking forward to re-reading "Watermelon" by Marian Keyes for our next meeting. Apparently I've done such extensive reading in the genre I'm going to be doing a lot of re-reading : )

As a side note, I wore a snappy sundress to the meeting, and E told me, "Hey, you look really nice - you should wear that more often" I told him if he invited me to do something other than shovel gravel that I would gladly wear the snappy sundress. We'll see what happens.... and no this does not mean there is any trouble in K&E happily ever after land - I was just making a point.

In another side note, I am completely obsessed with Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooter series, or as I call them, "the Naked Navy SEALS books." I met Ms Brockmann at the writer's conference I went to in April, and everyone was raving about her books. I finally started reading them a few weeks ago and have not been able to stop - I haven't been this obsessed since I started reading Harry Potter, although her books are completely different. If you're looking for excellent summer reading, pick up the first in the series, "The Unsung Hero" by Suzanne Brockmann. You can thank me later.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Meeting a local Chick Lit Book Club tomorrow

I can't wait!! I'm meeting 7 other ladies (total strangers - I found this group online) tomorrow night to discuss Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin I hope HOPE HOPE it will be a good meeting, and worth the drive downtown. Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Power Surges

What's an appropriate gift for a woman's 50th birthday? I am absolutely, 100% against anything over-the-hill, black or depressing. Is a menopause joke card appropriate? I was really stuck while shopping, and not at all sure what to do. Since turning 40, I've had nothing but fun, and I intend to keep it that way as I approach 50 and beyond.

I saw a bumper sticker once that said, "They're not hot flashes, they're power surges"
I love that! I am not in power surge territory yet, but I think that talking openly about menopausal symptoms is healthy. Oprah deserves credit for bringing many women's issues into the open and eliminating a lot of fear and uncertainty. I don't have time to watch her show and her magazine makes me crazy, but a bunch of female colleagues were raving about a book O reviewed: How Not to Look Old by Charla Krupp. I ended up buying this book for the friend who is turning 50, but I feel compelled to add a disclaimer saying that I don't think she needs it. I really hope she doesn't take it the wrong way, and I still have no idea what others will be giving her - what is appropriate? I have no idea. Now I'm second guessing that book - maybe I'll keep it and give her something much cooler, like a gift certificate for surfing lessons.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

And I though shoes on the side of the road were weird

Why do we often see stray shoes on the side of the highway? Okay, I was ONCE responsible for one of those, or was it my sister - the details are foggy, but one of us threw one of the other's shoe out the car window on one of those horrifying Griswald-esque family car trips. However, my dad turned the car around and we retrieved the shoe - we didn't just say "oh well" and leave it there. How can you not notice that a shoe went out the window?

What's weirder is feet washing ashore in B.C. If the feet were missing shoes, there might have been a direct link, but these feet still have shoes.

Still, I wouldn't discount the possibility of a connection.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love

Eat Pray Love is a memoir (? - the cover doesn't specify, but it doesn't say novel, so I'm assuming that her first-person accounts are true) by Elizabeth Gilbert about her post-divorce healing journey through Italy, India and Indonesia. It sounds awful, and the title was enough to scare me off, but a friend insisted I read it and even put the book in my hands. I loved the first part about Italy. I aspire to write as well as EG!! She's funny and doesn't overwrite.

That being said, she lost me in India and didn't recapture me in Indonesia. The whole prayer thing was too long and too, "look, look - I'm healed, no really - I've found the Lord - see SEE how balanced I am now." Sheesh- I wish she would have hung out with the Italian guys sipping latte through the whole book, but still, I DO recommend it. The Italy part was so strong it carried me through the rest. I will definitely look for more of her books.

What's on your summer TBR list?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Surprise Me

While Barack Obama is my choice for U.S. President, I'm not sure he's the best choice as the Democratic candidate. The country is so divided, I think it would take a White Southern Male to give the Democrats a win. I'm scared that the U.S. is still so racist it will not allow Obama to be elected - even if he wins the popular vote, the results will be fixed the way they were for GWB.
I really hope I'm wrong, and I used to be much more optimistic and hopeful about the U.S., but the last 4 years have left me bitter and pessimistic.

Please, please prove me wrong.

If you have constructive ideas on what I can do to help Barack's cause, bring it on - I sent handwritten letters to women in Ohio begging them to vote against GWB in the last election, but Ohio still went the wrong way. Apparently the Republicans blocked 350,000 Ohio votes from being counted. Hopeless? Too corrupt to fight?

I know some (many) people are eagerly waiting the fall of the American Empire, almost salivating as the country implodes on itself. I don't want to see it. Can't the good guys win?

I wish I could think of a plausible way to create a Happily Ever After ending for this one, but I'm afraid it's going to be a horrific bloodbath that will leave us all with nightmares.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Preparing for my dream cycling trip

Cycling in Italy has been on my dream vacation/to do list for ages. Now that I've just returned from a 6-day cycling trip around Lake Champlain I feel a little bit closer. Some woman in Italy is probably blogging about how she just got back from a local trip, and how she hopes and dreams one day of being able to cycle in Vermont and New York.

My trip was beautiful - sunny weather, good food, quirky B&B's and excellent company.

  • day 2 in Vermont. Postcard-beautiful. Green like I've never seen green before. E was on 'truck' duty (3 of us cycled and one person drove our gear to the next destination - called a 'sag wagon' on tours) , and E had ice cream ready for us at one stop. : )
  • dinner at Turtle Island restaurant: delicious soft-shell crab, a real cappuccino (ahhhh) and lemon bars. mmmm
  • finishing 2 books! 1st: Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin - splurged on this one as a brand new hardcover right before the trip as a vacation treat. If you liked her other books, you'll like this one, but if you don't like her flawed heroines, this one won't appeal to you. I enjoyed the book - she had me wondering what would happen right up to the end. I also finished Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes about an Irish woman who is forced to leave her partying NY life to go to rehab in Ireland - but she thinks it's a spa. V funny and full of Irish slang like "eejit" and "Jayzus."

low lights:
  • morning of day 1, struggling to figure out how my bike worked. Totally my fault - I had a new bike and had only ridden it once prior to the trip. It took me all morning to figure out how to shift properly. Hilly Vermont is not the best place to practice
  • being chased by dogs - also not fun, particularly after you've just climbed a steep hill and could really use a rest. The last thing you want to hear is PEDAL! DOGS! BIG ONES! aargh. They never caught us.
We cycled about 30-35 miles per day and some of those days were tough - lots of hills! The scenery was unbelievable - Green Mountains on one side, Adirondacks on the other - for the whole trip. The B&B's each had their own character - some inspired me to toy with the idea of running a B&B until E would say, "Right - waking up to make breakfast for strangers is exactly what we want to do." We agreed we'd have to have a Bed & Brunch. And neither of us wants to chit chat with the guests, so that probably won't work. My favorite hosts were nice, but didn't hover. A couple of them hovered. After cycling for four hours you don't want anyone hovering.

Feels weird to be back, not moving and not dressed in lycra...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Awaiting Reader Feedback

I just sent 177 pages to a select group of volunteer first readers. I originally wanted to send the whole thing to them - my deadline was today, but I ended up revising the last 1/3 of the book, and right now it's only outlined, not written. Still, I feel good about being able to send 2/3 for critique. At this point I need feedback! I can't wait to hear their comments - good and bad.

It's difficult to give a good critique - you need to balance encouragement with useful suggestions for improvement.

I signed up for an online plotting course that starts June 2 - it was highly recommended, so I hope it's worthwhile. I am not a big fan of online classes, but I'm open to having my opinion changed.

Emily Giffen has a new book out: Love the One You're With. As soon as I can get a copy it will be next in my TBR pile.
Currently reading: Rachel's Holiday - an old one from Marian Keyes that I never got around to reading before.

Gone cycling as of tomorrow - I'm doing a 5-day trip around Lake Champlain. Hoping for minimal rain!
Not packed yet....
some things never change

I found the perfect museum exhibit of interest to both me and E!
We're seriously trying to find a way to go.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Recommended Reading

I just finished Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella and loved it! The description of the book sounds lame because it's an amnesia story - I know I know, I rolled my eyes at first, too thinking of bad soap opera story lines, but Kinsella makes it work.

There's an "E" character who has automated his house, but he has disco lights and the toilets are on the circuit (making me realize my E/lighting situation could be much much worse).

Even if you aren't a big fan of her Shopaholic books, I still recommend Remember Me?
Kinsella is getting better and better. Can't wait for her next book!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I'm a photojournalist

One of the diving photos I posted on Flickr got picked up by "now public" (with my permission)

See the article here.


It might actually be E's photo so I might only know a photo journalist. I'm the one who uploaded it to Flickr... apparently I'm in charge of PR for our photojournalism efforts.

: )

Friday, May 02, 2008

Gone Fishing

Not me - E!

I've got a book to write. I can't be hanging around drinking porto in front of the campfire and eating E's famous jambalaya.

aargh - I really wanted to go, but if I have any hope of meeting my self-imposed deadline I need to start prioritizing.

The sacrifices I make for my art...

It's not all bad - I made arrangements with a fellow writer to carpool together to the writer's group in Ottawa on Sunday - remember I met some of those writers at the conference I went to in Boston? I actually followed up this time : )

So, no jambablya or porto for me - I'll be scrounging together whatever microwaveable food is in the freezer and keep work, work, working.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Staying Upstairs

E: Are you going to be busy upstairs for a while?
Me: Probably, why?

E: I'm going to do one of those things that freaks you out if you see it.
Me: Like what - crack your neck?

E: I'm just going to....
Me: I don't want to know any more.

E: No no - it's nothing.
I go upstairs and revisit the entire conversation searching for something that would explain the excessive racket coming from downstairs. What is he doing? I can hear waaaaayyyy too much power tool noise and the occasional *crack* for it to be "nothing". Freaking E.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mota-mota-mota-mota motivation

Last Friday I went to a writer's conference in the Boston area. Before leaving I wanted to go for a run and buy a new outfit because everything I own became completely hideous when it was time to pack. I woke up in a cold sweat at 6am, but instead of tossing in bed worrying about getting everything done I got out of bed and went for a nice 45 minute run. yessss! big improvement over the old worrying Karen.

The conference was fantastic. My favourite networking tactic worked like a charm. Instead of barging in on someone else's conversation (a la Animal House - Hey guys! You playing cards?) I get a drink, sit at a table by myself and then see who sits with me. I met two published authors at my first conference this way, and this time I met a handful of writers from Ottawa.

Besides the chocolate and free books, I love conferences because writing makes me feel like a crazy person, and at the conferences I feel less crazy and better able to focus on the possibilities and opportunities. The free books and chocolate are also excellent. I won a 10-page critique in one of the workshops - that means I get to send 10 pages to the published author who gave the workshop and she will send me feedback. To a writer, this is a huge help. To date I've only had feedback from friends and family who tend to encourage everything I do. "No really, it's good."

I've set a goal for myself to get my SECOND draft in readable shape and in the hands of my readers by the time I leave for my bicycle trip May 24th. I will need to embrace my inner Stephen Covey to find/make the time.

I have no shortage of distractions - I've been training for a half-marathon and am actually in shape to run in, but choose not to because it costs $60, and it's not how I want to spend Sunday. I'm also training for my upcoming week-long bike trip, the summer triathlon season and potential other active upcoming trips.

One of these possible upcoming trips is either a huge distraction that I shouldn't even consider or the opportunity of a lifetime that will transform me into a stronger, richer person with a greater appreciation of life and give me excellent background material for a unique novel. I'm still not sure which one and E is confusing me because he can be extremely convincing. I know he means well, but there was that Mt. Washington incident of'07 that I do not want to re-live in epic proportions.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

For a smart person, I can be really dumb sometimes

I've been worrying for no reason and wasting a lot of mental energy conjuring up worst-case, what-if scenarios. No more. Now 100% of my thoughts are on what I can and will accomplish, and I will steamroller over anyone or anything that tells me otherwise. What if I owe more on my freelance taxes than I have saved? Line of credit - it will be the bank's problem. Don't bother me with these things, I'm writing a book.

I've also been a complete MORON about my network. I joined a business networking group to promote my freelancing when I'm already overloaded with freelance work. Meanwhile, I meet writers who hand me their cards and e-mail me, but do I actively maintain these networks? No. Why not? Good question. No more. I am digging their cards out and retrieving the PHONE NUMBER a local author wrote in her book telling me to call her. I will create the network I actually want and need.

I am surrounded by intelligent, ambitious people, but instead of being motivated and energized by them I feel unequal and intimidated. Opportunities land in my lap and I brush them away. Why? Where does this pit of fear come from? I have no idea, but I am filling it with cement.

“The first and best victory is to conquer self; to be conquered by self is of all things most shameful and vile.” -Plato

Smart guy.

Smart girl.

The message is sinking in.

Don't believe me?


: )

Friday, March 21, 2008


Since I burned through most of that freaking to -do list, I now have a sparkling clean office to work in. And by work, I mean write.

I sent E off to Mt Washington to enjoy the wind and slush, and I opted to stay here and work on my book. I think I chose the more difficult path.

1hr post-E departure: power goes out. Internet does not come back until 2 days later. Multimedia room still has no power: no DVDs, no satellite, no sound system in the basement.

Maybe E rigged it to make sure I was working on my book...

It's working, I've been toiling, eating nothing but popcorn and chocolate - he left me a HUGE dark chocolate almond bar as an Easter present. ok, bad plan - of COURSE I've been eating it non-stop since he left.

I'd like to thank my anonymous friend who answered my crazed 'constructing scene' questions even though she had tooth whitening strips on and hair color being timed. That's a true friend : )

back to it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Fighting Inertia

It's that time of year. Everyone is crabby, everyone is sick of the cold, everyone is sick of wearing winter clothes and winter boots. Spring seems so far off and buried under so much snow there's no use even thinking about it yet.

must ... fight...urge.. to... do... nothing...

I have a looong list of To Do's for this weekend - things that I will not want to do or it will be too late to do once spring finally does arrive, so it's now or never.

I hold myself accountable to my loyal blog reader, Dodi - she'll notice if I don't get it all done : )

1- clean bathrooms - comprehensive cleaning - no quick swipes with a disinfecting wipe DONE!

2- sort scary piles of laundry in bedroom DONE!

3-do laundry resulting from #2 IN PROGRESS Only 1 load left DONE

4-bake chocolate chip banana bread for E (he is in charge of checking the cottage roof for snow damage so this is fair) DONE!

5-bake blueberry bran muffins for me DONE!

6-do something outside Sat that involves fresh air and exercise - xc ski? SUBSTITUTED: shovel back deck for 1 hr

7-do my long run Sun (90 min) DONE!

8-sort through bath products in bathroom and organize

9-clean office

10-purge office files

11-prepare tax documents for the accountant

12-plant the seeds I bought 3 weeks ago!!! IN PROGRESS

13-shovel a path from the back door to the composter IMPOSSIBLE - TOO ICY

14-dump the overflowing temporary compost container in the kitchen into the outdoor composter DONE - WALKED ON ICE

15-burn a new CD to listen to in the car

16-re-pot the plant that has been rooting in water for over a month DONE!

17-clean the grimy fish tank DONE!

18-research the cost of flights to Tanzania (might be able to get E to do this)

19-upload winter camping and other recent pictures to flickr

20-sign up for writing conference in April

ok, that's it. doable? I might have to forget I'm K and pretend to be E, although he wouldn't have a clue what to do with all the bath products.

I actually do believe it is possible to get all of that done. I'm not starting until whenever I wake up Saturday, and after I've had 2 lattes and read the paper.


update: 10 a.m. Sat.: I've had my 2 lattes, and I'm starting the list. go go go

update 2 p.m. Sat: 5 done, 15 to go

update 7 p.m. that's it for today. excellent progress!

Update 10 p.m. Sunday. Substituted finishing my list with finishing a book. Well, I'm definitely K, and happy with how much I did get done : )

Sunday, March 09, 2008


I haven't seen snowdrifts over my head since I was a kid. We had two big storms last week.
It's a pain when you need to drive somewhere, but on the weekend when you can take your time shoveling out, it's kind of fun, particularly when E volunteers to man the snowblower.
One of my birdfeeders in the back yard is so low over the piled up snow, the birds can stand on the snow and enjoy the buffet.

E is predicting that cycling season won't start until May. I'm predicting a massive meltdown by April 1.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Practicing What I Preach

I finally finished my wall of motivation:

It's a combination of quotes, images and goals.

Now I have everyone from Louisa May Alcott to Henry David Thoreau to Janet Evanovich and the US Marine Corps cheering me on.

I printed everything on my color printer using either quality bond paper or glossy postcard paper that comes pre-perforated so you can rip a normal-size sheet into 4.

No excuses for tattered post-its - I'm looking your way, D.

The only one I forgot was an old fortune: "A handful of patience is worth a bushel of brains."

Monday, February 18, 2008

I'm #7

Sorry for the quiet, but we've been freak-show busy. Here's proof:

Me classic xc skiing in a 5K race last Saturday. I placed #7 of 14 in my age group which sounds good, but in reality a lot of those women had kids with them and were skiing waaay in the back. But hey - too bad. I'm #7, I'm #7.

E did 29K and placed well for his age group. He is racing again next weekend, but I am taking a friggin' break.

We were winter camping the weekend before last and still haven't quite unpacked. I should be able to do a major flicr upload soon.

I hope you are enjoying all the snow (if you have snow wherever you are.)
snow=fun. seriously. cold= not so fun, winter rain = crap.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Either Hilary or Obama is fine with me - let's just get on with it!

Bush has to go NOW

I just read this on Publisher's Lunch

"President Bush's proposed budget calling for the elimination of Reading Is Fundamental's (RIF) Inexpensive Book Distribution program would be devastating to the 4.6 million children and their families who receive free books and reading encouragement from RIF programs at nearly 20,000 locations throughout the U.S."

I can understand why GW wants people to be illiterate. Now if the Dems can stop bickering over which of their AMAZING candidates is SLIGHTLY better than the other one and focus on combining their forces to get him or her elected maybe we can stop the insanity.

Can we please stop bickering over which grade of sand is best and focus on stopping the flooding?

Thursday, January 31, 2008


1) Gilmore Girls Movie marathon-DONE. Remember that 10K fundraiser I ran in last year where I bet E that I could raise more funds than he could, and if I lost I had to do an orienteering race, and if he lost he had to watch the last season of Gilmore Girls with me? I won mainly because all of his friends gave money to me in order to make him suffer. We finally got through all of the DVDs and while it was a little fun to make him suffer, it kind of ruined it for me because I like GG. Lesson learned- I'm not good at torture.

2) Making an effort to go out with my female friends more- PROGRESS. Everyone is busy, but it really doesn't take much to pick up the phone and arrange a night to go to the movies. So I miss the occasional workout or get to bed later than normal - big deal. So far I've gone to 2 chick flicks: Atonement (YUK - I Highly recommend avoiding it)
27 dresses (CUTE! Meets expectations from the trailers. Not deep, but entertaining)

3) Book - PROGRESS. I'm working on it regularly instead of waiting for huge chunks of time to open up, and I've been reading other books strictly to learn how they were put together - I am close to finishing my first Nora Roberts book ever.

4) Relaxing - NOT SO GOOD. I signed up for yoga twice a week, and have missed as many sessions as I 've attended so far. grrr. I also have a lot of trouble falling asleep at night. Must work on this one.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's Nice to Be Important, But it's Important to Be Nice

My high school calculus teacher (who I hated with a white-hot passion) had that saying posted on the wall of his classroom. It was written by hand on parchment-looking paper with leaves, bark, and other outdoor debris glued to it. I used to stare at it, imagining a dull rainy day at summer camp, being forced to participate in a lame indoor 'keep busy' project like braiding lanyards.

My friends and I used to repeat that saying to each other and it made us laugh every time. There's nothing wrong with the idea behind it; but I hated school, that teacher and calculus so much that the words and that freaking bark made me insane.

I used to make fun of people who have inspirational quotes on their walls, and I love the demotivation series that makes fun of corporate motivation posters. However.... as part of my ongoing battle with my "you can't write a book" demons, I have to reluctantly admit that a powerful way to defeat negative thoughts is to replace them with positive thoughts.

I tried an exercise involving writing down 5 positive things that happened each day before going to bed at night, and it was incredible how it changed my whole outlook during the day. Instead of focusing on everything that went wrong, I paid attention when something went well, keeping it in the front of my mind so I would have it ready to write down on my 5 things list.

Now I'm posting quotes on my wall from people I admire, and thoughts that I wish would stick in my brain. I'm not talking about Ned Flanders-like Polyanna sayings, or 'turn that frown upside down' crap, and there are no cuddly kittens, puppies or bark anywhere. I'm talking about straightforward words in modern fonts with clean lines. My favourite is this one that E put up in my office before it was officially my office:
"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the Titanic."

If you're looking for quotes to conquer your "you're an idiot - stop trying new things and go sit down and complain about everything that's wrong" demons, try Compendium.

For the record, I still snicker at people who have hand-written 'turn that frown upside down'-type sayings on their walls, and I can't stand receiving crappy power point presentations filled with cliches, animal pictures and typos. Don't be put off by all of the Stuart Smalley type people who preach the power of positive thinking - you can still make fun of those losers. It's not that important to be nice.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Finally, the surfing, diving and Chicago photos are online. Use the links below to see them. I split the photos in two sets so that you don't have to wade (!) through all the fish pictures.

The links will take you into my flickr account. View each set as a slideshow so the photos are as big as possible. To see my captions, in the lower right corner click Options and then select Always show title and description.

Florida, surfing, diving highlights, Chicago

More Diving

Monday, January 07, 2008

Small step in the right direction

I just spent one hour working on my book. No checking e-mail, IM turned off.
No distractions. I finally made my actions match my words. Is the book priority #1? If so, then it should take precedence over all else.
So far so good.
Now, on to priority #2 projects...

Friday, January 04, 2008

Karen needs improvement in all areas

Looking back at my 4 goals for 2007, which are posted in living color on the wall of my office, I did not complete any of them to my satisfaction:

1- Finish book
2 - Submit book to agents
3 - Earn enough $$ to go to a writer's conference, contribute to RRSPs and go on a dive vacation
4- Complete a 1/2 marathon and reduce my 10K time to sub-60 min.

I came close on #3 - I did go to a conference and take a snappy vacation. For #4 I almost had my 10k time under 60 min in March...

For the first time EVER I am receiving a 'needs improvement' performance review. The worst part is I am reviewing myself. Do I expect too much? I don't think so. All of these goals are achievable. Maybe one year wasn't enough time. Maybe I just need to re-word the goals to be more benefits-oriented in order to motivate myself.

2008 goals
1. Be able to say "YES" when someone asks if I finished my book yet
2. Wear out a copy of my guide to agents and editors
3. Enjoy a fabulous vacation while knowing I have plenty of $$ invested for my future
4. Show off my 15lb slimmer self in perfectly fitting non-mom jeans while wearing a snappy t-shirt from the 1/2 marathon that I finished.

So, Karen - are you sure you're up to the challenge? You could always work in an office job and watch television in sweatpants until your time is up.

No no no - I can do it!

Prove it.