The next chapter: November 2018 update and #NaNoWriMo 2018 wrap up

Ah, friends. So glad you stopped by 🙂

Yesterday was the last day of NaNoWriMo 2018 and I finished with 36,828 words. It’s basically what I predicted. In one way, it’s a comfort that I know myself so well. In another, it’s disappointing that I can no longer push myself beyond what I know to be my limits.

Well, I could, but here I am on December first, exhausted, as it is. Mind you November also gave me the gift of a time shift courtesy of Daylight Savings and that tends to upset my sleep for a week or two afterward. Losing an hour is worse than gaining one. So, there’s that.

Let’s break down the final week of NaNo, shall we?

Sunday last week, I wrote 1,194 words.

Monday, I managed 1,039.

Tuesday, 1,047.

Wednesday, despite having what ended up being a two-hour recording session (I’ll let you know when the result is available online and you can hear what a total nerd I am in comparison to the composed and brilliant people I get to work with), I wrote 1,069 words 🙂

Thursday was another rough day and I only managed 705 words.

And on Friday, I wrote 1,525 words.

NovemberProgress

What that means is that I’m past the first plot point in Tamisashki and heading for the midpoint.

What’s ahead?

I’m going to continue drafting at the much more reasonable pace of 500 words a day. I may write more, particularly on a weekend or day off, but 500/day is my goal pace and if I end up taking a day off here and there, I can definitely afford it 🙂 I’ll probably be drafting into March or April, depending on how things go.

I also have a couple of critiques due, which I’m going to work on in the next week, a DIY MFA team meeting on the 5th, my next column for DIY MFA will be due on the 11th, and I think that will keep me busy for the month.

I’m also going to start my annual planning cycle, set my goals for 2019, and be on the lookout for Jamie Raintree’s 2019 writing and revision planner 😀

Finally, I’m going to shift back into a more normal routine. Curation will pick up again not this coming, but the next week.

In other news, yesterday was also Phil’s last day at his day job. He has to go back to fulfill a couple of key obligations, but he’s now officially retired. Technically, he’s on vacation into the New Year and has some severance that will carry him through until March 31st of 2019. It’s a nice little cushion and will give him the time he needs to decompress and decide what’s next for him.

Torvi is showing every sign of becoming a sweet dog. She still gets inordinately excited when meeting other dogs and people, but she’s calming down. She also still has the irritating habit of getting bity when she has a want and can’t think of another way to express it. And she hasn’t distinguished between good and bad attention yet, but I think she’s beginning to.

Health-wise, I’m quite content, not having had a legitimate period since May. I don’t know whether it’s the ablation, or menopause setting in proper, but it’s wonderful. I’ve settled in at a thirty-pound weight loss since this time last year. I’m almost back to my wedding weight, which is a good place for me to be. While I could stand to lose a little more, I can definitely live with my current size, shape, and general sense of wellbeing.

I’m going to see my doctor this week to check on my blood pressure (I’ve seen signs of elevation, recently—what’s stressful for Phil is also stressful for me; also the uncertainty of not knowing how we’re going to survive after March 31st on half our income—so, yeah), a few new aches and pains, and a particularly irritating keratinaceous growth (AKA, horn) that may need to be removed.

And that’s about it for this month’s update.

Next month will see my end of year wrap-up and I’ll share my 2019 goals.

Until Tipsday fires up again on Dec 11th, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

The Next Chapter

Advertisements

Torvi tales: an overdue post

Torvi

Phil was mucking around with a graphics program and made this 🙂

Torvi turned one on Sept 26, 2018. That was two weeks ago last Wednesday but, at the time, I didn’t have the brain (AKA the wherewithal) to even make a quick post on Facebook about it.

The day job is a continuing challenge to me. It’s been nothing but continual change—and not small or incremental, either—for the past seven years and I think I reached my limit about two years ago. I’ve been running on fumes ever since.

When the latest round of this-is-where-we’re-heading-whether-you-like-it-or-not hit, I was struggling to keep my head above water and my time at home was devoted to finishing up Playing with Fire and trying to do a decent job of critiquing the work of some new writerly friends.

So, I stopped posting my sunrise/sunset and other pics and kept my head down.

Then, Phil’s retirement became official (read real) with a defined last day of work and package. It imposed almost as many burdens/worries as it alleviated, but the decision is made and can’t be taken back.

We’re in for an uncertain time ahead.

Torvi is, as I mentioned in my next chapter post yesterday, still a handful. At Thanksgiving supper last night, I had to keep her on the leash the whole time. She’s just so excited when people come over, and the people she most wants to meet (read jump all over and attack with love) are the least capable of withstanding the Torvi onslaught. I even took her on an extra-long walk yesterday, hoping to burn off some of her energy, but she’d missed her walk the night before as we were out celebrating a friend’s 50th, so it probably just evened out.

She still has fits of bitey-ness, what Phil and I call the pre-poop and post-poop crazies (one because she’s gotta go and the other because she’s so relieved, all she can think to do it take a tear around the house), puts her front paws up on the kitchen counter, dining room table, desk, or other surface, and grabs whatever’s in reach of her toothy maw, and we have to put her in a controlled down (leashing her, getting her to lie down, and stepping on the leash to keep her there) for most evening meals and some breakfasts. Meal times are when she’s most likely to have a fit of the biteys.

Though I walk her twice a day, I still need to get her out to play fetch or recall until she’s burned out. It’s hard to do when I’m pretty burned out myself.

She’s a work-in-progress. Our other two dogs were a year and a half to two years old before they became calm companions.

20180906_072114

Torvi is not amused.

Without further delay, here are the promised Torvi tales:

The skinned knee

As I mentioned, I walk Torvi twice a day, morning and evening. One evening in early August (yes, that’s how long this tale has been waiting for its telling), we were coming home and the light at the intersections changed before I could get to press the walk signal button.

I figured I could do a gentle jog and we’d cross the road in time. It wasn’t something we hadn’t done many times before. We’d even jogged at both obedience classes. Yes, Torvi gets a little excited when I break into a jog, but she usually stays by my side. I thought nothing of it.

This time, Torvi started gambolling about and gambolled right in front of my feet.

I went down, in the middle of the intersection, skinned my knee pretty bad (like, ten-year-old attempts to learn to skateboard bad), bashed up my shoulder through my jean jacket, and lost my glasses. I was mortified. But I didn’t let go of the leash, thank goodness.

Even though all the lanes were filled with waiting vehicles, I didn’t hear one, “are you okay?” I collected myself, retrieved my glasses, and hobbled to the other side of the street. Only then did I think to be miffed at the lack of concern shown by the drivers.

The capri leggings I was wearing were trashed (though, upon consideration later, I thought I should have turned them into bike shorts) and it took the rest of the month for my knee to heal up.

20180826_191501

Gambolling pup.

The toad

Not long afterward, I was taking Torvi out for her pre-bed time pee, and noticed a dark shape moving over the non-lawn. Torvi noticed it before I did and was on it before I could hold her back.

First, she put her mouth on it, and came up with a strange look on her face, licking and drooling. In retaliation for the icky taste, she pounced on the poor thing, but it had already puffed itself up and looked like nothing so much as a stone.

This was the work of seconds and, by the time I hauled her away and further into the yard to do her business, and then into the house, I realized the dark shape had been an innocent toad. And I wasn’t half sure the dear thing had survived Torvi’s attentions.

I got her inside and gave her a big drink of fresh water to get the toad taste out of her mouth. We went to bed, me still worrying about the toad.

It was gone the next morning, though. I like to think it made it to the shelter of the deck (which is where I think it was heading), though it is possible another animal came around and took advantage of the situation. We have foxes, raccoons, and feral cats in the area, any of which could have done the job.

I still say “hi” to our deck toad, though, whether it’s actually there, or not.

20180927_070908

The pic I took on the 26th–happy belated?

My shoes

We’ve been slowly opening the house to Torvi. Initially, we kept all the doors closed and the gate up at the doorway to the side entrance and basement stairs. I’d open the door to whatever room we were in so that we could keep an eye on her and at night, we’d close her in the bedroom with us.

We started by opening the bedroom door at night, but keeping the others closed. Then, we gradually trusted her to have the run of the upstairs until she tore the already ragged bath mat a few new holes, and now we keep the bathroom door shut for the most part.

We’ve started taking the gate down unless Phil’s eating something in his office downstairs, in which case he generally chases Torvi upstairs and puts up the gate himself.

One evening, though, the gate was down and Torvi had gone downstairs for some daddy-time. She generally settles on the old pillows I put down there for her or brings down a toy to chew on. As the sounds of chewing are nothing unusual, Phil didn’t think anything was wrong. Until he got up for a bio-break, and then I heard the shouting from all the way upstairs in my office.

Torvi had taken one of my shoes downstairs and was happily destroying it.

Now, I have foot issues. I’ve had orthotics for years—and yes, they were in the shoes, but, for whatever reason, she hadn’t touched the one in the shoe she chose to chew on—I’ve had plantar fasciitis, and, most recently, compressed fatty pads on my heels. I’d just this year invested in a really good pair of running shoes that have made all the difference. And now it was $200 down the drain, er, the dog’s gullet.

Though there was some great distress, the shoe was chewed and there wasn’t anything I could do that would un-chew it. So, I took the orthotics out of the ruined shoes, tossed the shoes, popped the orthotics into a cheap old pair of walking shoes, and decided to go shopping at my next opportunity.

By the way, the cheap old walking shoes? They’re going to the charity bin. The shoes are still in good shape, but when I took Torvi for her evening walk in those things, it was like walking on slabs of concrete. Even with the orthotics.

Fast-forward to the next day and I’m looking for the same brand and style of running shoe as the pair Torvi had chewed—Saucony Everun. The store was out of stock. So was the other location, not that I’d have driven across town in the moment to get them. I decided to try another pair of Everuns in a different style and size, and decided they’d work. They were $20 cheaper than the style I’d purchased previous and I counted it a win.

Though I’d told the sales associate my dog-gone tale of woe, I repeated my sorry story to the cashier, who, it turns out, was a dog person who knew my pain. She gave me a further discount on the shoes. That’s customer service 🙂

20180917_201146

We now have matching reflective vests for evening walks.

Here ends this riveting edition of Torvi tales.

Doubtless, there will be more to come.

Be well, be kind, and stay strong until next time!

The next chapter: June 2018 update

Hello all you writerly people!

I know I’ve said this often in recent months, but this past month has been a weird one.

It started off well, but in the first full week of June, I was asked to deliver training with just one week to prep in and amongst my other duties. We didn’t even have a proper participant list until the Thursday before the class was to start. At least no one had to travel.

So, a week of frantic prep and two weeks of training followed by five weeks of post-training monitoring (PTM). Yeah, I’m going to be busy through to August.

I’ve had another life lesson confirmed for me. I no longer have to deliver training away from home to feel exhausted by the activity. Introvert me has to be on all the time in front of a class. It really leaves me drained at the end of the day with little to nothing left for my creative pursuits. And what little energy I have is still focused on Torvi, who, while she is showing steady improvement as she grows older, is still a handful. More on the T sitch, later.

On Wednesday of the second week of training, our group was inducted into a new PTM pilot project. The first class and group of monitors was chosen to be the pilot in advance of that class. The participants, their team leaders, and the trainers and monitors were all provided with training and information prior to the class. In other words, they were well-prepared.

Following the training, we were scrambling to mark the final tests, create course summary reports, and my co-facilitator was the lead monitor for the transition week, essentially dedicated advice and guidance for the whole class of fifteen. Plus, we both had our own agents (three each) to take care of.

I won’t get into the details, or this will be a very long, ranty post. Needless to say, it was madness.

JuneProgress

Given the crazy, I think I did pretty good. I wrote more days than not, and I wrote less than I would have liked, but I wrote, and that was the biggest part of the battle. I only wrote 6,635 words of my 10K goal, or 66%.

This means that it will be one more month drafting Playing with Fire. I should, however, finish the draft by the end of July.

I wrote 3,363 words on this blog, or 129% of my 2,600-word goal, got my DIY MFA column in early at a honkin’ 2,141 words, or 241%, and assembled my last Sudbury Writers’ Guild newsletter at 4,072 words, or 102% of goal.

In all, I wrote 16,213 words in June, or 92% of my monthly writing goal. Not too shabby 🙂

I did nothing in terms of creative events this month, but I did have supper with a good friend the other night. We haven’t seen each other in forever and it was lovely to catch up.

This coming month, however, I’ll have a couple of events to share. I’ll be heading down to Ad Astra next weekend, and the Sudbury Writers’ Guild will be holding a workshop with Gail Anderson-Dargatz on the 28th.

I may have another critique group in the making. I’ll find out more tomorrow and be sure to fill you in when I compose next month’s update.

In other news …

Phil continues to trudge toward sanity at work. It’s still rough, but they’ve hired someone who’ll be able to ease some of Phil’s burden and who’ll be starting mid-month. There will be some training before the new hire is going to be able to take some of the workload off Phil’s shoulders, but it’s another small win.

Health-wise, I’m pretty much sorted. My doctor put me through a battery of blood screenings, and other tests, and all of the results came back showing that I’m in good health. The one issue I’d wanted to investigate turns out just to be age-related and manageable without medication. Oh, and I have fibroids, which I didn’t have a few months ago, but I haven’t experienced any problems as a result of them. Funny, I don’t feel old enough to have these problems …

And … five months after the ablation, I had my first non-period. It was essentially just prolonged spotting. I’m cautiously optimistic.

We have one class left in Torvi’s intermediate obedience. As I said above, she’s improving, but she’s still a handful. One bit of progress is that I was able to take her across town in the car—without meds (!) I think we’ll be able to stop using them soonish. She may never enjoy the car, and she’ll probably drool every time we take a ride, but she’s not really distressed, and she hasn’t thrown up.

I took her to get her nails trimmed and she was snappy with the groomer. They may have to muzzle her in the future 😦

Feisty pup is feisty.

Tomorrow, I’m going to introduce her to a beach and see if she’ll swim. If, as I suspect, she’s got a good bit of husky in her, she may not do more than wade in and get her belly wet. I’ll be instagramming the pics.

And that was a month in this writer’s life.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: May 2018 update

Hello, all you writerly people!

It’s time for my next chapter update for May 2018.

Looks like I’m finding my stride. Things were going so well with the drafting of Playing with Fire, that I actually decided to take a purposeful break to read the draft to date. The problem I was encountering is that it’s taken me so long, relatively speaking, to draft the darned thing that I started to forget what I’d written way back in November (or December, January, February, March, or April!).

It’s been niggling at me for a while, and sometimes, I’d just go back to the chapter I suspected contained the bit I was looking to be refreshed on, but that got cumbersome, particularly since, once there, I’d start tweaking …

K.M. Weiland has been mentioning how she does a periodic re-read of her WIP, and I decided to give it a try. It was a nice rest, and a great way to tighten some of my plot threads, especially since I didn’t have to time to do much of an outline for this novel before I started drafting.

MayProgress

Even with the break, about nine days, I still managed to surpass my 7,500-word writing goal. I wrote 8,302 words, or 111%.

I’m enjoying the break from weekend blogging as well, and though I adjusted my blogging goal to 3,000 words, even with just the curation posts going up, I managed to write 3,940 words on the blog, or 131% of my goal.

I met my DIY MFA deadline with a long column of 1,739 words, or 174% of my goal, and aggregated my penultimate Sudbury Writers’ Guild newsletter at 6,777 words, or 169% of that goal.

So, it’s been a good month, writing-wise.

The burnout thing

I promised to tell you how the whole burnout thing was going.

Well, after a lot of soul-searching, pondering, and some all-out navel-gazing, I’ve finally figured out why I’ve suffered such a protracted burnout in the past year. And, let’s be clear, I’ve been struggling since at least the beginning of 2017. It might, in fact, be longer than that.

Part of it is historical. It’s my writing wound, the lie I believe about myself as a creative person and about my work. If you’re ever curious and you have the time, you can read the posts in the category, My History as a So-called Writer. That will give you the low-down.

The short version is that my creative life has been full of threshold guardians (in hero’s journey terms), who’ve blocked me, stunted my growth, and betrayed me in various fashions. When I finally found my way back to a consistent writing practice in 2007, I thought I’d conquered those demons. In that version of victory, all the naysayers were wrong, and I was just going to do what I wanted. Screw them.

That, it turns out, was only half the battle. It’s the bitter legacy those experiences left me with that make me innately distrustful of handing my work off to anyone else, whether a friend, beta reader, editor, or … anyone. I don’t believe that the advice I receive is in the story’s best interest. Or mine. I always see it in terms of a personal attack, though unconsciously. I’m aware of it now but, in the moment, I often slip back into old ways of thinking.

While I’ve had some writing success, that lie has never left me. It’s made finding a critique group difficult. It makes working with editors a bit fraught. It also leaves me thinking that I’m not, at heart, a good writer (passable good, not even great) and that people are just humouring me. It’s not merely imposter syndrome. It’s a deep distrust of anyone else’s opinion of my work.

There’s been a lot of self-sabotage involved, mostly unconscious.

This is what I’m working to overcome now. It’s a process. It’s going to take time.

The next piece of the puzzle is that, in January of 2016, after decades of what we thought was good health, Phil went to the clinic thinking he might have shingles, and came home (well, there was some bloodwork in there) with multiple diagnoses: type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and possibly shingles.

He had no rash, though. Several months passed and the doctor said, fibromyalgia. Several more months passed, and they finally settled on widespread diabetic neuropathy. Until the doctor found the right combination of meds, there were some horrible times, but it all worked out. Eventually.

Two of the meds Phil was on were Lyrica (an antidepressant found to be effective for nerve pain) and Cymbalta (an anticonvulsant also found to be effective for nerve pain). Aside from managing his pain and elevating his mood (it has often been said of my husband that the inside of his skull is painted black), both medications increased the amount of melatonin in his system.

Phil, who had always been a night owl and considered sleep to be the enemy, was now getting the best sleep of his life. Things went well for a while.

Then, because he got a promotion that required occasional travel, Phil decided to stop both the Lyrica and Cymbalta. He couldn’t risk falling asleep at the wheel. Combine this with a progressively complex and worsening situation at his employer (ongoing) and things quickly went from bad to worse.

The health problems shook me, probably more than I’d care to admit. It was after Phil’s health situation resolved that I started to feel the real effects of the burnout.

But it was the work situation that broke the peace of our household. I was used to living with Mr. Grumpy Pants, but his problems at work followed him home and made everything more difficult. It was about that time that we brought Torvi home. The extra stress of bringing up puppy did not help.

Also in the mix was my great adventure of last year. Though Phil encouraged me to go, I felt horribly guilty about the expense. I’ll just be paying off the last of that debt this month.

Add to all that my own health problems. Though less life-threatening than Phil’s, they were affecting my quality of life. Now that most of them have been addressed, I’m in a much better place.

But every time I tried to dig myself out of the hole, emotionally speaking, in the last couple of years something popped up and dragged me back down. I’ve suffered several episodes of depression, panic attacks, and poor quality of sleep (resulting from the other two).

Most of these issues are resolving. I’ve had my ablation and other health issues are being investigated. I’ve lost about 25 pounds. I’ve gotten back to my regular writing practice and it’s feeling good. Torvi, at eight months and in her second obedience class, is becoming a good dog but, that too is a process.

Really, it’s just Phil’s work situation that’s the continuing problem but, though there’s still no end in sight, slow progress is being made. There’s hope that things might be largely sorted by the end of this year. We just have to hang in there.

I’m sure other world events have played their parts, but I’m actively seeking to minimize their effects on me.

I’ll keep you updated, for those who want to know.

My writerly event of the month

On May first (May Day, Beltaine—yes, I’m a paganish sort) I went to see the staged reading of the latest iteration of Kim Fahner’s play, Sparrows Over Slag. It was part of Play Smelter, which ran the rest of the week. It was fascinating to see the evolution of Kim’s play, of which I was privileged to read an early draft.

20180501_171021

She gave a lovely Q&A afterward that gave further insight into her process. Writing a play is a different beast than any other kind of writing, even screenplays.

Later that week, I had lunch with Kim, who was only in Sudbury for a couple of weeks around Play Smelter. She’s been in south western Ontario, working hard on her craft and trying to figure out her next steps, creatively.

Just chatting over lunch was a balm. We are soul sisters and that won’t change wherever she goes and whatever she chooses to do.

And that’s it for this month’s next chapter update.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: March 2018 update

Hey there, writerly peoples!

March appears to be the month when I got back on track with my writing. I didn’t write more days than I wrote at the beginning of the month, but that eventually changed. Toward the end of the month I wrote more days than I didn’t, but the days I didn’t write were the result of other commitments, namely Torvi’s obedience classes, the newsletter due date, and the necessary days juggling priorities before I could get back to the page.

MarchProgress

I adjusted my goals, given my limited progress in the first couple of months of this year. Still, with respect to my work on Playing with Fire, I fell short. Of my 5,000-word goal, I wrote 3,989 words, or 80% of my goal. Still, it’s close to four thousand words I didn’t have before. I’m pleased.

March was a long month and I estimated 7,400 words written on the blog … of which I only wrote 4,954, or 67%. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m okay with blogging less. It’s been a rough period for me, writing wise, and I’m happy that I can keep it up. Some of my friends have advised me to cut back on the blogging and it’s something I’m considering, but I haven’t committed to it yet, and I don’t know how it might look moving forward.

Once again, the newsletter was my overachiever. I wrote 5,113 words of my 4,000-word goal, or 128%. As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I want to move this commitment off my plate as well.

I anticipate that April will be another rough month. My most recent column for DIY MFA was unusually problematic and ended up being a little late. While I wrestled with that, PwF languished again.

I’m trying to get our tax information assembled, but Phil’s employer has announced a third T4 will be issued to correct errors in the other two. So that’s going to take some time away from the writing, too.

I have to compile all my writerly expenses and, this year, for the first time in a number of years, I have absolutely no income. In the past, even if I didn’t have any sales of short stories to declare, I had workshop or panel honoraria that filled in the gap. I’m almost ashamed to send in 2017’s information showing no income at all.

Things in other aspects of my life are sorting themselves out and this helps. Torvi is maturing and with the obedience classes, she’s showing progress. We have a way to go. She’s just six months old and experience tells me that it’ll be a year or two before she settles into the dog she’s destined to be.

Between the Thunder Shirt and the anti-emetic medication, car rides aren’t quite as fraught as they once were. I really hope she grows out of the car sickness. Because we live in an urban area, we have to drive just to give her a good, long walk at the conservation area or go to a dog park.

Funny Torvi fact: she has butt-hackles. It may be because she still wears a harness most of the time, but where most dogs would have hackles rise the length of their spines, Torvi’s hair only lifts on her butt. It’s adorable.

Phil’s work situation is slowly resolving itself and my day job is levelling out, so the household is happier in general, these days.

Finally, my health situation is also settling. My menstrual difficulties have decreased to the point that, if this is as good as it gets, I’m satisfied. The procedure was worth it and if I have to do it again, I will. Yay, ablation.

And that’s about it for this update.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

The Next Chapter

Muse-inks: Improvements all around

Reader, I bought Torvi a Thunder Shirt. All I have to say is a-MA-zing! I put it on her the day Phil brought it home (last Sunday) and the beast just went into the bedroom, hopped up on the bed, and curled up.

I thought, perhaps, it was an anomaly, but I started putting it on her every afternoon when we got home from work. And she was noticeably calmer.

20180328_172249

Here she is modelling the TS.

Then, on Tuesday, I went to my vet for Torvi’s flea and tic medication and asked about motion sickness meds. I went home with some to try.

On Thursday, Mom also came with me to obedience. Between the TS, the meds, and Mom, Torvi survived class number two without vomiting, or behaving like a twit.

Mellie haz a happy.

I’ve slowly been increasing my writing production, and I revised my goals (again). I’m pleased with my progress. I’m writing most days. Thursdays, of course, are still a write off.

Things have improved for Phil at work. The promised assistance is slow in coming, but the powers that be have eased up on his deadlines and the other demands on his time and expertise. Though not perfect, the situation should return to pre-crisis levels of stress soonish.

There’s a bit of a shake up coming at my employer, though. My manager is moving on to another assignment and my team will once again be headed by actors. We have about 35 people on the team, so we have two managers. The other permanent manager has been off on maternity leave since last fall.

I know my new manager. We’ve actually been colleagues in the past. It should be a good thing. As ever, we’ll have to wait and see.

20180331_165536

One bloom … two blooms … three blooms … four! Four blooms! Ahahahahaha! (My imitation of The Count from Sesame Street.)

The only negative is that, after weeks of melting, we’re getting a dumping of ten centimetres of snow today. I’ll take it. March did come in rather lamb-like. It’s going out lionish. It’s to be expected in northeastern Ontario.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

Muse-inks: Obedience begins (disastrously) and baby steps

The news of the week is that Torvi and I started beginner obedience classes with Tammy St. Louis of Skiplyn Kennels.

The church where the classes take place is a 30-minute drive away. Of course, despite Mom taking up her food earlier in the day, Torvi vomited on the way there. She didn’t on the return journey, but the entire back seat was wet with drool. And she howls, she’s so miserable in the car. I felt horrible for her.

So, I’m going to see if I can find her a Thunder Shirt. If that doesn’t work, I’ll move on to the meds our vet said they could dispense.

Once at the class, I remembered that I’d forgotten to buy a 6-foot leash, her collar was too loose, her Halti was too big, and she was declared “chubby.”

We managed to get through the class without a major incident, though. Torvi was absolutely exhausted. She just perked up today.

I’ve showed Mom and Phil the exercises I learned, and we are all working diligently with Torvi. She’s already showing some signs of improvement, though we’re not sure how much of that is from the stress and exhaustion and how much is from the practice. Shrug.

All of the pets we’ve raised have been neurotic, one way or another. I don’t think Torvi will be any different.

20180324_162401

Here she is. That’s actually the beginning of a yawn 🙂

20180324_161546

And here’s a pic of the orchids’ progress. It’s kind of like Pilgrim’s Progress, but with flowers 😀

I didn’t write or work on my curation Thursday night and caught up on my curation on Friday.

Tonight, I attended a friend’s 40th birthday party, stayed for the opening of the gifts and cake, and then came home to finish this post.

I’m also working on my first critique for my group.

I’ll head out on the writing trail again tomorrow. And I’m good with that.

Progress is being made, but in baby steps. Baby steps are still steps. It’s all good.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

Muse-inks: Gittin’ ‘er done

I’m writing again, slowly building back up. I probably won’t write today because the weekend has gotten away from me and the Sudbury Writers’ Guild Newsletter is due. But it feels good to be getting words on the page.

At work, we’re almost at the end of the fiscal year and so somethings have settled down. Our problematic pay system is still problematic, but our employer has agreed to hold off on the collection of overpayments until all underpayments have first been issued. The union fought hard for the concession and I’m grateful, not so much for myself, though I have been affected, but for all the employees less fortunate than me facing huge overpayments or underpayments.

It’s a serious situation. On one hand, some employees haven’t been able to pay their mortgages and loans. Some haven’t been able to pay rent or for day care. On the other hand, employees are delaying retirement, or turning down promotions because they fear that their pay will be stopped, as has happened to other employees.

Progress is being made, but it’s slow, and for some, it’s already too late.

Phil’s work situation hasn’t improved. The promise of help isn’t materializing and he’s still facing a number of deadlines that he can’t meet on his own. It’s just not possible, and though consequences are continually threatened, no one is willing to explain exactly what those consequences are.

We aren’t really in the financial situation to allow Phil to retire, and he’s not willing to take a stress leave, though things are bad enough that he has considered it.

It’s incredibly frustrating and Phil can’t help but bring it all home. Our crazy bout of cold/flu (we’re heading into week three and it’s not just cough and congestion—aches, weakness, and nausea have joined the party) hasn’t helped.

Several my colleagues at work have been stricken. It’s not fun.

Torvi was spayed, chipped, and got her final vaccines this past week. With those procedures done, she’s officially transferred from the rescue’s ownership to ours. She was sent home with three days of Metacam and Trazodone (that’s an anti-anxiety med) to keep her calm. That course of treatment is now complete, and the Torvi-beast is back to her old, pugilistic self.

Dr. Andrews did a fabulous job. The stitches are internal and dissolving. I wasn’t able to get a decent picture of that, but here’s her intravenous site, fully healed. Trust me, her incision looks just as good. And, I took another picture of her in a rare, calm moment.

I’ve signed us up for beginner obedience starting this coming Thursday for ten weeks.

I hope that our Torvi stresses (relatively minor as they are) will soon be at an end.

20180318_135531

The orchids continue to cheer me with their bloomage.

And that’s been a week in this writer’s life.

I hope y’all had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day and that the spring equinox brings some light back into your lives.

And now, it’s on to the newsletter!

Until Tuesday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

Muse-inks: Sick away and figuring out where the stirrup is

This past week, I spent most of it out of town at a learning event for work. I carpooled with three of my colleagues, none of whom drive. The rental agency gave me a Ford Expedition, which I appreciated on the winter highways, but not so much in the parking garages of North York and Richmond Hill.

The hotel we stayed at was driving distance and we had to find parking at the office every morning. The mornings weren’t so bad. It was travelling down Tuesday and trying to find parking around noon that was the challenge. I levelled up my large vehicle driving skills, though.

And, as I mentioned last week, I had a cold the whole time. Being sick away is exhausting. I still have the dregs, but I’m in recovery.

Phil was not so lucky. I shared my illen with him prior to my departure and, as he texted me on Tuesday, “the man cold dialled up to eleven.” He’s still quite sick, but he’s determined to go back to work tomorrow because of the difficulties I’ve mentioned in past posts.

Torvi was quite good for him through the week but, because he was sick, Phil shipped her over to my mom’s most days, so he could stay in bed. Torvi destroyed Mom’s welcome mat, two hats, and she’s had to move the hall tree (an antique) into the basement and close the door. Torvi was jumping on it and threatened to tip it over.

Once Torvi is spayed and has her final vaccines, I’m definitely investing in obedience training.

While I was down south, because I was sick and on call for driving duties, I didn’t really have a lot of time to devote to creativity. I generally tackled essential duties, like curation, and went to bed early.

I let things slide Friday night after my return and caught up yesterday, though I was obliged to have not one, but two, naps yesterday. I should be fit to return to work tomorrow as well, though.

I did write a little bit in the last week, however. Sunday and Monday nights, I was able to commit a few words to Playing with Fire, and on Thursday night, I wrote a few more. Yay me 🙂

This is where “figuring out where the stirrup is” comes in. I’m ready to get back on the writing horse again, but the first step is to figure out where the stirrup is. One can’t get back in the saddle until one finds the stirrup. Not everyone has the ability to vault onto the horse and ride bareback 😉

I suppose I could have extended the metaphor to saddling the horse and tightening the girth, but the horse has been saddled and waiting for me since I started to think about PwF again. I think I’ll leave the equine metaphor there for now.

This morning we lost an hour. Daylight savings time is another challenging time of year for me. It usually takes me a week to properly adjust my sleeping and waking habits. I’m hoping my naps yesterday helped. We are creeping closer to the vernal equinox, though, and spring. It’s lighter in the mornings and the quality of the light is changing as the earth shifts on its seasonal axis. My mood is improving.

I also have my follow up appointment with my gynecologist for the ablation this week. So far, I have experienced two very light periods and I have stopped discharging in between. I’m seeing it as a good sign and have stopped taking my iron supplements. I’m going to let my body adjust to its new normal and hope that I don’t get anemic again. The blood tests will tell the tale, though.

I’ve also lost about twenty pounds since last fall. It’s mostly been due to Torvi and my increased level of activity from walking, caring, and playing with her. I weighed the Torvi-beast this morning, BTW … She’s 48 pounds (!)

I have hope that this cold was just a stress thing and that my recovery heralds an overall improvement in my health. There’s still Phil’s uncertain work situation and my ongoing pay difficulties that have to be overcome. Those were the stressors that helped to make both of us vulnerable and until we both have solutions in place, I anticipate that we will continue to face a few challenges.

My critique group has, after a delay due to various members moving and adjusting to life in new time zones, started up. This is another good thing.

20180311_141325

And … my orchids are in flowering mode again!

I’m going to be taking some time in the next week to try to refocus and organize my life again. I have been in denial that I could take on pup parenthood and that I could still devote the same kind of time to everything else in my life.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, something’s gotta give. I don’t want that something to be my writing anymore and it can’t be Phil, Torvi, or the rest of my family. Fiscal necessity means it can’t be the day job, at least not in the short term.

What does that leave? That’s where things get interesting and that’s where my efforts will focus for the foreseeable.

All these things are first world problems, though. That is to say, they’re not really weighty problems in the bigger scheme of things. I have to keep things in perspective and hope I’m not whinging too much.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

Muse-inks: Hanging in there

Another week has passed without a single word being written on my WIP. There. I wrote it down. It must be true.

Things at work continue to be stressful. The latest, poor feedback on the training I did a couple of weeks ago has resulted in an additional workshop, hastily pulled together, which only five of the eleven participants are taking part in. If it was that much of an issue, I’m sure all of them would have signed on.

Admittedly, two of them did withdraw from the mentoring phase of training and returned to their normal duties and one returned to his specialized unit where he had already been doing most of what we were delivering the training on, but still. Eight people should have signed on.

It’s the reactionary nature of my employer, though. So, I’ll do what I’ve been asked to do.

And then, I’m heading out of town for most of a week for an in-person team meeting, leaving Phil and my mom to deal with what I expect to be a very upset Torvi. This will be the first time I’ve been away overnight, or for more than a day.

I don’t think I’m going to be able to get much writing done over the next couple of weeks, either.

Things should ease off after that, though.

I signed up for Jennifer Louden’s Get back to Creating workshop, though, and while I didn’t participate, I did watch the videos and garnered some tips for when I’ll be ready to use them.

And I have been thinking about Playing with Fire in the last week. That’s something.

Phil’s work troubles aren’t quite at an end yet, either. Again, progress is being made, enough for Phil to feel comfortable taking a few days off, but it’s a slow process and new crises seem to pop up on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, Phil took Friday off to deal with a leak in the basement. It’s been warm (above zero degrees Celsius) and rainy in the last week or so. A fair amount of freezing rain as well. He’s waiting for the next deluge to see if his repairs will address the problem. If not, he may be obliged to rent a jackhammer and install some weeping tile inside the basement (below the concrete) to divert the water to the sump pump, which has, interestingly enough, remained dry the whole time.

This has, of course, meant, that while the basement is once more in disarray, it is forbidden to Torvi. Just a week after having opened it up to her, we’ve had to deny her access. It’s been a challenge. She doesn’t understand 😦

Torvi Tales (Tails?)

A couple of things have happened in the last week that have been amusing.

One night, after she’d settled down, Torvi was sleeping on her back, which she still often does, propped against my legs as I worked at my standing desk. Without warning, or my human ears detecting any noise, Torvi flips over with a thump and charges for the front of the house, barking like mad.

It was enough to get Phil up from downstairs.

I think she was dreaming.

With all the freezing rain, just getting Torvi out to do her business is a challenge. The first day, she was sliding down the driveway (her favourite place to do number one) while she peed. The look on her face was priceless.

She hasn’t attempted to pee in the driveway since, though. It’s meant an increase in accidents indoors. With a week of above-zero daytime temperatures and freezing overnight, I don’t anticipate remediation in the short term.

But, she’s our sweetie.

And here she is, challenging Mommy to play.

The current list of Torvi’s nicknames: Torv, the Torvster, Torvina, Torvi-adore (like toreador, and yes, I sometimes hum Tosca to her), turkey-Torvi (cause she can be), sweetie, sweet pea, love/my love/little love, lovey-bum, fuzzy butt, puppy love, wee one (we call all of our dogs that), and Phil has come up with an elaborate one … Torvi Consuela Josephine. Don’t ask me why. He can’t even explain where the impulse came from.

So that is the weekly update.

Until Tuesday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks