Category Archives: Uncategorized

ROW80: End of Round 2

Aaand that’s it for this Round of Words in 80 days! The next one begins July 7, so until then I will not be updating on Sundays. Instead, maybe I’ll start blogging on a day that is *gasp* not Sunday, about things other than what’s going on with me.

With that said, here’s this week’s recap…

Writing

My short story is now on its third edit. I got the rest of the critiques back on Thursday, so I’m working to incorporate the best of the suggestions and make the story more awesome. This is the last round of content edits — in a few days I’m sending it off for copyediting. A few final tweaks, and it’ll be ready for release as part of the new Turtleduck Press anthology on August 1!

In between, I’ve been doing critiques, and will be busy with that for a while. But I’m not standing still on my own writing — I’m going to submit a story to a contest before the end of June, and we’ll see where that goes.

Exercise

This week I did:

  • 7.3 km (4.5 miles) of walking in 3 sessions
  • 1 session of stair-climbing

Umm…oh dear.

I did discover that my favourite science fiction and fantasy bookstore, Bakka Phoenix, is close enough to my office for a lunch hour walk there and back, if I don’t dawdle too much among the lovely, lovely books. Not only that, but the walk itself is pleasant, with wide sidewalks and lots of shade. I foresee a problem.

Home Improvement

Still waiting to get the shrubs in — they’ll be delivered tomorrow. In the meantime, we’ve bought some patio furniture, which is also getting delivered this week. Still haven’t gone for a load of perennials…tomorrow night, I hope.

In other words, our backyard is going to look a whole lot better in the next week!

The vegetable garden is coming along nicely. We’ve started eating the greens and herbs — arugula, chicory, basil, mint, cilantro — and let me tell you, it feels pretty neat. It’ll be a while until we are harvesting vegetables (northern gardening, you know…), but I’m seeing tiny green tomatoes, and flowers on the bell peppers and acorn squash. Another month or so and things will be very exciting around here.

ROW80 Recap

To go back to the beginning for a minute…

This round my goals included:

  • weekly reports on my Year of Making My Living Space Better
  • weekly reports on exercise progress
  • 1.5 hours a week of writing (broadly defined to include editing and outlining)

The first two goals were easy, and probably helped with mindfulness. The third? I missed it on 3 weeks and hit it on 8 weeks, including several where I blew the goal away — there were two weeks where I hit 6 hours, and three weeks where I passed 3 hours. I set that goal deliberately low, so I’m pleased to have crushed it on multiple weeks.

According to ROW80 rules, you get a break between rounds, so I’m not going to set any goals for between now and July 7. I’ll be busy critiquing anyway. But once those critiques are done, watch out!

And you, my faithful readers…watch this space for a larger variety of blog posts in the coming weeks. I hope you’ll stick around.

Your turn! If you were doing ROW80, how did this round go? If not, well, we’re almost halfway through the year…how is this year going for you?

 

Shrubs, Shorts, and Soccer

Can’t believe this ROW80 is almost over! I’m only checking in once a week, so that means only one more check-in after today. How’d that happen?

So here’s my penultimate update. (Ha. It’s not every day that you get to use the word penultimate….)

Writing

That short story I finished last week has come back from its first two readers with good reviews (and good suggestions for improvement). I’m running it by my critique group this week, so I’ll shortly have lots more good suggestions to think about and incorporate as appropriate.

Other than that, the rest of this month will be all about critiquing other people’s stuff — I have several lined up. That’ll keep me busy on the writing front. I don’t expect to get much further on my own stuff until July, but maybe I’ll blog more to compensate. That storytelling addiction, you know….

Exercise

This week I did:

  • 1 hour of yoga
  • 2 hours of contra dancing
  • 1 general workout session (half an hour)
  • 2 sessions of stair-climbing
  • 7.1 km (4.4 miles) of walking (3 sessions)
  • and a little bit of gardening, not really enough to count

Okay, still not where I need to be for hiking in the Rockies, but better than last week, and getting closer!

Home Improvement

We finally bought shrubs! Hydrangeas, yellow “carpet” roses, blue hibiscus, and a white pearl bush. And one tree, a Japanese maple — LOVE those, can’t quite believe I get to own one. Still awaiting delivery from the garden centre, though, so it’ll be another week or so before they get in the ground. I can’t wait. I’ve spent so much time over the last few weeks looking at gorgeous plants, it’ll be great to finally have some.

We also planted a few more vegetables:

  • raspberries (two kinds, red and black) — they won’t produce fruit this year though
  • hot peppers
  • and more bell peppers (apparently MIL didn’t realize we had four plants already…good thing we all like bell peppers!)

Grow, little vegetables, grow! Yes, I’ve started talking to my plants. I guess I’ve got the gardening bug, haven’t I?

Now I’m mulling over perennials, with the help of the landscaping program. Any recommendations? I like blue and purple, and maybe something to complement the dark red leaves of the Japanese maple….

In other news, it’s World Cup season (soccer to us North Americans, AKA football in the rest of the world). In our neighbourhood, that means much honking and cheering. I’m not much of a sports fan — hell, Canada doesn’t even have a team playing — but I can always tell when the game’s over and who won!

Finally, Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. Mine is no longer with us, so last year I wrote this for him: Watching Movies With My Dad. If you’re near your dad, and on good terms with him, give him a hug for me?

How about you? Are you watching the World Cup? What’s your favourite tree? Where is your dad today?

ROW80: All the Things are Moving

Here’s this week’s ROW80 update!

Writing

This week I was racing to finish a short story, and it’s done! 6 hours this week, which is a rarity these days. The second draft is 6500 words, up 1500 from the first draft, and I’m finally happy with it.

It’s slated to be published in a new Turtleduck Press anthology. A few people will be reading it this month, but the rest of you will have to wait until the anthology is published on August 1. *evil grin*

Exercise

I’m continuing to ease back into my exercise regime, such as it is. This week I did 1 hour of yoga, one session of stair climbing, and some gardening, and walked 4.6 km (not counting the bits of walking I do during my commute, 5 or 10 minutes at a time).

I’ve gotta step it up, though. My goal is to go hiking in the Rockies in August with my (fitter) siblings, and I’m a long way from being fit enough for that. Two months to go….

Home Improvement

This week I’ve been doing a lot of research on shrubs and trees (because, uh, that’s how I roll). We have several garden beds that are blank slates, which is a bit daunting because I’ve never tried flower gardening before. So I bought some books, visited a garden centre and took notes, bought a landscaping program to play with help with designing, and have been doing a ton of Internet research.

(Researching plants, it turns out, is like fractals — it opens out infinitely. I know Internet research is like that normally, but this is even more so. Why? Because you do all this research, finally pick a plant that you like and that seems to fit your needs, and then you discover that it has 10 million varieties of different sizes, colours, and growing habits, so you have to research all those too. Or is that just me?)

 

We still have no actual plants in the ground, but that should change shortly. Once we’ve got the shrubs in, then we can get on to the perennials…!

Here’s what we’ve put in the vegetable garden:

  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers
  • acorn squash
  • basil
  • several other herbs (not sure exactly what, my MIL planted them)
  • zucchini (seeds)
  • carrots (seeds)
  • cucumber (seeds — just planted today)
  • arugula (seeds — accidentally planted the zucchini over top, but the arugula have a head start and are already coming up…)

…and we still have a bit more space, so we might add a few more things before calling it quits.

How was your week?

 

Gardening and Gaiman

Just a few quick notes today.

First, I’m part of a monthly book club on Twitter. This month we’re reading Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which has just come out in paperback. (In previous months we’ve read Patricia C. Wrede’s Thirteenth Child and Diana Wynne Jones’¬†Fire and Hemlock.) We start the read-along and discussion on June 20, and you’re invited — just use the hashtag #20reads!

Second, I’m over at Turtleduck Press talking about my latest “ooh, shiny” obsession. Last year, you may remember, it was vegetable gardening. Well, that’s still there, but now I’ve added…drumroll please…flowers. A snippet:

I have to admit I didn’t anticipate this when the subject of buying a house first came up between my life partner and me. At the time we were living in a generic high-rise apartment building. I envisioned purchasing a lovely old house with history and personality, with enough space for us each to claim a separate office room. Location was important. Public transit was important.

A garden didn’t really enter into our priorities, or even our thoughts, beyond “oh yeah, we’ll have to mow our lawn.”

We ended up with all those things, PLUS a large urban yard with nothing in it. 1250 square feet of fertile soil*, almost twice the size of the one-bedroom apartment we’d lived in for years. Blank slate, wheeeeeee!

Read the rest at Turtleduck Press.

Editorial note: And then it became a giant field of weeds until two weeks ago when we finally caved and put down sod over most of it, but never mind that. We still have more garden than we know what to do with….

Your turn! What’s up with you?

 

Back in the Saddle

Hi all! I’m back from my vacation / Internet hiatus (more about that soon…) and eager to get back into regular writing, blogging, and other ROW80 goals.

Here’s what’s been going on…

Writing

In my last post, I talked about blowing a deadline and being badly stalled. Home renos and trip planning didn’t help. I’m pulling out of that slump now, but I don’t have momentum yet. Here’s hoping the renewed creativity continues!

To be more specific: I spent 6 hours writing last week while on a working holiday, and wrote most of a 5000-word short story. Finally! That’s the first thing I’ve finished since, oh, January. (To be fair, since then I’ve done part of a novel edit and made several attempts at a different short story.)

This past week I went back to work, so my writing time logged has dropped again. I hit just over 3 hours, finished the story and started the second draft.

Exercise

Vacation for me often means exercise is sporadic. I went swimming a couple of times, but that’s about it.

In the week since I’ve been back, though, I’ve done 30 minutes of yoga, some gardening, a whole afternoon and evening of contra dancing, and more gardening. Back on track!

Renovations

The deck/shed combo is finished! It looks great. Now to fill it with patio furniture and hanging plants and and and… That’s it for renovations this year, thank goodness.

My attention is now turning to the front and back yards. We have new sod, a vegetable patch, and several new plots — where we’ll be growing flowers for the first time ever (we’ve only been homeowners for two years). This past week we filled up 4/5 of the vegetable plot. We’ll be doing the rest in the coming week, and then it’s on to the flowers!

How was your May? What are your goals for June?

Hospitals and Housekeeping

So…when I wrote last week that life was eating me?

Turns out that was nothing. Here’s what happened next…

Hospitals

So I spent two days this week with a loved one in hospital in Montreal, Quebec. That was scary for a while, but the scary part is over now (knock wood) and I’m slowly coming down from all that stress.

What I’m starting to remember now are the little things that happened while I was focused on my own loved one’s story.

The way the first-responder firefighters switched into French to debrief the paramedics.

The way the gurney’s legs retracted as the bed platform slid into the ambulance.

The first intake guy at the hospital, who also talked with the paramedics in fluent French (while I, despite being non-fluent, tried to eavesdrop and read the medical notes he was making on the computer — in French)…and then came over to us and said, in a clearly non-francophone accent, “How you doin’, mate?” So completely unexpected that it almost made me laugh.

(Read the rest here.)

So that was my Friday through Monday. Oy vey.

ROW80

In other news, here’s a ROW80 check-in:

Writing

The good news is I spent more than 3 hours last week working on my short story WIP. The bad news is that I’m overdue for a deadline at the indie press I belong to (Turtleduck Press) and the edit is going sloooowly. So, pressing on…

Exercise

Umm…Unless you count doing a ton of dishes for the loved one mentioned above…nada. Oh, except I climbed 19 flights of stairs today. Onward!

Renovations

Indoors renos are done, at least for this year! We’ve moved on to getting some basic cosmetic improvements for the yards, front and back. They’re all aimed at making our property look less, um, ghetto. So far:

  • removed chain-link fencing in front yard and some in backyard
  • took out rosebushes that only bloomed three weeks a year and were tied to rusty metal frames (okay, that happened a few weeks ago)
  • removed chicken wire (?!) on top of back fence
  • got rid of decrepit old shed
  • started building a deck

I have to admit that we’re not exactly DIYers and are not doing any of this ourselves. But we will be doing most (all?) of the planting and all of the gardening.

Housekeeping

Finally, a housekeeping note. I know posting has been sporadic around here, and it’s about to get more sporadic — temporarily, I hope. Starting at the middle of next week, I’ll be offline for two weeks. Don’t expect any new blogging until the very end of May. Then I’ll be back with more posts on travel, adventures in homeownership, women in SF and fantasy, books, movies, and all the other good stuff that (I hope) you’ve come to expect.

In the meantime, feel free to hang out, chat, browse the archives, and party!

 

Still Alive

Just a quick note today. Life is eating me, and will continue eating me for a while. Nothing horrible, just busy.

Don’t go away — I miss blogging, and I’ll be back!

In the meantime, how is life treating you?

 

ROW80 Week 3 Check-In

Super-quick update tonight because it somehow got to be past midnight…

In writing news, I’ve hit my 1.5 hour goal for the week. But I’m trying to make a May 1 short story deadline and I’ve got a lot of writing and editing to do before then. Onwards!

In renovation news:

  • the AC system is ready to use — though I don’t expect we’ll need it for another month at least
  • the kitchen is in steady weekend use, even though it’s still missing some things
  • next step is more landscaping, and we just met with our contractor to talk about plans for the backyard (we’re keeping it fairly basic for now, but anything better than “field of weeds” is an improvement!)

In exercise news, I’ve:

  • downloaded an app and enlisted a friend to “compete” with
  • climbed 14 flights of stairs, twice
  • walked 3 km on Monday and 6.5 km (!) on Sunday
  • done an hour-long yoga class
  • done half an hour of random workouts (mix of cardio and stretching/yoga, mostly)
  • spent around 2 hours dancing (I’m guessing…the whole event is 3 hours long, but dancing isn’t constant during that time)

You can see where my focus has been last week. This week I really need to get that story finished, hopefully without dropping the ball entirely on exercise….

That’s it for now!

 

Your Turn: Books for Earth Day

Tiger lilies in the front garden last year

Tiger lilies in the front garden last year

I’ve been on a long-weekend holiday with family, so just a quick blog post today. (ROW80 update at the bottom.)

Tomorrow is Earth Day, an event dating to the 1970s whose purpose is to draw attention to environmental concerns (like the more recent Earth Hour). I’ve written before about books for Earth Day, so this time I’d like to turn it over to you.

What books would be on your recommended reading list for Earth Day?

They can be cautionary tales from science fiction. They can be stories (fiction or otherwise) about living close to the land. They can be how-to books about urban farming. Or whatever…you decide. I’d love to hear from you!

ROW80 Updates

In writing news, I squeaked past my weekly goal of 1.5 hours. Back on track!

In renovation news:

  • the AC installation is finished — awaiting one final visit to turn on and “tune” the system
  • the drywall “bulkheads” are all painted — most to blend in, one to stand out (purple feature wall in the dining room!)
  • the kitchen has been used for cooking — it’s still missing some key pieces, like a dishrack and a garbage bin, but it’s getting there
  • the landscaping is continuing — the chain-link fence in the front and some “weed” trees have come down, and the beds in the front are all cleared of junk (and tulips are coming up!)

In exercise news, I’ve done:

  • lots of stair-climbing while cleaning up for family visit over Easter
  • lots of walking with family — 3 km Friday, 4 km Saturday, 2.2 km Sunday (and 3 km today, but that counts for the coming week)

I’m trying to gear up for a family hiking trip at the end of July, but this weekend’s walking has shown me I have a looong way to go!

 

ROW80 Round 2: Off to a Crazy Start

Welcome back to A Round of Words in 80 Days! My goals for Round 2 are here. Here’s how my first week went:

 Writing Updates

This part did not go so well. My goal for this round is 1.5 hours a week of writing or editing, and I only managed half of that. On the good side, it was all in one session, so I met the other part of my writing goal — to do at least one session of half an hour or longer.

And here’s why…

Renovation Updates

We’ve been living in shambles because we’re getting central air-conditioning installed (woohoo!). Every time I come home from work, there’s a new hole in a strange place, or metal pipes, or new drywall “bulkheads” covering the pipes. I don’t mind telling you this has been just slightly stressful. But they’ll be done this week, and then we can start getting the drywall dust out of everything and moving our mess back where it was…I mean, getting stuff organized.

In the meantime, I’m busy trying to figure out how to make the “bulkheads” look like they belong in the rooms, live out of suitcases because the bedroom closet had to be emptied, and sort out the curtains that we’re finally getting around to putting up.

Then there are two new projects that are just getting started. First is setting up a kitchen…today we cleared all the junk out of it, ceremonially turned on the fridge, and ordered the first load of groceries. (Next step is cleaning.) Second is landscaping, or rather, organizing other people to do landscaping — they’ve gotten as far as pulling out some scraggly roses and some rusted metal frames that the roses were tied to. Whew!

Exercise Updates

This week I have:

  • done 1 hour of yoga
  • climbed 9 flights of stairs twice (plus the regular stair-climbing I do during my subway commute and in my 2.5-storey home)
  • done 2 half-hour workout sessions in my exercise room at home (usually a random mix of cardio, stretching, and strengthening)
  • spent Friday evening and all of Saturday dancing

That last bit is not going to become a habit, alas, but I’m hoping the rest of it will, and I’ll add to it gradually.

I expect this coming week to be just as busy on the house front, and we have family coming for Easter weekend. But after that I’m really hoping to be able to focus more on the writing again.

Onward!