Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Waiting for Someone

I am waiting for someone.

I know he's out there. I have a vague picture of him in my mind, and some restless ideas about who he is and what he wants. But he hasn't shown himself yet, nor has he spoken to me.

"He" is the main character of my next novel. He doesn't have a name yet, or a story, but I have that sense that someone is out there, lurking on the edges of my mind, waiting for the right moment to leap in and demand that his story be told.

Once he shows himself, my life will change. His story will consume my thoughts and my dreams, and I will write on fire to get it told until it's done. Floors will gather even more dog hair than they have now (anyone who tells you huskies don't shed is lying through their teeth), dishes will pile up in the sink, and bathrooms will become...unmentionable. Er...more unmentionable.

It's probably the knitting that has brought this on. For those of you who don't knit, I've found it to be a lot like crochet in the sense that it can be a meditative experience. Once I know what I'm doing, my hands sort of take over and the creative part of my mind goes wandering off into unexplored territory.

Which is all well and good if I actually feel like I want to write a novel, but right now I don't. A novel takes a lot of work and time and energy, and I don't feel like I have that much to give right now. And I don't like the feeling of this restless, creative tension coiled up inside me. It feels like the air before a summer storm, dark and brooding, and full of energy.

Whoever this guy is, I hope he shows up soon...I'd like to give him a piece of my mind; a much smaller piece than he'll get if I decide to tell his story. I could use a good argument right about now. I'll just tell him to go bother some other writer and leave me alone.

Yeah. Like that's ever worked before.

Writing Prompt: This is how I look at my process. What does your creative process look like?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Silver Lining

I just heard from the director of the community education program here, and not a single soul has signed up for my journal workshop, so they are having to cancel the class. I'm not too terribly disappointed...while it would have been a good experience and probably fun to meet other journal writers, I am by nature a shy, quiet sort of person, and so I am just as happy not to have to do any sort of public speaking. Besides, now I can devote my mornings to knitting instead of organizing my notes!

Still, I have to wonder why there would be so little interest...is it just our community? I live in a fairly affluent suburb of Minneapolis...maybe everyone is too busy playing tennis and going out on their boats and impressing the neighbors to worry about taking a class that might make them realize how shallow and meaningless their lives are? Or perhaps they found out who was teaching it and decided that since I don't really fit in with this neighborhood anyway, there's no way I could possibly have anything of value to say? Or perhaps I'm just being paranoid...

At any rate, my mornings have now opened up, I no longer have to nervously rehearse my lecture to the dogs (who are getting rather tired of listening to it, truth be told), and I can knit to my heart's content.

Still, the money would have been nice...think of all that yarn I could have bought...

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Knitting Fool

This whole knitting thing is going quite remarkably well. I have knit a couple of dishcloths using simple stitches (sorry, no pix yet...I'm just not tech savvy enough to figure out how to get them out of the camera and into the computer without them running out through the wires and ending up all over the floor, and The Chief has about had it with computers lately, as he's had to do a number of fixes on our network around here). The good news is that the dishcloths actually look like dishcloths...they are square and everything! The bad news is that I would never in a million years actually use a dishcloth that looked like that, and besides, I was getting really bored with knitting them.

Cheryl Fuller over at Jung at Heart, who does some absolutely superb lace knitting, suggested that I get away from the dishcloths and start knitting some simple lace patterns, since that is what I really want to do...she said if I was comfortable with knit and purl and could keep the right number of stitches on the needle, I was probably ready to do some simple lace. The perfectionist in me had other ideas. She had this knitting thing all mapped out--she had decided that we were going to knit a dozen perfect dishcloths, all in different stitches, and in a variety of colours, and only then would we be sufficiently practiced to even think about trying our hand at lace.

Well, I told my perfectionist to go to hell, bought some lovely dusty rose yarn, and began knitting a simple lace scarf. And it's actually turning out pretty well! (Maybe well enough to put in Little Mouse's xmas stocking, but don't tell her!) I'm quite proud of myself for actually being able to do this, because for years I've had this mental block about knitting: I'm too stupid to learn to knit...even Mum couldn't teach me, and she's got the patience of a saint...

Pictures soon, I promise!

Monday, September 15, 2008


So much for the oodles of time I was supposed to have once the kids got back to school. Between dealing with contractors for some repairs on our house and dealing with school (would someone please explain under what educational paradigm it is acceptable for a sixth grader to be getting four hours of homework a night?) and dealing with my mother-in-law moving into her own apartment (AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!) I have had little time to call my own...I haven't even finished my notes for the journal workshop, which is coming up soon, so don't be surprised if I'm not around much the next couple of weeks!

I started knitting a pathetic little blue and white cotton dishrag in my few moments of spare time (like waiting for Little Mouse to get her haircut and in the cardiologists waiting room when I went with The Chief for his annual checkup), and when it's finished, I shall post a picture...it's nothing like what I intend to be able to knit eventually, but journey of a thousand miles and all that zen stuff...gotta go there to get here and all of that...

Canis Dafticus has an ear infection, which Canis Feisticus is not helping, what with having her tongue stuck as far into his ear canal as she can manage at every opportunity. Personally I don't see what the attraction is. I mean, I love The Chief, but the last thing I want to do is stick my tongue in his earhole!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thoughts on Success

Ever since I was given the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom, and once the children were in school, the time and energy to pursue my writing, I've been trying to understand why it is that I have no interest in the whole publishing game.

I've written. I've written volumes. Novels and a writing book and reams of poetry...and of course, pages and pages of journal stuff. But I have absolutely no interest in sending it out.
Friends and family have read my work, and when they have finished, I am always asked, "Are you trying to get this published? You really should, you know."

And I always want to ask, "Why?"

I used to think that maybe the reason I didn't want to send it out was fear...fear of rejection, fear of failure...but I have sent stuff out, and honestly, it's no big deal. I am well aware that the publishing business is purely market driven, and that what sells is what The Herd likes to read. Unfortunately for my future as a "professional" writer, the only person I have any interest in satisfying with my writing is myself.

Artistic success, as this culture seems to define it, is only important if you hold what other people think to be more valid than your own soul's truth.

Or maybe if you have any interest in where your next meal is coming from...

Writing Prompt: How do you define success? By your own definition, do you consider yourself successful?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Letting the Side Down

Canis Dafticus has allergies. He has been chewing on his presumably itchy feet for about a week and a half now. Last week I started him on Benadryl (you wouldn't believe how much Benadryl a dog can take, and it doesn't slow him down one bit!), but he had gnawed a very sore spot on one of his feet. It wasn't looking any better today, so I took him to the vet.

Talk about pathetic.

Canis Dafticus may look quite fierce--he is a husky/german shepherd mix, so he has a rather wolfish look to him, and he's quite large, pushing 70 lbs--but he (like many men I know) is a complete wimp at heart.

The whining began when I put him in the car without his beloved sister, Canis Feisticus. It went on, full volume, until he was safely back in the car and on the way home.

We put him in the car to go to the park, no problem, no whining, much excitement and tail wagging. Put him (or both of them) in the car to go to the vet, and somehow he knows. There must be something in my body language that says "VET" loud and clear.

Once at the vet, he dug his claws into the linoleum and refused to enter the building. He had to be dragged into the exam room, where he promptly hid under the bench I was sitting on. His full, bushy tail, which is usually curled in a lovely tight loop over his back was practically inverted, down between his legs so far it was covering up his nether regions. He peed when we lifted him onto the exam table. The vet knows Canis Dafticus quite well after being soaked on his first couple of visits--Canis Dafticus gets taken into the back room and examined on a grated table with a sink underneath, and has a yellow label on his chart that says, "Submissive Pee-er."
Once on the table with a vet assistant leaning over him to hold him still, he buried his head between my arm and my side and whined even louder. After a physical exam, an ear cleaning, and an allergy shot, Canis Dafticus was more than ready to go home.

I would much rather take Canis Feisticus to the vet. She's not a wimp. She "talks" to the vet in her howly way, and wags her tail at him and eagerly accepts a treat (hmmm....maybe Canis Dafticus isn't the daft one after all...). In short, she doesn't embarrass me. Or the rest of her gender.

Poor boy. I know he's scared, but he makes males everywhere look bad!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Back To Normal--Whatever That Is!

*Breathes huge sigh of relief*

Finally, a normal quiet day with kids in school and no noise! It's been a terribly busy and chaotic few days. Thursday and Friday I had a construction crew here replacing hail damaged siding on two sides of our house, so there was loud pounding and much doggie nervousness and doggies-cooped-up-in-the-house-ness for two very long days. But it is done now, and they did a great job, and cleaned up after themselves nicely, so that's all right.

I spent the weekend at my parents' house; my auntie, whom I had never met, flew over from England, and she was visiting my parents for a few days before going on to visit her daughter on the east coast. She is very intrepid--84 and flying off to America all by herself! She is my father's sister, and they hadn't seen each other in over fifty years, so it was quite the reunion. She's a lovely lady, and I only hope I'm as sharp as she is when I'm 84!

Little Mouse and The Barrister both had good experiences their first two days back at school. The Barrister is quite excited and very positive about school this year, which is a big change, and Little Mouse is feeling very grown-up now that she is in middle school and has more responsibilities.

So now I am by myself in a quiet house for the first time in months, and I am planning to enjoy my day...once I get the laundry and the shopping and the vacuuming and the tidying up all done!

Writing Prompt: Some of us are more comfortable in a regular routine, while others seem to thrive on chaos. What does "normal" day look like for you? Do you enjoy being in a routine, or do you prefer the excitement of having no particular schedule? Why do you think your preference falls where it does?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

First Day of School

I put my first baby on the high school bus this morning. He's not even a high school student yet...he's taking an advanced math class at the high school and then being bussed back to the middle school for the rest of the day. Judging from the kids I saw at the 8th Grade Back to School Event a couple of weeks ago, he's just about the shortest kid in the 8th grade...I am hoping he manages all right on the bus with all those big kids...

I put my second baby on the middle school bus this morning. She is just starting 6th grade and is very excited to finally be in middle school (she even traded her beloved leggings for jeans when we went shopping for school clothes!), and to be one of the 60 or so kids selected to be in the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program. But this year she will have to deal with the whole locker/switching class periods/changing for gym/more homework stuff. Being in the IB program, she has an extra class--Spanish, and she's got band on top of that, so I'm hoping she hasn't bitten off more than she can chew.

Last year's first day of school was a lot easier--both kids were going back to familiar schools...this year, I was feeling a bit teary as I walked away from the bus stop. Well...from Little Mouse's bus stop, anyway. The Barrister insisted I wait down the block (I can't see the bus from the house, and I like to get an idea of exactly when it's coming so I can send him out the door with only seconds to spare on those really cold winter days).

I was thinking about spending the day relaxing, messing around with some knitting, doing a bit of work on the journal workshop (class starts October 1, so I need to get moving). But I'm probably going to spend the day wandering around here wondering what to do with myself and worrying about my babies!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What a Difference the Right Tools Makes!

I have knit.

I mean, really, made a cute little swatch of knitting with no mistakes in it! If you use your imagination, it actually looks like it could be part of a sweater or a rather pathetic little scarf instead of something barely alive that the cat dragged in.

The key was finding a book that had pictures in it that I could actually follow (and showed me a left-handed method different from what my other books showed!), buying a pair of bamboo knitting needles (much less slippery than the metal ones I had), and buying some real wool, mysteriously harvested from real sheep, rather than that nasty acrylic stuff I had in my crochet basket. I've always been appalled at what they do to those poor helpless baby acrylics when harvesting their pelts, anyway, so I'm glad I don't have to support that industry with my tacky crocheted afghans anymore.

Five minutes after looking at the pictures in the new book, I was knitting away. Slowly, to be sure, but over the past few days I've picked up speed, and have even ventured ever so timidly on to the next page where I confronted the dreaded "purl" stitch, something I never dreamed I would ever be clever enough to figure out. Ah, the mysteries of knitting, unravelling before my very eyes!

At the moment, I am trying to disentangle myself from several hundred yards of wool that attacked me when the dogs knocked over my knitting basket. It has somehow come free of its skeins and wrapped itself about me spider-web fashion. Typing is becoming quite difficult as my left hand is almost entirely immobilized. I shall blog more when I get free...