cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (manatee)
Things that are good:

1. The towering silver maple tree in our backyard appears to have attracted another pair of squirrels, for a grand total of four highly entertaining creatures that I can watch frolicking in the yard. I haven't seen the albino squirrel again, but I live in hope.

2. Flowers are blooming all over the place. It's an advantage to having bought a house owned by a crazy gardener--there are flowers even though I can't do any gardening until I have the sprogling. I just need to remember to cut some so we have flowers indoors too.

3. The weather is back to normal, Minnesotan-tolerable highs of around 75 degrees. Perfect.

4. I love the system, I really do. I go online to put books on hold and they show up at my local library branch. I download audiobooks. I download ebooks. It's all fantastic.

5. I've been getting a number of work-from-home projects, which is really nice for this gestational stage. Means I get enough sleep, take breaks when I need them, always have enough food, and am generally be more comfortable. And it reassures Phil that even after I have the baby and switch to only working from home, I will still be bringing in some income, if not as much.

6. So far, I have been lucky enough to not be afflicted with the worst "normal" pregnancy symptoms: sciatic nerve pain, incontinence, etc. Puts excessive tiredness, forgetfulness, and difficulty walking into perspective.

7. I remembered that when I'm stressed, an important part of the sanity-maintenance is just remembering and noting the good things!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
It's always fun to walk into work and be greeted by, "What are you doing here? Did he tell you to come in?"

Well, no, but he didn't tell me not to either. Plus I had forgot my lightweight coat at NgithOwl on Saturday, so I wanted to make sure to pick that up.

Despite the greeting I got when I showed up, there was still enough work to keep me busy until after lunch, at which point I went home and collapsed on the couch for a 3-hour nap. Naps are the only way I'm able to stay awake much past 9. I am definitely sleeping for two. This was yesterday. This morning I called in and--surprise!--was told that it was dead at work. At least I got that half-day of work. And my coat.

This is not the end of our financial world, since I've been working regularly for the last few weeks. Plus the senior-sitting gig is a regular (if small) weekly paycheck. And there really is something nice about knowing you're going to get a check every week.

I've also gotten a few fiddly things done. I ordered Phil's birthday present. (He said not to spend money on him, so I only spent a very little.) I tried to order an apple tree through the city's forestation program, and found that I got there too late. No honeycrisp apple tree for us. ::sob:: Phil says now we have to wait until next year, but I'm going to price 6' apple trees from nurseries.

I've defeated Mt. Washmore--though there's still folding to be done. Did a lot of it last night while watching Castle. I do like that show. It's corny and silly sometimes, but the relationships between Castle and the women in his life are just beautiful to watch. And the chemistry is good. And it's totally writer wish-fulfillment. Someday, I too shall be a famous best-seller...sigh.

The first step to being one is writing, of course. The writing for an hour no matter what thing appears to balance out at getting me about 300 words. That's pretty slow (the first hour is always slow), but it's something and it adds up, especially on days when otherwise it would be way too easy for writing to be back-burnered because I already worked all day.

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log


Episode 11

New words: 1,131
Total words: 65,490
Overused word: man
Gratuitous quote: a hive of scum and villainy
Type of scene: Motivation set-up + getting to the place to find the next clue.
Challenge(s): Writing piecemeal. It's not how I work best.
Which line is it anyways?The assistant shook his head. "No, Commissioner. Only rotters."
Researched: docks, burlap, crime on docks
Notes: Right. Time to make it awesome.
Other writingy stuff:
* Sunday's CoBB 1 hr, pretty much spent the time figuring out how the next scene would go.
* Reorganized the CoBB notes file, putting things in order and breaking out “lexicon,” “to do,” “worldbuilding,” “clues,” and “references.”
* Reorganized the CoBB character file by city.
* Read 2 Critters and Duotrope newsletter and updated market list from them.
* Inquired as to the status of a few old submissions I haven’t heard back on.
* Worked on the MinnSpec iTunes podcast feed a bit.
* Business planning for your creative hours:
* Posted writing log (last Thursday)
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (nonstandard spacetime)
While going through and cleaning up my Circus of Brass and Bone notes, I found this partial travelogue, from my visit back to see my parents right after they returned to the States. Yes, at times I do just type whatever into whichever document happens to be open on my laptop. Usually, these snippets get properly relocated a bit sooner than this, though!


The Greyhound station in Wichita, KS was moderately horrifying, but I rather expected that. I arrived early to get my ticket, as per instructions. There were power outlets in the back of the room, though none within reach of seats, so I sat on the floor, leaned against the wall, and worked on the read-aloud draft of episode 3 for The Circus of Brass and Bone. Nobody had cleaned that floor for quite some time. Cockroaches and dirt ringed the floor. I choose the cleanest place I could find. Generally, the station wasn't well-maintained. There was a clumsily handwritten out-of-order sign on the water fountain, and another on the handicapped bathroom specifying that it was for handicapped people ONLY. An old codger followed me to the back of the station and kept trying to talk to me, asking if I was in college. I guess it is the season for college students to be migrating, but nobody's thought me to be that young for a *while*. I said I was out of college, and he said, "Gosh, I thought you looked sixteen!" (Note: strange old men should not try talking to 16-year-old girls, either.) I guess I've just been hanging out in the wrong circles.

Then the Greyhound arrived. The driver gave a very long speech emphasizing that we should please stay on the bus except at the designated dinner stop, please, because every week people hopped off the bus and were left behind, and please, she didn't want us to be left behind, so please don't.

Ah, Kansas. Riding in the Greyhound across hours and hours of rolling plains. Hay bales and cows and small oil wells and yellow furze. The smallest variation becomes interesting. The water reservoirs (septic?) outside a countryside McDonald's, with a dozen geese enjoying a break on their flight south. A square mile or so of incongruous, out-of-place lake dotted by tree skeletons reaching up to the endless blue sky. A yellow sign warning not of deer, or pedestrians, or even Amish, but of thick clouds of black smoke (don't try to drive through them).
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
The sparrows in my backyard have the souls of piranhas. They can strip a full birdfeeder down to the bones in less than 12 hours.

Poor bob-whites didn't have a chance.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Small snowflakes like ashes floating down to blanket everything, and they say snow emergency sometime, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, it's a slow storm and hard to predict. Bowl of bread crusts on the kitchen counter to throw out for the crows, but if the snow covers them before the birds get there, they'll freeze and wait until the spring thaw when things with beaks or claws or mandibles will take them away. Going in early to downtown to pick up earplugs and Vicodin and Tylenol. What a list--I feel old.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
At work, I always walk around with a pen and a small post-it pad in my back pocket, in case of notes or labels being needed.

At home, I'm walking around with a candy cane in my back pocket.

I know which I prefer.

(Though to be honest, candy canes don't store well in back pockets. Is sad.)

Home Again

Dec. 27th, 2009 10:00 pm
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
  • ++ Delighted to be safely home and online again after visit to internet-free in-laws.
  • - Unexpected luggage additions: niece's DVDs "Elmo and Abby's Birthday Fun!" and "Disney Princess Enchanted Tales." Hello, USPS!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (crazy)
  • Carl Watts looked from her mushroom-pale skin to the stone-carved words over the door she fled from: "Work Shall Set Ye Free." #nwm #twitfic
  • YEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "Salvaging Scottwell" is officially accepted by Baen's Universe. My first pro sale!
  • His statements didn't sound like he'd make a good mayor, *but* this is hilarious. (BoingBoing)
  • When squirrel removal guys say they'll install a "monitor," they really mean they'll tape a plastic bag over the hole.
  • Fu Manchu is turning into an excellent writing cat! His current toy is a wadded-up ball of paper.
  • Er, that should be, *writer's* cat.
  • ++++++ I now have 2 squirrels in cages and (hopefully) NO SQUIRRELS IN THE WALLS.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
As part of my quest to make my life not seem like a never-ending drudge through work and projects that will never truly be finished (that's the problem with being writer, photographer, and primary-house-caretaker--none of those come up with their own achievable "finished" markers), I've started picking a set of (achievable!) goals at the end of which I'll be realio trulio done for the day. After that I can do anything I like, including just reading pulpy sci-fi novels or baking brownies or making that lightbox or, hell, doing my filing. This isn't a to-do list, it's a to-be-done-after list. The difference is crucial. The goal is to accurately estimate how much I can realistically get done in a day and still have free time left over. Because the free time is the real goal: it's the recharge time, the reward, the reason to really dig into the to-be-done-after list. When faced with an endless task, it's easy to become unmotivated and to grind very, very slowly, with lots of procrastination.

I've been trying this on and off for the last couple of weeks. So far, I can tell the motivation part is working. I've got lots more done that I was before, and I feel less depressed and bogged down in, well, life.

This, despite my not yet having actually finished everything on the list. I haven't yet experienced this motivating free time. So yesterday I decided to approach this all scientific-like and write down my done-for-the-day goals (which I had been doing), how much time I thought they'd take, and then my actual day schedule and the time they really took.

Let's just say I'm not good at estimating how much I can get done.

Today's numbers. Probably boring for anybody not me. )
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
  • The rain has turned to sleety snow. I wonder if I'll have to go to the dayjob today?
  • (I hate just calling my day job "work" because it implies what I do the rest of the day isn't. Not true.)
  • ----There are squirrels under our 2nd story floorboards. They got there because of repairs unfinished.

Edited to Note: No, I did not have to go into work. On the one hand, win! Staying home, working on writing. On the other hand, lost 3 days because scanners didn't get the project ready. The coding deadline hasn't changed. Grump. Grump grump. On the third hand, I don't have to work on dayjob projects this weekend, so yay!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
  • District 9, Zombieland, and Surrogates are all at the cheap rate at Block E. Want movie-watching time!
  • Those wacky Swiss researchers!
  • A squirrel just TP'd our tree with a wad of white plastic? fake cobwebs? longer than he was. Happy almost-Halloween!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Having dealt with house problems and contractors all afternoon, I'm now looking forward to painful physical therapy exercises this evening. At least then I can just watch TV and not think.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Ugh. And now our bathroom sink has decided to stop draining. At all. Drain cleaner, drain snake, and removing all accessible piping has not fixed it. This means it's plumber time, and--geez, house, could you cut us a break here? Your budget is already blown!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
  • Glad they finished the roof before--first snow?
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
  • + Fu Manchu has discovered he can fit between my keyboard tray and my desk. Small paws attack pens.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
  • First roofers are tromping all over my house like the billy goats gruff.
  • Then Homeland Security stops by to investigate the guy across the street.
  • Things are hurtling off the roof. The cats are freaked out, and I'm not sure I can leave the house without risk of head trauma.
  • If I'm lucky enough to finish projects early today, I'm escaping to a coffee shop. Fingers crossed!*

* I didn't.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
  • Listening to In Our Time's discussion of Akhenaten, I realize Elizabeth Peters has given me a lifelong fondness for Egyptology.
  • A construction dumpster has manifested in front of our house! This is a very exciting sign our roof may be fixed soon.
  • Project putting me in the mood for pirate metal. Later, must spellcheck to ensure I didn't type "Alestorm" instead of similar name.
  • Given the guessed reason for this lawsuit, maybe they shouldn't have called that drawing "Exploded View."
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (cat with cream)
This Relax Without Feeling Lazy: Kill Open Loops post makes an excellent point, and it brings to the forefront a lot of why I generally feel stressed. I put a lot on myself: writing; photography; maintaining a clean house (ha!) and providing basic services like laundry, clean dishes, and hot dinners; and eventually, a return to martial arts or another high-demand physical activity (I miss inhabiting my body in that way). I also have a ridiculously long list of miscellaneous to-dos.

At the same time, these are thing that will never be completed. There is always more writing; it's not like I finish a piece and then wait, fallow, for the next story idea to come to me--part of my writing process produces a huge backlog of ideas. There are always photos to load up to the stock photography site or a portfolio or a gallery display to create. My house will never be 100% clean.

So--today. I declare that my writing loop will be closed if I redmark and make editing changes to "Missing You In Pieces" and write 100 (+ whatever if I hit flow, which is unlikely in 100) words on "Tree of Life." My cleaning loop will be closed if I quick-clean the bathroom, do laundry, run the Roomba, do dishes, and clean the nightstand. My photography loop will close if I upload a photo to iStock and research camera flashes and reflectors etc. My to-do list will close if I finish paying bills and update my books-to-borrow list from library receipts and Science Fiction Book Club mailings.

Hrm. This may take some work. That looks like more than is reasonable to do in one day--but at least I know where the end point is.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)

  • - Wrote contractor v. large check to start fixing tornado damage. + Tornado damage will be fixed!

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (experiment)
Our insurance adjuster has come out and looked at the tornado damage and written a check for the amount we already spent getting the fallen trees taken care of and the power back up. I'm quite glad our contractor (for roof/gutters/trim/windows/door) also came out at the same time, as he pointed out many other things that also needed to be included. The contractor seems to know his stuff and be on top of making sure that the insurance covers as much as possible. The insurance guy was also really reasonable and pleasant and all-in-all it was an interaction I'm pleased with.

The upshot is that we are having our entire roof replaced, along with gutters and fascia and several window wraps. And door and back privacy fence and some fixing of the garage roof.

We'll still be out several thousand dollars that we don't really have, especially given what might be discovered under the roof and what other incidentals might need repair that the insurance won't cover but that will be discovered during the repairs. Ulp. And there will be strangers climbing around my house for a while, fixing things.

But! Focusing very firmly on the bright side! New roof paid for by insurance, put in by people who seem to know what they're doing!

One of our neighbors has much inferior insurance, and he's basically much unhappier than we are.


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Abra Staffin-Wiebe

March 2019

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