Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Not my Sock Collection

I appreciate the swapping of dollars during the holidays. While I am spending money on flowers, gloves, things of art...that kind of stuff, for gifts for those I love there are the ones I love doing the same for me. This year was the Great Cash Swap. Since the cash was a gift I felt compelled to purchase things just for me, as if it was a gift. Seemed fitting. I renewed my sock collection, for starters. I updated one of my cardigans even. And then I did the ultimate...I spent the rest all on one thing. I got me one big thing all at once. I'm still surprised. It's hard for me to surprise me. I got an iPad with wireless keyboard. I'm so cool.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Notes from the Castle

I love being able to use the "royal we". As in, we have a new blog now. Or, we have opened the site to view - although I still have everything pretty much tucked away until the New Year unveiling.

With a blog name of Notes from the Castle I can be "royal" any time I wish. 'Cept it should be noted (and shouted from the rafters) that my illustrator is hard at work even as I type this. I will be as excited as any readers to see what she sends over. So, this truly is a "we" effort. And of course, yes, we are "royal".

I've included the link above and here for Notes from the Castle. Put it on your list of must-see's in the new year.

I am shamelessly promoting this one.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


There was a time when my two daughters would not live under the same roof. There was a time when nothing that was said was welcome between the two of them. There was a time when I extended dinner a full hour so they would each eat with me, but not together.

Times change.

Life is good.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Everyone SING!

Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday dear Sarah! (lilt up here for a different tone...)
Happy Biiirrrthdddaaaay to Meeeeeeee......


Friday, December 17, 2010

New directions - Steps 21-23

Step #21 (of 36,432 steps)
Blog launch is coming along. I have an illustrator now. She is excited and looking forward to the whole idea of being an illustrator. I've been putting finishing touches on some new posts for the new blog. Funny, as I re-read, re-view and generally polish up what I've written I'm not sure I would call these fariytales. It makes me wonder how my voice will change and grow this coming year. Three posts a week is quite a challenge. I'm feeling good about stretching myself this way.

Step #23
I'll be talking with some folks that are a little quicker in the CSS side of blog management than I. That's the side that adds style and formatting to a blog. I found a nice background that fits the tone of what I think I'm going for. Cross your fingers that I will have "the look" I had hoped for when I first envisioned this.

Blog launch is set for January 1st. I'm over at Wordpress for now. I'll give an actual address for RSS feed and Readers sometime between Christmas and New Years. This is a rather public challenge for me. Public in a different way than running the 1/2 marathon last year. It is still every bit the challenge the marathon was. It definitely has the same bit of excitement.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Slush of Christmas

A friend of mine does one giving/charity thing a year. She's adamant that she does this one event. She is adamant that she only needs to do this event. It takes three weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas and she's done and happy. I say, Bravo.

As we were hanging out this weekend my friend was filling me in on the goings on with her event. Two weekends ago the group had come together at the storage garage and sorted and counted and generally put all the donations in order. Last weekend the group had gone out to the storage garage and filled stockings, gotten all the gifts wrapped that called for wrapping and had set up stations for getting the goods to the event next weekend. This coming week-end is the give-away for those that have signed up.

Here's the part that surprised me...They also went to a neighboring group that does the same thing (but earlier this year) and picked up all the goodies that had not been taken. It was a lot. Add to my surprise that previous years that other group usually came to my friend's group and picked up the left-overs. There are always a lot.

I had no idea. There is a slush in giving. Amazing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Twenty two months since I was laid off. That's how long it takes to replace a good job.

[Thank you for great friends with leads and bush beating abilities, for strong family and unconditional love, for contract positions to tide me over, for a beautiful city to explore in the meantime. Thank you for all the wonderful "in the meantimes". ]

Yes, congratulations ARE in order. My bottle of Stella Rosa is chilling in the frig waiting for me to get home. I brought the bottle with me from Wisconsin to Washington. It is finally time to enjoy it. I have arrived.

Monday, December 13, 2010

If ideas feed's a banquet

In the mess of papers I have been attempting to make order from [okay, trying to toss them out - but I have to read them first, you know.] I found and rescued five [yes, as in the number 5] stories that either need cleaning up, or finishing.

The fairytale blog is coming along. The plan is to write and post three stories a week. For a year. Right now I feel like I'm filling the chute. I started carrying a little [really little] notebook to jot down ideas in. One idea per page - in one week - eight pages. It truly is amazing how an idea feeds on itself if you let it. (So, choose wisely which ideas to feed on.)

There is a quote [I should go look for the author except I'm paraphrasing so heavily], A writer writes, and writes, and writes. An author writes and writes then throws out most of it, only keeping what is good. Today, I'm a writer.

Throughout the year there's going to be some stories that fall flat on their face [I hope to cull those out before I hit "publish post"]. And then there'll be some real sparklers, some unforgettable stories that take hold and hang on. These are what I write for.

I take requests. And they are fun to write. Doug, per your request I wrote a story with a messenger on a bicycle heading for the Mountain of the Giants. This is the'll have to wait until the blog opens to read it. [wink, wink]

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Paper shuffle

Amazing how paper spontaneously spawns more paper. I've been shifting through the paper that has grown in my apartment. It seems kind of like rabbits, once they start making babies there's no stopping them. I have a multitude of stacks of paper throughout the apartment. I don't know how they got there, how they grew so tall, nor what is in the stacks. Until, of course, I started filtering through them.

I have receipts. I don't know why. I have an entire stack of job postings I printed. It was a foot tall. Each of these papers have little notes written regarding key points, dates of application submittals, if I was able to contact anyone - or sent anything snail mail. It's rather depressing, that stack. I've made a new stack of most of it. That stack has a post-it on the top page. The post-it reads, "Shred".
Another stack is all the interesting things that catch my attention. What a cluster of random bits. There is no ryhme or reason to any of it. Much of it does not catch my attention today. Possibly because it is just a stack of paper. I've pulled up whole magazines - tore out the page I wanted and tossed the rest. I've made little stacks of paper hoping to find some themes among the mess. Big stacks into little stacks. Is this any different than big rocks into little rocks? I'm chained to paper. I have tablets and tablets of paper I've written on. Ideas, stories, whining bits, plans quickly forgotten. There's a page or two left to each tablet. Not much more. I wonder that I don't finish down to the last page of paper in the tablet.

The most interesting pieces of paper are the ones I started stories on. It's interesting to me that most of them have a fairytale theme. It makes me wonder how long I have had this idea in my head. I've put those papers aside so that I will flesh them out; hopefully make something of them. Once I've transposed a story from paper into a posted blog I toss out the paper. I do this with great flourish. It feels good. It feels better than crossing out lines on my To-do list.

Big stacks of paper down to little stacks of paper. It's like the leaves that seem to stay on the lawn after raking and bagging up the rest. More will fall from the trees anyway. It's like finding a glass in the living room after doing all the dishes. It's a seed to start the next crop of dishes. I would like a smaller crop.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fireworks of Christmas

Is it Christmas or is it Fireworks? Ah! It's Seattle Downtown on a lovely December Friday Night.I dallied downtown on the way home tonight. Life is good.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pay Day Party and a Dressing Down

My new roommates, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and I had our first successful Pay Day Party. The first one didn't work so well. At least we tried again.

Has anyone ever noticed that talking about money among loved ones is almost certain to cause a little friction, maybe a defensive attitude, maybe a shouting match or slamming doors? Or driving away with the checkbook? Okay, it doesn't get that bad at my house (though it used to). Talking to my daughters about their financial obligations sucks. Either one of them will shut down, or become defensive and leave the room with strained mumblings of, "not today, Mom." They need some assistance, if nothing else, at least in the ability to sit down and look at the figures, hopefully to get in the habit of regular financial maintenance for their lives. In an attempt to instill some life habits I set up the Pay Day Party.

On Pay Day we have a party. It comes with food and drink, a calculator, bank statements (most up to date printed) and bills. The first time I announced a Pay Day Party no one took me serious. And then they got upset because they had other plans to hang out with friends. "Oh, Mom...." the television got turned off as they singularly and together left the house to go "hang out". I tried again.

Last night we had a wonderful, delicious, actually funny time at our party. When I got home from work the television was already turned off. Frozen pizza (baked of course) and a couple shots and then we talked numbers. We talked Christmas gifts (calculator). We talked transportation and food (calculator). We talked old bills hanging over our heads and how to get to the other side (no calculator - just keep it on the back burner, but turn it up, tabled for next time). It was really pretty cool. Everyone has a plan of action for the next week (including me). We will report back at the next Pay Day Party in two weeks on how each of our projects went. There's an implied code of silence between now and then, but I get the feeling the silence will break when the projects get tackled successfully. We'll see. We all sat happy at the table when these lively money conversations became exhausted. Thing 1 said, "Yep, Let's do this again."

And then the girls started in on me. I got a dressing down as I haven't had in quite some time. "Mom, we need to do something about your hair." (I'm between cuts - I don't know if I should keep growing it or not...I dunno) "Mom, can we go shopping for you? You really shouldn't go shopping without a second opinion." "Mom, you're so young - you need to look it. I'm gonna make sure you do." "You've got to update your wardrobe, really. There's stuff there that shouldn't be." Thing 1 comes up behind me and starts telling me how to get my hair cut. "It's too full in the back. Really, let's lighten it up back here. And then the front let's swoop it down this way. It's not meant to be behind your ears. It frames your face beautifully, let's use it this way." She's running her fingers through my hair - re-shaping everything about it.

I was being tag teamed. I was being corralled. There was no stopping it. They were on a roll. I was merely a pawn at the table while they fussed and feathered. Good thing I'd had a few drinks. It was fun, it was loving. Except that this morning I'm feeling a little wounded. Or bruised, or something. I have a maybe-I-should-go-hide, kind of feeling. This is foreign to me.

One should not let two very young, very beautiful ladies tell one what works and what doesn't. What doesn't work is probably what one is doing.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I'm on a Boat

So are Thing 1 and 2 - I'm going to have to beat them with a stick today to get them to send the photos they took of me...(yeah, that would work.) One of my favorite things to do is to ride the ferry across Puget Sound and back. I love the view, the feel of a boat (albeit a big one), the people watching, and the feel of going nowhere - just going.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

On a more personal note...

I just had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine. She filled me in on the gossip in our circle of friends. One thing that we talked at length on, that has still caught my imagination, is that people change when they become involved with others. She noted some changes in one friend in particular and I can't help but wonder if the changes we notice aren't a reflection of what these two people wanted in a relationship. Currently, they appear happy with each other, with their lives, with where they are and where they are headed. It's not necessarily what anyone else would have expected of each of them alone, or even of them as a couple. From where I stand it's not my call, but it looks good. I'm happy for them - together and individually.

What has caught my attention is that people do change when they are in a relationship. I have been alone long enough that I am looking forward to the changes that are imminent once I get to share my time, my space and my life. Will the changes be surprising? Probably. Probably surprising to me as well. Will I have to defend my choices? Isn't that an interesting bit? It dawns on me that while I've been alone I only defend myself. I could never do justice in defending one that attaches to me. Isn't it enough that one would be with me? That should be defense enough for any of my friends. It is a strong enough statement, I think, that some one would be by my side - that'd be pretty damn awesome all by itself.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cooking behind the scenes

I've been giving some thoughts to my new blog. I've been reading my favorite blogs and making mental notes on why they are favorites. Many of them are favorites to tens of thousands of people. Hey, how'd they do that? Today I clicked away from some of my favorites with a sense of how easily they wrote, or how easy it was to read. They make it look easy. Yes, there are a couple blogs that work at trying to be engaging or interactive. I generally don't take the bait, but when they are not working the crowd they are delightful.

I've been getting some writing done. I've been looking into themes and wondering how much of the CSS I want to mess with to get a nice page view with the flavor I want to create. I'm cooking, I guess. I'm still getting everything out on the counter - the sugar and flour and baking powder (hmm, must be pancakes). I'm writing and searching, bookmarking and downloading. I've been keeping a paper log of what I mean to accomplish here. One thing I want to accomplish is trusting myself that I can do this.

I don't know at what point I start mixing the ingredients. I don't have all I need yet to assemble this thing. The reveal will be at the end of the month. There...there's the deadline. Oh gawd, I better get moving on this!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Somebody's sister

I talked to my little brother Monday night on the phone while I waited for the bus. I live in Seattle. He lives in Manhattan. My 5:00 pm is his 8:00 pm. I prefer to talk on the phone after I get home for the night. I also prefer to talk to my brother when he is awake. I'm not so good with time management - in that, I have not made a concerted effort to talk to my brother since August. I miss him.

My mother fills me in with the major events in my brother's life. So to hear he has bought a new home is humongous. I heard the news in late October, maybe it was November. I don't know. I just know the kids are doing great and the whole family will be moving to temporary digs while the new place is getting a major overhaul before they move in (seems fixer-upper is an understatement). Thing is we are chatting on the phone yesterday, laughing about moving and up-heavals and discussing the differences between the Webster meaning of "fixer-upper" and Realtor-ese meanings of "fixer-upper" and various other terms. It's no big deal. But, I feel better today. I always feel better after talking to my brothers.

My little brother has been meaning to call me when he read an article in the NYTimes. Tuesday morning he sent me the link. It seems my brother has been meaning to call me since October 25th. Gee Whiz! You'd think we're from the same family!

Oh, that's right...we are.