Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Sign of Spring

In my backyard — I mean on my patio — I have a small patch of dirt. Every spring Ashleigh and my mom attempt to get something to grow there. Key word here: attempt. Nothing ever grows! The soil is poor and the area is flooded almost daily with a sprinkler that has a mind of its own. So imagine my surprise, when I went out to fill the bird feeder today, at what I found:

My little bit of earth. Notice anything interesting?

A grape hyicinth. (I had to look up what it was--I didn't even know those got planted!)

Almost ready to bloom.

A new bud.

Good growing little flowers! I hope that I don't inadvertently kill you all by acknowledging your existence.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Wonderous Discoveries

Slowly, notebook by notebook, file by file, I am re-exploring the world Sara and I created, and I have stumbled upon a vast treasure trove of notes and information I had completely forgotten. It is a bit like going to your hometown: nothing has changed, yet everything is different. Is it me? Have I changed? I’m sure I have and now my older eyes are looking upon our creation with an appraiser’s eye, questioning every letter, doodle and rushed memo.

Take a look for example at the storyboard brainstorm for one of our stories. Sara and I got distracted at one point by a side story and we pondered and discussed how to get a character out of a certain situation. Sara, from what I recall, stared at me blankly while I explained my idea, a complicated and detailed shenanigan where the princess’s bodyguard rescues her and there were horses and a carriage (it made sense back then!) …when I realized she looked confused, I took the time to sketch out what I was talking about.

Clearly, this solved everything.

Some of the notes make no sense although at the time of writing, I’m sure that they made perfect sense. When Sara and I first started this project we were single-mindedly devoted to the world, the characters and the creation. Now, time and distance has tempered my enthusiasm. No, that’s not right; I am full of enthusiasm (although I am not sure where to start). Maybe I am more realistic? More reflective?

In any case, I have a lot of material to work with and I am ready to dive in! I am ready to focus on one storyline at a time and let the other stories Sara and I brainstormed bubble in the crock pot while I work with the Quads.

And trust me, Sara and I have more than enough material to fill up a couple of shelves at Barnes and Noble and Borders!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Back to the Story

Way back in 2004, before we left Flagler, Sara and I came up with an awesome idea: a story that spanned an arc of at least five books. While I claim credit for the initial concept of a set of quadruplets (another brilliant shower idea), Sara and I were equal partners in the development of everything else. We spent a good year working solidly upon it. We made maps, religions, creatures and a royal genealogy spanning centuries. We (and by “we” I mean me) even created a song about the main character!

As time went on, we developed side stories to our main arc. We fell in love with some of the minor characters and ideas. We developed ideas for other books and story arcs. We talked, emailed and took notes but we never actually got around to writing anything solid.

We had cultures, back stories, political intrigue and wars, but no story.

Time passed. Our notes and ideas were filed away as we moved on with other projects. Four Nanos ago, I decided to try my hand at starting our story with Sara’s full support. I didn’t get very far and got frustrated that one character, the villain, began taking over the story and took me away from my main character. I put it away.

When Sara left for Japan, she gave me all of her story notes and files. I dutifully put them with mine and they have been floating around my house ever since, taking up space but not being used.

Last year when the computer incident occurred (Scott crashing my system and me not having anything backed up*) I thought I had lost everything that I wrote for the story I finally started. I was devastated. All the time spent, all those hours of typing…not just the story but all the notes that were saved on the computer – gone! I was thankful I had hard copies of some of the material, but at the time, I didn’t even look at the hard copies. Knowing I had something of the world Sara and I created was enough for right then.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the story, the characters, and the world. I've had some more of my brilliant shower ideas: snippets of conversations, scenes and plot ideas. For the past three weeks or so, I’ve come home glanced at the files and thought to myself, “You’ve got to do something with those!” This world that we created, I thought, deserves to be more than just a bunch of notes. Sara and I invested so much into it, to have it all just sit and wait seems such a let down. Not just for me or Sara but for our characters that we poured so much of ourselves into.

But between work, the girls, and everything, I never picked them up…

…Until today.

Waiting for my gaming group to arrive, I took out my file folder of story notes and began to thumb through them. I couldn’t have been more surprised! Apparently, a while back, during a time I don’t remember at all, I printed out what I wrote for the Nano novel! I had tucked it away in the file and left it there, forgotten and alone!

After the gamers left, I sat at the dining room table and thumbed through all the files. What I thought I lost – the genealogies, the country backgrounds, character notes, one of us (probably Sara) had the foresight to make hard copies. While I am missing some of the original email discussion we had, I have so much material that I don’t know where to start!

So, what to do…

Well, with Sara’s blessing (which I have no doubt she’ll give) I am going to revisit our world. I am going to give voices to our heroes, to our villains and our world!

* I haven't figured out how to imbed a link to previous posts, but for the computer incident check out Silent Fury from Feb. 13, 2009 and Live and Learn from Feb. 14, 2009.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Attack of the Socks

Without a doubt, as much as I love doing laundry, I hate folding socks. I hate it so much that 90% of the time socks sit around in baskets like this:

(Yes that is an entire basket of unmatched, unfolded, unloved socks.)

Putting the size of the basket in perspective... Cyra standing by the basket looking all punky.

They lurk in the basket, multiplying, just waiting for someone to come and pull a pair out. Most of the time, they are unmatched, but who cares? I say, if they are on your feet and in shoes, it doesn’t matter whether they match or not, right? Besides, genetics being what they are, the best you can hope for is a similar color.

I’d just as soon buy more socks then spend time folding them, but there comes a time when the socks must be put back in their place. So today, my super awesome last day of freedom until spring break, I spent doing laundry and sorting socks.

All matched, folded and ready to be put away. Left to right: Mine, Cyra's, Scott's and Ashleigh's socks!

The last few unmatched socks that I wanted to keep (I know they have mates somewhere!).

What a day. What a pile of socks to get rid of!

At least Junie enjoyed the Great Sock Disposal - she'll get new sock toys!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Iditarod Dreams Dashed

Last year we went all winter without working heat. No real problem, I mean really it is Florida, and I'm from upstate New York - I know how to layer! But this year? We had it. We had it made! I got cold, I cranked the heat. Of course the warnings of my ancient heating guy went unheeded…

“This is only a temporary fix, you know,” he said his voice shaking as much as his hands were.

“Uh-huh,” I replied standing over his shoulder. “Temporary. Got it.” I’ve got a MacGyver for a AC/Heat repairman I thought to myself. MacGyver stopped a bomb with a hockey ticket, surely this man in front of me could easily get my heat operational again.

“You need a whole new system,” he said kneeing on the floor before the furnace.

“Sure. New system. How much is this going to cost?”

“I can patch it up for about four.”

“Four hundred? Ok. Not a problem.” I cheered inside knowing I was getting off cheap!

“But you really do need a new system. This one is original to the house…probably older than you.”

“Got it.”

I paid my bill, he ambled out the door and I revealed all summer in the frigid artic air blowing from my vents. Then came November…we turned the heat on a few times in the morning to take the chill out. Glorious. Luxurious.

December came and with is a cold snap that had us running the heat nearly non-stop. That eased into January. The cold snap became freeze warning after freeze warning and I took it all in stride. I had heat! No problems here!

Then, I got cocky about it.

Second week of January I was picking Cyra up from a sleep over and the topic of the cold snap came up. I bragged and crowed about my MacGyver repairman who gave me heat and how wonderful it was to just crank up the temperature.

The next morning I went to turn the heat up a bit to get the chill out of the air… there wasn’t any satisfying “click,” nor a delightful “whoosh” of warmth. There was just silence. Silence as vast and empty as I imagine Antarctica to be.

Scott and I fussed at the heater for a few minutes, we played with the fuses, we opened the door and glared at the unit...nothing seemed to work.

“It’s my fault,” I said pitifully, my breath puffing white while my nose, toes and fingers froze.

“How is it your fault?” He asked.

“I bragged about having heat this year!”

“Well,” he said.

Without further comment, we both walked into the bedroom and began pulling on more clothes, pulling out the electric blankets mom gave us last year and shaking our head at the cruel twist of Karma. With no money to invest in a new AC/Heat system, right now, we decided to just do as we did last year...only problem last year wasn't nearly as cold!

What does no heat have to do with my dreams of my Iditarod Team?

Junie will never survive being my lead dog.

Monday, February 1, 2010

February's Plan

Four weekends + One vacation day = early spring cleaning!

My house is overflowing with too much stuff!! Now, while I am a big culprit of the stuff, it isn’t just my stuff! Ashleigh and Cyra have become “stuffers” too.

My biggest collection of stuff currently is of course my crafting stuff and books.

I have made a huge dent in the books category recently. I donated roughly 150 – 200 books to the library. Many of the books were Cyra’s and Ashleigh’s old books. Many were paperbacks that I read once and had no intention of ever revisiting. That was a good day. And I know I have plenty more to donate.

In the craft department…let’s just say that I have forbidden myself from going into a craft store for at least… a good long time at least! (Unless, of course, I hear that familiar whine, “Oh, Mom, I forgot to tell you about my project…”) I have made a concentrated effort to condense and organize my crafts. The problem is I really need a dedicated craft room. As that isn’t going to happen (since the girls keep fighting me on sharing a room again), one of the plans I am making involves requisitioning space from the attic to create a craft storage area. Now, keeping in mind that there are some things that just shouldn’t be stored in an uninsulated attic, I think that I could potentially reduce my visible craft clutter by a third.

That idea, of course, leads to a major overhaul of the attic itself. Currently, I don’t even want to talk about it! However, I know that at least half of the boxes up there were not even opened after the move, so, that means, whatever is in those boxes, I have lived without for over four years. I’m not sure I even want to open them! I think I would just rather have Salvation Army come and take them all away. That way I know I’ll never miss the stuff, because I don’t remember what stuff it was.

Now, that’s just my stuff. Scott has things in the attic that he will need to go through as well. And the same principle will apply: he has lived without it, therefore he doesn’t need it.

That just leaves the girls. Sometimes I forget how attached to my stuff I was when I was Ashleigh’s age. I know how hard it is to get rid of anything, because of all the memories attached to each item. I wish there was a way I could convince her that the stuffed animal she deems as “the most important thing ever” will, twenty years from now, not matter all that much. I wish that she could know that it isn’t the thing; it is the person who matters.

With Cyra dejunking is slightly easier. We pack up toys that I think she has outgrown and we stash them away in the attic. If after six months she hasn’t pleaded to play with them, then we donate them to the place of her choice. Last year it was her old pre-school. This year, I have a thought that it will be the same. Her memories of her pre-school are vivid, clear and all good.

The very last thing I want to accomplish in my spring cleaning is this: set up an efficient, organized home office. I have horrible organization skills. I am willing to admit that- No, it isn’t really the organization part I have issues with. I can organize. My problem is keeping everything organized. The whole saying, “a place for everything and everything in its place,” has long been my nemesis. Having an organized home office would take more than just organizing. It would take a dedicated, active effort to maintain the organization in the long term.

So, those are the plans for February. Maybe March as well. Hopefully not into April…but I wouldn’t put money on it.